|State of Vermont|
|Nickname(s): The Green Mountain State|
|Motto(s): Freedom and Unity and Stella quarta decima fulgeat (May the 14th star shine bright)|
|Largest metro||Burlington-South Burlington|
|• Total||9,616 sq mi
|• Width||80 miles (130 km)|
|• Length||160 miles (260 km)|
|• % water||4.1|
|• Latitude||42° 44′ N to 45° 1′ N|
|• Longitude||71° 28′ W to 73° 26′ W|
|Population||Ranked 49th (2nd least)|
|• Total||626,042 (2015 est)|
|• Density||67.7/sq mi (26.1/km2)
|• Median household income||$52,104 (20th)|
|• Highest point||Mount Mansfield
4,395 ft (1340 m)
|• Mean||1,000 ft (300 m)|
|• Lowest point||Lake Champlain
95 to 100 ft (29 to 30 m)
|Before statehood||Vermont Republic|
|Admission to Union||March 4, 1791 (14th)|
|Governor||Peter Shumlin (D)|
|Lieutenant Governor||Phil Scott (R)|
|• Upper house||Senate|
|• Lower house||House of Representatives|
|U.S. Senators||Patrick Leahy (D)
Bernie Sanders (I)
|U.S. House delegation||Peter Welch (D) (list)|
|Time zone||Eastern: UTC −5/−4|
Vermont (i/ /[a]) is a state in the New England part of the northeastern region of the United States. It borders the other US states of Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. Lake Champlain forms half of Vermont's western border with the state of New York. The Green Mountains run north-south the length of the state and forests cover approximately 75% of its total land area. Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in the US.
Vermont is the second least populous of the US states, with roughly 40,000 more residents than Wyoming. The capital is Montpelier, the least populous state capital in the US. The most populous municipality, Burlington, is the least populous city in the US to be the largest city within a state. In January 2016, Vermont was ranked the safest state in the US.
Originally inhabited by two Native American tribes (the Algonquian-speaking Abenaki and the Iroquois), much of the territory that is now Vermont was claimed by the French colony of New France. The Kingdom of France ceded the territory to Britain after being defeated in 1763 in the Seven Years' War. For many years, the nearby colonies, especially the Provinces of New Hampshire and New York, disputed control of the area (then called the New Hampshire Grants). Settlers who held land titles granted by these colonies were opposed by the Green Mountain Boys militia, which eventually prevailed in creating an independent state, the Vermont Republic. Founded in 1777 during the Revolutionary War, the republic lasted for fourteen years. Aside from the Thirteen Colonies, Vermont is one of only four US states that was previously a sovereign state (along with California, Hawaii, and Texas). In 1791, Vermont joined the US as the 14th state–the first to be admitted to the union after the original 13 colonies. Vermont was the first state to partially abolish slavery while still independent and played an important geographical role in the Underground Railroad, which helped American slaves escape to Canada.
- 1 Geography
- 2 History
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Economy
- 5 Transportation
- 6 Media
- 7 Utilities
- 8 Law and government
- 9 Public health
- 10 Education
- 11 Sports
- 12 Culture
- 13 State symbols
- 14 Notable Vermonters
- 15 See also
- 16 Notes
- 17 References
- 18 Bibliography
- 19 External links
Vermont is located in the New England region in the eastern United States and comprises 9,614 square miles (24,900 km2), making it the 45th-largest state. It is the only state that does not have any buildings taller than 124 feet (38 m). Land comprises 9,250 square miles (24,000 km2) and water comprises 365 square miles (950 km2), making it the 43rd-largest in land area and the 47th in water area. In total area, it is larger than El Salvador and smaller than Haiti.
The west bank of the Connecticut River marks the eastern (New Hampshire) border of the state (the river is part of New Hampshire). 41% of Vermont's land area is part of the Connecticut River's watershed.
Lake Champlain, the major lake in Vermont, is the sixth-largest body of fresh water in the United States and separates Vermont from New York in the northwest portion of the state. From north to south, Vermont is 159 miles (256 km) long. Its greatest width, from east to west, is 89 miles (143 km) at the Canadian border; the narrowest width is 37 miles (60 km) at the Massachusetts line. The width averages 60.5 miles (97.4 km). The state's geographic center is approximately three miles (5 km) east of Roxbury, in Washington County. There are fifteen US federal border crossings between Vermont and Canada.
The origin of the name "Vermont" is uncertain, but likely comes from the French les Verts Monts, meaning "the Green Mountains". Thomas Young introduced it in 1777. Some authorities[specify] say that the mountains were called green because they were more forested than the higher White Mountains of New Hampshire and Adirondacks of New York; others say that the predominance of mica-quartz-chlorite schist, a green-hued metamorphosed shale, is the reason. The Green Mountain range forms a north–south spine running most of the length of the state, slightly west of its center. In the southwest portion of the state are the Taconic Mountains; the Granitic Mountains are in the northeast. In the northwest, near Lake Champlain, is the fertile Champlain Valley. In the south of the valley is Lake Bomoseen.
Several mountains have timberlines with delicate year-round alpine ecosystems, including Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in the state; Killington Peak, the second-highest; Camel's Hump, the state's third-highest; and Mount Abraham, the fifth-highest peak.
Areas in Vermont administered by the National Park Service include the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (in Woodstock) and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
Vermont has nine incorporated cities, listed by population.
The most populated city in Vermont by population is Burlington, and its metropolitan area is also the most populous in the state with an estimate of 214,796 as of 2013.
Although these towns are large enough to be considered cities, they are not incorporated as such.
The annual mean temperature for the state is 43 °F (6 °C). Vermont has a humid continental climate, with muddy springs, in general a mild early summer, hot Augusts; it has colorful autumns: Vermont's hills reveal red, orange, and (on sugar maples) gold foliage as cold weather approaches. Winters are colder at higher elevations. It has a Köppen climate classification of Dfb, similar to Minsk, Stockholm, and Fargo.
The rural northeastern section (dubbed the "Northeast Kingdom") often averages 10 °F (5.6 °C) colder than the southern areas of the state during winter. The annual snowfall averages between 60 and 100 inches (1,500 and 2,500 mm) depending on elevation.
Vermont is the seventh coldest state in the country. In winter, until typical El Niño conditions, Vermont's winters are "too cold to snow"; the air is too cold to contain sufficient moisture to prompt precipitation.
The highest recorded temperature was 105 °F (41 °C), at Vernon, on July 4, 1911; the lowest recorded temperature was −50 °F (−46 °C), at Bloomfield, on December 30, 1933; this is the lowest temperature recorded in New England (Big Black River, Maine, also recorded a verified −50 °F (−46 °C) in 2009). The agricultural growing season ranges from 120 to 180 days.
The USDA Plant hardiness zones for the state range between zone 3b (no colder than −35 °F (−37 °C)) in the Northeast Kingdom and northern part of the state and zone 5b (no colder than −15 °F (−26 °C)) in the southern part of the state.
The state receives between 2,000 and 2,400 hours of sunshine annually.
|Climate data for Burlington|
|Record high °F (°C)||66
|Average high °F (°C)||27
|Average low °F (°C)||9
|Record low °F (°C)||−30
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.61
There are five distinct physiographic regions of Vermont. Categorized by geological and physical attributes, they are the Northeastern Highlands, the Green Mountains, the Taconic Mountains, the Champlain Lowlands, and the Vermont Piedmont.
The central and southern Green Mountain range include the oldest rocks in Vermont, formed about one billion years ago during the first mountain building period (or orogeny). Subsequently, about 400 million years ago, the second mountain building period created Green Mountain peaks that were 15,000–20,000 feet (4,600–6,100 m) tall, three to four times their current height and comparable to the Himalayas. The geological pressures that created those peaks remain evident as the Champlain Thrust, running north–south to the west of the mountains (now the eastern shore of Lake Champlain). It is an example of geological fault thrusting where bedrock is pushed over the newer rock formation.
As a result of tectonic formation, Vermont east of the Green Mountains tends to be formed from rocks produced in the Silurian and Devonian periods. Western Vermont mainly from the older Pre-Cambrian and Cambrian material.
Several large deposits within the state contain granite.
Some buildings in Germany, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi are constructed almost primarily[clarification needed] of Vermont granite. Rock of Ages quarries two kinds of granite in Vermont: Barre Gray and Bethel White.
The remains of the Chazy Formation can be observed in Isle La Motte. It was one of the first tropical reefs. It is the site of the limestone Fisk Quarry, which contains a collection of ancient marine fossils such as stromatoporoids that date back to 200 million years ago. It is believed that at one point, Vermont was connected to Africa (Pangaea) and the fossils found and the rock formations found on the coasts in both Africa and America are further evidence of the Pangaea theory.
The state contains 41 species of reptiles and amphibians, 89 species of fish, of which 12 are non-native; 193 species of breeding birds, 58 species of mammals, more than 15,000 insect species, and 2,000 higher plant species, plus fungi, algae, and 75 different types of natural communities.
By the mid-19th century, wild turkeys were exterminated in the state through overhunting and destruction of habitat. Sixteen were re-introduced in 1969 and had grown to an estimated flock of 45,000 in 2009. in 2013, hunters killed 6,968 of these.
Since 1970, reduction of farmland has resulted in reduced environment for, and reduced numbers of various shrubland birds including the American woodcock, brown thrasher, eastern towhee, willow flycatcher, golden-winged warbler, blue-winged warbler, field sparrow, and Baltimore oriole.
The New England cottontail disappeared from the state in the early 1970s, out-competed by the eastern cottontail rabbit, imported in the 1800s for hunting, and which is better able to detect predators.
Out of a total of 33 species of bumblebee, there were 19 or 20 in the state in 2013. Bombus terricola (the yellow-banded bumblebee), although once common in Vermont, has not been seen in most of its range since 1999 and is now absent from Vermont. For honey bees, colony collapse disorder has affected bee population in the state, as elsewhere.
Since 2010, the Vermont Department of Health has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct blood serum surveys of the state's deer and moose populations. Tests for eastern equine encephalitis virus antibodies were positive in moose or deer in each of Vermont's counties. In 2012, 12% of deer and 2.4% of moose tested positive.
Vermont is in the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome. Much of the state, in particular the Green Mountains, is covered by the conifers and northern hardwoods of the New England-Acadian forests. The western border with New York and the area around Lake Champlain lies within the Eastern Great Lakes lowland forests. The southwest corner of the state and parts of the Connecticut River are covered by Northeastern coastal forests of mixed oak.
Many of Vermont's rivers, including the Winooski River, have been subjected to man-made barriers to prevent flooding.
Climate change appears to be affecting the maple sugar industry. Sugar maples have been subject to stress by acid rain, asian longhorn beetles, pear thrips, and, in 2011, an excessive deer herd that is forced to eat bark in the winter. These maples need a certain amount of cold to produce sap for maple syrup. The time to tap these trees has shrunk to one week in some years. The tree may be replaced by the more aggressive Norway maples, in effect forcing the sugar maples to "migrate" north to Canada.
Native American occupancy
Between 8500 and 7000 BCE, at the time of the Champlain Sea, Native Americans inhabited and hunted in present-day Vermont. During the Archaic period, from the 8th millennium BCE to 1000 BCE, Native Americans migrated year-round. During the Woodland period, from 1000 BCE to 1600 CE, villages and trade networks were established, and ceramic and bow and arrow technology was developed. In the western part of the state there lived a small population of Algonquian-speaking tribes, including the Mohican and Abenaki peoples. Sometime between 1500 and 1600 CE, the Iroquois, based in present-day New York, drove many of the smaller native tribes out of Vermont, later using the area as a hunting ground and warring with the remaining Abenaki. The population in 1500 CE was estimated to be around 10,000 people.
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The first European to see Vermont is thought to have been Jacques Cartier in 1535. On July 30, 1609, French explorer Samuel de Champlain claimed Vermont as part of New France. In 1666, French settlers erected Fort Sainte Anne on Isle La Motte, the first European settlement in Vermont.
In 1638, a "violent" earthquake was felt throughout New England, centered in the St. Lawrence Valley. This was the first seismic event noted in Vermont.
During Dummer's War, the first permanent British settlement was established in 1724, with the construction of Fort Dummer. It was to protect the nearby settlements of Dummerston and Brattleboro.
From 1731 to 1734, the French constructed Fort St. Frédéric, which gave the French control of the New France/Vermont frontier region in the Lake Champlain Valley. With the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754, the North American front of the Seven Years' War between the French and British, the French began construction of Fort Carillon at present-day Ticonderoga, New York in 1755. The British failed to take Fort St. Frédéric or Fort Carillon between 1755 and 1758. In 1759, a combined force of 12,000 British regular and provincial troops under Sir Jeffery Amherst captured Carillon, after which the French abandoned Fort St. Frédéric. Amherst constructed Fort Crown Point next to the remains of the Fort St. Frédéric, securing British control over the area.
Following France's loss in the French and Indian War, through the 1763 Treaty of Paris they ceded control of the land to the British. Colonial settlement was limited by the Crown to lands east of the Appalachians, in order to try to end encroachment on Native American lands. The territory of Vermont was divided nearly in half in a jagged line running from Fort William Henry in Lake George diagonally north-eastward to Lake Memphremagog. With the end of the war, new settlers arrived in Vermont. Ultimately, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York all claimed this frontier area.
On March 20, 1764, King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts, and south of 45 degrees north latitude. New York refused to recognize the land titles known as the New Hampshire Grants (towns created by land grants sold by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth) and dissatisfied New Hampshire settlers organized in opposition. In 1770, Ethan Allen, his brothers Ira and Levi, and the Allens' cousins Seth Warner and Remember Baker, recruited an informal militia known as the Green Mountain Boys to protect the interests of the original New Hampshire settlers against newcomers from New York.
In 1775, after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the Green Mountain Boys assisted a force from Connecticut, led by Benedict Arnold, in capturing the British fort at Ticonderoga. Thereafter, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia directed the New York colony's revolutionary congress to fund and equip Allen's militia as a ranger regiment of the Continental Army, which it did. Seth Warner was chosen by the men of the regiment to lead, while Ethan Allen went on to serve as a colonel in Schuyler's Army of Northern New York.
On January 15, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants declared the independence of Vermont. For the first six months of its existence, it was called the Republic of New Connecticut.
On June 2, 1777, a second convention of 72 delegates met and adopted the name "Vermont." This was on the advice of a friendly Pennsylvanian, Dr. Thomas Young, friend and mentor of Ethan Allen, who wrote to them on how to achieve admission into the newly independent United States of America as the 14th state. On July 4, the Constitution of Vermont was drafted at the Windsor Tavern; it was adopted by the delegates on July 8. This was the first written constitution in North America to ban adult slavery, saying male slaves become free at the age of 21 and females at 18. It provided for universal adult male suffrage, and required support of public schools. It was in effect from 1777 to 1786. The revised constitution of 1786, which established a greater separation of powers, continued in effect until 1793, two years after Vermont's admission to the Union. Slavery was fully banned by state law on November 25, 1858, less than three years before the American Civil War. Vermont played an important geographical role in the Underground Railroad, which helped American slaves escape to Canada.
The Battle of Bennington, fought on August 16, 1777, was a seminal event in the history of the state of Vermont and the United States. A combined American force, under General John Stark's command, attacked the Hessian column at Hoosick, New York, just across the border from Bennington. It killed or captured virtually the entire Hessian detachment. General Burgoyne never recovered from this loss and eventually surrendered the remainder of his 6,000-man force at Saratoga, New York, on October 17 that year.
The battles of Bennington and Saratoga together are recognized as the turning point in the Revolutionary War because they were the first major defeat of a British army. The anniversary of the battle is still celebrated in Vermont as a legal holiday.
The Battle of Hubbardton (July 7, 1777) was the only Revolutionary battle within the present boundaries of Vermont. Although the Continental forces were technically defeated, the British forces were damaged to the point that they did not pursue the Americans (retreating from Fort Ticonderoga) any further.
Admission to the Union
Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the eastern town of Windsor for 14 years. The independent state of Vermont issued its own coinage from 1785 to 1788 and operated a statewide postal service. Thomas Chittenden was the Governor in 1778–89 and in 1790–91.
Because the state of New York continued to assert a disputed claim that Vermont was a part of New York, Vermont could not be admitted to the Union under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution until the legislature of New York consented. On March 6, 1790, the legislature made its consent contingent upon a negotiated agreement on the precise boundary between the two states. When commissioners from New York and Vermont met to decide on the boundary, Vermont's negotiators insisted on also settling the property ownership disputes with New Yorkers, rather than leaving that to be decided later in a federal court. The negotiations were successfully concluded in October 1790 with an agreement that Vermont would pay $30,000 to New York to be distributed among New Yorkers who claimed land in Vermont under New York land patents. In January 1791, a convention in Vermont voted 105–4 to petition Congress to become a state in the federal union. Congress acted on February 18, 1791 to admit Vermont to the Union as the 14th state as of March 4, 1791. Vermont became the first to enter the Union after the original 13 states. Vermont had a unicameral legislature until 1836.
The Civil War
From the mid-1850s on, Vermonters became activists opposing slavery, which they had previously worked to contain in the South. Abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens was born in Vermont and later represented a district in Pennsylvania in Congress. He developed as a national leader and later promoted Radical Republican goals after the American Civil War. While the Whig Party shriveled, and the Republican Party emerged, Vermont supported Republican candidates. In 1860 it voted for Abraham Lincoln for US President, giving him the largest margin of victory of any state.
The northernmost land/battle action of the war, the St. Albans Raid, took place in Vermont. However, the raiders were forced to return the possessions after the Canadians captured them at their border.
Postbellum era to present
Beginning in the mid-19th century, Vermont attracted numerous Irish, Scots-Irish and Italian immigrants, adding to its residents of mostly English and French-Canadian ancestry. Many migrated to Barre, where the men worked as stonecutters of granite, for which there was a national market. Vermont granite was used in major public buildings in many states. Many Italian and Scottish women operated boarding houses in the late 19th century to support their families. Such facilities helped absorb new residents, who peaked between 1890 and 1900. Typically immigrants boarded with people of their own language and ethnicity, but sometimes they boarded with others.
The state has suffered some natural disasters in the 20th and 21st centuries related to hurricanes, extensive rain and flooding. Large-scale flooding occurred in early November 1927. During this incident, 84 people died, including the state's lieutenant-governor.
The 1938 New England hurricane in the fall of that year blew down 15,000,000 acres (61,000 km2) of trees, one-third of the total forest at the time in New England. Three billion board feet were salvaged. Today many of the older trees in Vermont are about 75 years old, dating from after this storm.
Another flood occurred in 1973, causing the death of two people and millions of dollars in property damage.
The state suffered severe flooding in late August 2011 caused by Tropical Storm Irene. Heavy rains caused flooding in many towns built in narrow river valleys. The governor described it as one of the worst natural disasters of the 20th and 21st centuries, second only to the flood of 1927.
Vermont approved women's suffrage decades before it became part of the national constitution. Women were first allowed to vote in the elections of December 18, 1880, when women were granted limited suffrage. They were first allowed to vote in town elections, and later in state legislative races.
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Reynolds v. Sims required "one-man, one-vote" redistricting in all states; this resulted in major changes in Vermont. This ruling required city residents to be given an equitable share of apportionment in both houses in every state. Vermont had long been dominated by rural districts, as were several Southern states in those years. Until that time, apportionment was based on county jurisdictions, which had given more power to rural counties and decreased representation of urban residents. This arrangement had meant that urban issues were not considered in proportion to the number of people affected by them.
According to the United States Census Bureau, as of April 15, 2015, Vermont has an estimated population of 626,042, which was an increase of 297, since April 15, 2010. This includes a natural increase 3,178 (31,716 births minus 28,538 deaths) and a decrease due to net migration of 2,432 people out of the state. In 2006 it had the second lowest birthrate in the nation, 42/1000 women. The center of population of Vermont is located in Washington County, in the town of Warren.
As of 2014, 51.3% of Vermont's population was born in the state (compared with 58.7% for the United States). The changing demographics between those with multi-generational ties to the state and those who are newcomers, bringing different values with them, has resulted in a degree of tension between the two perspectives. This tension is expressed in the terms, "Woodchuck", being applied to those established in the state, and "Flatlander", applied to the newcomers. Vermont is the least populous New England state. As of 2012, Vermont was one of only two states in the U.S. with fewer people than the District of Columbia—the other was Wyoming.
From 2010 to 2013, 16 out of Vermont's 251 towns experienced an increase in population. All towns in Chittenden increased with the exception of Burlington. More than 180 towns experienced a decrease, which hadn't happened since the mid-19th century.
In 2009, 12.6 percent of people over 15 were divorced. This was the fifth highest percentage in the nation. As of 2008, the median age of Vermonters was 40.6 and that of the work force was 43.7, compared with the national average of 41.1 years.
Vermont speech patterns
Linguists have identified speech patterns found among Vermonters as belonging to Western New England English, a dialect of New England English, which features of full pronunciation of all r sounds, pronouncing horse and hoarse the same, and pronouncing vowels in father and bother the same, none of which are features traditionally shared in neighboring Eastern New England English. Some rural speakers replace a t with a glottal stop (mitten sounds like "mi'in" and Vermont like "Vermon' "[a]). A dwindling segment of the Vermont population, generally both rural and male—especially in northwestern Vermont, pronounces certain vowels in a distinctive manner (e.g. cows sounds like "cayows," fight like "foight," calf like "caaf," there like "thair," hand like "hay-nd," and back like "bah-k").
Eastern New England English—also found in New Hampshire, Maine and eastern Massachusetts—was common in eastern Vermont in the mid-twentieth century and before, but has become rare. There the practice of dropping the r sound in words ending in r (farmer sounds like "farm-uh") and adding an r sound to words ending in a vowel (idea sounds like "idee-er") was common. Those characteristics in eastern Vermont appear to have been inherited from West Country and Scots-Irish ancestors.
In 2015, Vermont was ranked by Forbes magazine as 42nd best among states in which to do business. It was 32nd in 2007, and 30th in 2006. In 2008, an economist said that the state had "a really stagnant economy, which is what we are forecasting for Vermont for the next 30 years." In May 2010, Vermont's 6.2 percent unemployment rate was the fourth lowest in the nation. This rate reflects the second sharpest decline among the 50 states since the prior May.
According to the 2010 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Vermont's gross state product (GSP) was $26 billion. Not accounting for size, this places the state 50th among the 50 states. It stood 34th in per capita GSP.
- Government – $3 billion (13.4%)
- Real Estate, Rental and Leasing – $2.6 billion (11.6%)
- Durable goods manufacturing – $2.2 billion (9.6%)
- Health Care and Social Assistance – $2.1 billion (9.4%)
- Retail trade – $1.9 billion (8.4%)
- Finance and Insurance – $1.3 billion (5.9%)
- Construction – $1.2 billion (5.5%)
- Professional and technical services – $1.2 billion (5.5%)
- Wholesale trade – $1.1 billion (5.1%)
- Accommodations and Food Services – ~$1 billion (4.5%)
- Information – $958 million (4.2%)
- Non-durable goods manufacturing – $711 million (3.1%)
- Other Services – $563 million (2.4%)
- Utilities – $553 million (2.4%)
- Educational Services – $478 million (2.1%)
- Transportation and Warehousing – $484 million (2.1%)
- Administrative and Waste Services – $436 million (1.9%)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting – $375 million (1.6%)
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation – $194 million (.8%)
- Mining – $100 million (.4%)
- Management of Companies – $35 million (.2%)
The median household income from 2002 to 2004 was $45,692. This was 15th nationally. The median wage in the state in 2008 was $15.31 hourly or $31,845 annually. In 2007 about 80 percent of the 68,000 Vermonters who qualify for food stamps received them. 40 percent of seniors 75 years or older live on annual incomes of $21,660 or less. In 2011, 15.2% of Vermonters received food stamps. This compares to 14.8% nationally.
Agriculture contributed 2.2% of the state's domestic product in 2000. In 2000, about 3 percent of the state's working population engaged in agriculture. Farms in the state were estimated to have hired 1,000 illegal immigrants as of 2009, largely tolerated by local police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Dairy farming is the primary source of agricultural income. In the last half of the 20th century, developers had plans to build condos and houses on what was relatively inexpensive, open land. Vermont's government responded with a series of laws controlling development and with some pioneering initiatives to prevent the loss of Vermont's dairy industry. Still, the number of Vermont dairy farms has declined more than 85 percent from the 11,206 dairy farms operating in 1947. In 2003 there were fewer than 1,500 dairy farms in the state; in 2006 there were 1,138; and in 2007 there were 1,087. The number of dairy farms has been diminishing by 10 percent annually.
The number of cattle in Vermont had declined by 40 percent; however, milk production has doubled in the same period due to tripling the production per cow. While milk production rose, Vermont's market share declined. Within a group of states supplying the Boston and New York City markets, Vermont was third in market share, with 10.6 percent; New York has 44.9 percent and Pennsylvania has 32.9 percent. In 2007, dairy farmers received a record $23.60 for 100 pounds (45 kg) of milk. This dropped in 2008 to $17. The average dairy farm produced 1.3 million pounds of milk annually in 2008.
The dairy barn remains an iconic image of Vermont, but the 87 percent decrease in active dairy farms between 1947 and 2003 means that preservation of the dairy barns has increasingly become dependent upon a commitment to maintaining a legacy rather than basic need in the agricultural economy. The Vermont Barn Census, organized by a collaboration of educational and nonprofit state and local historic preservation programs, has developed educational and administrative systems for recording the number, condition, and features of barns throughout Vermont.
In 2009, there were 543 organic farms. Twenty percent of the dairy farms were organic and 23 percent (128) vegetable farms were organic. Organic farming increased in 2006–07, but leveled off in 2008–09. Nor are any expected for 2010.
A significant amount of milk is shipped into the Boston market. Therefore the Commonwealth of Massachusetts certifies that Vermont farms meet Massachusetts sanitary standards. Without this certification, a farmer may not sell milk for distribution into the bulk market.
Forest Products have always been a staple to the economy comprising 1% of the state total Gross state output and 9% of total manufacturing as of 2013. In 2007 Windham county contained the largest concentration of kilns for drying lumber east of the Missisippi rivier. The decline of farms has resulted in a regrowth of Vermont's forests due to ecological succession. Today, most of Vermont's forests are secondary. The state and non-profit organizations are actively encouraging regrowth and careful forest management. Over 78 percent of the land area of the state is forested compared to only 37% forest in 1880s when sheep farming was at it's peak and large amounts of acreage were cleared for grazing land. Over 85 percent of that area is non-industrial, private forestland owned by individuals or families. In 2013 73.054 million cubic feet of wood was harvested in Vermont A large amount of Vermont forest products are exports with 21.504 million feet being shipped overseas plus an additional 16.384 million cubic feet to Canada. Most of it was processed within the state. In this century the manufacture of wood products has fallen by almost half. The annual net growth has been estimated at 172.810 million cubic feet. The USDA estimates that 8.584 billion cubic feet remain in the state. Forest products also add to carbon sequestration since lumber and timber used in houses and furniture hold carbon for long periods of time while the trees that were removed are replaced overtime with new growing stock. While wood pellets are replacing coal in European power plants reducing CO2 emissions by up to 90% and preventing mountaintop removal for coal mining.
An important and growing part of Vermont's economy is the manufacture and sale of artisan foods, fancy foods, and novelty items trading in part upon the Vermont "brand," which the state manages and defends. Examples of these specialty exports include Cabot Cheese, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Fine Paints of Europe, Vermont Butter and Cheese Company, several micro breweries, ginseng growers, Burton Snowboards, Lake Champlain Chocolates, King Arthur Flour, and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.
There were about 2,000 maple products producers in 2010. In 2001, Vermont produced 275,000 US gallons (1,040,000 L) of maple syrup, about one-quarter of U.S. production. For 2005 that number was 410,000 US gallons (1,600,000 l; 340,000 imp gal) accounting for 37 percent of national production. This rose to 920,000 US gallons (3,500,000 l; 770,000 imp gal) in 2009. The state's share of the nation's production rose to 42% in 2013. It had the second lowest price at $33.40/gallon.
Wine industry in Vermont started in 1985. As of 2007, there were 14 wineries.
An increasingly aging population is expected to improve the position of aging services and health care in the state economy. In 2013, Fletcher Allen Health Care, with 7,100 employees, was the second-largest employer of people in the state and the largest private employer.
In 2010, all of Vermont's hospitals billed patients $3.76 billion, and collected $2 billion. 92,000 people are enrolled in Medicare. In 2011, Medicare spent $740 million on health care in the state.
In 2007 Vermont was the 17th highest state in the nation for mortgage affordability. However, in 41 other states, inhabitants contributed within plus or minus 4 percent of Vermont's 18.4 percent of household income to a mortgage.
Housing prices did not rise much during the early 2000s. As a result, the collapse in real estate values was not that precipitous either. While foreclosure rose significantly in 2007, the state stood 50th—the most favorable—in ratio of foreclosure filings to households. While housing sales dropped annually from 2004 to 2008, prices continued to rise.
In 2007, Vermont was best in the country for construction of new energy efficient homes as evaluated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under the Energy Star program. However, about 60 percent of Vermont homes were heated with oil in 2008. In August 2008, the cost in Vermont of various heating sources per 1 million BTU ranged from $14.39 for cord wood to $43.50 for kerosene.
While the number of houses sold in the state has dropped from 8,318 in 2004 to 8,120 in 2005, 6,919 in 2006, and 5,820 in 2007, the average price has continued to rise to $202,500 in 2008 ($200,000 in 2007).
In 2009, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $920 per month. Rental vacancy was 5.4 percent, the lowest in the nation. 2,800 people were counted as homeless in January 2010, 22 percent more than in 2008.
In 2011, Vermont was fifth among the states with the greatest backlog of foreclosures needing court processing, taking an estimated 18 years. The national average was eight years.
A modern high unemployment rate of 9 percent was reached in June 1976. A modern low of 2.4 percent was measured in February 2000. As of September 2010, the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent.
Employment grew 7.5 percent from 2000 to 2006. From 1980 to 2000, employment grew by 3.4 percent; nationally it was up 4.6 percent. Real wages were $33,385 in 2006 constant dollars and remained there in 2010; the nation, $36,871.
Captive insurance plays an increasingly large role in Vermont's economy. With this form of alternative insurance, large corporations or industry associations form standalone insurance companies to insure their own risks, thereby substantially reducing their insurance premiums and gaining a significant measure of control over types of risks to be covered. There are also significant tax advantages to be gained from the formation and operation of captive insurance companies. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Vermont in 2009 was the world's third-largest domicile for captive insurance companies, following Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. In 2009, there were 560 such companies. In 2010, the state had 900 such companies.
Tourism is an important industry to the state. Some of the largest ski areas in New England are located in Vermont. Skiers and snowboarders visit Burke Mountain Ski Area, Bolton Valley, Smugglers' Notch, Killington Ski Resort, Mad River Glen, Stowe Mountain Resort, Sugarbush, Stratton, Jay Peak, Okemo, Suicide Six, Mount Snow, Bromley, and Magic Mountain Ski Area. Summer visitors tour resort towns like Stowe, Manchester, Quechee, Wilmington and Woodstock. Resorts, hotels, restaurants, and shops, designed to attract tourists, employ people year-round. Summer camps contribute to Vermont's tourist economy.
In winter, Nordic and backcountry skiers visit to travel the length of the state on the Catamount Trail. Several horse shows are annual events. Vermont's state parks, historic sites, museums, golf courses, and new boutique hotels with spas were designed to attract tourists.
According to the 2000 Census, almost 15 percent of all housing units in Vermont were vacant and classified "for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use".[clarification needed] This was the second highest percentage nationwide, after Maine. In some Vermont cities, vacation homes owned by wealthy residents of New England and New York City constitute the bulk of all housing stock. According to one estimate, as of 2009, 84 percent of all houses in Ludlow, Vermont, were owned by out-of-state residents. Other notable vacation-home resorts include Manchester and Stowe.
In 2011, the state government earned $274 million in taxes and fees from tourism. 89% of the money came from out-of-state visitors. Tourism supported over 26,000 jobs, 7.2% of total employment.
In 2000–01, there were 4,579,719 skier and snowboarder visits to the state. There were 4,125,082 visits in 2009–2010, a rise from recent years.
In 2008, there were 35,000 members of 138 snowmobiling clubs in Vermont. The combined association of clubs maintains 6,000 miles (9,700 km) of trail often over private lands. The industry is said to generate "hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business."
Hunting is controlled for black bear, wild turkeys, deer, and moose. There are 5,500 bears in the state. The goal is to keep the numbers between 4,500 and 6,000. In 2010, there were about 141,000 deer in the state, which is in range of government goals. However, these are distributed unevenly and when in excess of 10–15 per square mile, negatively impact timber growth.
The towns of Rutland and Barre are the traditional centers of marble and granite quarrying and carving in the U.S. For many years Vermont was also the headquarters of the smallest union in the U.S., the Stonecutters Association, of about 500 members. The first marble quarry in America was on Mount Aeolus overlooking East Dorset. The granite industry attracted numerous skilled stonecutters in the late 19th century from Italy, Scotland, and Ireland. Barre is the location of the Rock of Ages quarry, the largest dimension stone granite quarry in the United States. Vermont is the largest producer of slate in the country. The highest quarrying revenues result from the production of dimension stone. The Rock of Ages Quarry in Barre is one of the leading exporters of granite in the country. The work of the sculptors of this corporation can be seen 3 miles (4.8 km) down the road at the Hope Cemetery, where there are gravestones and mausoleums.
Non-profits and volunteerism
There were 2,682 non-profit organizations in Vermont in 2008, with $2.8 billion in revenue. The state ranked ninth in the country for volunteerism for the period 2005–08. 35.6% of the population volunteered during this period. The national average was 26.4%.
Vermont's main mode of travel is by automobile. 5.7 percent of Vermont households did not own a car in 2008. In 2012, there were 605,000 motor vehicles registered, nearly one car for every person in the state. This is similar to average car ownership nationwide. In 2012, about half the carbon emissions in the state resulted from vehicles.
On average, 20–25 people die each year from drunk driving incidents; as well as 70–80 people in fatal car crashes in the state. Motorists have the highest rate of insurance in the country, 93%, tied with Pennsylvania.
In 2010 Vermont owned 2,840 miles (4,570 km) of highway. This was the third smallest quantity among the 50 states. 2.5 percent of the highways were listed as "congested," the 5th lowest in the country. The highway fatality rate was 1 per 100,000,000 miles (160,000,000 km), tenth lowest in the nation. The highways cost $28,669 per 1 mile (1.6 km) to maintain, the 17th highest in the states. 34.4 percent of its bridges were rated deficient or obsolete, the 8th worst in the nation.
Individual communities and counties have public transit, but their breadth of coverage is frequently limited. Greyhound Lines services a number of small towns. Two Amtrak trains serve Vermont, the Vermonter and the Ethan Allen Express. In 2011, Amtrak evaluated the track used by the Ethan Allen Express between Rutland and Whitehall as the worst in the nation.
Trucks weighing less than 80,000 pounds (36,000 kg) can use Vermont's interstate highways. The limit for state roads is 99,000 pounds (45,000 kg). This means that vehicles too heavy for the turnpikes can legally only use secondary roads.
The state has 2,843 miles (4,575 km) of highways under its control.
- Interstate 89 – Runs northwestward from White River Junction to serve both Montpelier and Burlington en route to the Canadian border.
- Interstate 91 – Runs northward from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border, connecting Brattleboro, White River Junction, St. Johnsbury, and Newport.
- Interstate 93 – Has its northern terminus at I-91 in St. Johnsbury and connects the northern part of the state with New Hampshire and points south.
- U.S. Route 5 – Travels south to north along the eastern border of the state, parallel to I-91 for its entire length in the state.
- U.S. Route 7 – Runs south to north along the western border of the state connecting Burlington, Middlebury, Rutland, and Bennington. U.S. 7 parallels I-89 from Burlington northward to the Canadian border. Between Dorset and Bennington, it is generally a Super 2 freeway.
- Vermont Route 100 – Runs south to north almost directly through the center of the state, providing a route along the full length of the Green Mountains.
- U.S. Route 2 – Crosses northern Vermont from west to east and connects the population centers of Burlington, Montpelier, and St. Johnsbury. It generally parallels Interstate 89 between Colchester and Montpelier.
- U.S. Route 4 – Crosses south-central Vermont from west to east. It connects with the New York border, in the town of Fair Haven, with the city of Rutland and continues running through Killington and White River Junction before continuing into New Hampshire. Between Fair Haven and Rutland, it is a four lane freeway that is mostly up to Interstate design standards.
- U.S. Route 302 – Travels eastward from Montpelier and Barre, into New Hampshire and Maine.
- Vermont Route 9 – A route across the southern part of the state that connects Bennington to Brattleboro.
- Vermont Route 105 – Crosses the northernmost parts of Vermont (sometimes within a few miles of the Canadian border) and connects the cities of St. Albans and Newport.
A 2005–06 study ranked Vermont 37th out of the states for "cost-effective road maintenance", a decline of thirteen places since 2004–05.
Federal data indicates that 16 percent of Vermont's 2,691 bridges had been rated structurally deficient by the state in 2006. In 2007 Vermont had the sixth worst percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the country.
The Ethan Allen Express serves Castleton and Rutland, while the Vermonter serves St. Albans, Essex Junction, Waterbury, Montpelier, Randolph, White River Junction, Windsor, Bellows Falls and Brattleboro.
Greyhound Lines stops at Bellows Falls, Brattleboro, Burlington, Montpelier, and White River Junction. Megabus, as of November 2014, stops in Burlington and Montpelier. Vermont Translines, an intercity bus company started by Premier Coach in 2013 partnering with Greyhound and starting service on June 9, 2014, serves Milton, Colchester, Burlington, Middlebury, Brandon, Rutland, Wallingford, Manchester and Bennington on its Burlington to Albany line, and Rutland, Killington, Bridgewater, Woodstock, Queechee and White River Junction along the US Route 4 corridor. The town of Bennington also has the weekday-operating Albany-Bennington Shuttle, an intercity bus operated by Yankee Trails World Travel.
Other transportation includes:
- Addison County Transit Resources (ACTR) services Addison County, including the college town of Middlebury, Bristol, and Vergennes.
- Bennington County has the Green Mountain Community Network (GMCN) out of Bennington.
- Brattleboro in Windham County is served by the BeeLine (Brattleboro Town Bus), which is part of Connecticut River Transit ("the Current"). Southern Windham County and southern Bennington County is served, out of West Dover, by the MOOver (Southeast Vermont Transit or SEVT, formerly the Deerfield Valley Transit Association or DVTA).
- Burlington has Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) and CATS (University of Vermont Campus Area Transportation System).
- Colchester in Chittenden County is serviced by the SSTA (Special Services Transportation Agency).
- Rutland County has "the Bus" (Marble Valley Regional Transit District, MVRTD) out of Rutland.
- Windsor County:
- Ludlow (in Windsor County) is served by the LMTS (Ludlow Municipal Transit System).
- The Current (CRT) division of Southeast Vermont Transit (SEVT), out of Rockingham, serves parts of Windham and Windsor County.
- In parts of Windsor County, including Norwich and Hartford, as well as in White River Junction and in parts of New Hampshire there is a free public transportation service called Advance Transit. It has routes and many different lines all throughout the Upper Valley region.
- Stowe in Lamoille County is serviced by STS (Stowe Trolley System, Village Mountain Shuttle, Morrisville Shuttle).
- Stagecoach Transportation Services (STS) out of Randolph in Orange County also serves parts of Windsor County.
- In Washington County, the Green Mountain Transit Authority (GMTA) runs out of the capital city, Montpelier.
- The Network (Northwest Vermont Public Transit Network, NVPT) running out of Saint Albans services Franklin and Grand Isle counties.
- Rural Community Transportation (RCT) runs out of Saint Johnsbury and services Caledonia, Essex, Lamoille and Orleans Counties. There is a shuttle bus linking the various local networks.
There is ferry service to New York State from Burlington, Charlotte, Grand Isle, and Shoreham. All but the Shoreham ferry are operated by the LCTC (Lake Champlain Transportation Company).
Vermont is served by two commercial airports:
- Burlington International Airport is the largest in the state, with regular flights to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Washington Dulles, JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Reagan National as well as winter seasonal flights to Toronto.
- Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport has regular flights to Boston via Cape Air.
Newspapers of record
Vermont statute requires the Vermont secretary of state to designate newspapers that provide general coverage across the state as the "Newspapers of Record." On June 30, 2010, the secretary of state designated the following newspapers for publishing administrative rule notices during the period of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011:
- Addison Independent
- Bennington Banner
- Brattleboro Reformer
- Burlington Free Press
- Caledonian Record
- The Chronicle
- Rutland Herald
- Milton Independent
- Newport Daily Express
- News & Citizen/The Transcript
- St. Albans Messenger
- Times Argus
- Valley News
- Vermont Lawyer
- White River Valley Herald (a.k.a. Herald of Randolph)
Vermont hosts 93 radio broadcast stations. The top categories are Talk/Information (11), Country (9), and Classic Rock (9). The top owner of radio broadcast stations is Vermont Public Radio (11 broadcast frequencies + 13 low-power, local translators). Other companies had five or fewer stations. The state has fifteen on-line radio stations.
Vermont hosts 10 high-power television broadcast stations, three of which are satellites of a primary station. Represented are the following networks and number of high-power transmitters, ABC (1), CBS (1), Fox (1), NBC (2), PBS (4), and RTV (1). In addition, it has 17 low-power television broadcast stations, which in several cases are satellites of the high-power stations.
2008 peak demand in the state was 1,100 megawatts (MW).
While Vermont paid the lowest rates in New England for power in 2007, it is still ranked among the highest eleven states in the nation; that is, about 16 percent higher than the national average.
In 2009, the state paid the highest rates for energy (including heating) in the U.S. and had the worst affordability gap nationwide.
In 2009, the state received one-third (400 MW) of its power from Hydro-Québec and one-third from Vermont Yankee. In total, the state got half its power from Canada and other states. It received 75 percent of the power it generated in the state from Vermont Yankee. The state is part of the Northeast Power Coordinating Council for the distribution of electricity.
The state has 78 hydropower dams. They generate 143 MW, about 12 percent of the state's total requirement. Vermont experts estimate that the state has the capacity to ultimately generate from 134 to 175 megawatts of electricity from hydro power.
In 2006, the total summer generating capacity of Vermont was 1,117 megawatts. In 2005, the inhabitants of the state used an average of 5,883 kilowatt-hours (21,180 MJ) of electricity per capita. Another source says that each household consumed 7,100 kilowatt-hours (26,000 MJ) annually in 2008.
Until the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant was shut down in 2014, Vermont had the highest rate of nuclear-generated power in the nation, 73.7 percent. Vermont is one of two states with no coal-fired power plants.
A 2013 survey found that of 18,790 miles (30,240 km) of roads surveyed, all but 3,118 mi had cellular coverage by at least one carrier. The roads surveyed are concentrated in the more heavily populated areas.
A June 2013 survey found that of nearly 249,976 addresses surveyed, 84.7% had fixed (as opposed to mobile) broadband available. It was projected that all but 29 addresses would have fixed broadband available by the end of 2013.
Law and government
Vermont is federally represented in the United States Congress by two senators and one representative.
The state is governed by a constitution which divides governmental duties into legislative, executive and judicial branches: the Vermont General Assembly, the Governor of Vermont and the Vermont Supreme Court. The governorship and the General Assembly serve two-year terms including the governor and 30 senators. There are no term limits for any office. The state capital is in Montpelier.
There are three types of incorporated municipalities in Vermont: towns, cities, and villages. Like most of New England, there is slight provision for autonomous county government. Counties and county seats are merely convenient repositories for various government services such as state courts, with several elected officers such as a state's Attorney and sheriff. All county services are directly funded by the state of Vermont. The next effective governmental level below state government are municipalities. Most of these are towns.
Finances and taxation
Vermont is the only state in the union not to have a balanced budget requirement, yet Vermont has had a balanced budget every year since 1991. In 2007, Moody's gave its top bond credit rating (Aaa) to the state.
The state uses enterprise funds for operations that are similar to private business enterprises. The Vermont Lottery Commission, the Liquor Control Fund, and the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, are the largest of the State's enterprise funds.
In 2007, Vermont was the 14th highest out of 50 states and the District of Columbia for state and local taxation, with a per capita load of $3,681. The national average was $3,447. However, CNNMoney ranked Vermont highest in the nation based on the percentage of per capita income. The rankings showed Vermont had a per capita tax load of $5,387, 14.1 percent of the per capita income of $38,306.
Vermont collects a state personal income tax in a progressive structure of five different income brackets, with marginal tax rates ranging from 3.6 percent to 9.5 percent. In 2008, the top 1 percent of Vermont residents provided 30 percent of the income tax revenue; around 2,000 people had sufficient income to be taxed at the highest marginal rate of 9.5 percent.
Vermont's general state sales tax rate is 6 percent, which is imposed on sales of tangible personal property, amusement charges, fabrication charges, some public utility charges and some service contracts. Some towns and cities impose an additional 1 percent Local Option Tax. There are 46 exemptions from the sales tax, including exemptions for food, medical items, manufacturing machinery, equipment and fuel, residential fuel and electricity, clothing, and shoes. A use tax is imposed on the buyer at the same rate as the sales tax. The buyer pays the use tax when the seller fails to collect the sales tax or the items are purchased from a source where no tax is collected. The use tax applies to items taxable under the sales tax.
Vermont does not collect inheritance taxes, but does impose a state estate tax; a Vermont estate tax return must be filed if the estate must file a federal estate tax return (the requirement for which depends on federal law).
Property taxes are levied by municipalities for the support of education and municipal services. Vermont does not assess tax on personal property. Property taxes are based on appraisal of the fair market value of real property. Rates vary from .97 percent on homesteaded property in Ferdinand, Essex County, to 2.72 percent on nonresidents' property in Barre City. Statewide, towns average 1.77 percent to 1.82 percent tax rate. In 2007, Vermont counties were among the highest in the country for property taxes. Chittenden ($3,809 median), Windham ($3,412), Addison ($3,352), and Windsor ($3,327) ranked in the top 100, out of 1,817 counties in the nation with populations greater than 20,000. Twelve of the state's 14 counties stood in the top 20 percent. Median annual property taxes as a percentage of median homeowners income, 5.4%, was rated as the third highest in the nation in 2011.
Vermonters have been known for their political independence. Vermont is one of four states (aside from the original Thirteen Colonies) that were once independent nations (the others being Texas, California, and Hawaii). It has sometimes voted contrarian in national elections. Notably, Vermont is the only state to have voted for a presidential candidate from the Anti-Masonic Party, and Vermont was one of only two states to vote against Franklin D. Roosevelt in all four of his presidential campaigns (the other was Maine).
Republicans dominated local Vermont politics from the party's founding in 1854 until the mid-1970s. Before the 1960s, rural interests dominated the legislature. As a result, cities, particularly the older sections of Burlington and Winooski, were neglected and fell into decay. People began to move out to newer suburbs.
Vermont was for many years a stronghold of the Republican Party. Ethno-political culture of the last century has seen a dramatic shift in voter turnout in the Green Mountain State. Americans of French descent overwhelmingly vote Democratic, and are the largest ethnicity in Vermont. Vermonters of English descent (sometimes known as the "Yankee" Vermonters) overwhelmingly vote Republican. Americans of English descent make up between a fifth and a quarter of the state and Americans of French descent make roughly one third of the state. All other ethnicities in the state break down roughly 50–50 along political lines, however the predominance of French-Canadian descended Vermonters who vote Democrat the overwhelming majority of the time has led to a dwindling of the "Yankee Republicanism" for which Vermont was once synonymous. The Irish Catholic vote has fluctuated during this time, while the French-Canadian vote has remained solidly Democrat and the vote of the "Yankee" Vermonters of English descent has remained solidly Republican. Since 1992, Vermont has voted for the Democrat in every Presidential election. Before 1992, Vermont voted for the Republican in every single Presidential election with the exception of 1964.
A series of one man, one vote decisions made by the United States Supreme Court in the 1960s required states to redraw their legislative districts to more fairly reflect population. As a result, urban areas in Vermont gained political power.
After the legislature was redistricted under one-person, one-vote in the 1960s, it passed legislation to accommodate[clarification needed] the new arrivals to the state. This legislation was the Land Use and Development Law (Act 250) in 1970. The law, which was the first of its kind in the nation, created nine District Environmental Commissions consisting of private citizens, appointed by the Governor, who must approve land development and subdivision plans that would have a significant impact on the state's environment and many small communities. As a result of Act 250, Vermont was the last state to get a Wal-Mart (there are now five Wal-Marts in the state, as of December 2013, but only two – in Williston and St. Albans – were newly built from the ground up). Because of the successful attempts to dilute what is perceived as the original intent of Act 250, and other development pressures, Vermont has been designated one of America's most "endangered historic places" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
In 1995, the state banned the spreading of manure from December 15 to April 1, to prevent runoff and protect the water. Therefore farms must have environmentally approved facilities to store manure during this time frame.
While the state voted largely Democratic, Republican Governor Douglas won all counties but Windham in the 2006 election.
A controversy dating from 1999 has been over the adoption of civil unions, an institution which grants same-sex couples nearly all the rights and privileges of marriage at the state, but not federal, level. In Baker v. Vermont (1999), the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that, under the Constitution of Vermont, the state must either allow same-sex marriage or provide a separate but equal status for them. The state legislature chose the second option by creating the institution of civil union; the bill was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Howard Dean. In April 2009 the state legislature overrode governor Jim Douglas's veto to allow same-sex marriage, becoming the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage through legislation. In September 2009, Vermont became the fourth state in which same-sex couples could marry.
In 2007, the state's House of Representatives rejected a measure which would have legalized assisted suicide for the terminally ill, by a vote of 82–63. Then with the governor's signature on May 20, 2013, Vermont became the fourth state to pass a "death with dignity" law—the first to be passed through legislation rather than by ballot initiative.
Minor parties and Independents flourish. Rules which eliminate smaller parties from the ballot in most states do not exist in Vermont. As a result, voters often have extensive choices for general elections. Among others, this more open policy enabled independents like Bernie Sanders to win election as mayor of Burlington, U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator.
A political issue has been Act 60, which balances taxation for education funding. This has resulted in the town of Killington trying to secede from Vermont and join New Hampshire due to what the locals say is an unfair tax burden.
The Vermont constitution and the courts supports the right of a person to walk (fish and hunt) on any unposted, unfenced land. That is, trespass must be proven by the owner; it is not automatically assumed.
In 2013, Vermont became the 17th state to decriminalize marijuana. The statute makes possession of less than an ounce of the drug punishable by a small fine rather than arrest and possible jail time.
In 2014 Vermont became the first state to mandate labeling of genetically modified organisms in the retail food supply.
Elections to federal office
|2012||30.97% 92,698||66.57% 199,239|
|2008||30.45% 98,974||67.46% 219,262|
|2004||38.80% 121,180||58.94% 184,067|
|2000||40.70% 119,775||50.63% 149,022|
|1996||31.09% 80,352||53.35% 137,894|
|1992||30.42% 88,122||46.11% 133,592|
|1988||51.10% 124,331||47.58% 115,775|
|1984||57.92% 135,865||40.81% 95,730|
|1980||44.37% 94,628||38.41% 81,952|
|1976||54.34% 102,085||43.14% 81,004|
|1972||62.66% 117,149||36.47% 68,174|
|1968||52.75% 85,142||43.53% 70,255|
|1964||33.69% 54,942||66.30% 108,127|
|1960||58.65% 98,131||41.35% 69,186|
|1956||72.16% 110,390||27.81% 42,549|
|1952||71.45% 109,717||28.23% 43,355|
|1948||61.54% 75,926||36.92% 45,557|
Historically, Vermont was considered one of the most reliably Republican states in the country in terms of national elections. From 1856 to 1988, Vermont voted Democratic only once, in Lyndon B. Johnson's landslide victory of 1964 against Barry M. Goldwater. It was also one of only two states—the other being Maine—where Franklin D. Roosevelt was completely shut out in all four of his presidential bids. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Republican presidential candidates frequently won the state with over 70 percent of the vote.
In the 1980s and 1990s, many people moved in from out of state. Much of this immigration included the arrival of more liberal political influences of the urban areas of New York and the rest of New England in Vermont. The brand of Republicanism in Vermont has historically been a moderate one, and combined with the newcomers from out of state, this made Vermont friendlier to Democrats as the national GOP moved to the right. As evidence of this, in 1990 Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, was elected to Vermont's lone seat in the House as an independent. Sanders became the state's junior Senator in 2007, and is presently one of only two members of that body who does not identify with a political party. However, for his entire career in the House and Senate, Sanders has caucused with the Democrats and is counted as a Democrat for the purposes of committee assignments and voting for party leadership.
After narrowly supporting George H. W. Bush in 1988, it gave Democrat Bill Clinton a 16-point margin in 1992—the first time the state had gone Democratic since 1964. Vermont has voted Democratic in every presidential election since.
Since 2004, Vermont has been one of the Democrats' most loyal states. It gave John Kerry his fourth-largest margin of victory in the presidential campaign against George W. Bush; he won the state's popular vote by 20 percentage points, taking almost 59 percent of the vote. (Kerry, from neighboring Massachusetts, also became the first Northern Democrat ever to carry Vermont; Johnson was from Texas, Clinton from Arkansas and Al Gore, triumphant in the Green Mountain State in 2000, from Tennessee.) Essex County in the state's northeastern section was the only county to vote for Bush. Vermont is the only state that did not receive a visit from George W. Bush during his tenure as President of the United States. Indeed, George W. Bush is the only Republican to win the White House without carrying Vermont; he lost it in 2000 as well. In 2008, Vermont gave Barack Obama his third-largest margin of victory (37 percentage points) and third-largest vote share in the nation by his winning the state 68% to 31%. Only Obama's birth state of Hawaii and Washington, D.C. were stronger Democratic victories. The same held true in 2012, when Obama carried Vermont 67% to 31%.
Vermont's two Senators are Democrat Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving member of the Senate, and independent Bernie Sanders. The state is represented by an at-large member of the House, Democrat Peter Welch, who succeeded Sanders in 2007.
In 2010, Vermont was ranked the highest in the country for health outcomes.
In 2000 the state implemented the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program to improve preventive services and management of chronic conditions. In 2011, the state ranked third in the nation in child health system performance. In 2011, the March of Dimes gave Vermont an "A," ranking it number one in the country on its Prematurity Report Card.
In 2008 Vermont was ranked number one in the nation as the healthiest place to live for the seventh time in eight years. Criteria included low teenage birth rate, strong health coverage, the lowest AIDS rate in the country, and 18 other factors. The state scored well in cessation of smoking, obesity, fewer occupational fatalities, prevalence of health insurance, and low infant mortality. A problem area was a high prevalence of binge drinking. While ranking sixth from best for adults in obesity in 2009, the state still had 22% obese with a rate of 27% for children 10–17. The ranking for children was ninth best in the nation. In 1993, the obesity rate for adults was 12%. Vermonters spend $141 million annually in medical costs related to obesity. The combined figures for overweight and obese adults rose from 40.7% in 1990 to 58.4% in 2010. This is better than most other states.
In 2011, Vermont led the nation in the rate of young people who had consumed alcohol in the past month; one-third of people aged 11 through 20. One-fifth of that group had binged during that time. The state was second for the use of marijuana by young people; 30% of adults 18 to 25 in the past month.
In 2009, Vermont was ranked second in the nation for safety. Crime statistics on violence were used for the criteria.
Vermont has some of the least restrictive gun control laws in the country. A permit or license is not required for purchasing or carrying firearms. concealed carry and open carry of a firearm is legal over the age of 16, with those below 16 requiring parental permission.
In 2007, Vermont was ranked among the best five states in the country for preventing "premature death" in people under 75 years of age. The rate of survival was twice that of the five lowest performing states.
In 2007, Vermont was ranked the third safest state for highway fatalities. In 2007, a third of fatal crashes involved a drunken driver. In 2008, Vermont was the fifth best state for fewest uninsured motorists – 6%.
In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency cited Chittenden and Bennington as counties with 70 parts per billion of smog which is undesirable.
In northern Vermont particularly, moose are not uncommon, including in urban areas. They constitute a traffic threat since they are unaware of vehicles. There are several deaths each year from automobiles striking moose.
In 2008, about 100,000 Vermonters got their health care through the federal government, Medicare, Tri-Care and the Veteran's Administration. An additional 10,000 work for employers who provide insurance under federal law under ERISA. About 20% of Vermonters receive health care outside of Vermont; 20% of the care provided within the state is to non-Vermonters. In 2008, the state had an estimated 7.6% with no medical insurance, down from 9.8% in 2005. In 2008, the Vermont Health Access Program for low-income, uninsured adults cost from $7 to $49 per month. A "Catamount Health" premium assistance program was available for Vermonters who do not qualify for other programs. Total monthly premiums ranged from $60 to $393 for an individual. There was a $250 deductible. Insured paid $10 toward each generic prescription. 16.9% of residents 18 to 35 were uninsured, the highest group.
Vermont was named the nation's smartest state in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, there was a gap between state testing standards and national, which is biased in favor of the state standards by 30%, on average. This puts Vermont 11th-best in the nation. Most states have a higher bias. However, when allowance for race is considered, a 2007 US Government list of test scores shows Vermont white fourth graders performed 25th in the nation for reading (229), 26th for math (247). White eighth graders scored 18th for math (292) and 12th for reading (273). The first three scores were not considered statistically different from average. White eighth graders scored significantly above average in reading. Statistics for black students were not reliable because of their small representation in the testing.
The average effective spending per pupil in Vermont was $11,548 in 2008.
In 2013, the ratio of pupils to teachers was the lowest in the country.
Experimentation at the University of Vermont by George Perkins Marsh, and later the influence of Vermont-born philosopher and educator John Dewey brought about the concepts of electives and learning by doing.
Vermont has five colleges within the Vermont State Colleges system, University of Vermont (UVM), and fourteen other private, degree-granting colleges, including Bennington College, Burlington College, Champlain College, Goddard College, Marlboro College, Middlebury College, Saint Michael's College, the Vermont Law School, and Norwich University.
Winter sports are popular in New England, and Vermont's winter sports attractions are a big part of Vermont tourism. Some well known attractions include, Burke Mountain Ski Area, Jay Peak Resort, Killington Resort, The Quechee Club Ski Area, and Smugglers' Notch Resort.
Vermont natives in the snowboarding profession include: Kevin Pearce, Ross Powers, Hannah Teter, and Kelly Clark. Others learned snowboarding in the state such as: Louie Vito, and Ellery Hollingsworth.
The largest professional franchise is the Vermont Lake Monsters, a single-A minor league baseball affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, based in Burlington. They were named the Vermont Expos before 2006. Up until the 2011 season, they were the affiliate of the Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos).
The Vermont Frost Heaves, the 2007 and 2008 American Basketball Association national champions, were a franchise of the Premier Basketball League, and were based in Barre and Burlington from the fall of 2006 through the winter of 2011.
The Vermont Ice Storm, a semi-professional football team, is based in South Hero. It plays its home games at the Colchester High School stadium. It is a member of the Empire Football League.
Annually since 2002, high school statewide all stars compete against New Hampshire in ten sports during "Twin State" playoffs.
Vermont also has a few auto racing venues. The most popular of them is Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont. It is well known for its tight racing and has become well known in short track stock car racing. Other racing circuits include the USAC sanctioned Bear Ridge Speedway, and the NASCAR sanctioned Devil's Bowl Speedway. Some NASCAR Cup drivers have come to Vermont circuits to compete against local weekly drivers such as Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Kenny Wallace, and Joe Nemechek. Kevin Lepage from Shelburne, Vermont is one of a few professional drivers from Vermont. Racing series in Vermont include NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, American Canadian Tour ,and Vermont's own Tiger Sportsman Series.
Vermont festivals include the Vermont Maple Festival, Festival on the Green, The Vermont Dairy Festival in Enosburg Falls, the Apple Festival (held each Columbus Day Weekend), the Marlboro Music Festival, and the Vermont Brewers Festival. The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is supported by the state and performs throughout the area.
Since 1973 the Sage City Symphony, formed by composer Louis Calabro, has performed in the Bennington area. In 1988 a number of Vermont-based composers including Gwyneth Walker formed the Vermont Composers Consortium, which was recognized by the governor proclaiming 2011 as The Year of the Composer.
The Brattleboro-based Vermont Theatre Company presents an annual summer Shakespeare festival. Brattleboro also hosts the summertime Strolling of the Heifers parade which celebrates Vermont's unique dairy culture. The annual Green Mountain Film Festival is held in Montpelier.
In the Northeast Kingdom, the Bread and Puppet Theatre holds weekly shows in Glover in a natural outdoor amphitheater.
Vermont's most recent best known musical talent was the group Phish, whose members met while attending school in Vermont and spent much of their early years playing at venues across the state.
The rate of volunteerism in Vermont was eighth in the nation with 37% in 2007. The state stood first in New England. In 2011, Vermont residents were ranked as the healthiest in the country. Also in 2011, Vermont was ranked as the fourth most peaceful state in the United States. In 2011, Vermont residents were ranked as the sixth most fit/leanest in the country. Vermonters were the second most active citizens of state with 55.9% meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's physical activity requirements. Vermont was ranked as the twelfth happiest state in the country.
There are a number of museums in the state.
State symbols include:
- State song – "These Green Mountains"
- Unofficial popular state song – "Moonlight in Vermont"
- State beverage – milk
- State pie – apple pie
- State fruit – apple
- State flower – red clover
- State mammal – Morgan horse
- State rock – granite, marble, and slate
- State tree – sugar maple
- State butterfly – monarch butterfly
- State fish cold water – brook trout
- State fish warm water – walleye pike
- State fossil – white whale (beluga whale)
- State bird – hermit thrush
The following were either born in Vermont or resided there for a substantial period during their lives.
- Pearl S. Buck, author
- Jake Burton Carpenter, inventor of the modern snowboard
- John Deere, inventor of steel plow, founder of agricultural equipment manufacturer Deere & Company
- Carlton Fisk, Baseball Hall of Fame catcher
- James Fisk, financier
- John Dewey, philosopher, psychologist, and educator
- Richard Morris Hunt, architect
- Bill McKibben, environmentalist
- Samuel Morey, steam-powered paddle wheel boat inventor
- Bernie Sanders, United States senator and representative from Vermont, and 2016 presidential candidate.
- Joseph Smith, founder of Latter Day Saint movement
- Rudy Vallée, singer and actor
- Brigham Young, second prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Vermont was also the home of Dick Loudon, Bob Newhart's character on the 1980s sitcom Newhart. All action supposedly took place in Vermont.
- Vermont was the home of Pollyanna and her Aunt Polly in the novel Pollyanna, later made into the 1960 Disney film starring Hayley Mills and Jane Wyman, respectively.
- In the Marvel Comics shared universe, Vermont is home of the superhero team the Garrison.
- In H. P. Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness, Vermont is the home of folklorist Henry Akeley (and the uninhabited hills of Vermont serve as one of the earth bases of the extraterrestrial Mi-Go).
- Often pronounced // in rural areas of the state.
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Sanders, Bernard – (I – VT)
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Therefore, no male person, born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person, as a servant, slave, or apprentice, after he arrives to the age of twenty-one years; nor female, in like manner, after she arrives to the age of eighteen years, unless they are bound by their own consent, after they arrive to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.
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