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

House Speaker Shap Smith To Seek Another Term

Speaker Shap Smith oversees a Democratic supermajority in the Vermont House.
Toby Talbot
House Speaker Shap Smith filed the paperwork Thursday to seek another term in office.

Since the close of the legislative session in May, lawmakers, lobbyists and administration officials have been awaiting word on the future plans of three-term House Speaker Shap Smith.

House leadership during the next biennium will play an outsized role on major decisions on single-payer financing and education funding reform. And with no obvious heir apparent for the speakership, uncertainty over Smith’s plans had become the biggest question mark facing the policy makers that will attempt to push through a health care financing bill that Gov. Peter Shumlin has said will be the “heaviest political lift” in state history.

"I think this next year is going to be one that is a really pivotal one for the state of Vermont in the education, education finance, health care and health care finance areas." - House Speaker Shap Smith

That speculation ended when Smith filed his candidate petition with the Morristown Town Clerk shortly after the municipal office opened at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Smith said in an interview at the town office that the weeks-long decision making process involved conversations with his family members, and with his colleagues at his Burlington law office, Dinse, Knapp and McAndrew.

In the end, Smith said he wanted to be part of a 2015/2016 biennium during which he says the state will make key decisions about its future.

“I think this next year is going to be one that is a really pivotal one for the state of Vermont in the education, education finance, health care and health care finance areas,” Smith said. “And I think it’s going to be a really tough year, but I think it could be one that lays the foundation for a really successful future.”

Smith and the Democrats enjoyed a near super-majority in the House in the last biennium, and Smith says he anticipates a similar partisan dynamic when the new Legislature returns in 2015.  

“I think it’ll be a tough campaign, but I feel good about the people that are running on the Democratic side,” Smith said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we either picked up a couple seats or lost a couple seats, but I don’t see a sea change in the Legislature next year.”

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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