Sen. Alison Clarkson, Windsor

District: Windsor County (Map)
Party: Democrat
Contact Information:
18 Golf Ave.
Woodstock, VT 05091
alison4vt@gmail.com
aclarkson@leg.state.vt.us
(802) 457-4627
Website: www.alisonclarkson.org
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EAI Roll Call Profiles provide a record of how legislators voted on key issues. The profiles are designed to be an educational tool, giving insight into the kinds of policies each representative supports and opposes. These bills did not necessarily become law.


2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Mandatory Paid Family Leave/Payroll Tax (H.107). Passed 19-10 on May 15, 2019. This would put in place a government-mandated Paid Family Leave program paid for with a new payroll tax on income up to $132,900. The program would allow an employee to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth of a child, or 6 weeks for family care. Qualified employees would receive 90% of their first $7.29/hour and 55% of their wages between $7.30-$24.10/hour. Wages above $24.10/hour ($73,580/year) would not be covered. A maximum cap on the benefit would be set at $964 per week. The payroll tax would be initially set at 0.20% (employees and employers each paying half), and the estimated total cost would be $30 million annually. CLARKSON – YES

Impose a Mandatory $15 Minimum Wage (S.23). Passed 19-8 on February 22, 2019. This would increase the state minimum wage to $13.10 in 2022, $14.05 in 2023, and to $15 in 2024 — nearly a 40% total increase, and more than double neighboring New Hampshire’s $7.25 minimum wage.  CLARKSON – YES

Expand the “Pay to Move” Program (S.162). Passed 27-2 on April 12, 2019. This would expand a current worker relocation program which reimburses the moving expenses ($10,000 total maximum) for out-of-state workers who move to Vermont and telecommute to jobs out-of-state. It would now include workers who take a full-time job with a Vermont based employer. The maximum reimbursement to this new category of beneficiary would be $7500.  CLARKSON – YES

Ban Plastic Bags, Styrofoam Food Containers, Straws, Etc. (S.113). Passed 30-0 on April 3, 2019. This would prohibit stores and restaurants from providing single-use plastic bags to customers. It would require that retailers charge at least 10¢ for single-use paper bags. “Polystyrene foam” coffee cups, plastic straws (unless requested), and food containers would be forbidden. Finally, it would create a “Single-Use Products Working Group” to study the effectiveness of these policies and make recommendations for future regulation.  CLARKSON – YES

Require Registration/Certification for Housing Contractors (S.163). Passed 19-11 on April 3, 2019. It would require residential contractors to register with the state and purchase insurance, while encouraging contractors to become state-certified, on a voluntary basis. It would also further regulate maintenance standards for rental housing.  CLARKSON – YES

Block Insurance Innovation Economic Development Program (S.131, Baruth Amendment). Failed 7-22 on April 3, 2019. In order to spur economic growth and innovation in the insurance market, Section 1 of S.131 would create an “insurance sandbox” through which Vermont insurance providers (not including health insurance) can petition the commissioner for the freedom to sell a new insurance product to up to 10,000 consumers, exempt from some regulations, for a maximum of two years. The Baruth Amendment sought to remove that section of the bill, thus eliminating the innovation incentive. CLARKSON – NO

Allow Commercialized Retail Marijuana Sales/Taxation (S.54). Passed 23-5 on February 28, 2019. This would create a regulatory system for the production, sale, and taxation of recreational marijuana products in Vermont.  CLARKSON – YES

Impose 24 Hour Waiting Period for Handgun Purchase (S.169). Passed 20-10 on March 21, 2019. Gun purchasers passing a background check would need to wait 24 hours before taking possession of their gun. CLARKSON – YES

Oppose F-35 Jets in VT (S.R. 5). Passed 22-7 on April 24, 2019. This resolution calls for the state to formally request that no “nuclear weapons delivery system” (i.e. the F-35 fighter jet) be based in Vermont. If acted upon, this would effectively eliminate the mission of the Vermont National Guard, which employs 3600 people and contributes $100 million to the Vermont economy.  CLARKSON – YES

Elevate the murder a firefighter or emergency medical provider to “aggravated murder” (H.321). Passed 20-8 on April 18, 2019. In current law, the killing of a correctional officer or law enforcement officer while the victim was performing his or her official duties is classified as “aggravated murder” (first or second degree murder). This bill would elevate the murder of firefighters and emergency medical providers that level as well.   CLARKSON – NO

Advance Constitutional Amendment to Remove References to Slavery (Proposition 2). Passed 28-1 on April 24, 2019. This amendment would revise the State Constitution to eliminate references to slavery but does not actually change any policy as the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery in 1865.  CLARKSON – YES

Advance a Constitutional Amendment Guaranteeing Abortion from Conception to Birth (Proposition 5). Passed 28-2 on April 4, 2019. This would amend the Vermont Constitution to say that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” It would effectively bar any potential legal restrictions on abortion from conception to the moment of birth.  CLARKSON – YES

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Reelected November 2018


 2018 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

$33.4 Million Property Tax Increase (H.911). Passed 26-3 on May 4, 2018.  The bill increases property taxes 5% for residential homes and 7% for non-residential property. On the other hand, it lowers income rates (lower-income tax brackets by 0.2% and the higher income-tax brackets by 0.1%) to compensate for an unintended $30 million increase resulting from changes in federal tax law. The bill also ends the tax on social security for Vermonters with incomes less than $55,000, allows for a 5 percent tax credit for charitable donations and removes a $10,000 cap on deductions for charitable donations. Those voting YES support this tax package. Those voting NO do not support this tax package. Corrected 11/2/18:The original post indicated that the property tax increases for residential and non-residential properties were 5% and 7% respectively. This should have read 5¢ (3.2%) and 7¢ (4.4%). Apologies for any confusion. CLARKSON – YES

$15 Minimum Wage (S.40). Passed 20-10 on February 15, 2018.  S.40 would increase Vermont’s minimum wage at least $0.60 every January 1st, reaching $15 an hour by 2024. Those voting YES believe this will benefit low income workers and help to close the “income inequality” gap. Those voting NO believe that such a large and rapid increase in the cost of labor will harm Vermont businesses, the overall economy, as well as the workers the bill was meant to help due to cutbacks in hours, lost benefits, and/or lost jobs as employers struggle to maintain budgets. Additionally, a majority of Vermonters living in low income households, especially poor senior citizens, do not report wage income. While their incomes would be unaffected by the minimum wage increase, their cost of living would rise due to higher prices for goods and services due to the artificial wage increase being passed along to consumers. CLARKSON – YES

Gun Control Measures (S.55). Passed 17-13 on March 30, 2018. S.55 raises the age for long gun purchases to 21, mandates background checks for nearly all private firearm sales, bans magazines holding more than fifteen rounds, and bans bump stocks. Those voting YES believe these measures will result in safer communities by reducing gun violence. Those voting NO believe that these measures will have no measurable impact on safety or violence, create undo burdens on law abiding gun owners, are largely unenforceable, and pose constitutional issues at both the state and federal levels. CLARKSON – YES

Raise Age to Purchase All Firearms to 21 (S.55, Ashe Amendment). Passed 21-9 on March 2, 2018. This S.55 Amendment makes it a crime to selling firearms to Vermonters under 21. Those voting YES are in favor of raising the age to purchase a firearm to 21. Those voting NO sought to keep the age requirement at 18, which is the age one can use a gun in the military. CLARKSON – YES

Mandatory Background Checks for Private Firearms Sales (S.55, Baruth Amendment). Passed 17-13 on March 1, 2018. This S.55 Amendment requires a mandatory background check before private sales of firearms. Those voting YES believe the measure will help prevent gun violence by keeping firearms out of the wrong hands. Those voting NO believe this constitutes an undue financial and logistical burden on law abiding gun owners that will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals, and therefore will not prevent gun crimes. CLARKSON – YES

Appliance Ban (H.410). Passed 25-4 on May 9, 2018. H.410 applies efficiency standards established in 2014 to over a dozen new products, including showerheads, computers and telephones. Those voting YES believe that some consumer goods are too energy-intensive, and that Vermonters should not be allowed to purchase them. Those voting NO believe that Vermonters should be allowed to decide for themselves the costs and benefits of the appliances they purchase. CLARKSON – YES

Increasing Chemical Regulations (S.103). Passed 22-8 on April 19, 2018. S.103 would grant the commissioner of health more authority to regulate toxic chemicals in children’s products. Those voting YES believe S.103 would help Vermont children avoid exposure to toxic chemicals in children’s products, thus improving children’s health outcomes. Those voting NO believe we should wait and see how our newly phased-in regulations will work, before burdening our bureaucracy and businesses with more invasive regulations. CLARKSON – YES

Net Neutrality for Vermont (S.289). Passed 23-5 on February 2, 2018. S.289 attempts to maintain at the state level the federal “net neutrality” regulations for Internet Service Providers passed by the FCC in 2015 and repealed in 2018. Those voting YES are in favor of a larger role for government in regulating the internet. Those voting NO were concerned about costly lawsuits to the state and lost internet coverage. CLARKSON – YES

Free Legal Counsel to Challenge Immigration Status (S.237). Passed 28-2 on February 14, 2018. S.237 allows state-paid public defenders, including the Defender General, to provide legal help to immigrants on immigration issues in the federal court system. Those voting YES believe that immigrants and farm workers residing in Vermont should have access to taxpayer funded representation in federal court “in or with respect to a matter arising out of or relating to immigration status.” Those voting NO believe that giving Vermont’s Defender General more responsibilities without increased funding would put a strain on that government office. There is already a backlog of cases, and the Defender General would have to reallocate resources away from other vital government functions in order to provide this service. The federal court system already offers court-appointed legal counsel, and there is no reason for the state to duplicate this service. CLARKSON – YES

Mandate “Gender Free” Rest Rooms (H.333). Passed 30-0 on April 18, 2018. H.333 mandates that any single-user toilet in any public building or place of public accommodation be identified as “gender-free,” outlawing single-user “Men’s” and “Ladies” rooms in Vermont. “The Commissioner of Public Safety may inspect for compliance….” Those voting YES believe this is “no big deal,” and helps to make Vermont more welcoming to a broader range of people. Those voting NO believe this is an example of government overreach, subjecting Vermont businesses to inspections and fines for non-compliance with laws like this (as well as the cost and time associated with replacing current signs) furthers Vermont’s reputation as unfriendly to business, and, that this was a “solution is search of a problem” as nobody was being refused use of public restroom. CLARKSON – YES

Oppose Racial Quotas for Civil Rights Panel (S.281, Brock Amendment). Failed 12-18 on March 21, 2018. The Brock Amendment to S.281 would have removed a provision in the underlying bill that mandated at least three “persons of color” be appointed to the Civil Rights Advisory Panel. Those voting YES believe that creating a government panel with racial quotas sets a bad precedent for rooting out racial discrimination, and is, in fact, an example of systematic racism. Those voting NO believe that setting a racial quota is necessary to ensure representation from those have been discriminated against. CLARKSON – NO

 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

$5.83 Billion FY18 Budget/$8 Million Property Tax Increase (H.518). Passed 30-0 on April 26, 2017. The “Big Bill” sets the total state budget, including federally funded projects, at $5.83, which represents a spending increase of 1.3 percent over the current year. The state funded portion of total spending is set at $2.48 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent. This Senate version of the budget transferred an $8 million obligation to teacher retirement into the state Education Fund, which would require a 0.8 cent increase in the non-residential property tax rate. CLARKSON – YES

Create Statewide Teachers’ Healthcare Contract/$26 Million in Property Tax Savings (H.518). Passed 22-6 on May 3, 2017.  This is a tricky roll call to analyze. At face value, the bill sets state budget for FY18. However, the vote became a symbolic referendum on Governor Phil Scott’s proposal to save a potential $26 million in property taxes by restructuring how teachers negotiate and receive health insurance benefits. Those voting YES supported the budget, which was met with no new taxes or fees, opposed the Governors proposal property tax savings, or both. Those voting NO supported the Governor’s proposal and thought it should have been adopted as part of the overall budgeting process. CLARKSON – YES

Legalize Growing/Possessing Marijuana, Sets Stage for Retail Sales/Taxation (S.22). Passed 22-9 on May 5, 2017. S.22 was originally a fentanyl regulation bill repurposed to be a vehicle for passage of marijuana legalization. It would remove all criminal penalties for adults 21 or older who possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and allow growing up to two mature and two immature marijuana plants per household, and would go into effect in 2018. The bill also sets up a commission that will create a framework for taxing and regulating retail sales of marijuana. Those voting YES support legalization of marijuana; those voting NO oppose it. CLARKSON – YES

Raise Legal Smoking Age to 21 (S.88) Failed 13-16 on April 25, 2017. Those voting YES were in favor of raising the legal smoking age to 21, those voting NO opposed the measure. CLARKSON – YES

Eliminate Parental Rights In Regard to Gender Identity Related Mental Health Counseling for Minors (H.230). Passed 24-6 on April 21, 2017. This bill proposed to allow minors (under the age of 18) to “consent to mental health treatment for any condition related to the minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” including counseling and psychotherapy. These services would be paid for by the child’s school or, it that is impractical, another agency. Those voting YES think this is a good idea. Those voting NO see it as a violation and usurpation of parental rights. CLARKSON – YES


Elected to the State Senate, November 2016


 2016 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

$5.77 Billion FY17 Budget (H.875). Passed 94-40 on March 24, 2016. Those voting YES on this bill approved a total $5.77 billion state budget for FY17. This represents a total increase of 2.7 percent over FY16 (not accounting for adjustments that will occur in the next legislative session.) The $1.47 billion general fund portion of the budget, however, increases by 4.8 percent, while revenue is projected to grow at just 2.2%. This budget also leaves an estimated $30 million hole for the FY18 budget. Those voting NO argued that continuing the trend of spending taxpayer dollars faster than revenue comes into the treasury is unsustainable and irresponsible. CLARKSON – YES

Adjust 2016 Budget Upward by $91.8 Million (H.611). Passed 90-54 on January 26, 2016. Those voting YES voted in favor of increasing spending for FY16 by a total of $91.8 million (raising the previously accepted state budget to $5.6 billion, a 2.5% increase over FY15), $12.3 million of which is represents increases in General Fund spending (raising total General Fund Spending to $1.48 billion, a 5% increase over FY15). Those voting NO opposed these spending increases on the grounds that the state cannot continue to spend money faster than revenue is coming in, and that continuing to do so is causing a structural deficit. CLARKSON – YES

$37 Million in New Miscellaneous Taxes (H.873) Passed 86-59 on March 23, 2016. Those voting YES approved $37 million worth of new taxes. These include stringent enforcement of the 9% rooms and meals tax on private, short term rentals such as those contracted through AirBnB, raising the assessment on employers who do not offer health insurance to their employees to $151.12 per employee for businesses with 19 or fewer employees, $210.00 for businesses with 20-99 employees, and $249.00 for businesses with over 100 or more employees. The bill also puts a 3.3 percent assessment on ambulance agencies’ annual net patient revenues for services. And increases by 0.25% the fuel gross receipts on heating oil, propane, kerosene, dyed diesel, natural gas and coal to 0.75%. And, a $2.4 million a year increase in the bank franchise tax. Those voting NO opposed these tax increases. CLARKSON – YES

$11 Million Motor Vehicle Fee Increases (H.877). Passed 104-40 on March 30, 2016. Those voting YES on this bill supported $11 million in new or higher motor vehicle related fees. Increased costs include: higher motor vehicle registration fees, higher transfer of ownership fees, higher fees for driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and non-driver ID cards, higher fees for vehicle inspections, an increase the annual motor vehicle emission (“clean air”) fee, and a higher cost for choosing a “vanity” license plate. There is also a new $80 fee for reinstating a suspended registration. Those voting NO opposed these fee increases. CLARKSON – YES

$7.9 Million Property Tax Increase (H.853). Passed 98-45 on March 30, 2016. The primary function of this bill is to set the property tax rates for FY17, as well as to take care of some miscellaneous educational items. Those voting YES supported what amounts to a 0.2¢ increase for residential property tax payers, and in total, a $7.9 million proper tax increase ($4 million coming from residential and $3.9 million from non-residential taxpayers). Those voting NO opposed the tax increase, noting that if the spending thresholds in Act 46 had been left in place Vermont homeowners would have experienced a cut in property taxes. CLARKSON – YES

Raise Education (Act 46) Spending Caps (S.233, House Education Committee Amendment). Passed 94-52 on January 27, 2016. Act 46, the education governance reform law passed in 2015, was billed as a response to Vermonters’ calls for property tax relief. Those voting YES on this amendment supported raising the 2 percent allowable growth percentage in Act 46 by 0.9 percent, reducing the penalty for exceeding the threshold from $1 for every dollar exceeding to 25¢ per dollar exceeding.  Those voting NO either objected to the resulting property tax increase, or supported the objective of the underlying bill (S.233) to repeal the spending caps all together. CLARKSON – YES

$24 Million in Fee Hikes (H.872). Passed 98-46 on March 23, 2016. Those voting YES supported increasing the net fees paid in Vermont by $24 million – the highest increase on record. The 2015 fee increases, in comparison, amounted to $2.7 million. Those voting NO opposed not just the fee increases but the precedents set by raising fees to fund general revenue projects. The legal definition of a fee is that it is used to pay the costs of regulating or servicing the entity paying the fee, and no more. CLARKSON – YES

Mandate Paid Sick Leave (H.187). Passed 81-64 on February 3, 2016. Those voting YES supported a de facto tax on mostly small/micro businesses of $14.3 million dollars annually when fully implemented.” The bill would allow an employee to accrue “not less than one hour of earned sick time for every 52 hours worked,” with a maximum number of hours accrued set at 24 hours in a 12-month period from January 1, 2017 until December 31, 2018 and then a maximum of 40 hours in a 12-month period after December 31, 2018. Those voting NO opposed adding another burden to struggling Vermont businesses. CLARKSON – YES

92% Tax on E-Cigarettes (H.879). Passed 83-54 on March 30, 2016. Those voting YES supported putting a 92% on e-cigarettes and related products for a total tax increase of an estimated $500,000. Those voting NO opposed raising the tax, noting that e-cigarettes are not tobacco, but rather a tobacco substitute that many people use as a way to quit smoking. CLARKSON – YES

Strike $1.6 Million Telephone Tax Increase (H.870, Turner Amendment). Failed 48-97 on April 13, 2016. The Turner Amendment sought to strike a $1.6 million tax increase from the telecom bill. Those voting NO wanted to keep the tax increase in place, citing the need to pay for expanding broadband service. Those voting YES wanted to eliminate the tax increase, stating that the money could have and should have been found in the already passed general fund budget, and that Vermonters cannot afford any more taxes. CLARKSON – NO

Raise Smoking Age/$900,000 Tobacco Tax Increase (H.93). Passed 84-61on April 5, 2016. Those voting YES supported raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 over a three year period ending in 2019, and raising the tax on cigarettes by 39¢ (to a total of $3.47) and on other tobacco products by 32¢ — an estimated $900,000 tax increase. Those voting NO opposed the higher age limit and tax increase. CLARKSON – YES

Block Legalization of Marijuana (H.858, Conquest Amendment). Passed 121-28), 2016, May 3, 2016. This amendment killed legislation that would have legalized, regulated and taxed marijuana in Vermont. Those voting YES on this amendment DID NOT support the legalization of marijuana. Those voting NO on this amendment DID support the legalization of marijuana. CLARKSON – YES

 

2015 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

$16 Million Property Tax Increase, Mandates for School District Consolidation. (H.361). Passed 88-55, April 1, 2015. Those voting YES on this bill approved a $16 million increase in school property taxes, setting the statewide homestead property tax rate at $0.98 (flat), and raising the nonresidential property tax rate to $1.525. The bill also placed mandates on school districts to consolidate into Pre-K- 12 districts of no fewer than 1100 students and put in place a complicated formula for capping school budgets, which could not be triggered until 2018. Those voting NO on H.361 saw this as a failure to answer the pleas of citizens for meaningful tax relief, while launching a serious assault on local control and the democratic process. CLARKSON – YES

$1.48 Billion General Fund Budget (4.8% Spending Increase) for FY16 (H.490). Passed 96-46, March 26, 2015. Those voting YES on H.490 approved a $1.48 billion general fund budget. This is a $68 million spending increase (4.8%) over the FY15 budget (adopted in 2014) and grows spending at 3 times the average rate of inflation (1.6% in 2014). Those voting NO did so on the grounds that increasing spending by 4.8% while revenue is only projected to grow at 2.4% is unsustainable and irresponsible. They also objected to using $24 million in one-time funds to achieve “balance,” and that this budget sets up a projected budget gap of $50-$70 million for FY17/FY18. CLARKSON – YES

$12 Million In New Taxes on Candy, Sweetened Beverages, Vending Machines & Tobacco(S.139, COMMITTEE OF WAYS & MEANS AMENDMENT). Passed 78-62, April 30, 2015. Those voting YES on this amendment supported extending Vermont’s 6% sales tax to candy (not containing flour) and sweetened beverages (not milk based), applying Vermont’s 9% rooms and meals tax to vending machine purchases, and increasing the tax on cigarettes by 33¢ over two years. The total tax increase on Vermonters amounts to roughly $12 million. Those voting NO opposed these tax increases. CLARKSON – YES

$33.2 Million in Income Tax Increases (H.489). Passed 76-67, March 27, 2015. Analysis: Those voting YES on this bill approved a tax increase on Vermonters of $33.2 million, raised primarily from capping itemized deductions on the state income tax at $15,000 for individuals and $31,000 for couples, and disallowing deductions for state and local income taxes from the previous year. Some of those voting NO argued that Vermont has “a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” and that taxes are already too high in Vermont. Others voting NO believed H.489 did not raise enough revenue. (See H.489, O’Sullivan Amendment Roll Call to cross-reference.) CLARKSON – YES

Additional $12 Million Income Taxes (H.489). Failed 43-98, March 26, 2015. Those voting YES on this amendment supported: “Beginning in tax year 2015 and after, the rates assigned to the individual income tax brackets under 32 V.S.A. § 5822(a), from lowest to highest, shall be 3.55 percent, 6.8percent, 7.8 percent,9.5percent,and 9.55percent,” in the belief that the underlying bill did not raise enough revenue ($33.2 million) on its own. Those voting NO opposed this. CLARKSON – NO

Lake Clean Up With Existing Funds (No New Taxes) (H.35, DICKINSON AMENDMENT). Failed 40-100, April 1, 2015. The underlying bill, H.35, raised $8 million in new taxes for cleaning up Lake Champlain and Vermont’s other waterways. The Dickinson Amendment eliminated the need for new taxes by reallocating roughly $9 million of existing revenue for the same purpose. Those voting YES on the Dickinson Amendment believed that no new taxes were needed to fund the Lake Clean Up policies outlined in H.35, and that the financial obligations could be met by reallocating existing revenues from the property transfer tax. Those voting NO on the Dickinson Amendment supporting raising new taxes ($5.7 million from a 0.2 percent surcharge to the property transfer tax) and various fees ($2.3 million). CLARKSON – NO

$2.8 Million in Fee Increases. (H.184). Passed 88-57, February 12, 2015. Those voting YES on H.188 voted to increase in aggregate the fees Vermonters must pay to engage in a variety of activities — from hunting and fishing, to construction, to operating a business —by $2.8 million. Those voting NO on the bill alleged that the fee increases were too high, and not necessarily tied to the actual cost of running the program for which the fee is ostensibly set. Instead, the fees are being improperly increased for the purpose of raising general revenue. CLARKSON – YES

3% Cap on Fee Increases. (H.184, DAME AMENDMENT). Failed 50-96, February 13, 2015). Those who voted YES on the Dame amendment would have raised fee revenue in the aggregate by over $500k, but limited the increase of any fee to 3%. This would have been more in line with inflation/economic growth than the 50%-135% increases attached to some fees in the underlying bill, which raised fees in the aggregate by $2.8 million. CLARKSON – NO

46% Excise Tax on E-Cigarettes (S.139, JEWETT AMENDMENT) Passed 70-67, May 1, 2015. Those voting YES supported levying a 46% tax on the wholesale price of e-cigarettes. The tax is estimated to raise $240,000. Those voting NO opposed these tax increase. CLARKSON – YES

Mandates 75% of Electric Sales Be From “Renewables” by 2032. (H.40). (Passed 121-24, March 10, 2015. H.40 had many facets to it. It repealed the SPEED program and replaced it with a new RESET program, enabling Vermont utilities’ to continue to sell some Renewable Energy Credits. It also mandated that utilities have 75% of their electricity portfolio come from renewable sources by 2032. This, of course, is a mandate on customers to buy the more expensive renewables, and a requirement that more renewable electricity projects be built (25 megawatts per year). This many wind towers and solar facilities will have a negative impact on Vermont’s scenic landscape. CLARKSON – YES

Mandates on Businesses to Pay $14 Million for Paid Sick Leave (H.187). Passed 76-66, April 22, 2015. Those voting YES approved an unfunded mandate, estimated to be a much as $14 million annually, requiring employers to provide at least three days of paid sick leave to employees. Those voting NO opposed this mandate, citing the fact that most Vermont businesses already provide such benefits voluntarily, and those that don’t can least afford to do so. This unfunded mandate represents another burden on Vermont employers, making Vermont a less competitive place to run a business. CLARKSON – YES

Ban on Teachers Strikes (H.76, LALONDE AMENDMENT) Failed 70-73, April 8, 2015). The LaLonde amendment would have banned both teachers’ ability to strike and school boards’ ability to impose contract terms. It would also have set up a task force to study less disruptive means of resolving contract disputes. Those voting YES favored banning teachers’ strikes and imposed contracts. Those voting NO supported teachers’ strikes. CLARKSON – NO

Prevent Green Mountain Care Board from Controlling Medicare Funding (S.139). Failed 54-85, April 30, 2015. In the 2014 election, the strategic plan enacted in Act 48 of 2011 became a major issue. This amendment would have removed all references to Medicare from Act 48, thus making it clear that the state’s promised single payer health care plan could not incorporate Medicare payments for Vermont seniors. Those voting YES wanted to keep the state’s hands off the Medicare payment stream. Those voting NO reaffirmed their support for having the Green Mountain Care Board gain control over Medicare payments under a single payer or “all payer” plan. CLARKSON – NO

Same Day Voter Registration (S.29) Passed 87-54, May 11, 2015. Those voting YES on S.29 would allow an individual to register to vote and to vote on election day. Those voting NO believed this to be an invitation to voter fraud as there is not adequate opportunity for either the Town Clerk or other election monitors to verify that the persons registering to vote on election day are who they say they are, or are legal residents of where they claim to live. This also creates a logistical challenge for Town Clerks, who will have to both run the elections in their districts and, with this law, register new voters simultaneously. CLARKSON – YES

New Gun Control Regulations on Felons, Mentally Ill (S. 141) Passed 80-62, April 17, 2015. Those voting YES would make it a state crime for many convicted felons to possess firearms (already a crime under federal law). The bill also required the state report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System any time someone has been found by a court to be mentally ill and a danger to himself or others. Those voting NO believed this is a “solution in search of a problem.” CLARKSON – ABSENT


Re-Elected, November 2014


2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

5.5% STATE SPENDING INCREASE FOR 2015 (H. 885). Passed 91-46, March 27, 2014. Those voting YES on H.885 supported general fund spending for FY2015 of $1.438 billion. This represents a 5.5% increase ($88 million) over the original FY2014 budget of $1.362 billion as passed in 2013, and a 3.8% increase over the FY2014 budget as adjusted (upward) in 2014.The 5.5% spending increase is five times the current rate of inflation (1.1%), and nearly double Vermonters’ average rate of personal income growth (2.88% for 2013). CLARKSON – YES

$12.6 MILLION INCREASE TO 2014 SPENDING (H.655). Passed 110-33, January 24, 2014. The “Budget Adjustment Act,” is designed to “tweak” spending levels passed into law by the legislature in the previous year before in response to changes in fiscal conditions. Those voting YES on this 2014 Budget Adjustment, H.655, voted for a net increase of $12.63 million in new spending to the FY2014 General Fund budget bringing total FY2014 General Fund spending up to $1.37 billion. CLARKSON – YES

$56.2 MILLION PROPERTY TAX INCREASE (H. 889). Passed 89-51, April 4, 2014. Those voting YES on H.889 voted in favor of a $56.2 million property tax increase.  Residential property tax rates rise 4¢ (4%) from 94¢ to 98¢ per $100 of assessed value. Nonresidential tax rates rise 7.5¢ (5%) from $1.44 to $1.515 per $100 of value. CLARKSON – YES

$1.2 MILLION MISCELLANEOUS TAX INCREASE (H. 884). Passed 103-42, March 27, 2014. The Miscellaneous Tax bill is an annual adjustment of tax provisions needed to match revenues with spending. Those voting YES on H.884 voted in favor of increasing the tax on tobacco snuff from $2.24 to $2.62, which is projected to raise $700,000, and to implement a 92% wholesale tax on electronic cigarettes, which was projected to raise $500,000. CLARKSON – YES

OVER $800,000 INCREASE IN MISCELANEOUS FEES (H.735). Passed 87-48, May 9, 2014. The “Fee Bill” sets the fees for business and professional licensing and a number of state services. This year’s bill was made controversial by a provision requiring $200 fee for storage of firearms confiscated by law enforcement following domestic disturbances. Those voting YES on H.735 supported over $800,000 in fee increases. CLARKSON – YES

INCREASE MINIMUM WAGE 16% TO $10.10 PER HOUR (H. 552) Passed 87-57, April 8, 2014. Those voting YES supported raising the minimum wage from $8.73 to $10.10 effective January 2015. This is a 16% increase and was estimated to cost Vermont businesses $30 million. State economist Tom Kavet testified that a rise in the minimum wage to $10 would result in the loss of 250 jobs or the equivalent in hours. Vermont already has the third highest minimum wage in the United States. CLARKSON – YES

MANDATORY SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION (H.883). Passed 76-60, April 30, 2014. Those voting YES on the bill supported the mandate, “This bill proposes to require…[that] as of July 1, 2020, supervisory unions shall cease to exist and current school districts shall be realigned into expanded prekindergarten–grade 12 school districts (Expanded Districts) that are responsible for the education of all resident students in prekindergarten–grade 12.” This would eliminate local school boards and erode local control over education. This bill would not reduce the cost of education, and would probably, in the short term, increase costs in order to pay for the transition. CLARKSON – YES

ALLOW CHILDCARE BUSINESSES TO UNIONIZE/COLLECTIVLEY BARGAIN FOR SUBSIDIES (S. 316) Passed 78-59, May 6, 2014. This bill would allow early childcare businesses to form a union to collectively bargain for taxpayer-funded subsidies.  The legislature is essentially giving a union taxpayer money to lobby the legislature about something for which the legislature is already aware it is responsible, and forces hundreds of small business people in Vermont to pay “agency fees” (85% of union dues) to a union that they do not want to join. CLARSON – YES

EXEMPT NON-UNIONIZED CHILDCARE WORKERS FROM PAYING “AGENCY FEES” TO A UNION (BOUCHARD AMENDMENT to S.316). Failed 53-86 on May 6, 2014. The underlying bill (S.316) allows early childcare businesses to form a union to collectively bargain with the state for subsidies. The Bouchard amendment would have exempted those early childcare providers who choose not to join a union from having to pay “agency fees” (85% of union dues) to that union. CLARKSON – NO

MAKE SINGLE-PAYER FINANCING PLAN(S) OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

(Browning Amendment to H. 884) Failed 39-102, March 28, 2014. The Browning Amendment to H.884 would have bound committees in the House (Ways & Means) and Senate (Finance) to formally request that the Shumlin Administration submit on or before April 30, 2014 one or more financing proposals for Green Mountain Care (single payer healthcare). If the proposal(s) are not complete by that date, “all drafts, reports and other documents related to financing Green Mountain Care” would be turned over. In the event the Administration did not comply, the committees would be bound to subpoena the Administration for the information. CLARKSON – NO

REPEAL AND REPLACE EDUCATION FINANCING SYSTEM (ACT 60/68) (Scheuermann Amendment to H. 889) Failed 49-83, April 3, 2014. The “Repeal & Replace amendment” proposed to repeal Vermont’s current education funding laws (Act 60/68) effective July 1, 2016 with a replacement to take effect for the 2016-2017 Academic Year. The Scheuermann Amendment comes in the wake of 37 Vermont towns voting down their school budgets. 43 towns lowered school spending, but, under the current financing system, still saw property taxes increase. Those voting NO voted to leave the status quo in place. Those voting YES voted for reform. CLARKSON – ABSENT

IMPOSE STRICTER CENTRAL PLANNING FOR LAND DEVELOPMENT

(H. 823). Passed 92-44, March 13, 2014. This bill was designed to funnel development into “approved, designated centers” (urban) and discourage development in other areas (rural) by making allowances for, and in some cases subsidies to, the former, and creating legal barriers to the latter. H.823 places strict regulations on the “conditions and criteria” for obtaining development permits. In the words of House Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Tony Klein, this bill turns Act 250 into a “living document.” CLARKSON – YES

REQUIRE “MAY CONTAIN GMO” LABEL ON SOME FOOD PRODUCTS (H. 112). Passed 114-30, April 23, 2014. The GMO labeling bill is popular with Vermonters because people quite logically want to know what is in the food they eat. Therefore, superficially this bill makes sense. However, there are two major concerns with H.112 in practice. 1) It opens Vermont taxpayers up to an estimated $1.5 to $8 million in legal liabilities if the law is challenged in court and the state loses – certain and likely scenarios respectively. 2) Given the number of exemptions to the labeling codified within the bill, it really doesn’t achieve the ostensible goal of enlightening consumers as to whether or not they are eating GMOs. CLARKSON – YES

2013 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

4.7% STATE SPENDING INCREASE (H.530). Passed 91-49, March 29, 2013. Those members voting YES on the “Omnibus Appropriations Bill” voted to increase state spending by 4.7%. This is nearly 2 and a half times the rate of inflation. CLARKSON – YES

$50 MILLION PROPERTY TAX INCREASE (H.265). Passed 96-45, Feb. 19, 2013. Those who voted YES on this bill voted to increase the residential property tax rate by $.05 per $100.00 of assessed value, and $.06 on non-residential property to $.94 and $1.44 respectively. The total tax increase on Vermont property taxpayers as a result of this bill is estimated at over $50 million. CLARKSON – YES

$21.8 MILLION GAS TAX INCREASE (H.510). Passed 105-37, March 20, 2013. Legislators who voted YES on this bill supported a $21.8 million tax increase on gasoline – a roughly 7.5 cent per gallon increase by 2014. This represents the largest gas tax increase in Vermont history. CLARKSON – YES

$27 MILLION MISCELLANEOUS TAX INCREASE (H.528). Passed 85-55, March 27, 2013. Those members voting YES voted to expand the Vermont state sales tax (6%) to bottled water, clothing (including shoes) over $110, candy, soft drinks, and dietary supplements, and to increase the tax on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco by $0.50 (total: $3.12) and $0.88 (total: $3.12) respectively. They voted to increase the Rooms & Meals tax from 9% to 9.5% for 2014, and they voted to apply the Meals tax to food sold out of vending machines. They voted to cap all itemized tax deductions at 2.5 times standard deduction, eliminated Vermont’s 8.8% tax bracket, moving those earning $178,651 and more into the top 8.95% tax bracket, formerly reserved for those earning $388,351 and above.  The total estimated cost to Vermont taxpayers: $27 million in 2014 and $32.3 million in 2015. CLARKSON – ABSENT

STOP ‘RAIDS’ ON THE TRANSPORTATION FUND (Koch Amendment to H.510). Failed 49-88, March 21, 2013. Those voting YES on voted to assure that no transportation funds will be appropriated for the support of government other than for true transportation purposes. This would have reduced or negated the need for a gas tax increase. CLARKSON – NO

STATE OVERRIDES LOCAL CONTROL, MANDATES PRE-K (H.270). Passed 95-43, May 1, 2013. Those voting YES on H.270 voted to saddle Vermonters with an estimated $10 million cost/tax increase over the next five years, and to take away local control regarding the decision of whether or not to offer publicly funded pre-kindergarten. When the legislature established publicly funded pre-k in 2007, it did so with the assurance to communities that funding pre-k would remain voluntary. This bill reneges on that deal. CLARKSON – NO

FORCE NON-UNION WORKER TO PAY FEES TO UNIONS (S.14). Passed 85-43, April 26, 2013. Those voting YES on S.14 voted in favor of forcing non-union workers to pay a fee equal to 85% of the dues unionized workers pay to the union, effectively using government power to require citizens to make payments to a private organization that they want nothing to do with. S.14 affects roughly 2,600 education, state and municipal employees, mostly low-wage support staff who can least afford the payment. CLARKSON – YES

LIMIT CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS (S.82). Passed 96-49, May 8, 2013. Those voting YES on S.82 voted in favor of capping donations to independent political committees that do not coordinate with candidates or parties, despite Supreme Court precedents that are pretty clear that this constitutes a violation of the First Amendment. If the bill is challenged in court, which it likely will be, the state would most likely lose, leaving taxpayers on the hook for an estimated $5 million. CLARKSON – YES

SET FIVE YEAR TIME LIMIT FOR WELFARE BENEFITS (Donahue Amendment to H.530) Failed 51-88, March 28, 2013.  Those voting YES on this amendment voted to limit Reach Up benefits to 60 cumulative months of financial assistance, excluding child-only grants, per family.  This amendment is similar to a proposal from Governor Shumlin, about which he cautioned, “Vermont was the only state left in America where welfare benefits were timeless, not temporary.” CLARKSON – NO

REGULATE WATERFRONT PROPERTY RIGHTS (H.526) Passed 105-42, March 27, 2013. This bill gives the Secretary of Natural resources unprecedented power to regulate the private property of waterfront owners. S.526 dictates that property owners will require a permit from the Secretary to create or expand anything with more than 500 square feet of “impervious surface” (defined as: “those manmade surfaces, including paved and unpaved roads, parking areas, roofs, driveways, and walkways, from which precipitation runs off rather than infiltrates.”), or create more than 500 square feet of “cleared area” (defined as: “an area where existing vegetative cover, soil, or duff is permanently removed or altered.”) in a “protected shoreland area” (defined as: “all land located within 250 feet of the mean water level of a lake that is greater than 10 acres in surface area.”) CLARKSON – YES

EXEMPT “CLOUD” SERVICES FROM SALES TAX (Scheuermann Amendment to H.528) Failed 53-90, March 28, 2013. This amendment would exempt internet-based “Cloud” services from Vermont’s sales tax. Defined as “charges made for the right to remotely access and use prewritten computer software, where possession of the software is maintained by the seller or a third party”, this tax would presume to charge consumers for remotely accessed services, even if they are free. Examples of “cloud” computing include Skype, Google Voice, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, as well as “cloud” storage services (Google Drive) and software production (Google Apps). CLARKSON – NO

ALLOW PRIVATE DOCTOR/PATIENT CONTRACTS (Browning Amendment to H.107) Failed 44-94, March 19, 2013. Those voting YES on this amendment voted to ensure that Vermont residents would maintain the ability to enter into voluntary financial contracts with their health care providers, and prohibit the Green Mountain Care Board from placing restrictions on health care professionals’ practice locations. CLARKSON – NO

 

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