Senator Hartwell a reason for a new Committee on Committees

Senator Bob Hartwell’s adoration for the Committee on Committees may have peaked in 2013 when its members named him as the surprise replacement for longtime chair Ginny Lyons of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. It was a move with immediate policy implications, replacing a supporter of wind power with a chair favoring a wind power moratorium, Hartwell.


 The three-member leadership Committee on Committees hand picks chairmen and senators to serve on standing committees. The current edition is made up of Democrats Dick Mazza and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell and their BFF, Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott.


It was pointed out to me that Hartwell’s elevation two years ago may have been a concession to the Republicans’ ownership of the Lt. Governor’s chair. But that choice should give Democrats and Progressives, who maintain a large majority in the Senate, good reason to elect actual Democrats rather than DINOs to the other two slots. Short of actually changing the existing three man climate it would also be a way to register disapproval of the two (uh) Democrats’ open financial and personal support for the Republican incumbent Lt. Governor over the Progressive candidate, Dean Corren, who sought and received the Democratic Party’s endorsement, via both votes in the primary and the state party committee’s endorsement.

A retiring 5-term senator, Hartwell, in a self-appointed role as elder sage, now has given a flurry of recommendations and I-told-you-so comments in two opinion pieces just weeks apart. His complaints are mostly related to the climate in the Senate and how to change it. His list of suggested corrections (90% of which would please former Governor Jim Douglas) includes tax, Act 250 and permit-reform strategies, and structural improvements to the legislature’s oversight role. His harshest complaints come in the environmental permitting arena.

 Part of his prescription for change (and there’s no evidence of intended irony here)

[…] the Committee on Committees, which appoints senators to standing committees, must do everything it can to assure that ill-informed ideologues, inattentive to detail, are not appointed committee chairs.

Hmmm ill-informed ideologues, inattentive to detail? Well Mazza, Campbell,and Scott may or may not have known about Hartwell’s views on climate change in 2013, but it was a bit of a revelation to the general public by spring of 2014.

 Hartwell explained his view in depth to Seven Days:

To suggest that mankind is causing the whole climate to shift, that’s a big reach. I don’t think anybody’s ever proved that. I think, man doesn’t help it much with a lot of pollution, that’s for sure. And there’s been tremendous progress on that front. But there’s a natural phenomenon going on as well, so all we’re doing is accelerating that. [added emphasis]

 Better raise that bar a little higher for the three members of the Committee on Committees if they follow up on Hartwell’s pro-climate-change warning against ill-informed committee chairs. Clearly, the CoC needs a good gust of fresh air.

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