On my first day in the Vermont State Senate, two veteran Chittenden County senators in front of me turned around to ask me a question. Senators Sally Fox and Hinda Miller, in many ways political opposites from this new senator from the Kingdom, asked if I’d consider co-sponsoring a resolutio…

Feb. 5 marked the 26th anniversary of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which guarantees workers access to job-protected unpaid time off to welcome a new child, care for a family member or tend to one’s own illness or injury. It was also my older daughter’s 4th birthday. (How …

I am saddened to hear of the coming closure of Green Mountain College. As a former faculty member and administrator at Goddard College in Plainfield, I also mourn the stresses on other small liberal arts institutions that point toward more potential closings. The losses are not just to the b…

An article in this week’s Weekend Magazine looks at how Vermont farmers work through the winter months. Bottom line: They are just as busy in winter as they are in summer; the challenges are just a bit different.

The National Football League could easily provide an object lesson to the Trump administration on how to better utilize smoke and mirrors to get over the rough patches. Both the NFL and POTUS energetically strive to convince their respective fans of things that are inaccurate at best, but wh…

Robert Frost said in one of his masterpieces, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” and further on in the same poem (“Mending Wall”) he adds, “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out, / And to whom I was like to give offence.” That last word is o…

Shoring up the Trump administration’s hard-shell conservative base, 19 days into the tiresome “partial government shutdown” over funding for a border wall that only the willingly delusional could have believed Mexico would pay for, Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 9 further lowered the stan…

In his inaugural address, Gov. Phil Scott made a point of singling out Act 250 as a policy objective that needs modernizing in order to both grow the state and regulate development. Now more than 50 years old, demands on the guidelines have changed, as have the demographics and circumstances…

As I explain that my only requirement for a cell phone is to make phone calls, the millennial Verizon sales rep looks startled, as though a stegosaurus just wandered out from behind the rose bushes. I’m only there because the planned obsolescence of my phone (of which I was unaware) inconven…

The Vermont Supreme Court issued a monumental decision of seismic proportion a couple weeks ago in Zullo vs. the State of Vermont. As legal scholars grapple with the ramifications of Article 11, monetary damages and search and seizure, the attorney general is still muddling through this volu…

Recently, The Times Argus and Rutland Herald ran an editorial imploring Sen. Bernie Sanders not to run again for president in 2020. The arguments against his candidacy amounted to the same “perhaps in another time, another place” laments that were so often deployed against Sanders in 2016.

Over the Christmas holidays, I am always presented with a similar question from my non-religious (and some atheist) friends, many of them highly educated. The question is basically: “John, how can you possibly believe in all that hocus pocus about the soul, the resurrection and everlasting l…

I love the formal rituals that mark the start of a new legislative session. There’s a sense of gravity as legislators rise to take their oaths of office, swearing to “do equal right and justice to all people.” The senators march in a procession into the House chamber to hear the governor giv…

The cliché about children being our future is true. Vermont’s schools do a great job of providing a base for our youth, but oftentimes there are students who need a little more. That difference might just be a mentor.

After a mile or so of battling the icy road, I’m carrying myself like someone anticipating a two-by-four across the back of the head: shoulders hunched up, adjacent to my ears; head bowed; and knees braced rigidly enough to cramp my thighs and have my lower back running a white flag up my sp…

In his commentary, “Dems, get some religion,” John Nassivera accepts the notions that “there is such a thing as ‘separation of church and state under U.S. law’” and “that the state can have nothing to do with establishing a particular religion.” So far, so good. He continues: “The separation…

As we enter a new year, many Vermont dairy farmers, as well as farmers nationwide, continue fighting through their economic fog. Trapped in an antiquated federal dairy-pricing system, Vermont’s hard-working stewards of the land are at the whim of a highly competitive global structure. Compen…

On July 1, Vermont became the ninth state to allow the legal possession and consumption of cannabis for adult use. In other words, cannabis is now legal in Vermont. Under current law, any Vermonter 21 years of age or older can cultivate up to two mature and four immature plants and possess u…

This January marks a watershed moment for Act 250, Vermont’s groundbreaking land-development law, on its 50th anniversary. The Legislature will be contemplating the recommendations of the Commission on Act 250 the Next 50 Years. Chaired by Middlebury Rep. Amy Sheldon, the Legislature tasked …

After 40 years of dairy farming, I sold my herd of cows. The herd had been in my family since 1904; I know all 45 cows by name. I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to take over our farm — who would? Dairy farming is little more than hard work and possible economic suicide.

The whole country has been captivated by the story of a resident of Westford putting up a (rather well done) statue of a middle finger directed at the select board of his town. Why are people so delighted by an act that might, from a certain point of view, be called unmannerly or childish?

The Christian celebration of Epiphany is observed, in the Western tradition, on Jan. 6. On Dec. 12, Ross Douthat wrote an excellent opinion piece in the New York Times titled “The Return of Paganism.” The proximity of his essay to Epiphany gave rise to some related thoughts about this holiday.

In 2018, it became clear that Earth has passed a threshold where many extreme weather events are now clearly attributable to climate change. In the U.S., hurricanes Harvey and Florence broke records for rainfall amount as they strengthened over warmer tropical oceans and then stalled on the …

The week is upon us. The reset button gets pushed and we all make a list of things we are going to resolve to do better than we did the year before.

Last session my colleague, Senator Joe Benning (R-Caledonia), discovered that we both enjoy riding motorcycles, and he remarked how fun it would be if we — Majority Leader and Minority Leader — parked our bikes next to each other at the statehouse. Next to his Harley Davidson “hog” my Honda …