Last week Lt. Gov. Scott cast a rare tie breaking vote in the Senate. His “Yes” vote on an amendment from Sen. Peg Flory (R-Rutland) killed a bill that would have strengthened recently enacted regulations controlling toxic chemicals used in children’s toys.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee was proposing to make changes to Act 188, which passed last year. […] changes sought in the amendment would require that there be a “reasonable risk of exposure” rather than “children will be exposed” to such chemicals. It also added language that there must be “one or more safer and technically and economically feasible alternatives to the chemical” before it can be added to the list.
Just to be clear, Scott’s choice was between strengthening the existing rules governing “chemicals of high concern to children” in toys and other items or keeping the law in its weaker present form.
With his tie-breaking vote, he eliminated new language allowing the Health Commissioner to “consult” with a council on restricting sale of specific children’s items containing chemicals “of concern,” but not have to wait for their recommendation before adding a chemical to a list.
The lieutenant governor proudly says he sided with the business community, which opposed the changes, so as not to “create uncertainty” for them. Scott explained that the weaker version of the law should be “given a chance” so we could “see what happens.”
Okay, raise your hands: who wants to wait and see what happens to Vermont children and their families with the weaker law? What would the convincing measure be — what higher number of child illnesses, cancers, deaths attributable to toxic chemicals? How many court cases do Vermont families have to wade through as parents with fewer resources try to hold corporate profiteers accountable?
Remember that in 2014 when the current law was debated it faced opposition from some heavy hitting businesses. Those groups included IBM, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Wal-Mart, the Toy Industry Association and Kuerig Green (aka: “millions of little plastic cups”) Mountain Coffee.
According to Senator Anthony Pollina (P/D/W-Washington), the changes Scott killed would have brought the Vermont “law’s wording more in line with the language used by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory authorities.” Pollina continued:
“We are talking about chemicals that we know are dangerous. I want to make that very clear,” Pollina said. “What we’re trying to do is bring … our law in line with accepted practices.”
In his tie-breaking vote Scott has made it very clear how far he’ll go to embrace “eliminating uncertainty” for his business friends. Even when his pro-business-profit embrace means putting Vermont families at risk while waiting to see what happens with toxic chemicals in children’s toys.