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Vermont Legislature
Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

At the Statehouse, It’s Death and Taxes

AP/Toby Talbot

At the Statehouse today, lawmakers are spending much of their time on the House and Senate floor debating a slew of bills. The only thing that’s certain, though, is death and taxes.

The House is scheduled to debate legislation that would allow terminally ill Vermonters to obtain medication to end their lives. If the bill passes, it sets up a showdown between the two chambers of the Legislature because the House bill restores many provisions that were stripped out by the Senate.

The Senate, meanwhile, is turning to taxes, debating a sweeping bill that would, among other things, cap mortgage interest deduction at $12,000. That cap is expected to affect roughly 16,000 people. The measure would also impose a minimum 3 percent tax rate on people with incomes above $125,000, add the sales tax to bottled water and impose a small tax on break open tickets sold by private bars.

The House is also set to take up a bill that would extend access to pre-kindergarten. The debate comes as public funding for preschool programs across the country continues to dry up.

A new report out this week shows funding for preschool plummeted last year by some $500 million, with decreased enrollment and more and more programs seeing a drop in quality.

At issue is whether Vermont, a state that depends on federal dollars and whose population for the first time in 50 years is decreasing, can afford to extend these programs. It’s unclear whether the bill's Democratic supporters have the votes: Tuesday's floor debate had been pushed back a week.

Any action on the House and Senate floor you can listen to on VPR’s legislative streams.

Follow our Vermont Legislature reporting team of Bob Kinzel, John Dillon, and Kirk Carapezza on Twitter and here at

Kirk is a reporter for the NPR member station in Boston, WGBH, where he covers higher education, connecting the dots between post-secondary education and the economy, national security, jobs and global competitiveness. Kirk has been a reporter with Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wis.; a writer and producer at WBUR in Boston; a teacher and coach at Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, Mass.; a Fenway Park tour guide; and a tourist abroad. Kirk received his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and earned his M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. When he's not reporting or editing stories on campus, you can find him posting K's on the Wall at Fenway. You can follow Kirk on Twitter @KirkCarapezza.
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