Roper: Our seriously unserious Legislature

By Rob Roper

Recently the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce surveyed 500 young professionals, primarily Burlington area residents between the ages of 22 and 34, and learned that over 40 percent intend to leave Vermont. Why? The high cost of housing, the overall high cost of living and the lack of upwardly mobile career paths. While the high number eyeing the exits may come as a shock, the reasons are not. We’ve known for a long time these are things that need fixing.

We also know that our roads are in poor shape, sewage keeps overflowing out of our waste treatment plants and into our rivers and lakes, our state pension liabilities are a financial time bomb, and the cost of pre-k-12 education keeps inexplicably rising despite the loss of 30,000 kids.

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

So, given this list of real challenges as we head into the final weeks of the 2019 legislative session, here’s a rundown of some of the issues our elected officials are tackling:

Allowing noncitizens to vote in Montpelier. The House passed this charter change bill 94-46 allowing noncitizens the right to vote in local Montpelier elections despite the fact that the Vermont Constitution sates explicitly that you have to be a U.S. citizen in order to vote. As of this writing the bill is under consideration the Senate.

Eliminating Columbus Day and replacing it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The Senate passed this on a voice vote and the House passed it 113 to 24. Nice for Native Americans; insulting to Italian Americans. But are any of us really going to spend our day off any differently?

Banning plastic grocery bags. The Senate passed this one 27-2 and, as of this writing, it is under consideration in the House. Not only does this bill ban plastic bags, it demands that store owners charge 10 cents per paper bag. These are really not decisions government is constitutionally empowered to make for us.

A constitutional amendment to end slavery. Yes, despite the fact that the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ended all slavery in 1865, and the Vermont Constitution was the first state constitution to ban slavery, the Senate voted 28-1 to start us on the four-year path to amend the state Constitution, including a statewide vote, in order change and/or accomplish exactly nothing.

Raise the smoking age to 21. This passed in the Senate on a voice vote and in the House 124-14. What’s truly comical about this is that all session many of these same legislators have been touting the wisdom and praising the policy leadership of middle and high school students on issues such as climate change and gun control, but then rule young adults are too immature, ignorant and foolish to make personal choices on their own.

Expand the “Pay to Move” program. The original program to pay people up to $10,000 to move to Vermont was so successful (29 workers moved here) the Senate voted 27-2 to expand the program. Why are we reduced to having to pay people to move to Vermont? Probably because of all the nonsense listed above.

In addition, there are serious negotiations about banning fossil fuel infrastructure in the state (essentially a move to ensure cheap, low-carbon-emitting natural gas is prohibited from competing with more expensive, less reliable renewable energy business/donor interests), which would deal a considerable blow to economic development. And, one can’t forget the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act (H.462), which would in effect usher in a “green” police state under which our government “shall adopt and implement rules to achieve the 2025 greenhouse gas reduction requirement … including addressing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector, transportation sector, and building sector.” “Shall” means you will be forced to comply by whatever means necessary in order to accomplish approximately nothing in regard to climate change.

But isn’t this just what Vermonters want and voted for? Well, as Rep. Mike Yantachka, D-Charlotte, explained, “If our constituents say ‘don’t do this,’ we should be able to tell them we have to do it.”

Maybe our state would be better off if, instead, we told our legislators to quit screwing around in their ideological sandbox and to focus their time and energy on actually operating the machinery of government. Fix the roads, fix the wastewater system, shore up the pensions, make sure our public schools are educating our kids effectively and at reasonable cost, and stop taxing and regulating productive people and businesses out of the state. And if they say they don’t want to do this, we should be able to tell them they have to do it.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Stowe.

Image courtesy of Public domain

10 thoughts on “Roper: Our seriously unserious Legislature

  1. Thanks Rob for the excellent article and telling it like it really is. I don’t know what planet they came from but their priorities are not to the benefit of most Vermonters.
    We need to vote these fools out ASAP

  2. One of the benefits of a Republic protecting State’s Rights and individual liberty and freedom is having the opportunity to see and learn from the experiences of others. So, what can we do in Vermont to improve the economy? Take a look at NH.

    NH is 4th lowest taxed state in the U.S. VT is the 4th highest taxed state.

    NH’s work force is expanding – VT’s is declining. And NH’s job growth is increasing while Vermont gained only 273 jobs over the last ten years.

    Meanwhile – NH’s minimum wage is still only $7.25/hr. VT’s minimum wage is one of the highest in the country. And NH’s average income is in the top ten nationally.

    • Yes, and if facts don’t seem to matter to our government “representatives”, it makes a person wonder if they’re intentionally running this state into the ground. Visions of all of the family farms disappearing in the MidWest in the 70’s and 80’s comes to mind—-land grabs and families forced into urban areas. Pure stupidity or pure evil?—the only two reasons for their continued insistence on overtaxing and overspending and doing nothing to make this state affordable and sustainable.

  3. Thanks Rob.
    Talking with a friend the other day whose son is graduating with a technical degree from an out of state school, and he asked his son if he had looked at coming back to VT. His son had considered it, briefly, but quickly realized there were no opportunities for him here. He is staying in the Mid-South.
    That poll is illuminating. What is there, here in VT, to keep the young around?
    My wife and I are approaching our retirement years and several around us are moving out of state or considering it. Their reasons for moving are weather (of course), taxes, cost-of-living and the political attitudes that a few people in Montpelier have that they know better how we should live our lives and spend our money than we do. Do an online search of best and worst places to retire and in 9 out of 10 articles VT is one of the worst. What is to keep the seniors here?
    A society needs a wide array of people for it to work. If you had a society made up of only people under 30 you would have a society repeating many of the mistakes that us seniors made over the years. If the society was made up of all seniors you would not have the energy, exuberance and fresh insights that the young contribute.
    The first day of one of my courses in college, the professor had written on the blackboard “Taking my class is like hitting your hand with a hammer….when you are done it feels sooooooo good!”. The weather (whack!), the taxes (whack!), the pensions shortfalls (whack!), the roads and streets (whack!), the abortion bill (whack!), the anti-business attitude (whack!), lack of professional opportunities for the young (whack!), the healthcare rules (whack!), enhancing Act 250 with Green regulations (whack!) and etc.
    We, as citizens, young and old, have two choices, we can vote at the ballot box to change our representatives in government or we can vote with our feet and leave …..either way it will feel ssoooooo good!

  4. As I’ve been saying right along, the legislature should spend no more than three weeks doing serious business, then poof, go home. Rob just proved it.

    • I agree, take care of the states business and leave the personal ideology out of it.

  5. Noting Rob’s opening statement:
    “Recently the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce surveyed 500 young professionals, primarily Burlington area residents between the ages of 22 and 34, and learned that over 40 percent intend to leave Vermont”

    That’s Chittenden County, about the most liberal-Socialist in the state. Chittenden County apparently isn’t utopia. If the young there (with a VT education, the schools being suspect for educating) are leaving, somehow common sense was there to evaluate conditions. Maybe they see so many leaving and there’s no viable jobs and put VT in the rear view mirror. Interesting and hopeful.

    Kids are the future, you can see where VT is headed. The legislature math is 2+2 equals ???? What HUH? The kids figured out that 2+2 is 4. Maybe the kids would like to keep their guns and enjoy that right and sport. I don’t see these level heads shooting people up. But the Legislators are killing people.

    State of the State.

    • “The legislature math is 2+2 equals ???? ”

      In commie core maff it = ASSAULT AGENDA, leading the nut roots nation, showing the light into
      the black hole of no common sense. Following their idol ijits in Mexifornia tax by tax, regulation by regulation, Anything but working for working VT’ers..
      Like the old usless up nord we should be able to set them free on the ice flows in the spring to make way for a better year…

    • Kids don’t care about guns,they care about making enough money to pay off student debt and ability to buy a house.Vermont wages are nothing to behold.

  6. Rob, nice article showing the ” Non-Sense ” that comes out of Montpelier. The only problem is
    that ” Montpelier ” doesn’t recognize there’s a problem !!

    One would think, after surveying 500 young Professionals Liberals from Burlington and they are
    stating they are headed for ” Greener Pastures”, legislators would wake up…..Nope !!

    Just look at the above-mentioned bills in the upcoming session, nonsense to say the least.

    If one has ever listened to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez she says the world will implode in 12 years,
    well I don’t think Vermont has that long before it Implodes ??………..Pretty Sad.

    Vote these incompetent fools out.

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