By John McClaughry
The 2022 general election campaigns are now under way, and it’s time for citizens to smoke out where legislative candidates stand on issues that they are likely to face in 2023.
I say “smoke out” because many if not most candidates are nervous about telling voters where they stand on specific issues. That’s in part due to their limited understanding of the issues, and their anxiety about having to coherently defend any clear position.
But the voters have a right to know. So here are 16 timely questions, fairly stated, that voters need to pose to legislative candidates seeking their vote. If the candidate can’t handle at least most of these, he or she likely is not well prepared to handle the job they’re seeking.
1. Should the legislature require the top five percent of Vermont income taxpayers to pay a $30 million income tax surcharge to finance a “Green New Deal”?
2. Should the legislature broaden the current 6% sales and use tax on goods to include services (such as haircuts, lawn maintenance, plumbing, legal advice, etc.)?
3. Should the legislature make it an annual practice to contribute at least 10% more than the Annual Required Contribution to the two state retirement funds in order to eliminate their more than $5 Billion unfunded liabilities by 2040?
4. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020 set mandatory carbon dioxide emissions reduction targets for 2025, 2030, and 2050. This is to be accomplished by rules controlling all usage of gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas, heating oil and propane. These rules would take effect without any vote by elected representatives. Should all such rules be presented to the legislature for approval before taking effect?
5. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020 authorizes “any person” to bring a lawsuit against the State if the emission reduction rules fail to achieve the adopted targets. Should this “sue the State” provision be repealed?
6. Under the Congressional Review Act, a simple majority of both chambers of Congress can pass a resolution of disapproval to kill a rule. Should one fifth of the members of the Vermont House or Senate be allowed to force a record vote on a resolution of disapproval of new state rules that will have large economic impacts?
7. Should Vermont join ten other states in a multi-state agreement called the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI-P), by which Vermont agrees to discourage the use of motor fuel by increasing gasoline and diesel taxes by a steadily increasing 5-17 cents/gallon , using the revenue to subsidize “green” projects such as electric vehicle subsidies, EV charging stations, electric buses, etc.?
8. Should the legislature adopt a “Clean Heat Standard” designed to increase the price of home and business heating fuel in order to raise money to finance weatherization, electric heat pumps, and other “green” projects favored by the Public Utility Commission?
9. Should the legislature make “carbon neutrality”, either through the use of building materials and processes or the purchase of “carbon offsets”, a requirement for obtaining an Act 250 development permit?
10. Should the legislature mandate that residential buildings conform to State-established “green” energy efficiency standards before a title can be transferred?
11. Should persons be free to make personal use of drugs like heroin and fentanyl, provided that they accept financial responsibility for medical treatment for overdoses?
12. Should the legislature require electric vehicles to contribute the equivalent of a motor fuel tax to the Transportation Fund, as do on-road gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles, to pay for maintenance of State roads and bridges?
13. Should the general election ballot offer voters a choice among teams of Governor and Lt. Governor candidates, with the lower state offices filled on a nonpartisan basis by appointment and confirmation? (The One Big Choice Plan).
14. Should able-bodied persons who receive state welfare assistance be required to perform 10 hours a week of volunteer service in their communities?
15. Should the legislature allow all parents to choose the school or educational program that best fits the needs of their children from among a wide array of providers, with their portion of Education Fund dollars following the child?
16. Should the legislature approve a “Community Resilience and Biodiversity Act” (vetoed in 2022) to designate 30% of Vermont as undevelopable “conservation” districts by 2030, and 50% by 2050?
There are of course many other questions that could be posed. But pressing candidates to respond to these will give voters a good measure of the views and abilities of people seeking elective office. Voters deserve to know what they’ll get by giving their votes. That’s what makes democracy work.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.
3 thoughts on “McClaughry: Candidate questions for 2022”
I see no reason why these questions shouldn’t be posted in Vermont’s major newspapers (and smaller ones) so that readers of all political persuasions in all corners of the state can repeat the questions to candidates. Or, maybe I can. Newspapers hesitate to intimidate candidates because candidates then eschew newspapers. This reality is precisely opposite what our founders intended. Newspapers should skeptically probe all candidates’ positions in search of truth. Newspaper and candidate positions are naturally adversarial in a republic and in a democracy, because when they are not, corruption results. Note the extraordinary Trump and Biden scandals, for instance. All of them are loudly touted or largely ignored — by all the networks. When any news outlets favor any candidates, truth becomes elusive, factions become divisive and government becomes impotent by the conflict. (Notice the unmeasurable waste of our dollars for Covid 19, Infrastructure and the Mexican border, for instance.) Government actually becomes adversarial to the interests of the people on both sides of The Divide. This phenomenon is blatantly obvious on every major television network and can no longer be denied. There are still a few newspapers that attempt objective reporting. John Klar’s “16 Questions,” liberally shared, would go a long way toward The People’s discovery of all Vermont candidates’ true positions thus informing voters beyond candidates’ tired political party shibboleths. Good politicians answer good questions and become better public servants.
C02 is a nutrient, we need more of it to eat.
And, the more regulations and taxes you want to impose are wrong.
Get out of the people’s pockets and lives.
We smoked out Joe Benning..
He’s a BIDEN supporter…
And the players helped get him through the primary.
It’s time for old Joe to go..
The first question should be for these republican candidates is….
ARE YOU A REPUBLICAN!!!
When he gets that many endorsements you have to start to worry about him and whose side he’s on…
No thanks I’m going to pass on Benning he’s a turncoat to the republican party..
Joe got to go
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