How is your Representative representing YOU in Montpelier?

The Ethan Allen Institute is proud to release our Complete Book of Legislator Roll Call Profiles, a detailed, individual look at how each of Vermont’s 150 state representatives and 30 state senators voted on the most critical issues of the 2013 legislative session. The dozen votes chronicled for the house and half dozen for the senate cover taxes, spending, healthcare, energy, property rights, education, labor policy, campaign finance, land use. All were chosen because they fall within EAI’s free market, economic oriented mission as they pertain to individual liberty, limited government and the founding principles of our great nation, and because of their impact (or potential impact depending upon final passage) on the lives of citizens and the overall direction of the state.

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These profiles provide a clear, transparent look at how legislators are representing their constituents on the issues that matter most. CLICK HERE to see how your legislators are representing you! (Representatives are grouped by County. Senators are grouped together.)

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Roll Call Rotator
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HOUSE VOTES TO REQUIRE LABELING OF
SOME GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS

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PASSED
in the State House of Representatives
on April 23, 2014, by a vote of
114-30
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Purpose: H.112 mandates that producers of food made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) label them with the words: “partially produced with genetic engineering”; “may be produced with genetic engineering”; or “produced with genetic engineering.” (Read the Bill)
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Analysis: 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.
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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.
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Some of these exemptions are:
  • Food consisting entirely of or derived entirely from a animals that have been “fed or injected with any food, drug, or other substance produced with genetic engineering.”
  • “A raw agricultural commodity or processed food derived from it that has been grown, raised, or produced without the knowing or intentional use of food or seed produced with genetic engineering.” So, as long as the farmer didn’t know about it, it’s okay for you to be left ignorant of any potential GMOs in your meal.
  • “Any processed food which… [only] includes one or more processing aids or enzymes produced with genetic engineering.”
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • “Any processed food that… [only] includes one or more materials that have been produced with genetic engineering, provided that the genetically engineered materials in the aggregate do not account for more than 0.9 percent of the total weight of the processed food.”
  • Food prepared for immediate consumption, or any food sold in restaurants.
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As Recorded in the House Journal, Wednesday, April 23, 2014: “Shall the House concur in the Senate’s proposal of amendment? was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 114. Nays, 30.” (Read the Journal, p. 1250-1265.)
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Related Material: 
Commentary: The GMO Debate in Vermont

How They Voted

(Click on your Rep’s name to send an email)

Janet Ancel (D-Calis) - YES

John Bartholomew (D-Hartland) - YES

Lynn Batchelor (R-Derby Line) – NO

Stephen Beyor (R-Highgate Springs) - NO

Clement Bissonnette (D-Winooski) - YES

William Botzow (D-Bennington) - YES

Robert Bouchard (R-Colchester) - ABSENT

Carolyn Branagan (R-Georgia) - YES

Patrick Brennan (R-Colchster) - NO

Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington) - YES

Thomas Burditt (R-West Rutland) - YES

Mollie Burke (P/D-Brattleboro) - YES

Sarah Buxton (D-Tunbridge) - YES

Brian Campion (D-Bennington) - YES

William Canfield (R/D-Fair Haven) - NO

Stephen Carr (D-Brandon) - YES

Kevin Christie (D-White River Jct.) - YES

Alison Clarkson (D-Woodstock) - YES

Joanna Cole (D-Burlington) - YES

James Condon (D-Colchester) - NO

Daniel Connor (D-Fairfield) - YES

Charles Conquest (D-Wells River) - YES

Michel Consejo (D-Sheldon) - YES

Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford) - YES

Timothy Corcoran (D-Bennington) - YES

George Cross (D-Winooski) - YES

Lawrence Cupoli (R-Rutland) - YES

Leigh Dakin (D-Chester) - YES

Susan Davis (P/D-Washington) - YES

David Deen (D-Putney) - YES

Dennis Devereux (R-Belmont) - YES

Eileen “Lynn” Dickinson (R-St. Albans) - NO

Andrew Donaghy (R-Poultney) - NO

Anne Donahue (R-Northfield) - YES

Johannah Donovan (D-Burlington) - YES

Rebecca Ellis (D-Waterbury) - YES

Alice Emmons (D/W-Springfield) - YES

Debbie Evans (D-Essex) - YES

Peter Fagan (R-Rutland) - YES

Michelle Fay (D-St. Johnsbury) - YES

Martha Feltus (R-Lyndonville) - NO

Michael Fisher (D-Lincoln) - YES

William Frank (D-Underhill) - YES

Patsy French (D-Randolph) - YES

Douglas Gage (R-Rutland) - NO

Anne Gallivan (D-N. Chittenden) - YES

Charles Goodwin (I-Weston) - YES

Maxine Grad (D-Moretown) - YES

Adam Greshin (I-Warren) - YES

Sandy Haas (P/D-Rochester) - YES

Helen Head (D-So. Burlington) - YES

Martha Heath (D-Westford) - YES

Michael Hebert (R-Vernon) - NO

Robert Helm (R/D-Fair Haven) - YES

Mark Higley (R-Lowell) - NO

Mary Hooper (D-Montpelier) - YES

Kathleen Hoyt (D-Norwich) - ABSENT

Ronald Hubert (R-Milton) - NO

Mark Huntley (D-Cavendish) - YES

Timothy Jerman (D-Essex) - YES

Willem Jewett (D-Ripton) - YES

Mitzi Johnson (D-S. Hero) - YES

William Johnson (R/D-Canaan) - NO

Bernard Juskiewicz (R-Camdridge) - YES

Kathleen Keenan (D-St. Albans) - YES

Duncan Kilmartin (R/D-Newport) - NO

Warren Kitzmiller (D-Montpelier) - YES

Anthony Klein (D-Montpelier) - YES

Thomas Koch (R/D-Barre) - NO

Patricia Komline (R-Dorset) - NO

Robert Krebs (D-S. Hero) - YES

Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington) - YES

Michele Kupersmith (D-S. Burlington) - YES

Diane Lanpher (D-Vergennes) - YES

Leigh Larocque (R-Barnet) - NO

Richard Lawrence (R-Lyndon) - NO

Joan Lenes (D-Shelburne) - YES

Patti Lewis (R-Berlin) - YES

William Lippert (D-Hinesburg) - YES

Terence Macaig (D-Williston) - YES

John Malcolm (D-Pawlet) -  YES

Ann Manwaring (D-Wilmington) - YES

Michael Marcotte (R/D-Newport) - NO

Richard Marek (D-Newfane) - YES

Cynthia Martin (D/W-Springfield) - YES

Linda Martin (D-Wolcott) - YES

James Masland (D-Thetford) - YES

Michael McCarthy (D-St. Albans) - YES

Curtis McCormack (D/W-Burlington) - YES

James McCullough (D-Williston) - YES

Francis McFaun (R/D-Barre) - YES

Kristina Michelsen (D-Hardwick) - YES

Alice Miller (D-Shaftsbury) - YES

John Mitchell (R-Fairfax) - NO

Anne Mook (D-Bennington) - YES

John Moran (D-Wardsboro) - YES

Mary Morrissey (R-Bennington) - NO

Michael Mrowicki (D-Putney) - YES

Linda Myers (R-Essex) - NO

Betty Nuovo (D-Middlebury) - YES

Anne O’Brien (D-Richmond) - ABSENT

Jean O’Sullivan (D-Burlington) - YES

Carolyn Partridge (D-Windham) - YES

Albert “Chuck” Pearce (R/D-Richford) - YES

Christopher Pearson (P-Burlington) - YES

Philip Peltz (D-Woodbury) - YES

Paul Poirier (I-Barre) - YES

David Potter (D-Clarendon) - YES

Ann Pugh (D-S. Burlington) - YES

Constance Quimby (R/D-Concord) - NO

Barbara Rachelson (D-Burlington) - YES

Paul Ralston (D-Middlebury) - YES

Kesha Ram (D-Burlington) - YES

Herbert Russell (D-Rutland) - YES

Marjorie Ryerson (D-Randolph) - YES

Brian Savage (R-Swanton) - YES

Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe) - YES

David Sharpe (D-Bristol) - YES

Charles Shaw (R/D-Pitsford) - YES

Loren Shaw (R/D-Derby) - NO

Harvey Smith (R-New Haven) - ABSENT

Shapleigh Smith (D-Morristown) - Presiding

Robert South (D-St. Johnsbury) - NO

Kristy Spengler (D-Colchester) - ABSENT

Thomas Stevens (D-Waterbury) - YES

William Stevens (I-Shoreham) - YES

Vicki Strong (R-Albany) - NO

Valerie Stuart (D-Brattleboro) - YES

Donna Sweaney (D-Windsor) - YES

Thomas Terenzini (R/D-Rutland) - YES

George Till (D-Jericho) - YES

Tristan Toleno (D-Brattleboro) - YES

Catherine Toll (D-Danville) - YES

Maida Townsend (D-S. Burlington) - YES

Matthew Trieber (D-Bellows Falls) - YES

Donald Turner (R-Milton) - NO

Warren Van Wyck (R-Ferrisburgh) - NO

Sheila Vowinkel (D-White River Jct.) - YES

Linda Waite-Simpson (D-Essex) - YES

Tommy Waltz (D-Barre City) -  YES

Kathryn Webb (D-Shelburne) - YES

Cynthia Weed (P/D-Enosburg Falls) - YES

Jeffrey Wilson (D-Manchester) - YES

Philip Winters (R-Williamstown) - NO

Susan Wizowaty (D-Burlington) - YES

Mark Woodward (D-Johnson) - YES

Kurt Wright (R-Burlington) - NO

Michael Yantachka (D-Charlotte) - YES

Samuel Young (D-Glover) - YES

Teo Zagar (D-Barnard) - YES

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Empower Yourself in 2014 with
New Leaders and Activist Training
Saturday, May 17, 2014

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RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!
CLICK HERE

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Matt Robbins of American Majority speaks to a packed house at the Davis Center at UVM.

Matt Robbins of American Majority speaks to a packed house during last January’s training session

The Ethan Allen Institute is happy to announce that is it partnering with American Majority to hold another New Leaders and Activist Training session. The first such event held in January was a tremendous success with over 50 attendees.

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In fact, four candidates who attended the session and worked with American Majority  ran in Burlington’s local March elections. Three won their races, including Scot Shumski, who defeated the incumbent school commissioner by a 2-1 margin. Shumski ran for the school board last year and lost, but by using the techniques learned at the Training Session he was able to triple his vote total from last year.

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This is a terrific opportunity to learn how to effectively organize and communicate our message at a grassroots level. We need new leaders to come forward at the local level, to take a stand for free-market and limited government principles. EAI believes it is important that the necessary tools and resources be available to activists and leaders to become successful, and to equip them with the powerful knowledge of how to use those resources effectively.

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When: Saturday, May 17th from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM.
Registration will open at 9 AM.
Where: Rutland Area Christian School, 112 Lincoln Ave, Rutland, VT.
Cost: Registration is $20 ($10 for students) and includes lunch and all training materials.
Click Here to Register: http://americanmajority.org/events/new-leaders-and-activist-training-rutland-vt/

Training Topics:

  • Mastering Campaign Planning: A campaign without a plan won’t get very far- this covers what a campaign plan should look like, what should be on it, and how detailed and flexible it should be.
  • Making the Ask: Fundraising and Budgeting: Who to ask, how to ask and how it will be spent.
  • Connecting with Voters: Finding information on who votes, contacting voters through direct contact and GOTV efforts, and volunteers
  • Social Media, Your Secret Weapon: Learn how to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets to your advantage. Present your message to the masses and amplify your voice!

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by Chris Campion

Putney’s own Peter Shumlin, never one to lack a tendency to find straws wherever he can grasp them (especially if the straw is a neighbor’s distressed property that he might pick up on the cheap), has outdone himself (again) in promoting Vermont’s low unemployment rate.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says the latest unemployment statistics show Vermont now has the second lowest unemployment rate in the country.

Santa: Doing the job Vermonters won't do

The Vermont Department of Labor announced Friday the state’s unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of a percent last month to 3.4 percent.

Once again, Shumlin sidesteps the reality on the ground.  The truth is, in caseanyone’s bothering to look at the actual data, is that the seasonally unadjusted employment went down from February to March:

Total Nonfarm February 2014:  309,400

Total Nonfarm March 2014:  307,400

That’s 2,000 fewer jobs.  The VT Dept of Labor also lists the non-seasonally adjusted labor force participation rate, where the number of unemployed went up from February to March, by 100 people – to give Vermont a 4.1% unemployment rate.  All these changes are done with the flick of a setting on the DoL website.

Seasonal, Schmeasonal.

To put it simply, without seasonal adjustments being done to Vermont’s labor force – a significant impact given the bulk of Vermont’s economy is driven by tourism, and a long winter helps maintain seasonal employment – Vermont is still losing jobs.  The largest adjustments between seasonal and non-seasonal are in leisure and trade, retail, etc – and these aren’t the kinds of jobs that support a household by themselves.

To cap off this lunacy, Shumlin has the chutzpah to stand in front of Vermonters and tout the state’s low unemployment number, when 2,000 fewer Vermonters are working in just one month.

Vermont’s labor force has been shrinking.  That’s often the reason why the rate of unemployment goes down, and because the unemployment metric removes those people who give up looking for work, this reduces the unemployment rate, even if everything else remains exactly the same.  Oh, and unemployment claims are going up again.

Unless you enjoy massively unrealistic distortions of the truth.  Then listen away!

This same Shumlin administration promised single-payer in Vermont without a stitch of a plan in sight,  in violation of state law, as to how to fund it, and its estimated costs are roughly double the state’s entire annual tax revenues.

All of which begs the question:  Why does anyone bother listening to Peter?

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by John McClaughry

Last week the Vermont Senate passed a bill to require all food manufacturers to declare that their produce MAY contain Genetically Modified Organisms.  But the required label doesn’t tell the consumer whether the product does have GMOs – only that it might have them.

Progressive Sen. David Zuckerman of Burlington, who is an organic farmer, said  “It would be quite expensive and too onerous to require every manufacturer of every product to test every ingredient to put a definitive ‘this does’ or ‘this does not’ (contain GMO.).”

As reported by Vermont Watchdog, Sen. Peg Flory asked “A company doesn’t have to know if it’s [product is]  GMO? They can simply put on the label, ‘This may contain GMO products’?”

Zuckerman replied “It’s not a requirement of any company to ascertain all the different ingredients.”

Flory then asked “If this law is intended to say we have a right to know what we eat, how does it achieve that if everybody can put ‘this may contain GMO’?”.

“It’s really up to the product manufacturer,” Zuckerman replied.

Almost all packaged supermarket food contains genetically modified organisms – especially soy and corn based products.  Does the package you’re looking at contain GMOs? This bill leaves you completely in the dark. This has to qualify for the stupidest bill passed by the Senate in decades, especially since it will cost taxpayers as much as $8 million dollars to defend it in the certain legal challenge.

John McClaughry is the founder and current vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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I’m not going to tell you about the negative impacts a minimum wage increase will have on businesses, because I know you’ve all heard it before, and I don’t think that will change any of your minds.  Instead I want to talk about this policy’s devastating effect on young people, and how that translates to more generational poverty.

The minimum wage set by this body only applies if an employer will actually hire you.  The real minimum wage is $0, because that’s what you get when you’re priced out of the market.  In order to be hired, you have to convince an employer that you are worth the wage they pay you.  This is not a problem for workers with resumes, but for young people, it essentially removes the first few rungs on the economic ladder.  We heard yesterday from several folks who waited to work until they were 17 and 18, when they were moving out, buying cars, and paying their own bills, all for the first time.  Working minimum wage jobs, along with being enticed into significant amounts of student loan and credit card debt, while learning how to manage a budget proves to be too much for many people, and they fall behind, and get stuck in a cycle of poverty.

By removing the wage floor above young people’s heads, you allow them to get vital work experience before they are off on their own.  When they are 18 and starting to live on their own, they will not have to work for the minimum wage, because employers will have a work record to base hiring decisions on.  Ask any business owner.  If they know you will show up to work on time, work hard, and be reliable, they will hire you for a higher wage.

I worked for three and a half years at McDonalds, starting when I was 15 years old, for minimum wage nearly the entire time.  I was fine with this, because for much of that time I was living with my parents, and when that income wasn’t enough when I moved out, I got another job to pay the bills.  But what always struck me was that people who were hired at the same time as me, but were able to do much more for the restaurant because of labor laws and insurance policies, were paid the same hourly wage.

One woman was a way over-qualified mother of two who had been hit hard by the recession, and had to resort to a minimum wage job to help stay afloat.  Because the minimum wage law forced McDonald’s to pay me, a 15 year old living at home, much more than I was worth, it took resources that could have given her a much-needed pay raise.  I would gladly have worked for $5 or $6 an hour, because I had no bills to pay.  All I needed money for was taking girls on dates and saving for a car.  She needed to pay her mortgage and save so her son could go to college.  But the minimum wage forced McDonald’s to employ us at the same rate.

And I was lucky to even have a job.  Until I was 17, I was the only one in my group of friends who had a job, which you can imagine was a little annoying.  But this has led to more than annoyance for those friends.  Many of them are still working the same minimum wage jobs, or are only just getting above that.  When they were in high school, and limited in the number of hours they can work and availability at peak hours, employers decided against employing them for the minimum wage, knowing their money would be better spent on someone who could do more.  When they finally started working, they had a car to buy, rent to pay, groceries to pay for, and they simply got stuck.

We have heard some very compelling stories this session about families struggling to get by, and I understand the urge to help however you can.  But the answer is not to increase the hiring floor, and remove those first few rungs of the ladder.  In fact, I would suggest that you go the other way, and provide an exemption in the minimum wage for those below 18.  This is the model that the United Kingdom follows, with a tiered minimum wage for those under the age of majority.  I am also encouraged by discussion about expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, as I believe the best way to put more money in people’s pockets is by letting keep what they earn.

But the committee also has to realize any minimum wage increase would be fighting against the current.  In addition to any inflation caused by the minimum wage increase and relative cost increases, the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar has been decreasing steadily for many years.  In 1963, the minimum wage was $1.25, five silver quarters.  Today, the melt value of those same five quarters is over $26.  It isn’t a problem with the minimum wage.  It is a problem with the continued devaluation of our currency, and forcing businesses to pay an inflation tax isn’t going to help economic development in Vermont.

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by John McClaughry

The Public Service Board has approved the memorandum agreement between the Public Service Department and Entergy, dealing with closing down Vermont Yankee, over the vocal protests of the New England Coalition people.

The PSB approved Yankee’s operation until the end of this year, noting gratuitously that it might well have demanded a shutdown if there was any prospect of the plant continuing beyond then.

The Order spent a lot of space discussing what it considers to be a “fair partner” with the state. It described what it called Entergy’s “corrosive and bullying attitude”  and said that Entergy had made “frivolous arguments to resist valid discovery.” Well, I admit that Entergy made some mistakes that it should not have made in its presentations to the Board.

But what is curious to me is the Board’s totally ignoring the effect of the 2006 legislature’s  passing Act 160, the law that destroyed the 2002 memorandum of understanding between the state and Entergy. Act 160 is mentioned only once, and only in passing, in the 84 page order.

So tell me: What kind of “fair partner” was the State of Vermont, when it irresponsibly turned the plant’s future over to legislative control, based on no standards at all? This was outrageous, and the Federal courts overturned it six years later. The Public Service Board  harped on Entergy’s procedural shortcomings, but ignored the state’s far more severe misbehavior.

John McClaughry is the vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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by Shayne Spence

The 2014 edition of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Rich States, Poor States has been released, and Vermont continues to fall at the bottom of the pack in business and affordability.  In the 7 year history of the study, Vermont has never managed to get above 49th, which is where we ended up this year.   By taking a look at 15 important policy variables, such as tax structure, labor policy, and the size of state government, this study predicts the economic outlook of states.  With the second most progressive income tax in the country, along with the third highest property tax burden (per $1,000 of personal income) and net outward migration of 2,848 people from 2002-2011, it is no shock that Vermont is so low in the rankings.

Some notable rankings include:

Top Marginal Personal Income Tax Rate – 8.95% – 43rd
Top Marginal Corporate Income Tax Rate – 8.50% – 36th
Recently Legislated Tax Changes (2012-2013, per $1,000 of personal income) – $1.12 – 45th
Public Employees Per 10,000 of population (Full-time equivalent) – 632.6 – 44th
State Minimum Wage – $8.73/hr – 48th
Average Workers’ Compensation Costs (per $100 of payroll) – $2.07 – 37th

Across the board, Vermont falls behind other states, as it has in these rankings since 2008.  And some of the information is dated, meaning that our ranking stands to be even lower by the time the next edition comes out.  Additional burdens on business have been added since the study was conducted, including an additional $62 million in property taxes, and an increase in the minimum wage has been passed by the House and is being considered by the Senate.  Being 48th in both of those categories already, it is safe to say that continuing further along this path is not going to make our business environment any better.

However, Rich States, Poor States provides an in depth analysis of what is working and what isn’t across the country.  While our own policies have proven to be destructive to businesses and jobs, by taking a look at states like Utah, Indiana, and Idaho.  Each of these states have low tax burdens, small state governments, and a welcoming business climate.  And all of these states have seen net gains in population during the same time period that Vermont is losing residents and taxpayers.  While it is clear that more of the same is not going to help Vermonters, we can learn from other states’ examples and turn the state around.  After all, there’s nowhere to go but up.

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EAImoneybomb2014 has been a big year at the Ethan Allen Institute, and today we are celebrating our 21st anniversary of fighting for liberty in Vermont.  Please help us move into the summer with strength by donating $21 and asking 21 of your friends to do the same.  However, any amount of support is greatly appreciated, be it $10, $20, $50, or $100. Click here to make a contribution today!

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For 17 years both political parties have wrestled with education financing, but neither has summoned the imagination to break out of the “raise your property taxes” box.

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4-11-14 – Congressional Democrat Linked to IRS Scandal

April 11, 2014

by Shayne Spence It appears there may have been a little more than a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS targeting of conservative groups.  The scandal has been the subject of the House Government Oversight Committee for many months, after it became clear that conservative political action groups were being targeted while similar progressive organizations [...]

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Latest News

Roll Call! House Votes to Require Labeling of (Some) Genetically Modified Foods

. HOUSE VOTES TO REQUIRE LABELING OF SOME GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS  . H.112 – AN ACT RELATING TO THE LABELING OF FOOD PRODUCED WITH GENETIC ENGINEERING   . PASSED...

Take Advantage of Leadership & Activist Training

Empower Yourself in 2014 with New Leaders and Activist Training Saturday, May 17, 2014 . RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY! CLICK HERE . The Ethan Allen Institute is happy to announce...

4-18-14 – Peter’s Political Seasonings

by Chris Campion Putney’s own Peter Shumlin, never one to lack a tendency to find straws wherever he can grasp them (especially if the straw is a neighbor’s...

4-18-14 – Vermont’s GMO Bill

by John McClaughry Last week the Vermont Senate passed a bill to require all food manufacturers to declare that their produce MAY contain Genetically Modified Organisms.  But the...

4-17-14 – Shayne Spence Minimum Wage Testimony Before Senate Economic Development Committee

I’m not going to tell you about the negative impacts a minimum wage increase will have on businesses, because I know you’ve all heard it before, and I...

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