My sympathies to Senate Majority Leader Phil “Philip” Baruth. Because, to paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre, “Hell is needing Peter Galbraith’s vote.”
As I’m sure you know, the state Senate voted 17-13 yesterday to proceed with the “death with dignity” bill. Technically, they were voting to reject the Judiciary Committee’s stand against the bill. More debate today and final votes either today or tomorrow. The vote was good news for supporters of the bill, but final passage is not assured; it’s possible that a couple of Senators will change sides, with would kill the bill.
One of those fence-sitters is our friend Peter Galbraith (D-Hambone), who voted with the majority yesterday but wants to completely rewrite the bill before the final vote. (Link goes behind the Mitchell Family Paywall. Sorry.)
Galbraith… is at work on an amendment that would essentially replace the current legislation with language that “decriminalizes” the prescribing of lethal doses of medication to certain eligible patients.
Galbraith favors assisted suicide, but he opposes “a state-sponsored process.” As far as I can tell, he’s a one-man army on that position. And given the fact that a critical mass of Senators want even more control on the process than the current bill would establish, it’s safe to say the bill would be in danger of defeat if Galbraith’s amendment is accepted.
But Galbraith? He don’t care. Peter “All By Myself” Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau caught this little exchange:
As Galbraith made clear to Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth after the vote, “the issue is, are there 15 votes to pass this bill without Hartwell and me?”
“And the answer is ‘no,'” Galbraith said.
At least he didn’t add “Neener neener!”
Maybe that sounded different in person, but in print it reads like an outburst of narcissism. He has his own idea, and he’s openly holding the legislation hostage. In public, in the presence of a reporter, no less. So much for collegiality.
Bob Hartwell voted with the majority yesterday, but he has very different concerns with the bill: he wants to require that patients seeking to end their lives, talk with family members and consult with experts in palliative care before proceeding. If both men stick to their positions, it’s hard to imagine them voting “yes” on the same bill.
Hartwell can be mollified with a couple of tweaks. If Galbraith insists on his rewrite, then he appears to be in a position to single-handedly kill it, because of a concern that is his alone.
Which isn’t how lawmaking — or diplomacy — is supposed to work.