Government & Politics

On Tuesday, lawmakers are set to mark-up and vote on a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The House Judiciary Committee has been taking testimony for weeks on a bill that would decriminalize two ounces of pot and a version of the measure is likely to pass in the afternoon.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will also continue to look at its version of a decriminalization bill.

Governor Peter Shumlin's plan to finance a major expansion of child care programs is sharply dividing Vermont's early childhood community.

Within the state's early childhood community, there's almost unanimous support for the Governor's plan to significantly increase funding for child care subsidies and to boost rates for providers.  But there's a huge disagreement over how to pay for the initiative.

Toby Talbot / AP

The state has issued its latest report on the progress of the recovery effort following Tropical Storm Irene.

The report says while some work remains, it's time to look ahead to guard against future disasters.

Two years ago, lawmakers endowed a five-person panel with the power to tell doctors how much they can charge patients for health care services. Now, some physicians with private practices say the rate-setting authority could put them out of business.

As part of a health care reform initiative launched under Gov. Peter Shumlin, lawmakers have intensified oversight of the medical industry, and granted unprecedented powers to a board that now regulates doctors and hospitals.

Vermont Lawmakers this week looked at legislation that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. VPR's Bob Kinzel lays out the arguments in favor and against and discusses the likelihood of the bill's passage with Peter Biello.

State officials have learned this week how federal across-the-board spending cuts will affect Vermont.

Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says the most tangible consequence is the federal mandate that the state reduce unemployment benefits by 10 percent for the long-term jobless.

Noonan says that cut, which goes into effect today, will be difficult for the 1,000 Vermonters who receive long-term unemployment checks.

Toby Talbot / AP

The Vermont Senate overwhelmingly advanced a bill on Friday that would give driver’s licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The bill would create what are described as drivers’ authorization cards for people living in Vermont illegally. It would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue IDs that would look different from a regular state license.

Toby Talbot / AP

The Vermont Senate overwhelmingly advanced a bill on Friday that would give driver's licenses to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The bill would create what are described as drivers' authorization cards for people living in Vermont illegally. It would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue IDs that would look different from a regular state license.

A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that most Americans are uninformed about the federal health care changes that are coming, and about how health care exchanges are going to work. That situation appears to bear out in Vermont, too, given the types of questions VPR listeners posed to two leaders of Vermont's health care exchange on VPR's Vermont Edition on Friday:

Pete Hirschfeld, bureau chief of the Vermont Press Bureau, talks with Vermont Edition about some of the issues being debated at the Statehouse this week.

Senate To Mull Immigrant License Bill

Apr 5, 2013

The Vermont Senate is scheduled to take up a bill allowing immigrant farm workers to become Vermont drivers.

It was approved last week by the Transportation Committee by a vote of 4-1.

Vermont dairy farms employ an estimated 1,500 Mexican farm workers, many of whom are in the country illegally. They say they are isolated in rural areas and have to get rides from their employer or volunteers or sometimes pay for transportation to go to the grocery store or doctor.

We’re getting a better idea today of the effects that across-the-board federal spending cuts will have on the state.

In February, it was estimated that Vermont would lose $15 million. While that figure hasn’t changed, Vermont’s legislative Joint Fiscal Office now estimates that the state is poised to lose $9.3 million over the next two fiscal years, most of which will be felt in 2014.

The House has unanimously approved a two-year capital construction bill that solidifies a commitment to rebuild the Waterbury state office complex devastated by Tropical Storm Irene.

The bill includes $173 million in spending, with close to $70 million dollars set aside for Irene-related projects.

This is the second legislative session that lawmakers have crafted a two year spending cycle for state construction projects.

And a top priority remains repairing or replacing buildings damaged by the floodwaters of Irene.

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