Vermont Legislature

VPR covers the Vermont Legislature with live streams from the Statehouse chambers and news coverage from our capital bureau.

Follow our Vermont Legislature reporting team of Bob Kinzel and John Dillon on Twitter and here at VPR.net.

VPR provides live streaming feed of the House and Senate proceedings, without editing or commentary. The streams are active when there's a meeting in the House or Senate and the chamber microphones are turned on; the streams are quiet otherwise.

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VPR News
5:00 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Hand Held Cell Phone Ban For Drivers Is Stalled At Statehouse

VPR/Angela Evancie

Two key Senate committees have fundamental differences about the scope of a bill that would ban cell phone use while driving. Those differences could derail the legislation for the session.

Earlier this year, the House overwhelmingly supported legislation that prohibits drivers from using hand-held phones and other electronic devices.

One of the primary goals of the legislation is to give law enforcement officials a new tool to crack down on drivers who text while operating a car.

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VPR News
6:16 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Lawmakers Look To Boost Pay For Construction Workers

Members of the Vermont House want to boost the wages of laborers working on many state-funded projects. But leaders in the Senate are worried about how the proposal would impact local construction firms. And supporters of the legislation are running out of time.

The bill could pump as much as $3 million into the wallets of construction workers, according to an analysis conducted by the legislative analysts. It would do so by requiring firms who bid on some state-funded capital projects to pay prevailing wages as determined by the federal government.

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VPR News
5:56 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Vermont On Course To Be First To Require GMO Labels

Vermont is poised to become the first state in the country to require the labeling of food products made with genetically modified organisms.

After nearly two hours of debate, a strong bipartisan coalition of senators gave their preliminary approval to the bill by a vote of 26 to 2.

Under the bill, the labeling requirements would go into place in July of 2016 and would affect virtually all food products sold in Vermont.

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VPR News
5:42 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Legislative Memo Outlines Single-Payer Alternative

It’s only three and a half pages long. And it’s much more of a conceptual outline than a fully formed plan. But a March 24 memo, authored by a policy analyst hired by the Legislature earlier this year, shows that at least some lawmakers are already considering alternatives to the single-payer proposal Gov. Peter Shumlin will drop on their desks next year.

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Vermont Edition
12:00 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

One Month To Go: Legislative Update

House Chamber seen from the visitor's gallery at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier.
Toby Talbot AP

Lawmakers say they need four to five weeks to finish the business of this legislative biennium. That puts a deadline on the bills that will pass and those that won't. Legislators, lobbyists and activists continue to work on issues like banning on drivers using cell phones, requiring GMO products to be labeled, consolidating school systems, and requiring paid sick days. 

We talk with some of Vermont’s best Statehouse reporters learn the details. The panel is Neal Goswami of the Vermont Press Bureau, Terry Hallenbeck of the Burlington Free Press and VPR's Peter Hirschfeld.

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VPR News
5:31 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

House, Senate Ponder Single-Payer Details

Less than three years from now, Vermont is scheduled to make the transition to a single-payer health care system. And while the all-important question of how to pay for it has been put off until 2015, lawmakers say it’s time to start making some tough decisions about what that future system will look like.

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VPR News
6:36 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

State Workers Union Alleges Retaliation By Management

John Howe is pictured in a VSEA Facebook post.

John Howe has spent 18 years in state government helping disabled and financially needy clients find employment, medical care and shelter. He earned an “excellent” rating in his last employment review, and even got a $500 merit bonus.

So when Howe was abruptly placed on paid administrative leave late last month from his position as a  counselor at the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, he says he could attribute the sanctions to only one thing.

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VPR News
6:01 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

School Consolidation Mandate Losing Steam As Opposition Grows

As school enrollment in Vermont continues to decline, legislation that would consolidate the state's 275 school districts into 60 districts is coming under fire.
Comstock Images Thinkstock

The House Committee on Education gave unanimous approval last month to legislation that would shrink the number of school districts in Vermont. But their legislative colleagues have begun to voice concerns with the plan. And what would have been one of the most forceful education mandates in state history now looks to be losing momentum.

To understand just how many school districts Vermont has, a comparison with other states is helpful: even if you cut the number of districts in half, Vermont would still have more school board members per student than any state in the country.

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VPR News
5:57 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

House Backs $10.10 Minimum Wage Starting In January

A bill endorsed by the House General Affairs committee would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour beginning next January, though it's likely that the House timetable will be changed in the Senate.
underworld111 Thinkstock

Vermonters would soon earn a minimum of $10.10 an hour under legislation advanced by the House on Tuesday.

The question during the day long debate wasn’t whether the wage rate should be raised but how quickly it should happen.

The state minimum wage is currently $8.73 an hour. The bill endorsed by the House General Affairs committee increased the rate to $10.10 an hour beginning next January.

Rep. Jean O’Sullivan, D-Burlington, says the increase would affect roughly 20,000 workers in Vermont and would help pump a lot of money into the state economy.

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The Frequency
12:10 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Shumlin Appoints Retired Teacher To Fill House Seat

Gov. Peter Shumlin has appointed Tommy Walz, a former teacher from Barre, to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Tess Taylor.

Taylor, a three-term Democrat, left the house in March to become executive director of Vermont’s Coalition for Universal Reform. The group advocates in the state legislature for single-payer health care.

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