Peter Hirschfeld

Peter Hirschfeld covers state government and the Vermont Legislature. He is based in VPR’s Capital Bureau located across the street from Vermont’s Statehouse.

Hirschfeld is a leading Vermont journalist who has covered the Statehouse since 2009, most recently as bureau chief for the Rutland Herald and Times Argus. He began his career in 2003, working as a local sports reporter and copy editor at the Times Argus.

President Donald Trump’s withdrawal this week from a landmark international agreement to combat climate change has sparked state-level efforts, including in Vermont, to uphold the United States’ role in a global pact to reduce carbon emissions.

Gov. Phil Scott says Vermont will not cooperate with a federal crackdown on immigration that calls on state and local officials to aid in heightened border-security measures. And he says his administration is "exploring a legal challenge" to executive orders signed by President Donald Trump last week.

Political candidates across the state are pounding pavement, making phone calls and saturating media channels today as they look to get out the vote in advance of Tuesday’s primary election.

Hillary Clinton appears to have clinched the Democratic presidential nomination. But in a speech last Thursday, Bernie Sanders called on his supporters to take his political revolution to the local level. And the founders of a new political action committee in Vermont say they intend to do just that. 

It’s only been a year since Bernie Sanders stood on the waterfront in Burlington to announce his bid for the presidency. But his impact on the Democratic Party he chose to run under has already been substantial, and many left-leaning Vermonters say Sanders’ candidacy is shifting the ideological balance of the Vermont Democratic Party. 

Vermont Democrats have decided to change this state’s role in the election of presidential candidates. The 2016 primary between Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has soured many voters on the concept of superdelegates.

The alleged fraud involving developers in the Northeast Kingdom has put new scrutiny on donations to the Vermont Democratic Party. The party’s three candidates for governor now say the VDP should give up the contributions it received from the man at the center of the scandal.

Hopes for single-payer health care in Vermont were sidelined at the end of 2014, but lawmakers haven’t given up on the concept of publicly-financed medical system. And a coming study could lay the groundwork for universal care for all Vermonters under the age of 27.

There’s no shortage of anecdotal evidence of racial profiling by Vermont police, and in 2014, lawmakers decided they wanted to find out severe the problem really is. 

They approved legislation requiring every police agency in the state to collect traffic-stop data that included the driver’s race. But public records requests now reveal that two years after its passage, many departments aren’t complying with the statute.

A private venture that was supposed to spark an economic renaissance in northern Vermont has turned into what state and federal authorities are calling a “Ponzi-like” fraud on foreign investors, who have allegedly been duped out of tens of millions of dollars by the owner of Jay Peak. 

Vermont Commissioner of Health Harry Chen is urging federal officials to alter medical guidelines that might be contributing to the state’s opiate abuse problem.

Lawmakers will soon get a report on whether Vermont should purchase a series of hydroelectric dams along the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers. In the meantime, they’re discovering that the next owners of the dams will be under heavy pressure to address a range of environmental concerns.

The discovery of high levels of a suspected carcinogen in private water supplies in Bennington and beyond has lawmakers questioning the adequacy of regulations that are supposed to protect Vermonters from toxic substances.

A bill that would tax and regulate marijuana in Vermont underwent a sudden and drastic overhaul on Wednesday evening, and the latest version scraps legalization in favor of expanding existing decriminalization laws.

Should the state of Vermont get into the energy business? That’s suddenly become one of the most pressing questions in Montpelier.

Three years ago, lawmakers approved new slaughter regulations that gave small farmers a foothold in the local meat market. Those rules are set to expire in July, and lawmakers must now decide whether or not to extend them. 

Vermont has become the fifth state in the nation to enact legislation that requires businesses to provide their workers with paid sick leave.

It was the Fourth of July in 2011 when Regina-Anne and David Cooper got the news that would change their lives forever. Their 21-year-old son Derek had committed suicide by jumping from the Quechee Gorge Bridge. Now, the family is asking lawmakers to prevent similar deaths in the future. 

There’s nothing new about mental health advocates pressing lawmakers for increased funding. But officials at the designated agencies that provide community-based services say the situation has turned dire, and independent regulators say the agencies’ funding shortfalls are now threatening the availability of critical services.

A super PAC created by a white supremacist group in southern California inundated Vermont households Wednesday evening with robocalls urging people to vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Vermont Senate became only the second legislative body in the nation to approve a bill that would legalize the sale and possession of marijuana. But the narrow vote spotlights the controversial nature of the legislation. And proposal still faces staunch opposition in the House.

A three-ring political circus arrived in Burlington, Vt., Thursday when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a campaign rally in one of the most liberal cities in the country.

In the past two presidential elections, two-thirds of Vermont's voters chose Barack Obama over Republican candidates, so why did Trump even bother to campaign in Vermont?

With the stroke of the governor’s pen on Monday, Vermont became the 14th state to allow same-day voter registration. Proponents say the measure will help improve low turnout rates in Vermont elections. Critics though say it could make it easier to sabotage the democratic process.

Vermont’s online health insurance exchange has been beset with problems since its launch a year and a half ago. In a surprise announcement on Friday, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Vermont will abandon Vermont Health Connect if it doesn’t start working properly soon.

Some of the state’s largest ski areas owe their success to lease agreements that allow them to use land owned by the state of Vermont. But State Auditor Doug Hoffer says the state ought to be charging higher rates for use of this pristine mountain land.