Recent Posts

Story + Video: Shumlin meets with refugees

Gov. Peter Shumlin visited a classroom of refugees ranging in age from 18 to 60, participating in a class teaching basic English at the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue Tuesday morning. (Times Argus/Jennifer Langille)

BURLINGTON — Gov. Peter Shumlin on Tuesday visited with refugees from around the world that have settled in Vermont to welcome them to the state as a debate rages around the country regarding the acceptance of Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn nation. The governor spoke to about a dozen refugees living in Vermont as they attended an English language class at the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington. They have arrived in Vermont from several nations, including Bhutan, Somalia, Myanmar and the Congo — some within the past few months and some years ago. Shumlin, one of the few governors who has spoken in favor of welcoming Syrian refugees since concerns were raised following the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris, told the new residents he wanted to “come and thank you on behalf of Vermonters for being Vermonters.”

“I can’t tell you how excited we are that you have joined the best state in the country. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Watch: Vermont PBS’ Vermont This Week

Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami joins the panel on Vermont PBS’ Vermont This Week. HEADLINES:
Syrian Resettlement Opens Vermont Divide
Smith Ends Campaign for GovernorSanders Defines Democratic Socialism
Marijuana Legalization Bill Taking Shape
Lawmakers Consider Revising Act 46
Swanton Voters Reject Turbines
Stewart Ledbetter, Moderator
Paul Heintz, Seven Days
Neal Goswami, Vermont Press Bureau
Robin Smith, Caledonian Record Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Syrian refugee issue draws protesters, supporters

Crystal Zevon, of Barnet

MONTPELIER – Security or compassion? Those two positions drew approximately 50 people to the State House on Friday in demonstrations in opposition to and in support of Vermont accepting refugees from Syria. The demonstrations — overwhelmingly in favor of allowing Syrian refugees in Vermont — follow a statement earlier this week from Gov. Peter Shumlin, who said Vermont would welcome refugees from Syria, a position that finds him at odds with many other state governors who have said they did not want refugees from the war-torn failed state following recent attacks in Beirut and Paris that left nearly 200 people dead. In a  subsequent interview with The Vermont Press Bureau, Shumlin said rejecting the refugees would not reflect the values of the nation. “It is not the way that we as Americans and as Vermonters promote a free and just society that is the foundation for the greatest democracy in the world,” Shumlin said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Commentary: Reversing the trend of rising incarceration rates


or most of the last two decades, Vermont’s prison inmate population has been rising. Between 1997 and 2008, it grew by 86 percent. Projections made in 2007 said that Vermont’s inmate population would grow to 2,619 by November 2015. After years of work to reform Vermont’s criminal justice system that trend has been reversed, and today Vermont has 1,734 inmates, 885 less than projected. When I first ran for Governor I made reforming the criminal justice system a priority because it is the right thing to do. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Story and podcast – Shumlin: U.S. and Vermont should welcome refugees

Gov. Peter Shumlin speaks about welcoming Syrian refugees to Vermont on the Capitol Beat podcast. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin says Republican gubernatorial candidates, like their fellow Republicans seeking the presidency, are stoking fear and bigotry by calling for a halt to Syrian refugees relocating in America. Less than a week since the terror attacks in Paris jolted the world and sparked new fears about the threat of global terrorism and the reach of ISIS, conversation across the U.S., including Vermont, has focused on the plight of Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country, and the extent of America’s responsibility and moral obligation to help. Listen to Gov. Peter Shumlin discuss Syrian refugees on the Capitol Beat podcast:

Shumlin, in an interview with the Vermont Press Bureau Wednesday, said Syrian refugees, like immigrants from all nations in past years, will make American and Vermont a better place. “I really feel that America was created on the backs of folks who emigrated to this country under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. Some were fleeing war, some were fleeing death squads. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Shumlin: Open enrollment is smooth

Gov. Peter Shumlin, flanked by his health care reform team, tells reporters that the 2016 open enrollment process is proceeding smoothly. (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin and his top health care reform officials said at a news conference that Vermont Health Connect is handling the open enrollment process well. “We’re two weeks into the annual open enrollment for Vermont Health Connect and I’m pleased to report that it is going very, very well. That’s very different from the last two times that we began open enrollment,” Shumlin said. The governor said more than 18,000 Vermonters have completed the renewal process and secured their coverage for 2016 on the state’s online health insurance marketplace. There are about 30,000 Vermonters enrolled in health care plans this year on the exchange. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Smith drops out of gov race as wife battles cancer


MONTPELIER — Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith announced at a news conference Tuesday that he is dropping out of the race for governor as his wife battles cancer. Smith, 49, said his wife, who recently had surgery as part of her treatment, must now undergo additional treatment for breast cancer. He said he is choosing to suspend his campaign to spend more time with his family because it is “the right thing to do.”

“As of today I am suspending my campaign for governor. My wife Melissa was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this fall and she recently underwent surgery. We were very optimistic that that was the course of treatment that she would need when the surgery took place but the doctors have told us that more treatment is necessary to ensure a full recovery,” Smith told reporters and a crowd of supporters on the steps of the State House. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

State’s inmate population declines to lowest level in over a decade

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The number of inmates in Vermont prisons is at its lowest level since the early 2000s, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday. On Monday there were 1,734 inmates in Vermont prisons, a decline of 17.5 percent since Shumlin took office in early 2011 when there were 2,103 inmates in custody. Also, the number of inmates being held in out-of-state prisons has fallen 52 percent since Shumlin took office from 562 to 271 today. Shumlin cited a series of policy changes and new laws for the drop, including alternatives to incarceration for first offenders, the elimination of criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana and making it easier for people convicted of some crimes to get jobs with the state. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Shumlin touts incentive programs

Gov. Peter Shumlin in his ceremonial State House office earlier this year.

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin says Vermont’s small-ball approach to economic subsidies for businesses is paying dividends in the nationwide incentive battle with other states. Vermont, like other states, is engaged in a battle to both attract new businesses and retain existing ones. The high-stakes game involves vast sums of taxpayer funds to lure companies. In Vermont, the main tool available to state government is the Vermont Economic Growth Incentive. The program provides incentives from the state to businesses to encourage economic activity that would otherwise not occur without the incentive. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Barre DCF workers will move to nearby courthouse after shooting

Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson (VPB/Neal Goswami)

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration is planning to move Department for Children and Families workers from their location at Barre City Place to a nearby courthouse, a direct response to the August shooting death of a DCF worker. Administration Secretary Justin Johnson told reporters Friday that about 30 employees in DCF’s Economic Services Division will make the one-block move by the end of year. The employees will take over the fourth floor of the state-owned courthouse, he said. To accommodate them, the Washington County State’s Attorney’s office will move down to the courthouse’s second floor, he said. “That group of people have been fairly traumatized,” he said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,