The Associated Press

  • Reporter: Feb. 2017 — May 2017
AP
From left: Lisa Rathke, me, Wilson Ring. This picture was taken on my last day in the Bureau.

I covered Vermont’s 2017 legislative session for the AP. At the Montpelier, Vt. bureau, I worked with longtime writers Wilson Ring (right) and Lisa Rathke (left), pumping out quick hit news items, dailies and longform stories, along with some video.

Here are some of my favorite stories:

House blocks Gov. Scott’s Teacher Health Care savings plan

May 3, 2017 By Cory Dawson

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott.

The Vermont House has blocked Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s proposal from advancing on how to save money from new, cheaper health care plans for the state’s teachers.

The governor’s office released a statement late Wednesday night saying lawmakers voted 74-73 in support of the proposal, but Democratic House Speaker Mitzi Johnson cast a final vote, creating a tie that prevented the proposal from moving forward. The governor’s office said two supporters of the proposal were absent from the House.

“While the Speaker’s vote ensured this savings proposal was not adopted tonight, this vote is a clear indication that enough votes exist in the House to ensure that, one way or another, the Governor’s proposal can still become law, saving taxpayers up to $26 million each year, without asking teachers to pay more or cutting programs for kids,” the governor’s office said.

Documents: Immigrants’ ID card info was fed to customs

April 12, 2017By Cory Dawson

The Vermont motor vehicle department gave federal officials information on immigrants living in the country illegally, documents show, giving life to longstanding fears that programs providing such immigrants with documentation could be used against them.

Copies of emails requested and recently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show that investigators with the state Department of Motor Vehicles coordinated with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last year to identify noncitizens.

Many of the emails show department investigators sent information to ICE on migrants they suspect gave false information on their applications for driver identification cards. The state’s card program was created in 2013 to provide immigrants living in the country illegally with a way to drive.

Vermont environmentalists plan for depleted federal funds

March 31, 2017 By Cory Dawson

Aging water treatment plants strapped for cash. Lake cleanup efforts undermined. Stream and river protection groups with slashed budgets.

These are the concerns of Vermont environmental groups, who say they are looking at their budgets and making contingency plans to prepare for deep proposed federal cuts to programs that rely heavily on them. President Donald Trump proposed a budget that includes a 31 percent reduction for the Environmental Protection Agency and a 20 percent cut for the Department of Agriculture.

“Obviously, we are gravely concerned,” said Julie Moore, secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources, which gets a third of its funding from federal sources.

VIDEO: Businesses close as snow blankets Vermont

This video piece was part of the AP’s coverage of several winter storms that hit the Northeast. I was the only AP reporter in Vermont at the time able to get footage of the intense storms for our members.