Statehouse Headliners: Expect commercial pot, $15 minimum wage, family leave, gun control

By Guy Page

The leader of the new veto-proof supermajority Vermont House Democratic caucus predicts the Legislature will seek action on three bills Gov. Phil Scott has opposed: the $15 minimum wage and paid family leave (vetoed by Scott last year), and retail sales of marijuana (opposed by Scott pending Marijuana Commission report this month), Jack Thurston of New England Cable Network reported Nov. 7.

Thurston reports: “House majority leader Jill Krowinski, a Democrat representing Burlington, said she expects the wage issue to be back on the table next session, along with a bill that would guarantee workers access to paid leave from their jobs after family changes such as a new baby. Also sure to resurface, Krowinski predicted, are proposals to tax and regulate the retail sale of recreational marijuana.”

When a House Majority Leader says an issue is “sure to surface,” it’s not just a passive observation. It’s Krowinski’s job to identify and move through the House the bills she, other majority leaders, and the Democratic caucus wish to become law. Thurston also notes that with last Tuesday’s loss of the veto-sustaining Republican caucus, Scott admits his hand in shaping legislation is weakened:

When you have a supermajority, there are some things that are going to happen that I can’t prevent, so they’ll have to work to make their case,” Scott said of House Democrats in an interview with NECN affiliate NBC 5 News. “I’ll do whatever I can to find areas where we can work together.

Neither Republican governor nor lawmakers will have sufficient power to stop a determined push by the majority. Gun ownership rights may be further limited by the 2019 Legislature. Consider this bill introduced by Chair Maxine Grad of the activist House Judiciary Committee during the 2018 Special Session:

H.11, “to prohibit a person subject to a relief from abuse order from possessing a firearm or deadly weapon while the order is in effect.” If successful, H.11 would significantly expand the conditions for separating Vermonters from their lawfully-acquired guns, which began last session when S.221 created a court process by which people deemed an “extreme risk” to themselves or others could have their guns taken away.

Note that in its use of the word “shall,” H.11 seems to forbid any judicial discretion to not require relinquishment:

The court order shall require the defendant to relinquish all firearms and deadly weapons that are in the control, ownership, or possession of the defendant, or in the control, ownership, or possession of any other person on behalf of the defendant, for the duration of the protective order…..A law enforcement agency shall be immune from civil or criminal liability for any damage or deterioration of firearms removed, stored, or transported pursuant to this section.

Also, seizing guns from “any other person on behalf of the defendant” could create a real-world situation of police taking guns from people just because they are relatives and sympathetic friends of the subject of the order.

There was no time for H.11 to move through the brief Special Session. However, its introduction suggests serious intent by Chair Grad to build on gun control gains of 2018.

Vermonters opposed to job killing, pot-selling, and/or gun seizing legislation face an uphill battle trying to stop or even amend them. Yet citizens are obliged – in fact, privileged – to tell their legislators, friends, and local media of their opposition, warn of the real-life consequences of passing bad bills, and offer informed, constructive alternatives. Here are three other possible courses of action:

  • Appeal to Republicans, Independents, and independent-minded members of the Majority to consider the needs of Vermont and their districts first and the desires of the House leadership second.
  • Speak in favor of court challenges to Vermonters’ constitutional rights. And, with an eye towards 2020, they can:
  • Organize locally and statewide to elect like-minded legislators.

The 19th century poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, “poets are the unacknowledged authors of all legislation.” We can’t all be as poetic as Shelley but we can persistently speak and write about how to make life better in our lives, our culture, and our state.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR

13 thoughts on “Statehouse Headliners: Expect commercial pot, $15 minimum wage, family leave, gun control

  1. The future looks bleak for us native Vermonters who have seen our statewide, legislature and local politicians all get hijacked by ultra left leaning liberals because of a few key facts. Those middleclass people who work and those retired that need to budget closely, do not seem to have the ability to make a career out of part time political jobs, that were meant to be by the citizens as a voluntary civic duty. Nope, look how much $ is in the game to run and stay elected these days? The GOP might as well be the 3rd party or minority party forever when they back RINOs and “Centrists” that don’t give people someone to ralley to vote for. Nope, I didn’t vote in several races, and voted for others than traitorous republicans that I can’t feel justifiably should get my vote, just because of a party label. Poor Kurt Wright was limping home from an ass whipping at the polls that he was outworked. News flash: many fellow Republicans I know like myself would never vote for him and he finally got his just desserts.

    • And then there’s contest like the Pownal/Woodford seat for state rep.

      Combined total of the two opposing candidates–similar platforms, one more pro-2nd Amendment than the other–was more than enough by about 25% to beat the guy running Donkey ticket. Too stubborn to one back the other, now stuck with one more D vote on key bills.

      Like they say, we get exactly the kind of government we deserve.

  2. I hope all you gun owners are paying attention. These socialist democrats are already ruining this beautiful State and they want to drive it further down the tubes. We really need to be prepared to fight.

    • No you need to get out of Dodge. The writing been on the wall for years. Prepare you get raked over the coals.

  3. NH must be excited about the opportunity this will create for them. Businesses will expand in NH not Vt, people will purchase even more goods and services in NH. Oh and don’t forget the feel good carbon tax, harming working Vermonters and the elderly while making liberals feel smart and morally superior (while having no measurable effect on climate change)

  4. Relief from abuse order from possessing a firearm or deadly weapon.
    Deadly weapons: hunting knife, steak knife, scissors, long shank screwdriver, hammer, hatchet, splitting maul, piano wire, rope, twine, shovel, hoe, pick axe, car, truck, tire iron, baseball bat (wood and aluminum), iron pipe, and etc. It look like this new law could leave you with nothing and it doesn’t matter how much law enforcement can destroy or ruin any of it while taking it or while in their custody. Blind democrat voters strike again.

  5. I have called the state chamber and NFIB to encourage them to show the public what $15 wage really costs, make the public aware – so the legislature might get the message from the public.
    its; $ !5 in cash pay, add, add the loss from training time, add the liability insurance rising, add workman’s comp, add unemployment whether you have to lay them orr or fire them, Add bookeeping for payroll and taxes, now subrtact how much a newbie is worth bagging groceries – which brings no direct income. AND the employee has to pay extra taxes and SSI based on their new wealth. And perhaps be knocked off welfare benefits – a big loss. Why work? How many newbies will never get a job or job experience because of the magic $15 – that ia a big one.!
    I’m estimating that a $15 wage for a new hire will cost near $22 an hour, near $500 a week – impossible!

    The idea that now the day care worker can now afford to buy McD’s better sandwich AND the McD worker can now afford day care due to $15 – ia an absurdity. This is just pure inflation, a pipe dream, and a reason to never give some new person a first job at all..

    • Let’s not forget now the cost if living will go up due to.the increase in wages.
      This is while our elected officials can claim $74.00/day while in session to cover food expenses. I am lucky to have $74.00/ month for groceries. I believe it us $150.00 a night us they stay at a hotel. I can stay in Stowe at a nice lodge for 2 nights for $88.00 for 2 people.
      I ran for a state rep seat and was going to argue these should be less. I lost by 152 though.

    • 15$ an hour costs an employer around $23 an hour by the time they pay the employers share of ssi, fica, state income tax, unemployment workers comp..

      And if they offer full time benefits
      Vac & holiday, pto, ads even more

  6. Well I guess this means Good bye to small business/ mom and pop stores. These topics need to be thought through better but, not by the group that got elected this cycle.
    Let’s not forget the carbon bill will probably be imposed and ACT 46 will be crammed down our throats even more.

  7. What else would one expect from Liberal Progressive DemocRATs, they know best,
    just watch and learn how they will destroy Vermont as we knew it !!

    Vermonter’s you voted for it, now you’re going to pay for it ……..

  8. Again, just like the last 10 years our clueless left lib legislature has their priorities out of whack by focusing on “feel good” bills that do nothing to address our crumbling infrastructure, bloated state payroll, exiting industry, out of control spending / wasting by most all state agencies and on an on…
    This state due to it’s legislature is in big trouble

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