Senate bills bad for employers, gun owners, homeowners, election integrity

By Sen. Russ Ingalls

For a legislative session that was supposed to focus on getting through the pandemic, it’s proven to be just the opposite. There are some harmful bills you ought to be aware of. So here we go.

Sen. Russ Ingalls

S-10 started out as a simple bill to shore up the Unemployment Trust Fund. But not anymore. We started the pandemic with over $500 million in our Unemployment Trust Fund. It was in the top three nationwide in healthiness. During the worst of the terrible pandemic, the Fund held up, retaining nearly 40% of its value standing at $216 million. For the unemployed in their deepest, darkest times, the Fund worked. Yes, there may have been some rough patches as the demands were something unimaginable. But the State rallied. Thousands of Vermonters received timely benefits.  

So what’s the problem? It was proposed that to help businesses get going again and refill the coffers, the State would let employers forgo $66,000,000 repay the Trust Fund over 10 years. The Trust fund is 100% supported by Business. 

Now mind you, this wasn’t something that Business was advocating for. Business was fine with no  deferment. It was driven by the Democrats. And because Business was going to get something  for free, which they weren’t getting anything for free as it was just a deferment, that labor should get something too. 

So the Democrats proposed to raise the Fund to $1 billion, when $500 million sufficed to get us through the worst disaster ever. Also, even though when people are unemployed and staying home, $50 per child in the household should be added to the unemployment check for daycare. That adds an additional  $15 million a year to be paid by employers.

That was to only last for five years and then end. But once you start paying something to Montpelier, it never ends. But the most harmful part of this bill? Unemployment was extended indefinitely with no requirement to  look for a job. One could stay home and collect unemployment without fear of losing benefits should a job come up that suited the claimant. I was on one call with employers that represented over 800 employees. They had 400 jobs to fill but yet they couldn’t get their employees to come back to work because with what they were receiving from the State and the Federal Government, they were making more to stay home.  

None of this was asked for. Not by Business or Labor. The bill was strongly oapposed by almost every organization on either side as being plain harmful for Vermont and the business climate. It was only the anti-business faction of the State that  wanted this to pass. But it passed the Senate 18 to 12 anyways. It’s in the House now. I would urge everyone to call their House Reps and urge them to vote no.  

S-15, Unsolicited Mail-in Ballots. This is as simple as it gets. Every address and person in  Vermont will receive a mail-in ballot in the mail. When it used to be that you could request one –  very simple, orderly, easy to track – now they will be passed out like  Monopoly money. Our election integrity is no more. And in fact, when Secretary of State Condos was on a radio program a few weeks back, one caller in Middlebury who owned a  large apartment building told how 25 mailed ballots left uncollected were seized, filled out and mailed in by college students. Ask any Town  Clerk: how would you know where or who any ballot came from or who filled them out? There  is no way to know. I voted no. It passed the Senate 28-2.

S-30, Prohibiting Carrying of Firearms. This is pretty simple too. The Democrats hate that you  have guns. This anti gun bill started out that guns would be prohibited in all public buildings,  daycares and hospitals. When that had no support, it ended up being just hospitals. Which are already banned anyways through trespassing laws. Long story short, when no evidence could be produced that this was a problem, it passed the Senate 20-9. It’s in the House now. It’s expected to pass and we are holding our breath that the Governor will veto this legislation.The scary part of this, and it’s on public record, there are many Democrats that have stated that  this is just the first part of banning guns in Vermont.  

S-79. This bill is trying to kill any AIRBNB type rental in the  state of Vermont. The Democrats say that it’s simply a registry of all rentals, long term and  short term. Anyone and everyone who rents any property in this State has to register and be inspected and pay a $35 fee annually. Why does this matter so much? Because now, when the State calls you because they cannot house someone, and you have that room in your home, and the State ensures that they will pay the rent, you cannot refuse them or you will face discrimination lawsuits. 

It is the quickest way to  meet the Human Rights commission that you will ever know. For those of us who have long  term rental companies, we know this. So all of you who are renting a portion of your property to  help defray the high costs of living in Vermont, get ready. The Government is knocking at your  door and you had better let them in. That passed the Senate 22-7. 

And last but so very important. Our State Employees and Teachers Pensions Retirement and  Healthcare funds. This is what keeps me up at night. Our State has $5.7 Billion dollars in  unfunded, unaccounted for liability in these Pension and Healthcare accounts. Let that sink in.  $5,700,000,000 unfunded liability. As simple as I can say it: you agreed to it, people have  made life decisions on it, you owe it, now pay it. 

There is no doubt that the current plan is  unsustainable. It needs to be fixed. The House Democratic leadership took a half hearted effort  at it and got absolutely pounded, as they should have. But what we did find out in the process  is who actually controls the Democratic party. Several of the Labor Unions reminded Democratic leadership who was responsible for getting them elected and they quickly fell  back in line. But honestly, I don’t care about all of that. It’s just politics. There’s plenty of blame to go around. When your roof is leaking so badly that it’s causing damage to your home, you  don’t keep blaming the last roofer, you fix it.  

Here’s why I believe that we need to keep a conversation going on how to fix the plans vs.  studying them. 

We received $1.25 Billion from the feds in the first round of Covid funding. It’s gone. We  received $700 Million the second round. It’s gone. This time we are to receive $1.45 Billion. And  trust me, that will be spent shortly. I promise you that. When that last $1.45 Billion is gone,  which I believe that we should take as much as that as we can to come up with a new solution,  then there is real trouble and pain for all of our State Employees and Teachers as well as the  Retirees. I would urge all of you to get to your representatives at all levels and ask that they  stop the fearmongering and come up with a real solution that will work for all. 

I’m routinely pounded by the Unions as being  against you, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is the biggest problem in front of us besides COVID that affects my friends and constituents. Let’s work as Vermonters and fix  it.  

The author is a Republican state senator from Essex-Orleans counties.

Categories: Legislation

10 replies »

  1. Thank you Sen. Ingalls. There was a time not that long ago that I held out hope for the Senate remaining an institution where reason, and common sense ruled. That has changed. I had hoped that in this year of COVID that the Vermont Legislature would stick to business, and only discuss budgetary necessities. Unfortunately they seemed to have a “Home Alone” mentality, acted like kids in a candy store, and passed every lefty, wingnut , wish list item that they could come up with. Unfortunately, in the “new” Vermont they face no consequences from their constituency as a lot of them are just as fruity as their representatives. My parents and grand parents must be scratching their heads, wondering how we got from what they left us, to where we are today. The people that would take advantage of this pandemic to advance a political agenda are opportunists of the worst kind. We need to vote them out, and vote in people that will vote in term limits.

  2. The ongoing pandemic is just the kind of “crisis” needed to provide enough distraction and misplaced handwringing to get this leftist junk passed. Same thing goes in the legislative branch in Washington. Only leftist nuts think that a thoughtful response to widespread calls for police defunding is to make it more onerous for the law-abiding citizen to procure and use basic weapons of defense.

  3. Russ is spot on. You would think that common sense would prevail but, but unfortunately the democrats and progressives are so caught up in the idealism of their “truths” that they can’t see the forest from the trees.

  4. I so appreciate that you are serving in the Senate. Thank you very much and thank you to the citizens of Essex-Orleans who elected you!

  5. It seems to me that the primary goal of our Vermont Legislators is not to help any one out of the COVID 19 problem.If I don”t have anything good to say ,I should not rant or complain .However,I would like to say thank you to Guy Paige for a wonderful job of reporting the truth!! The even greater truths are from God and our Constitution.George Washington said,”Never forget,I did not grant your Freedom to you.Your freedom was given to you at birth by your creator.Governments job is to acknowledge and preserve that freedom which is already yours naturally! “With that in mind,on July4th 1776,in Congress the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,the basis for our State and Federal Constitutions in part said,”We hold these truths to be self evident:That all men are created equal(men and women);that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;(or God gave them,and people or governments cannot take them away)that among these are life ,liberty,and the pursuit of happiness.that to secure these rights,governments are instituted among men,deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;that,whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends ,the right of the people to alter or abolish it , and institute a new government!!”Just how much and to what extent are we willing to hold onto this freedom?WE just cannot let our quality of life go down to tyranny!!

  6. Russ,
    Thank you for bringing these bills into focus. Hopefully voters will recognize the implications of these bills and hold their representatives accountable.

  7. Thanks Russ, spot on. And rest assured the camels nose gets under the tent with the first restriction on your 2nd Amendment rights. The Brady crew originally said a 10 day background check but then they went after all guns. That is Biden’s agenda and certainly Vt D’s agenda. It’s like taking away all cars because someone got killed by one when in fact they didn’t get killed by another car, they got killed by the driver who is the one to be held responsible, not the car and not all the people that safely drive cars

  8. Thank you Russ. I couldn’t agree more. It’s good to know we have a few good Senator’s like you up there in Montpelier.

  9. Hang in there folks…there are over 250 sealed indictments ready for those in our government who put themselves above Vermonters. It WILL be happening.

  10. Thank you Senator Ingalls. You are a true patriot for standing up for your conservative constituents on your high moral principles, but your math doesn’t add up on S.15. I believe that it was 27 to 3, not 28-2. Bottom line, it still passed out of the senate, but at least we have three who are willing to stand up for the people and live up to their oath of office…and if we don’t get the three of some competent help in the senate, we are all doomed to financial ruin.