Not a bad biennium, as a matter of fact

Signs of the Apocalypse, Vermont Politics Edition: I agree with John McClaughry!

The biennial legislative session has just concluded, and it was a banner year for Vermont’s version of advanced liberalism.

Exactly! There were some twists and turns along the way, and some last-minute unpleasantness in the Sausage Factory*, but hey everybody, let’s have a big cheer it for Advanced Liberalism!

*Dick Sears, take a bow! On second thought, sit down and shut up.

The agreement ends there, of course. To El Jefe General, a liberal biennium is a catastrophe along the lines of Tropical Storm Irene. To me, it’s a heartening affirmation of my support for liberal politicians.

I realize I’m putting my License To Blog at risk by actually praising the Legislature, but look at this partial list of accomplishments (in no particular order):

— A significant increase in the minimum wage.

— An innovative program that should result in drug offenders getting treatment instead of punitive prison sentences. VTDigger’s Anne Galloway, speaking Monday on the Mark Johnson Show (double plugola!), referred to this bill as the most impactful of the entire session. And if it works, maybe we can end our soul-killing contract with the Corrections Corporation of America.

— A good step towards addressing the college affordability gap, with the Vermont Strong Scholars Program.

— Establishment of organizing rights for day-care workers.

— Establishment of universal pre-K in public schools.

After the jump: the list continues.

— A reasonable bill to protect shorelands. The final product was a compromise, but it was a lot more than I thought we’d get, after 2013’s debacle.

— The adoption of State Treasurer Beth Pearce’s plan to boost funding of health benefits for retired teachers.

— The GMO lebeling bill. I’m less excited about this than many because I’m lukewarm on the issue, and I doubt the law will survive a court challenge. But it was a legislative victory for liberal politics, which is always nice.

— A meaningful reduction in the projected seven-cent increase in the state property tax, which should blunt the effectiveness of Republican attacks on the issue.

— A mandatory police training program in Taser use, which hopefully will reduce the chances of potentially fatal discharges in the future.

— The use of handheld cellphones while driving will be made illegal. A common-sense measure, passed over the objections of Dick Sears and Governor Shumlin. (Extra Bonus Points: Shumlin actually changed his mind on something!)

That’s a pretty substantial list, and I could go on from there.

Not everything got through, of course. Lawmakers failed to agree on an approach to school district consolidation; but in my opinion, that issue warrants further discussion anyway. It emerged as a priority because of widespread dismay over the seven-cent property tax increase; but I believe the issues of organization and cost should be considered separately. A reorganization may or may not address the cost issue.

Other disappointments: the collapse in support for mandatory sick leave, the last-minute decision (Diane Snelling, take a bow!) to make food-stamp beneficiaries responsible for overpayments caused by state errors, and yet another failure to improve the Current Use law (which leaves it open to opportunistic attacks from the right). And I’m not entirely happy with some of the newly-enacted bills. But all in all, a solid performance by lawmakers, in which they positively addressed a wide range of issues.  

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Not a bad biennium, as a matter of fact

Signs of the Apocalypse, Vermont Politics Edition: I agree with John McClaughry!

The biennial legislative session has just concluded, and it was a banner year for Vermont’s version of advanced liberalism.

Exactly! There were some twists and turns along the way, and some last-minute unpleasantness in the Sausage Factory*, but hey everybody, let’s have a big cheer it for Advanced Liberalism!

*Dick Sears, take a bow! On second thought, sit down and shut up.

The agreement ends there, of course. To El Jefe General, a liberal biennium is a catastrophe along the lines of Tropical Storm Irene. To me, it’s a heartening affirmation of my support for liberal politicians.

I realize I’m putting my License To Blog at risk by actually praising the Legislature, but look at this partial list of accomplishments (in no particular order):

— A significant increase in the minimum wage.

— An innovative program that should result in drug offenders getting treatment instead of punitive prison sentences. VTDigger’s Anne Galloway, speaking Monday on the Mark Johnson Show (double plugola!), referred to this bill as the most impactful of the entire session. And if it works, maybe we can end our soul-killing contract with the Corrections Corporation of America.

— A good step towards addressing the college affordability gap, with the Vermont Strong Scholars Program.

— Establishment of organizing rights for day-care workers.

— Establishment of universal pre-K in public schools.

After the jump: the list continues.

— A reasonable bill to protect shorelands. The final product was a compromise, but it was a lot more than I thought we’d get, after 2013’s debacle.

— The adoption of State Treasurer Beth Pearce’s plan to boost funding of health benefits for retired teachers.

— The GMO lebeling bill. I’m less excited about this than many because I’m lukewarm on the issue, and I doubt the law will survive a court challenge. But it was a legislative victory for liberal politics, which is always nice.

— A meaningful reduction in the projected seven-cent increase in the state property tax, which should blunt the effectiveness of Republican attacks on the issue.

— A mandatory police training program in Taser use, which hopefully will reduce the chances of potentially fatal discharges in the future.

— The use of handheld cellphones while driving will be made illegal. A common-sense measure, passed over the objections of Dick Sears and Governor Shumlin. (Extra Bonus Points: Shumlin actually changed his mind on something!)

That’s a pretty substantial list, and I could go on from there.

Not everything got through, of course. Lawmakers failed to agree on an approach to school district consolidation; but in my opinion, that issue warrants further discussion anyway. It emerged as a priority because of widespread dismay over the seven-cent property tax increase; but I believe the issues of organization and cost should be considered separately. A reorganization may or may not address the cost issue.

Other disappointments: the collapse in support for mandatory sick leave, the last-minute decision (Diane Snelling, take a bow!) to make food-stamp beneficiaries responsible for overpayments caused by state errors, and yet another failure to improve the Current Use law (which leaves it open to opportunistic attacks from the right). And I’m not entirely happy with some of the newly-enacted bills. But all in all, a solid performance by lawmakers, in which they positively addressed a wide range of issues.  

10 thoughts on “Not a bad biennium, as a matter of fact

  1. the last-minute decision (Diane Snelling, take a bow!) to make food-stamp beneficiaries responsible for overpayments caused by state errors…

    Yeah, because people on foodstamps can obviously afford that.

    Why do people vote Republican? Oh, yeah, they are hate-filled sociopaths. That’s the only explanation that makes any sense…

  2. all involved, esp Sands architecture, from personal knowledge of individual(s) involved at the treatment level appears to be working well:

    — An innovative program that should result in drug offenders getting treatment instead of punitive prison sentences.

    Although it is heavy on the med-side, still a vast improvement over the fate some of these unfortunate folks who have made bad choices were & are facing. Our friend loves his PO, has shared the advice & guidance he has received from psychiatric caregiver @HCRS & I find it to be solidly but softly-strict while also extremely supportive.

    Although he had been stumbling & falling further into an abyss of substance abuse & drowning in alcohol I felt uncomfortable recommending treatment as this is a decision only an individual can make but I did recommend a few beer limit or just weed but he couldn’t seem to make better choices or lift himself out of the pit he had fallen into. All we could do is offer support & help when requested as we have both btdt, other is recovered.

    Since he is employed & otherwise not a problem for LE though he has a few felonies under his belt & has done like two or three small stints @ the Graybar plus a bunch of overnights, his lawyer thought he could get him off w/6 mo-1 year in a prison work-camp. I questioned why he didn’t take treatment he said he didn’t think he could make it & when he fails, he does his whole term, the 6 mo-1 year he considered suckupable.

    He got into a bunch more trouble but nothing offensible, lawyer advised him to at least go to a treatment facility & try it, saying it might reduce his sentence.

    When he came out, he was a changed young man. I remember I said don’t worry, after you get it together maybe you can just get by w/a beer now & then or be like me, just a limited amount, not substance-free, substance-light. He said “I don’t drink anymore”.

    I can easily cry when I think of how different he has become. He has fully embraced the AA program, talks to his sponsor daily, goes to all the meetings he can, reads his AA bible daily, prays to his higher power daily. When one of us gives him rides to work if he hasn’t read his “devotion”, he reads it to us. Carries his “planning book” & AA book everywhere. Also has embraced the 12 Steps, follows it like religion, gone to everyone he feels he has harmed in any way to make amends.

    Helps his stumbling homz who are trying to get clean, had a bud who was having bad withdrawal from alcohol & other subtances after a night at the Graybar, found him some MaryJane to ease the pain as he was really, really sick plus he didn’t want him to drink as that’s the only other cure if someone is that bad.  

    Friend pissed dirty for pot & psychiatric caregiver recommended he stop using altogether, gave him a very kind & courteous level-headed peptalk & raised his med dosages. When I picked him up he said I’m not going to toke anymore I’m giving it up. Seriously dude? Seriously.

    Simply amazed. Loves life, busy all the time & is now trying to give back to those who have helped him along the way, a model of success & was also a model prisoner. Though it’s early he looks like a keeper.    

  3. A meaningful reduction in the projected seven-cent increase in the state property tax, which should blunt the effectiveness of Republican attacks on the issue.

    …not that that prevented the increasingly partisan VLCT from issuing a press release channeling every Republican talking point on the issue.

    http://vtdigger.org/2014/05/14

  4. of VLCT at all, however the cumulative increase in property taxes will total 20% year after next, according to Don Turner who was on WGOP “You Can Quote Me”. Shilling for school consolidation & acting as if it’s basically a done deal claims it’s the only way to “save”. A bit disingenuous as well as deceptive & dishonest when the real facts are just now coming out. It’s to prevent school districts from doing an end-run around our lawmakers who refuse to listen to the voter by seceding to succeed.

    How can the deaf-ear turned to struggling middle-classers, working poor & elderly homeowners re ever-increasing taxes be justified by our legislature? Just how much do those who are fine w/all of this think we can take before something gives way & this whole elitist grand scheme comes crashing down like the cooling towers @ Vermont Yankee or simply collapses like a house of cards.

    Esp when only solution was to turn VT schools into a giant local district & citizen-ignoring bureaucratic boondoggle with an education czar overseeing it all which will not even result in savings, but will in fact cost more???

    Smugness of those pushing all this through while simultaneously breaking the law by refusing to release the damning health care numbers (psst – what’s the big bad secret if it’s so wonderful just askin) then going after the poorest in VT — our babies & children — taking the food right out of their mouths instead if fixing their federal-fine producing folly & mess in Social Services is tyrranical, cruel & inhumane. Oh no, it’s not our kids & grandkids it’s the euphamistic “recipients” ostensibly, head of household.

    Precisely why I stood steadfastly against Dubie as he would have foisted the continuation of Draconian Douglas’s agenda (gee, what’s the friikken dif?) w/cohort Bliss made sure to include Dubya in the mix sending dogwhistle to the ultra-conservative rightwingers cueing them to his style of governance.

    My message to friends & fam — even conservatives — is that the new brand of conservatism is the 1% vs 99% period. And unless you are an elite member of the 1% you are being screwed & used to aid & abet the robber-barons & their extended family, profiteers who will make the rest of us including conservatives also in the 99% pay all the bills thereby simply serving as an accessory to subsidize their wealth. And just as the religious right is & always was played like a tin piano & for the fool-ade drinkers they all are, serve merely as a rightwing PAC to bring in, herd & corral more useful idiots aka the brainwashed evangelicals as they are a huge herd-like, docile, blind & subservient voting bloc.

    Supporters of all of this have no idea how much Vermonters are suffering under the agenda-driven re-engineering of our lives & loved ones. In the middle, so that means there are those worse off than me. Attempting to permanently silence the voice of local citizens by slamming the govermental door in their face with “consolidation” a really, really bad move.

    Continuing the mythical fairy-tale that VT’s wealthy will leave the state if taxes are raised is one of the biggest causes of VTs problems. VT can simply revise/restructure the code to MATCH — not exceed — that of other states & pay our bills instead of continuing the incessent beat-down of those our wealthy governor including his henchpersons — aiders & abetters who do not give a rat’s behind about us nor the expendible helpless Vermonters but exist solely to stay in power while furthering their own careers & serve solely to take care of wealthy 1%-ers & friends.

    If there were a worthy & respectable challenger, R or L to Shumlin, he, war-chest & all would not be occupying the fifth floor. I personally do not take kindly to beng had, influencing those who have entrusted me b/c they don’t know what the f’k is going on as our VT MSM is asleep @ the switch & serves primarily to promote the status quo. Entire state as well as nation is being deliberately kept in the dark by MSM to serve the Dem agenda however, these are not our daddy’s Dems, which unlike the Dems who served the middle class, perversely now serve the wealthy at our expense.

    I will NOT vote Shumlin (EVER) nor anyone of any party who has misused or ignored the public trust no matter the party. Voting records will be scrutinized for whatever my tiny voice in my tiny orbit is worth. If there is not a worthy challenger my ballot will be full of write-ins & blanks if I vote at all.  

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