By John Klar
It’s official: Vermont’s government has been usurped by elitist bureaucrats who have decided that Constitutions, and voting, are annoying impediments to their enlightened oversight. This is not an exaggeration.
Bureaucratic agencies have swollen in costs (salaries) and powers in all areas of Vermonters’ lives: farms close, but the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets expands steadily. Schools are being closed, but administrative employees and costs increase relentlessly. Mental health facilities and small hospitals are in crisis, yet OneCare Vermont and related administrative bodies bloat (citizens are told it will take five years to determine whether OneCare even works).
In addition to a slew of blatantly unconstitutional gun laws for the 2020 legislative session, the Vermont Legislature is pushing the most un-democratic agenda yet, through the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) and the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). The only thing “democratic” about these absurd bills is that Democrats have drafted them, and the Democrat-dominated House and Senate seek to enact them.
The TCI does not define how high the fuel taxes it imposes will go — as high as necessary to achieve fictitious “goals” of greenhouse gas emissions. Neither does it define how money collected will be redistributed to the poorest citizens who will admittedly be the most economically damaged by its provisions — that too will be up to the bureaucrats.
The GWSA is even more open-ended (and sponsored or co-sponsored by 87 Representatives!). Based on hyperbole and a single UN study, the bill identifies global warming as a “clear and present danger” that requires sweeping government intrusions, which will be designed without voter involvement, approval, or reimbursement for economic losses caused thereby. Under this bill, state agencies will be directed to do “whatever it takes” to meet arbitrary emission reduction goals, via a delegation by our Democrat legislature of complete authoritarian implementation of power to do whatever these agencies decide is needed. This is not democratic.
Citizens and environmental plaintiffs will be granted special rights to sue the government to compel compliance with certain fantasized percentage targets for reducing gases, and courts will be empowered to order yet more administrative powers and regulations (again, totally unspecified). But there is no cause of action for citizens who suffer financial damages, or lose property (or property development) rights. The U.S. and Vermont Constitutions seek to shield citizens from exactly such governmental “takings” of property, but these laws exclude any Due Process to ensure those protections are preserved — indeed, they contain no provisions to redress economic damages to Vermont citizens. Which is to say, there is not only no Due process — there is no process whatsoever.
Ironically, Vermont’s GWSA specifically cautions that Vermont might suffer a “climate crisis-related credit downgrade” without explaining what that even looks like, while ignoring the actual “credit downgrade” that will most certainly be caused by an unrestricted, undefined government seizure of all aspects of production, consumption, and livelihood. Citizens already fleeing the Green Mountain State will flee faster if this stifling government power-grab is enacted, creating a surplus of real estate inventory that will cause Vermonters to lose yet more wealth as they exit — property prices will plummet if people leave en masse. Eighty-seven Vermont legislators seek to enact a law which declares that “[d]elaying necessary policy action to address climate crisis risks significant economic damage to Vermont.” If it becomes law, H.688 will cause substantial economic harm, with no recourse.
Do Vermont’s legislators read these bills? Have they ever read the Constitutions? Or do they just think citizens can’t read?