This commentary is by state Rep. Pattie McCoy, R-Poultney, the House minority leader.
Being first sometimes means coming in last. Vermont has sure had a lot of “firsts” over the years — the first state to abolish slavery, the first state to allow civil unions for same-sex couples, the first state to allow the importation of lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, and so on.
These are good firsts. But not all “firsts” are created equally.
A bill before the Vermont Legislature, S.79, would make Vermont the first state in the nation to have a statewide, government-run, centralized registry of all privately owned homes being rented out.
This unnecessary expansion of government into your lives would cost the state over a million dollars each year — but don’t worry, because proponents want to pay for that by levying a new fee on as many as 80,000 Vermont homeowners, in the midst of our economic recovery. Brilliant, right?
From my time as a municipal clerk to my service in the Vermont Legislature, I’ve seen the hand of state government slowly creep further and further into the lives of everyday Vermonters. I liken it to this: Imagine, for example, living next to a volcano with lava flowing ever so slowly as to cause no initial alarm — but before you know it, your house, your driveway, and your whole property are surrounded by it.
That’s precisely what Vermont government has become — a steady flow of lava encroaching upon every one of us. And we should be deeply concerned by it.
Putting aside the intrusion into Vermonters’ lives, this bill simply doesn’t make logical sense either. Consider this: The legislation creates 6.5 new taxpayer-financed, state government positions at a total expense of $850,000 for compensation. I’m no mathematician, but by my calculation, that works out to more than $130,000 annually in pay and benefits for each of these 6.5 new bureaucratic positions. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Vermont was less than $62,000. This proposal should be insulting to each and every Vermonter struggling to make ends meet.
Put simply, this latest legislation is another attempt to unnecessarily expand the scope of bureaucracy into the private lives of Vermonters. There’s no compelling reason to create a new registry, financed by a new fee on Vermonters, to support new taxpayer-funded bureaucratic jobs.
Thankfully, the Vermont House Republican Caucus was able to delay this legislation from being considered — for the time being. But, rest assured, the Democratic majority in the Statehouse is eagerly awaiting its turn to rush it through next time the Legislature convenes.
I encourage all Vermonters to let their state legislators know how they feel about this proposal.