Vermont Legislature

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An aerial shot of the House floor on the opening day of the Vermont Legislature in 2019.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Vermont's House of Representatives is one of the few House chambers in the country that doesn't use an electronic voting system to tally roll call.

Chittenden Rep. Jim Harrison wants to change that and is sponsoring a bill to implement an electronic voting system as early as next year. 

Lawmakers such as Putney Rep. Michael Mrowicki, at the podium, are pushing for legislation that would give school districts more time to comply with a law that requires many districts to merge. About 30 districts are challenging the merger law in court.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A tri-partisan group of lawmakers want to postpone a legal deadline that will otherwise force Vermont school districts into involuntary mergers by July 1.

Rep. Pattie McCoy sits in the Vermont House chamber, looking ahead with hands folded.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Since the Civil War, there has never been a time when the Republican Party in Vermont has had so few members in both the House and the Senate. GOP leaders say this current situation has a profound impact on the role of the Republican caucuses at the Statehouse.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson joins us to talk about her legislative agenda.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

One of the goals of House Speaker Mitzi Johnson is to create economic development programs that can revitalize rural parts of Vermont. We're talking with Speaker Johnson about her priorities for the coming legislative session.

Sen. Dick Sears, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, standing and speaking to people gathered.
Angela Evancie / VPR File

Senate leaders say they hope to quickly pass a bill that would create a retail marijuana market that the state would tax and regulate.

A group of Vermonters, including Justin Sinkevich, at right holding a sign, rallied in Montpelier last week in opposition to a carbon tax. While some lawmakers favor the concept, leadership in the House and Senate are resistant to the idea..
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

A growing number of climate advocates say increasing the price of fossil fuels is the surest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but leaders in the House and Senate are resisting calls for a carbon tax in Vermont.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Attorney General TJ Donovan said Monday he will not file charges in the reported racial harassment of former State Rep. Kiah Morris, though he believes Morris and her family were victims.

An aerial view of the House Chamber during the ceremonial proceedings of Gov. Phil Scott's inaugural address Thursday.
John Dillon / VPR

Vermont's 2019 legislative session opened Wednesday, and Gov. Phil Scott delivered his inaugural address Thursday afternoon. 

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson joins us to talk about her legislative agenda.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

The 2019 legislative session will inevitably include partisan fights and scathing floor debates, but on opening day at least, a spirit of unity prevailed in Montpelier.

A dusting of snow on top of the golden dome of the Vermont Statehouse.
Ric Cengeri / VPR File.

Wednesday marks the beginning of the 2019 legislative session. Here's a look at what issues are likely to come up for discussion in the Vermont Legislature during the coming months.

Lawmakers this year will take up many of the same issues they debated in 2018, including paid family leave, a $15 minimum wage, and whether or not to tax and regulate cannabis.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

State revenues may be outpacing expectations this year, but the leaders of the House and Senate say growing demand for services could complicate the budget process during the 2019 legislative session.

The focus turns back to Montpelier as the Legislature convenes for a new biennium.
Ric Cengeri / VPR

When the gavel sounds, the new legislative session begins. Vermont Edition will be at the Statehouse as the 75th biennial session of the Vermont Legislature convenes, broadcasting live from the Cedar Creek Room.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe have competing views on the wisdom of moving to a tax-and-regulate model for cannabis sales in Vermont.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe said lawmakers in his chamber will fast-track legislation that would create a retail market for cannabis sales in Vermont, but House Speaker Mitzi Johnson said she isn’t convinced Vermonters are ready for a tax-and-regulate system.

An aerial view of an damanged bridge with a construction vehicle nearby.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

Act 250, Vermont’s major land use and development review law, is approaching the mid-century mark. And a commission that has spent the last 18 months looking at its future says the law need to be updated to reflect more current environmental threats, such as climate change.

With a conservative majority now in control of the U.S. Supreme Court, Vermont lawmakers will look to codify abortion rights in the state constitution.
Peter Hirschfeld / VPR file

A proposal from Vermont lawmakers to add an abortion-rights amendment to the state constitution has advocates on both sides of the issue gearing up for an emotional debate over the future of reproductive rights in the state.

The number of children taken into state custody has increased over the past six years, and lawmakers are struggling to find ways to ensure their wellbeing.
Moussa81 / iStock

Lawmakers are looking for novel ways to relieve stress on a child welfare system that’s straining under the weight of Vermont’s opioid problem.

Single-use plastic bags hang on a wall.
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR File

The city of Boston’s ban on plastic grocery bags went into effect Friday, and a regional environmental group says it will push for legislation to impose a similar ban in all six New England states.

An excavator amid rocks at the Sheffield Quarry.
Jon Pierre Lasseigne / Associated Press File

A state-appointed commission is winding up 18 months of work reviewing the successes, the failures and the future of Act 250, the state’s landmark development review law.

Gov. Phil Scott speaks at a podium at the GOP Election Night headquarters with a VT GOP banner behind him.
Oliver Parini / For VPR

Gov. Phil Scott may have cruised to re-election Tuesday, but he’ll return to the governor’s office with diminished power over state government.

A sign for Progressive/Democrat Chris Pearson. Pearson is one of six incumbent state senators in Chittenden County running for re-election.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

Thirteen candidates are vying for the six state Senate seats in Vermont’s most populous county. 

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