« Previous  
 Next »

Delaney: Practical Lawmaking

01/21/10 5:55PM By Dennis Delaney
 MP3   Download MP3 

(HOST) As the Vermont legislature gets down to work again in Montpelier, commentator Dennis Delaney has some thoughts about what our legislators may, or may not achieve.

(DELANEY) I'm not brimming with optimism about the new session, and here's why.

Every member of the legislature must go before the voters this November. That means that all those who will choose to be candidates again must spend much of the session trying to look good, if not statesmanlike, for the folks back home. Sound public policy, which usually means tough and sometimes unpopular decisions, will take a back seat. Now don't be shocked. Trying to look good for voters is what politicians do in a democracy. Trust me. I've been there.

Worse yet for any solid achievements in Montpelier is the oversupply of announced candidates for governor, all of them jockeying for attention. And you can throw candidates for Lieutenant Governor into that stew as well.

But a far more serious concern than posturing politicians, is that I see scant evidence that John and Mary Q. Citizen, you and me, are likely to snatch any meaningful attention from lawmakers this year.

John and Mary are among the 100s of thousands of rank and file citizens who are not connected to any special interest groups. We have to work hard in this challenging economy to carve out meaningful lives for ourselves and our families. We have little time for politics, lobbying in Montpelier, or marching on the state house. An old bumper sticker says it all: "Moonlight in Vermont - or starve!".

Here's an example of what fuels my concern.

The Free Press recently ran a story about a major proposal by legislators to do away with the Agency of Natural Resources. Now that may be a good idea, I don't know. But I can't see how it would benefit the folks down at a hockey game, out in a fishing shanty, or tramping across a nearby ridge on snowshoes.

A little later the press reported another legislative initiative whose goal is to redo health care in Vermont. Maybe this, too, is a sound idea -though to my mind it smacks of social engineering.

Can our legislature do anything to ease the trammels of everyday life? Yes it can and has.

For example.

Not long ago, if you were slow to send in your auto registration renewal, you had to truck on over to Montpelier and stand in long lines. Now an easy trip down to the town clerk's office will do. It's easy. I even get to socialize a bit. Thank you legislature.

Here's another.  Some years back the legislature removed the sales tax from clothing. Need a shirt, winter boots for the kids? No sales tax when you buy. It's a real tangible benefit for the growing family or the sportsman who needs boots and flannel.

We Vermonters are real people, not abstractions. Few of us have special interests. But that doesn't mean we don't matter. Sometimes it just seems that way.

(TAG) You can find more commentaries by Dennis Delaney on-line at VPR-dot-net.
comments powered by Disqus
Supported By
Become an Underwriter | Find an Underwiter