There was no sun in Mudville, as the mighty Governor Phil Scott had struck out. After a herculean effort by the opposition to stop the implementation of S.5, the (Un) Affordable Heat Act, Scott’s veto was overridden. With members of the majority whipped into line to follow the herd, the few rational voices of dissent were not loud enough to be heard. But more importantly, the people of Vermont were ignored by their duly elected representatives. The people had been counted as scared sheep whose shepherds knew better. This is a sorrowful harbinger of what is to come with the current composition of Vermont’s Legislature. One man stands in the way to protect the people, and like a quarterback with no line, he is exposed to the whims of the supermajority.
The (Un) Affordable Heat Act was slammed down the throats of the membership and the people. While it is touted as a study, rulemaking and implementation powers have already been granted to the Public Utilities Commission, and mark my words, without a change in Montpelier, there will be no turning back. The P.U.C. has been granted extraordinary powers with no legislative oversight scheduled until 2025, at which time the ball will have moved so far down the field that turning things around will be very difficult. And at the end of the day, those who will suffer most are the elderly, the poor, and those on fixed incomes who cannot afford to convert to expensive new technologies. Nor will they see the alleged savings predicted in a 30-year model.
And let’s face it, folks, the passage of S.5 launches Vermonters down the road to a regressive carbon tax. That, after all, is what we are really studying here, and S.5’s passage means we are now merely working out the details. We are forcing Vermonters who are already struggling with inflation, housing, a workforce shortage, and rising taxes to give more in the name of climate mitigation. Climate change is very real, and man has contributed to it in a major way. However, until we can go after the major world polluters like China and India, is it necessary to break the backs of already overburdened Vermonters? The grid is not ready, the workforce to install the technologies is strapped, and the environmental impacts will amount to nothing, as folks on both sides of the aisle have admitted on the record multiple times. So I ask: Why do we need to tax Vermonters when we are already making great strides naturally until the market will bear it and the grid can handle it?
But take note: The bill was cleverly designed so that most of the sticker shock does not take effect until after next year’s elections! So when one of your legislators who supported this bill and is running for reelection asks you whether you have been adversely affected by this law, don’t be fooled — the shoes start dropping in 2025!
Folks in the Statehouse cried and cheered with the override of Scott Veto. But what they did not do was listen to their constituents. While I am a new rep, I was told by every experienced member in the House that they had never seen the outpouring of communication from the people to the Legislature asking them to vote no. There were a number of contentious issues this session, but S.5. was like no other. Those in power were able to justify their abuse of power by claiming the many intelligent people of Vermont had been tricked and that they knew better what was good for the people. Well, I seek to remind the Legislature that their one and only job is to represent the people who have chosen them to serve. Period. In the case of S.5. those who voted for it essentially claimed that the people were too stupid to know what was good for them. That, to me, smacks of the arrogance that the super majority has become drunk on. The ultra-left is in control, and the voices of moderation are being ignored. Moderation on both sides of the aisle was ignored, and the people were ignored.
The bottom line is that we need balance in Montpelier. No voice should be blotted out by another, and only balance can do this. Only this will become the crucible of the people’s will that puts forth the most solid and well-thought-out legislation. The best law-making comes from the enlightened and respectful discourse between two or more sides; it does not come from might and force, as any who have lived in a dictatorship knows all too well.
So I will leave you with this: Vote for balance, vote for change, and vote to support our Governor, as he is all that stands between us and the rising tide.