by Rep. Ken Goslant
I am very concerned about the proposals that are still on the table, which include over $460 million of new taxes and fees which is on top of the Governors proposed budget of $8.4 billion. It really concerns me when I hear my fellow legislators say “We’re going to do it all” in the hallways.
I have said it before and I will say it again: time is of the essence, we must work together and consider the impact of new legislation on already strapped Vermonters. I hope we all can work towards a balance that works for all Vermonters, and as always, focus on our most vulnerable to sustain affordability, public safety, and environmental responsibility.
I hope the veto session will be coming and this gives time for all Vermonters to let their viewpoints be known to their legislators in Montpelier. Vermont voters need to understand that their elected officials in the State House are spending their money and these legislators need to be held accountable for this legislation that they are promoting and passing. I have grave concerns that Vermonters cannot sustain the nearly one-half billion dollar increase in spending over the next two years.
Much of this is happening without any real consideration for the long-term impact of these expensive decisions that affect future generations. The Legislature has already supported the following tax increases: multiple payroll taxes, increased DMV fees, the “Affordable” Heat Act (which if you do your research really isn’t affordable), more service tax, cloud tax, and professional regulation fees. Vermonters are already experiencing extremely high inflation rates. These include basic goods and supply chain issues. We still have serious workforce shortages. And this doesn’t include childcare and housing.
Governor Scott has presented and promoted a well-thought, comprehensive, responsible plan for Vermont. It is my hope that the citizens of Vermont follow his lead and support a well-balanced, sustainable future that impacts all Vermonters.
On the House Floor this week, we voted on H.386, an act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the Town of Brattleboro. This bill allows 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections. It seems to me that the voting age should be consistent with the age of majority, which in most states is 18. Legislators seem to promote different age limits to whatever suits their agenda. I am generally opposed to all of this and believe that in most situations 18 should be the threshold for legal adulthood.
We also voted on S.3, an act relating to prohibiting paramilitary training camps. This bill passed. The title of this bill is very misleading. Obviously, I do not support any acts of terrorism training and I voted against this bill in Judiciary Committee and also on the House Floor. I was not convinced that the bill adequately addressed the problem and I thought there were some flaws that needed to be addressed before it became law. I think municipalities should have the decision-making authority for these situations.
In Judiciary Committee, we took up S.6, an act relating to law enforcement interrogation policies. I have some serious concerns with this bill. The intent is good, but it highly restricts law enforcement’s ability to get much-needed information and it could hamper public safety by delaying arrests.
We also discussed S.36, an act relating to permitting an arrest without a warrant for assaults and threats against healthcare workers and disorderly conduct at healthcare facilities. Testimony on this will continue this coming week. I am waiting for the final verbiage to see if we can tighten this bill up to cover all areas of concern.
Our next two bills are what I affectionately call our “interstate” bills, S.91, an act relating to competency to stand trial and insanity as a defense, and S.89, an act relating to establishing a forensic facility.
We are still taking testimony on S.91 and this is a much-needed bill that is trying to address an ongoing problem. This issue has been wrestled with over the last five years that I have been in the State House and still needs some work and I’m confident that as e take further testimony this week, we can come to an agreement and move it to the House Floor for a vote.
S.89 is a bill that is needed to help us address the public safety of Vermonters.
Republished from Northfield Front Porch Forum, on the recommendation of a VDC reader in Northfield.