Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
We know painfully well that our Democrat/Progressive Legislature has an addiction to big spending with Vermont taxpayer money. I have heard it said that to feed that need “they will tax or find a fee (a tax by another name) for anything that moves and also for anything that does not move.”
It might be hard to believe but they have found something else to assess as well. The public has a legal right to inspect certain public records at no charge to them. If T.J. Donovan, Vermont’s Democrat Attorney General, has his way, you will be charged a copying fee if you choose to record that record with your own cell phone camera, even though such copying adds no additional cost to their office.
Donovan believes that even if you take a photo of a public record with your own cell phone, you’re breaking the law — unless you fork over some money to the state coffers. For some perplexing and unbelievable reason, Donovan thinks the state needs to be reimbursed for copying records, even when the state isn’t the one copying them!
Republicans have a problem with this, and the governor has ordered state agencies to ignore the attorney general’s ridiculous directive, arguing that members of the public should be able to inspect public documents for free. It seems like a no-brainer — but Donovan just doesn’t get it.
The Legislature will likely weigh into this, but if history is any predictor, don’t expect the big-taxing Democratic supermajority to do the right thing. Can they go any further than taxing you for using your camera to copy a record? Who knows. Now that they have identified things to tax beyond things that move and don’t move, the sky is the limit for the quest for new revenue. The sky? Now that’s an idea we better not put in their mind!
You can do something to protect the safety of your hard-earned income from this and other money grabs by supporting, voting for and even running as a candidate for office in 2020 as a Republican.