Government & Politics

A clock at Four Corners in Bennington, pictured here in July 2014
Angela Evancie / VPR File

There could be a governmental shift coming to Bennington. On Town Meeting Day, voters will decide if the town should elect a mayor, instead of sticking with the town manager system that's currently in place.

We're checking in on the status of key bills in Montpelier at the legislature's town meeting break.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

The legislature is nearing its Town Meeting Day break. At this halfway mark, we're talking to top political reporters on the status of key bills, including gun control, education financing, paid family leave, raising the minimum wage and water quality efforts.

Vermont's attendant services program, or ASP, is up for elimination in Governor Scott's budget.
Katarzyna Bialasiewicz / iStock

Vermont's attendant services program — or ASP — directs $1.38 million in state funds to help Vermonters with permanent and severe disabilities. It’s been targeted for elimination by Gov. Scott’s latest budget.

The dome of the Vermont Statehouse on a cloudy day with the Vermont flag flying.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

In a move that seemed almost unthinkable at the outset of the 2018 legislative session, elected officials in Montpelier appear to be on track to make universal background checks the law before the end of the year.

left: Screenshot from, right: U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Bernie Sanders inspired a political movement with his insurgent 2016 run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Yet he's been reluctant to acknowledge that his campaign likely got some help from a Russian covert propaganda campaign.

A "Vote Here" sign outside Burlington City Hall on Church Street.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

As we approach another year of this Vermont tradition, are you feeling behind on the issues people have been talking about around the state? Want to know how to stay up to date on results?

Vermont State trooper cars parked.
Steve Zind / VPR file

The Vermont House has given initial approval to a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to administer a saliva test that would indicate the presence of certain drugs, including marijuana.

A graph from the Drug Poisoning (Overdose) Fatalities Report released Thursday shows accidental deaths involving heroin and fetanyl in Vermont. The report notes that 2016 and 2017 data are preliminary. Find the report here:
Vermont Department of Health, Courtesy

The number of accidental overdose deaths in Vermont involving the synthetic drug fentanyl increased significantly last year, according to a new report.

The Vermont Air National Guard is preparing to base F-35 fighters jets in Vermont in the fall of 2019. A non-binding ballot item in Burlington this town meeting day aims to stop that action.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

A non-binding ballot item in Burlington this Town Meeting Day would advise the City Council to request that F-35 fighter jets not be based at Burlington International Airport — but the Vermont Air National Guard says they're still getting ready for the arrival of the aircraft.

We're talking with Vermont gun owners about how their use of firearms informs their views on gun laws and gun control.
artas / iStock

Conversations about firearms and gun control are often dominated by extreme views, leaving many in the middle whose voices aren't heard. That includes voices informed by their own gun ownership. We're talking with Vermont gun owners about recent shifts in the discussion around guns and our gun laws. 

Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears, seen here on the Senate floor in a 2016 file photo, says the extreme risk bill approved by the Vermont Senate Wednesday could prevent acts of gun violence.
Angela Evancie / VPR file

As lawmakers nationwide consider new ways to get guns out of the hands of dangerous people, the Vermont Senate has advanced a bill that would make it easier for police to seize firearms from people who pose an "extreme risk" to themselves or others.

In 1981, a year after the Religious Right abandoned Jimmy Carter, a born-again evangelical Christian, for Ronald Reagan, Billy Graham remarked, “It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”

Jared Cadwell, the Fayston selectboard chairman, holds papers at a desk and looks over the town's Town Meeting Day warning in the town's municpal building.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

If you take a quick scan at this year's Town Meeting Day warnings, you won't find too many ambitious projects that require long-term borrowing. Vermont town officials say ongoing debates in Washington and Montpelier are making it hard to plan too far into the future.

courtesy, Brenda Patoine; courtesy, Christine for Vermont

Two candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for governor are carving out some early distinctions in their approaches to campaign finance, and fiscal oversight of state government.

As soon as the smoke had cleared in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, the cry went up - how could such a rampage, claiming 17 lives, finally be prevented?

In foreground, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, left, and Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears, right , talk after a meeting on gun legislation Tuesday.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Vermont’s top elected officials have vowed to move ahead with new restrictions on gun ownership, but a debate between the House and Senate this week shows that finding consensus on firearms legislation will be easier said than done.