Photo: The west entrance of the State House (Glenn Russell / VT Digger)
Guests: Conor Kennedy, Ashley Moore, Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale 

The Vermont Legislature has about 100 staffers, compared to states like Massachusetts and New Jersey who have close to 1000, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Montpelier is unique in many ways, but the lack of legislative staff allows direct access to legislators for constituents and advocates that many other states don’t possess. A bulk of the staff work in the Office of Legislative Counsel, drafting, editing, researching, and processing the hundreds of bills legislators propose each biennium. Besides statewide elected officials like our governor, treasurer, and attorney general, for instance, senators and representatives operate on their own, relying on assistance from advocates, interns, or volunteers to get the resources and help they need. But the Speaker of the House and the Senate President each get a chief of staff.

On this week’s episode of the Democracy Dispatch Podcast, I chat with Ashley Moore and Conor Kennedy, the chiefs of staff for Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Baruth (D-Chittenden Central) and Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington), respectively. The two provide a peek behind the podiums, if you will, sharing details of their roles, what led them to this work, how they spend their rare free time, and their involvement in helping pass legislation.

Also on the podcast, Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Chittenden Southeast) shares details about a housing bill that just passed out of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs on a 5-0 vote.

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