Gervais: Lawmakers can’t handle the truth about S.5

by Joe Gervais

In the lead up to the votes on S.5, the misleadingly named “Affordable Heat Act,” thousands of Vermonters called and wrote their senators and representatives urging them to vote “no” on a bill that will increase our costs to heat our homes. By all accounts, citizen opposition to the bill was overwhelming, and support for it minimal. Nobody wants, and many simply cannot afford, to pay taxes, fees, or whatever euphemism you want to call it on top of the already high price of oil, propane, and kerosene. 

Sadly, our two representatives, Kathleen James and Seth Bongartz, were among the 103 Democrat, Progressive and Independent legislators who didn’t listen to their constituents. Despite the repeated public appeals to vote no, they voted yes. First to pass the bill, and then to override Governor Scott’s veto of the bill. 

This is not how representative democracy should work. We elect representatives to, as the title suggests, to “represent” us. Not to disregard us. Yes, there are times when controversial issues split constituencies down the middle and there are good arguments on both sides, and here we expect our representatives to apply their best judgement about which path to take. But this was not one of those times. Opposition to S.5 was nearly universal. James and Bongartz simply didn’t care. 

Adding insult to injury, their justifications for thwarting the will of their constituents are based on misleading half-truths and flat-out falsehoods about the policy they put into law. 

At a recent public forum and in email responses to me, Rep. James kept insisting that S.5 is “just a study.” It is not. While the bill does include a study of the impacts of the program, it also “stands up” the Clean Heat Standard program. They are not studying the program to determine if we want it or if it is even feasible or affordable. They are establishing the program – it is now fixed in law – and the “study” is being employed as a tool build the program, not to evaluate it.

The so-called “check back” provision in the law does not require a vote to determine whether or not Vermonters will have a Clean Heat Standard or not. We have it. The PUC is already advertising to fill positions authorized by the legislation. The “check back” is only a review and vote on the final rules that will govern the program. All elements of the program – the bureaucracy, the IT system, and hiring a non-governmental agency (likely Efficiency Vermont) to run the program to as much as a 12-year contract – are put in place before the check back vote occurs in 2025. 

The only cost estimates for the Clean Heat Standard indicate it will add 70¢ to $4.00 to a gallon of home heating fuel. Reps. James and Bongartz insist these estimates are high, yet they offer no cost analysis of their own to refute these numbers. At the Arlington Town meeting, Rep. James said it could cost as little as 10 cents, based on an Oregon motor vehicle program, and repeated that assertion in subsequent communications. At the Arlington Town meeting, Rep Bongartz reported that the 70¢ per gallon estimate had been “widely debunked”, but he “did not know the answer” to the true cost. 

In fact, Rep. Bongartz, who sits on the Energy and Environment Committee that vetted the bill never even asked a single question about how much it might cost his constituents during weeks of testimony. Not only did he not know the answer, it appears he did not want to know the answer. This is something he and all of his colleagues should have insisted upon before voting for the bill. But it is telling that both Bongartz and James voted against an amendment that would have capped the per-gallon impact at 20¢. 

In an appeal to Reps. James and Bongartz for upholding the veto, I provided an analysis of why her 10¢ assertion was more likely around $2.70 a gallon. Rep. James responded “Your calculations from Oregon are interesting! I have indeed quoted that state a few times as an example of a similar program, but S.5 has evolved in ways since Town Meeting that, at this point, make the example of other states moot”

Not knowing the cost impacts of before voting for the bill is an act of willful negligence. Not listening to the people who elected them is an act of supreme arrogance. Responsible representation means doing the homework, being transparent with people regarding the facts, and ultimately listening to the people who elect you. This is not how James and Bongartz operate. The voters of Manchester, Arlington, Sandgate and Sunderland deserve better than this. 

The author, an Arlington resident, was a candidate for the Legislature in 2022.

Categories: Commentary

10 replies »

  1. Joe Gervais spot on!! Great fight and work Mr. well said Mr. Thank you Sir!!
    The liberal leftist Dem Swamp Rats 🐀 🤡🐀 🤡Are beyond Degusting to say the least !!
    Wake up Vermonters wake up!!
    You folks keep voting for these degusting so-called Human being liberal leftist Dem and you will keep losing period folks!! $$%%&$#*^==$$$+×$$=$=🏠 🏚 🏭
    The Vermonter and Legal American!!
    With Common sense period!!

  2. Bottom line, it’s up to the people to vote these critters out of office. Will that happen? Who knows. There’s so much election cheating going on it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if that extends to local representative races.

    Nonetheless, please remember. No one is bound to abide by a law that is unconstitutional. Since in this case the citizens will be dealing with innocent middlemen, many of whom are on their side, that leaves one option – one the democrats loved to use on President Trump – Lawfare! Why don’t we start a GoFundMe for the express purpose of challenging the constitutionality of every nitwit “law” the socialist legislators in Vermont come up with?

    Don’t like that? Fine, I’m open to other ideas. Let’s discuss. But frankly, the “Thank you sir, may I have another” attitude of the sheeple will just make things worse. We all need to step up – do what you can do, donate what you can donate – to beat back the relentless march toward tyranny.

    • We live in a failed State. For example, documented violations of Title 42, patients rights and civil rights. The State of Vermont advocate (duty and paid to represent the People) refuses to take action. Recourse is to find a lawyer. There are no lawyers that I can find that don’t have a direct conflict of interest or too lazy to take a slam dunk case. Why? The Vermont Judiciary is complicit and corrupt so they know they won’t win no matter the facts. As one attorney said years ago when someone inquired they want to sue the State, his response “stand in line.” The selection system is rigged to favor the insiders. The only way out of this is to watch it implode upon itself and those still standing, will walk in and clean it up.

      • I’m in total agreement Melissa (as well as Bert & Robin above replies). It’s time for a revolt against taxes like the past Boston Tea Party (which is probably no longer being taught in our ‘Woke” schools). There is no doubt corruption in voting but at the same time, there are way too many who still vote for the Left, Progs, liberals. That super majority in Montpelier must stop!

  3. My wife and I are in our 60’s and reside in Essex county. Our home is at an altitude of 1350′. During the winter, it gets down to -35F and sometimes -40F. We see snow in May and it starts again in Sept. The infrastructure is so poor here that we have no cell service. Our internet is DSL – yes, merely one step past dial-up and sometimes about as fast. Forget the source of power; do you expect me to believe that when everyone has to switch to electric that this grid here in Essex County can handle it? Several years ago I installed a high efficiency, clean burning, fha propane furnace which we supplement with a wood stove. But now you want me to do away with all that for the “designer”, “feels good” heat pump? Our life is going to depend on this thing heating the house when it is -40F and the wind is howling? How about you leave us alone and let us eek out a private, self-sustaining existence?

  4. Correct as always, Melissa. And of course, above all, the lawmakers, or rather the lawbreakers – know all this better than anyone else. Hence, they continue on their chosen path to write and then pass unconstitutional bills at this point in this nation’s forsaken history that only further undermine the freedom & justice of most of the citizenry.

    As we write, Bongartz is obediently passing yet more legislation for Vermont as dictated by Lords Obama & his hand puppet Biden that will “fundamentally transform” the Green Mountain State. This bill forces towns to alter their zoning and requires all to build low-income housing projects (presumably to help house the criminal element whom the Vermont judicial system now refuses to either prosecute or imprison) and completely disables the ability of the taxpaying residents to oppose or object in ANY manner – including, but not limited to, the fact that such projects would immeasurably alter the character of their towns and/or therefore their Real Estate property values! Needless to state, the locales where the originator of these housing plans, former president Barack “fundamental changer-in-chief” Obama now lives are excluded, but of course, from implementing these “balanced housing” initiatives.

    And through these initiatives, Seth Bongartz has arrogantly declared himself the “architect” of the destruction of every city and town in VT through his unquestioning allegiance to the Obama/Biden fundamental DESTRUCTION of each of your local communities – coming to your town SOON!

    And if you truly believe that you’ll be allowed to continue to tool around your fundamentally transformed town in your favorite fossil fuel-powered motor vehicle come 2030, think again! These lawbreakers have plans to further “incentivize” you directly into an E.V. whether you want one or not – by placing the EXACT SAME fuel tax/surcharge/penalty on gasoline per gallon on whatever gas station(s) might be left standing by then and converting your gas-powered auto into a new taxable category termed “personal property” which shall be further taxed by this state simply because who choose to own it.

    Without collectively and vocally and openly protesting against these encroachments and outright violations of our civil liberties – this Constitutional Republic is destroyed forever. Since the intentionally released Covid19 virus didn’t cull you as planned, and the lengthy lockdowns and the “emergency” dissolution of all of your innate rights as American citizens didn’t breach your will or spirit, and the drug war being waged against you & your children by the US government itself through its unlawful “open borders” policy hasn’t incapacitated you in one way or the other — FIGHT for your RIGHT to be FREE!!! And yes legislators: Believe it or not, in the end, God wins. Thereby, we are victorious!!!

  5. “It is easy to say that corruption is bad, but hidden corruption, shadow corruption, corruption that accuses those who see it of being enemies of the people—that kind of corruption is far worse than the corruption that lives on the surface. Ministries of mis-, dis-, and mal- information are more dangerous to democracy than is a bureaucrat engaging in a little quid pro quo.

    I would rather have a governmental apparatus that is broken, knows it, and knows that everyone knows it, than one that limps along like a zombie, run by ghostly, unnamed forces who are achieving ghostly, unnamed goals. These forces will assure you that up is down, and hate is love, and that it is imperative that you pretend that everything is fine. It’s all in your head. Nothing to see here, folks. Under no condition will you look at the man behind the curtain.”
    Heather Heying wrote these paragraphs in “Natural Selections”. They seem to me to be pertinent to the situation we’re in here in VT…..and elsewhere; corruption, deceit and unnamed puppeteers running or surreptitiously producing fear with propaganda to achieve their narcissistic goals. They won’t be stopped unless we continue to fearlessly stand up and speak out.

    Kathleen mentioned Obama, remember he promised affordability and keeping your doctor with the ACA? Well, his bargain with Big Pharma is the reason Big Pharma has taken over our so called health care system along with the federal government preventing drug price negotiations…not to mention allowing drug advertising on tv. Do you think health care is more accessible now or more affordable? The answer to that question is a clue to what S.5 will bring to VT.

  6. Here in Windham-6, we suffer the machinations of the same type as Representative’s James and Bongartz. Mr Roberts even had the audacity to say, despite an overwhelming amount of communication requesting him to veto the act, he decided he thought it was for the best interest of his constituents and voted in favor.
    Everyone says, “vote them out” but how do we do that when a. so few actually vote and b. it’s anyone’s guess if the vote is fairly tabulated.
    Again, too many battlefields and too few warriors. So disheartening and exhausting.

    • I know how you feel Pam. The upside is fraud has a limited shelf life. The game being played cannot be won by frauds. The game ultimately turns back upon them. The other favorable fact is these people are incapable of original thought or ideas. Their intellect is equivalent to a barnyard animal – with the expection that a barnyard animal has the wherewithal to run out of a burning, collapsing shelter. They are merely tools and pawns to their Masters. They are not be believed or revered as authority figures. They are nothing more than possessed, self-loathing, cold blooded, empty headed flesh vessels. The day of retribution is closer than they think.

  7. VT’s dictating usurpers were never voted in. Not with the “voting” going through the China-regulated Dominion machines. Not with those at the polling sites making people’s votes (of whom they disapprove) just disappear.

    I am finding myself getting angrier and angrier WITH MY NEIGHBORS.

    Stop doing the wheeze and shuffle. Believe me, you don’t have to have the literal mask on to still have that ridiculous mentality.

    If you all didn’t just blindly obey we wouldn’t be in this position. But no, you would “prefer to believe…”

    Denying reality doesn’t make it go away. It just learns to wait you out.