Letter: What really happened in Montpelier
Editor of the Reformer,
A lot of grumbling and criticism has greeted the end of this session of the state legislature, both how it ended and what it accomplished.
Lost in all the noise is the fact that the Legislature is elected in a two-year cycle. Two sessions. Just ended was the first session. Bills that were not disposed of in this session can and will be picked up in the next, in January 2020, just as they were left at the end of this one. So, the two bills that are causing all the kerfuffle among Democrats and others — the paid family leave and raising the minimum wage — are not dead. Those bills did not fail. All the work done on them will be carried over to the next session where you can be sure they will be considered again.
As to the criticism that this Legislature somehow is a great disappointment, some unhappiness may be justified. We should not expect a group of 94 people of different genders, geography, age, income, personality, ethnic background, race, etc. to agree. These are complicated issues with many facets. They affect many people in different ways, in different parts of our state.
Also contributing to the disappointment is the mistaken belief that the Democrats have a super, veto-proof majority. Therefore they can get anything they want. They do not. At best a veto override would require votes from other parties. And all those diverse Democrats would have to agree.
Nevertheless the House passed 37 bills! Many have already been signed by the governor. They address issues such as broadband, workforce, abortion, childhood sexual abuse, waiting periods for handgun purchasing, banning plastic bags, fair and impartial policing, funding for clear water, and on and on.
With all the attention on paid family leave and raising minimum wage the substantial accomplishments of this session of the House of Representatives have been overlooked. The result is a distorted picture of what really happened in Montpelier this year.
The delay of those two bills should not define this legislative session.
Springfield, June 6
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