Keelan: Legislature seems out of touch

by Don Keelan

The Battenkill Valley Health Center, in a recent letter to its Friends, noted, “ We hope this letter finds you and your loved ones healthy and well during what continues to be an incredibly difficult time for our state and nation.”

Don Keelan

The phrase holds situational awareness that is unknown to many within the Legislature. With some of the legislation being considered and adopted, it is as if the legislative body doesn’t know the anxiety, despair, and stress taking place throughout Vermont. Let’s just keep creating new laws is its mantra.   

A perfect example is the recent time-consuming debate over whether the doctrine of qualified immunity for police officers should be removed and substituted with laws that would hold a police officer/trooper personally responsible for all actions taken while on duty.  This legislation comes when almost every police department and state police barrack face a critical staffing problem.  The Department of Corrections is also experiencing a severe corrections officer shortage.

Fortunately, the legislation took so much valuable time it did not pass the Senate as intended.  Instead, a study and research commission was adopted. Meanwhile, the VSP is down in trooper strength from 333 to 268.

Great fanfare sounded in the House of Representatives when the Clean Heat Standard was approved 96 to 44 and moved to the Senate. H-715 has two main goals: give authority to the State on how one is to heat one’s home after 2025 and add a disguised tax to non-compliant homeowner fuel bills.  The bill also directs the Vermont Public Service Commission to develop charges assigned to fuel dealers (who don’t earn enough credits) and, ultimately, passed on to their customers. 

 A significant part of the CHS legislation is to create over 3,500 new jobs a year for folks installing heat pumps, oil furnace conversions to biofuels, and weatherizing homes. Worthwhile goals in less stressful times, but now is not the time.

There isn’t any industry, state or local government, retail/tourist, or healthcare service sector that is not desperate for employees; many cannot stay open full-time for business.

We don’t need more mandates from Montpelier but a creative and constructive solution to bring about the goals of State greenhouse-gas emissions reductions.

Create a Pro-forma test case locale, ON PAPER, to demonstrate how heat pumps, biofuels, wood/pellet devices, charging stations, and electric vehicle implementation would work if adopted today. Furthermore, a study would reveal what happens to the small fuel dealers.  Will they be available to deliver their product during the transition?

The locale for this model should be Arlington, Vermont. Its demographics, housing stock, manufacturing base, and electric grid system would be ideal for testing the mandate practicalities. 

What would it cost to bring the town’s 900 homes into compliance with heating and cooling and the use of EVs by all of its residents? Add the town’s existing gas stations conversion and required EV charging stations to this model. Presently, the stations serve hundreds of customers daily. Each consumer takes five minutes or so to fill up. What would a 30-minute or three-hour recharging have on customer volume/traffic/wait times? 

Arlington’s electric grid system most likely would need upgrading with assurances that blackouts would not occur during high demand for heat pumps or EV charging.

We need to test the ideas (mandates) in a contained area, perhaps in a computer-based study, before they are required throughout Vermont.  Better to find out in advance if heat pumps will work as suggested in all kinds of weather and if a town’s upgraded electric system can handle the required loads. Will wait times at recharging stations be unacceptable? What is the cost to the state, local government, residents, and businesses? 

What we don’t need is additional stress emanating from Montpelier.  

The author is a U.S. Marine (retired), CPA, and columnist living in Arlington, VT.

Categories: Commentary

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8 replies »

  1. The headline of “Legislature seems out of touch” gives the legislature far more credit than it has earned and deserves……”Seems” is much too soft a term to gage how far out of touch the legislature is.

    A headline of “Legislature totally out of touch” would better describe what has gone on under the Golden Dome during this session……..If you want proof of being out of touch, go back and read the bills introduced and you’ll see how far afield the thinking and judgement of our elected officials has been and continues to be.

    Don Keelan is being overly kind to the legislature with the list of out of touch bills he cites in his commentary…..The situation is much worse than described…….It’s a “Legislature totally out of touch”.

    And if you want more out of the main stream thinking, watch the recent debate among the four Democrats running to replace Peter Welch in Congress…..Take a look and listen to who wants to represent Vermont in Congress……It’s not reassuring…….Here it is:

    • Keelan has hugely mellowed with age,(?) I suppose. His columns were once strong and conservative (decades ago). My opinion is that he’s caved. But likely he’ll be on here refuting that vigorously — as opposed to once again penning the types of editorials for the fascist Bennington Banner he once did.

      • My comment above may have started the string of comments that followed concerning Don Keelan’s level of toughness in addressing the remarkable mess festering in Montpelier.

        My intent was not to criticize Don in any way. I believe that Don’s tone in this instance and generally to include all of his commentaries written over time is just right. I like what he has to say and the way he expresses his thoughts.

        In my view, making impactful statements doesn’t require figuratively hitting the subject over the head with a baseball bat to make a point……..I say this even though there are many times when a huge jolt is required to get the attention of legislators who myopically view the world by looking through a narrow pipe……..And then consider themselves big picture and strategic thinkers.

  2. Hmm. Mr. Keelan has come up with logical, thought out plan to pursue what liberals seem to think is a catastrophic problem. And there lies the problem. Instead of a reasoned approach- hysterics must be used to gain further control by the elitists in the golden clubhouse in Montpelier. reasoned logic has no place in socialism. Donors and lobbyists must be satisfied, constituents be damned to an energy policy that caters to the donor class. Mr. Keelan’s proposal would have worked prior to 2009, the year that the legislature went “off the rails” overriding Jim Douglas’ budget veto. Since 2009, liberal politics and the resultant “crony capitalism” have overrun Vermont politics. Hidden deals and hidden donors are pursuing their interests, with the end result of Vermont becoming a socialist state, beholden to only liberal ideology. November 2022 will show us Vermont’s future, socially, politically and economically. Without an abrupt turn to the right, the ship of state will disappear into a fog of liberal socialist ideology that will never dissipate.

  3. This is so reasonable! I don’t think the average Vermonter (if there is such a person) really understands how little some legislators can relate to the people who go to work everyday to keep our economy moving. The report of conversations between state senators about the Clean Heat Standard would have been entertaining if it wasn’t so serious. Shouldn’t there be an intelligence test for those running for election? Oh I guess there is – it’s the voting process.

  4. Why is Arlington “ideal”? Because the writer lives there? As IF Vermont will make one iota of difference in the environment as China & India spew toxins & pollutants into the atmosphere at greater rates year after year. Quit pulling our chains.

    And what about the goal of ignorant, George Soros-funded legislators to install prostitution? Their goal, now at fruition, to host retail marijuana – ignoring letter after letter from VT doctors detailing the dangers? How about their goal to silence free speech by creating laws that the public cannot “offend” them or “intimidate” them…whatever THAT infers? Wanting children to vote? Wanting children to undergo life-threatening SURGERIES without parental consent?

    There is a plethora of insane mandates being concocted by the half-wits in Montpelier. This is the effort to DESTROY VT as we all once knew it, never an attempt to make it better.

    These massive Marxists have NO place mandating what type of car I wish to drive or what type of energy I choose to heat my home with whether I live in Arlington or Burlington. These ideologies are NOT the business of government. This is a Constitutional Republic.

    Their business is merely: To PROTECT and to SERVE. Period. Just like the police……which they defunded in large part directly & indirectly.

    Move to New Hampshire. Where living free still means something. Many Vermonters apparently have no interest in it any longer. How tragic.

  5. Let this experiment start in the Statehouse next winter.
    Cut heating fuels by 50 % and live with it.
    Then they can decide whether they want THEIR HOMES like that ?!

  6. Time limit on legislative session……indeed needed. or heres your salary for the session, based on the time needed to complete the IMPORTANT business (10 weeks would get my vote) to run the state for 12 months……how long your there is up to all of you who we all voted for……..

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