How to Diagram

Roll Call GraphicYour representatives in Montpelier are there to, as the name suggests, represent you in the capitol. Do your representatives’ votes represent how you would vote if you were in their place?

This collection of legislator roll call vote profiles is brought to you as an educational service by the Ethan Allen Institute (EAI).

In 2013-14, the Vermont State House of Representatives held over 160 roll call votes on a wide variety of issues. The Senate held over eighty. Some of those votes were for show (of the “who likes puppies?” variety), some were obscure and confusing, some were repetitive (there were several roll call votes on the Gas Tax Increase, for example, and for the sake of simplicity we chose one to feature just one), some were important and illuminating.

Opinions will vary on which votes fall into each category. The  votes presented here were selected because they are important based on the potential impact the legislation could or will, depending upon final passage, have on the lives of the citizens of Vermont. They are illuminating in the sense that they allow the citizen a clear picture of the direction his or her legislator is driving the state. And, finally, they 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.

2013-2014 Legislative Session

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Addison County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Bennington County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Caledonia County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Chittenden County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Essex-Orleans County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Franklin-Grand Isle County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Lamoille County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Orange County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Rutland County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Washington County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Windham County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Windsor County


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Posted by Frank Mazur

Ronald Reagan said that “a nation without borders is not a nation.”  Around the world nations vigorously enforce country access.  Try entering another country without a passport.

Our nation is experiencing the greatest assault on its sovereignty since it was founded.  Our borders aren’t protected and we’re being invaded by illegals who are welcomed, cared for, housed, entertained and fed by government.  What started as a trickle of illegals has turned into a flood.

Borders, language and culture are important to remind us of can happen with this illegal invasion.  If we don’t control our borders America could be radically altered as a nation.

Today wherever you travel in the United States almost everything

is reported in two languages; English and Spanish.  Entire communities are already changing and crime has sky rocketed.  Not all illegals are bad people, but for starters they did enter our country illegally.

Borders, language and culture are protected in Mexico and Latin America.  We have every right to protect ours, ensure English is the official language and preserve our culture.  A common language is necessary to keep us united because if we divide we will fall.  Our culture is who we are….proud of our heritage, our examples, our accomplishments and freedoms.

Elected representatives must enforce the law to protect our borders, language and culture from this illegal alien invasion because it’s a threat to our very existence. If they don’t, we must replace them in November.  Be vocal and vote.  If we don’t who will?

- Frank Mazur is a former Representative from South Burlington and former EAI board member

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By John J. Metzler

VIENNA, Austria–The countdown started in Sarajevo in June 1914, the conflagration followed in August. The assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serb nationalist set in motion a series of events in which the great European powers marched, with near lockstep, into a war which would devour seventeen million people, devastate nations, and dismantle empires.  And tragically as we know, World War One, the war to end all wars, tragically set the stage for World War II.  

Looking at the car in which the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot and killed along with his wife, I felt slightly queasy, not so much because of the heinous specific act of terror was committed in this rather cramped auto, but what it would trigger, the Guns of August as the author Barbara Tuchman wrote.    

The car, an Austrian-built Graf & Stift Phaeton, on display in the Military Museum, looks small and rather cramped.  The open auto in which the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne rode in Sarajevo, that fateful 28 June a century ago, opens an exhibit on the First World War which commences with the optimistic and proud patriotism of 1914 but quickly descends into the depths of Dante’s inferno as the war progresses and devours all sides until 1918, and the disillusion of the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian empire.

As the one leaves the Austrian Military Museum a banner reads, “Wars Belong in the Museums.”  I agree. 

But in the warm Summer sunshine outside the imposing Museum, we’re jolted into the present.  View the Middle East’s grim landscape; Iraq under siege by a medieval Caliphate of Islamic fundamentalists, Syria’s gruesome civil war, Libyan chaos, conflict in Gaza.   And then there’s Ukraine, a war on the doorstep of prosperous and self-absorbed Europe.  Oh, and have we mentioned Afghanistan? 

In 1914 we witnessed the clash of Empires; Austro-Hungary, Imperial Germany, and Ottoman Turkey facing Great Britain, France, Imperial Russia, and later the young United States.   By WWII, and thereafter we saw the clash of totalitarian ideologies; Fascism, Nazism, Communism with the Free World.  

Today we witness the clash of civilizations, as the great political scientist Samuel Huntington wrote, essentially the potential clash not so much with specific state political ideologies, but rather cultural/religious systems.     

Some of these political/religious fault lines in the Mid-East date to WWI and the infamous Anglo/French, Sikes-Picot deal redrawing regional borders in Syria and the Levant.

So we transition from the terrorist Black Hand in Sarajevo a century ago to the ISIS black flags in Iraq and Syria today.  

Contrary to 1914 when great empires with hubris and untested military power wished to strut on the world stage, today most countries, expect perhaps for the People’s Republic of China or Putin’s Russia choose to understate their power. Viewing China, Japan, Russia and Vietnam we see the lingering temptation to settle old scores over scattered islands the old fashioned way.   

But Western European countries, Britain, France, Germany, and Austria are by experience risk-averse, and willing to heed the painfully learned lessons and the enduring costs of conflict.  In both World Wars, even the European victors were bled white and devastated. 

Yet today’s geopolitical challenges beg for solution, not studied detachment. 

The United States, whose bi-partisan consensus helped the military play a vital globally stabilizing role in the post-WWII era, has lost its political bearings.  

In the light of the past decade of Mid-East conflicts, America’s focus has become blurred.  This is understandable, but still not an excuse.  America’s President chooses to lead from behind with an almost aloof indifference. 

In June when the Islamic State of the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) started their blitz across northern Iraq, the terrorists met with little resistance from a demoralized Iraqi army.  Before long large swaths of the north, including the city of Mosul and the minority Christian areas of Nineveh province were under fundamentalist control.   For two months, after seeing hundreds of thousands of refugees, mass executions, and facing a direct threat to the Kurdish regions, America finally acted with airstrikes on the terrorists.  Too little, too late.  

Yet the wider picture shows religious persecution and massacre of Christian and Yazidi minorities in Middle East, and this is 2014?

So a century after Sarajevo, the world looks perilously poised for another stunning event.  Fortunately, the formal state powers have little appetite for conflict, but this then allows the gaggle of terrorist movements more regional leeway.  The Obama Administration’s reluctant aloofness to overseas engagement creates a vacuum of stabilizing American leadership, which in turn has fueled growing global chaos.

*********************
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism The Diplomacy of Separated Nations ; Germany, Korea, China (2014)

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Posted by John McClaughry

Mark Steyn is an internationally known writer who now lives in New Hampshire. He lived for quite a while in Quebec, and tells this story about the wonders of Canadian single payer medicine.

“A few years back,” he writes, “when my little boy was a toddler, I had to rush him to the emergency room at the Children’s Hospital in Montreal. They asked for his Medicare card. I didn’t have it. The missus usually has it with her– so the receptionist said we’d have to go away and come back later. In all my experience of American, British, French, Swiss, Austrian and other health care systems, I’d never heard such rubbish. I had my card. He’s my dependent. What would cause her to think he didn’t have a card or wasn’t entitled to one? And given that the cards are generated in a computer anyway, why isn’t there a data base of current card holders? After ten minutes of my yelling, they agreed to see the kid.”

Steyn says the year before, a Quebecois man went to the St. Andre medical clinic complaining of stomach pain. He’d forgotten to bring his  Medicare card, so they turned him away. He went home, collapsed of acute appendicitis, and died, at age 21.

Under single payer, the system wants you to go away lest you cause them to use up rationed resources. In three years you’ll see that at a Vermont clinic near you.

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

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Posted by Rob Roper

Would it be fair to say that any income sensitized Vermonter who elects to pay a lower property tax bill based on their income rather than a higher bill based on their property value is greedy? Isn’t paying their fair share? Hates kids? Or is in some way unpatriotic? After all, their decision means we have less money to educate our children, and certainly the state would love the extra cash.

Most (if not all) people would say this is ridiculous, and rightly so. Everyone has an obligation to pay the taxes they owe by law, but nobody has an obligation to pay more taxes than legally required. This is why it is equally unjust to cast aspersions and accusations at companies choosing legal paths to lower tax bills – most notably of late, “corporate inversions.”

A “corporate inversion” occurs when a U.S. company buys a company based outside the U.S, and then moves its legal address to that other country, becoming in the process subject to the other country’s tax laws. Burger King appears to the latest U.S. company to employ the corporate inversion strategy with a deal to buy Tim Horton’s of Canada.

Why would a U.S. company do this? The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the modern world at nearly 40%. Canada’s tax, on the other hand, is 26%. Even more onerously, the United States is the only G-7 nation to tax foreign profits when they are repatriated. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom impose little or no tax on repatriated foreign profits.

In blunt terms, doing business with the U.S. is a rip-off. Our government is greedy.

And, this greed looks like it could cost the U.S. treasury and estimated $20 billion over the next ten years as companies leave for other climates where they are treated fairly. So, our government is both greedy and stupid.

None of us would patronize a restaurant that charged twice as much for the same meal as the restaurant(s) next door, just as none of us would pay a higher property tax bill when a lower cost option is legally available – and no one would blame us.

The United States used to be the place businesses and entrepreneurs flocked to for lower taxes, less complexity, and greater opportunity. This is what made our country great. This is what let us build the most powerful economy in the world. Our government should take a lesson from Burger King, which built its brand by telling its customers to, “Have it your way.” In other words, give people a good product and reason to do business with you. Don’t kick people in the teeth and expect them to stick around.

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

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posted by Frank Mazur

I look forward to the Larry Kudlow podcast each Saturday.  He’s insightful, covers a wide range of subjects, is opinionated and has outstanding guests.  It’s almost a 2 hour podcast.  Though controversial and I find fault with some of his reasoning but he’s a free marketer and does make you think.

Yesterday he talked in depth about the Bank of America settlement reported in the paper this past week.  He called it an extortion and after listening to him I agree.  He also quoted extensively from the former Wells Fargo CEO on the matter.

Bank of America has paid $60B in penalties since the fiscal mortgage fiasco of a few years ago.  Pretty hefty sum for stockholders to bear.  However, when the defaults were occurring, the bank only had a default rate of 4% whereas others were dramatically higher.  The Feds insisted BoA purchase Merrill Lynch and Countrywide, both companies which were in financial trouble and on the verge of collapsing with default mortgages.  BofA resisted but were told if they didn’t somehow the CEO would be replaced so they reluctantly agreed to the acquisitions.  After the collapse the penalties were imposed on BofA.  Somehow this doesn’t sound right.

The $17B penalties announced this past week is equally astounding.  According to Kudlow and the Wells Fargo former CEO, the money is going to community organizers (Acorn) and to states where the Democrats need funding for political purposes.  That hasn’t been brought out in the press….but it is reported that it’s going for housing and other community services.  See the connection?

When he finished this radio segment, he indicated the feds are now insisting banks lend mortgage money to borrowers with no money down again….the very policies that created the fiscal fiasco a few years ago.

Something is not right with this scenario……and we only have ourselves the blame for allowing it to happen.

- Frank Mazur is a former EAI board member

 

 

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This post originally appeared in the Vermont Standard.

by Dick Tracy

A“study” by the Violence Policy Center was forwarded to me which was entitled “Gun Deaths Outpace Motor Vehicle Deaths in Vermont in 2011.” According to the report, “Gun deaths include gun suicides, homicides, and fatal unintentional shootings; motor vehicle deaths include both occupants and pedestrians.” VPC concludes, therefore, that “To reduce gun death and injury, firearms should be subject to federal health and safety standards just like all other consumer products.” Big surprise. Some folks aren’t happy unless they can advocate for government expansion. Liberty be damned.

VPC compares apples and oranges. The report is a manipulation of data which allows them to make the alarmist claim that gun deaths “outpace” auto fatalities.

Apples and apples would be a comparison of accidental gun deaths (which are relatively rare) with auto accident deaths (which are all too common). Of course, such a comparison would not help the gun control lobby to further its agenda.

They could compare suicide by automobile with suicide by gun. But they probably can’t prove which auto fatalities were suicidal, and that also would not help them further their agenda.

The inclusion of firearm suicides is convenient for the gun control zealots but is no reason to create a new wave of regulation directed at law abiding gun owners. People intent upon ending their own lives will find a way to do so. There have always been emotionally disturbed individuals who found a way to self-terminate and there always will be. I prefer to skip over the gory details regarding those methods but suffice to say there are no restrictions to access of implements such as sharp objects, belts, ropes, etc. Prescription drugs are often the choice of those bent upon selfdestruction, but such regulation does not prevent their misuse.

Consider the size of the sampling. Vermont had 78 “gun deaths” and 62 “automobile deaths”. In a state with over 600,000 people, these numbers are statistically insignificant. Which is not intended to imply that the individuals who died were insignificant. But 78 people out of 600,000 is an infinitesimal percentage of 0.000013. Yet the “study” trots out these numbers as if they are compelling evidence for sweeping change. Poppycock.

The Gun Control movement will deny such reasonable challenges to this latest “analysis.” That movement is determined to change the world according to its own over-inflated sense of morality. The rest of us are evidently too stupid to be trusted with our own firearms. * Lost in the discussion, as ever, is the fact that guns are first and foremost a means of self-defense. A convenience store clerk with a gun stopped a robbery in Rutland several weeks ago. Although they don’t make the front page or the 7 o’clock news, home invasions are frequently halted because the homeowners were armed.

A gun is the great equalizer. For many men and women, particularly the elderly, just the ability to show a firearm is enough to make most bad guys turn away and seek easier prey. * Then there’s the ever present nonsense of a “gun free zone.” To announce with signage that everyone is a particular location is unarmed is politically correct folly. Has there ever been a perpetrator bent upon evildoing who saw one of those signs and turned away?

John Lott, who has spent much of his adult life studying guns in our society, has observed that with one notable exception (Gabby Giffords) every shooting since 1950 in which 3 or more people died occurred in a “gun free” zone. Makes you want to run right out and post that sign on your front lawn, doesn’t it? * Rioting, looting, and lawlessness have followed a shooting death by police in Ferguson, Missouri. According to reports, many businesses in that town have been crippled, damaged or destroyed. Two notable exceptions, Riverfront Tattoo and Mally’s Supermarket, each have had a strong, very obvious presence of men armed with guns, ready to defend private property from thieves and looters. The mob passed them by in search of easier victims. Businesses such as Wal-Mart were defenseless and suffered severe losses. There’s a lesson in there for those who are willing to see it.

-  Dick Tracy, of Sharon, was raised in Woodstock and attended Woodstock schools. Contact Dick at gmboy51@gmail.com.

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by Rob RoperRob Roper

Over 85% of Vermonters agree that employees should have the right to decide, without force or penalty, whether to join or leave a labor union. That number is slightly higher than the national average of 83%, according to new polling released in conjunction with National Employee Freedom Week. (500 Vermonters were polled as part of the study. Vermont)

This reflects first and foremost a sense of fairness. We live in a free country, and the freedom to join, not to join, or leave any association or organization without paying a fine or a fee or losing one’s job should be considered a basic, inviolable right. Unfortunately, Right to Work laws, which guarantee workers the right to not join unions as a condition of employment and which prohibit the coercive collection of dues from workers who choose not to join, exist only in twenty-four states. Vermont isn’t one of them.

In this respect, Montpelier is out of touch with the people and to some degree the Supreme Court. In the past biennium, the legislature passed and the governor signed laws (Act 37 – an act relating to payment of agency fees and collective bargaining service fees, and Act 187 – an act relating to childcare providers), which force certain workers to pay fees to unions they don’t belong to – and don’t want to belong to — amounting to 85 percent of full union dues. The Supreme Court struck down as a violation of workers’ constitutional rights a similar law this summer in Harris v. Quinn.

But Vermont citizens’ overwhelming embrace of the Right to Work concept reflects good common sense as well as fairness. A recent study by Richard Vedder and Jonathan Robe of the Competitive Enterprise Institute shows that Right to Work laws have rewarded their citizens with more jobs and more money in their pockets. “Over the 35-year period [between 1977-2012], nationwide total employment grew by 71 percent. RTW states significantly outpaced this average, with employment growing by 105.3 percent. Non-RTW states lagged behind both, with an employment growth of only 50.0 percent.”

In addition, “Compared to the national average [for personal income growth of 123 percent], RTW states experienced substantially higher growth—at a rate of 165 percent—indicating that inflation-adjusted total personal income in those states was about 2.8 times higher in 2012 than in 1977. Conversely, non-RTW states saw below average growth of 99 percent, meaning that real total personal income did not quite double in those states during this same period.”

And finally, more people, largely younger people, are moving into Right to Work states. “Census data show, for example, that from 2000 to 2009 more than 4.9 million native-born Americans moved from non-RTW to RTW states—an average of more than 1,450 persons per day.”

Consider this:

The Shumlin Administration announced in June that they would have to cut the FY15 budget by $31 million due to declining revenue projections. After that, July revenue came in 1.8% below projections, signaling potential further downgrades. Seven years after the recession hit (and five after it has been official over) Vermont has roughly two thousand fewer people working than we did in 2007. And, how often do we hear the lament that our young people are leaving because of lack of opportunities to stay?

Passing a Right to Work law in Vermont would be a move in the right direction toward alleviating each of these problems.

Representatives Vicki Strong (R-Albany) and Doug Gage (R-Rutland Town) introduced Right to Work legislation in 2014. In her testimony before the General Housing & Military Affairs committee Strong said, “There are 31,000 workers in Vermont who have jobs in a workplace where they may feel pressure to join a union, may be looked down upon if they do not join, and may be obligated to pay dues or fees to an organization that they do not wish to support.”

The proposal was received with polite yawns by the General, Housing & Military Affairs Committee, which stuck the bill on the wall and let it die there. Perhaps 85 percent of Vermonters can convince a new legislature in January to bring a little more fairness, common sense and prosperity to the Green Mountain State by taking up Right to Work legislation in 2015. And, this time, passing it.

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org)


The Ethan Allen Institute is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty and free market solutions for Vermont. We are supported by small, local donors such as yourself. Join the cause. Be part of the solution! JOIN HERE! Contributions are tax deductible.

 

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posted by John McClaughry

Last week Vermont Digger reported on Gov. Shumlin’s plan to cover the $31 million shortfall in state revenues expected in the current fiscal year.

The Digger story said  “The state has not reached a sustainable spending pattern in relationship to revenues since the Great Recession (and the federal stimulus funds that boosted state spending) ended in 2011. In the intervening years, the gap between spending and revenues, which has consistently been between $50 million and $70 million, has been filled with one-time money.”

Jim Reardon, commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management, says he’s running out of one-time pots to raid. “What we have been doing is taking the previous year’s one-time funds and propping up the budget,” Reardon said.

On Wednesday the Joint Fiscal Committee eventually approved almost all of the needed cuts – but Shumlin salvaged $3.5 million he wants to give to IBM to persuade it to stay in Vermont. The biggest money source – $10 million – came from reducing Medicaid payments to medical providers.

This last item is instructive. When Green Mountain Care imposes a global budget on the entire health sector in the state, what happens when revenue estimates fall? The Shumlin health experts will say that with “payment reform”, the state won’t need as much money to reimburse providers. That’s why they’re spending $45 million Federal dollars to figure out what they mean by “payment reform”. Lots of luck.

- John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute

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posted by John McClaughry

You may have noticed that the state’s general fund came up $31 million short on July 1, and the Shumlin administration is trying to cut back spending to keep the fund in the black.

But on July 2 Gov. Shumlin manufactured a media bash in Morrisville to announce that he‘s distributing seven hundred seventy thousand dollars to reward homeowners who make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. He says “it’s part of our plan to have a cleaner greener Vermont and grow jobs and economic opportunity while we do it.”

The new money will subsidize energy efficiency loan interest rates for home and business investments in insulation, heat pumps, solar hot water heaters, and the like.

Those are all worthy ideas, but who’s paying for all this? It turns out Shumlin is skimming cash from electric ratepayers and Shumlin’s favorite spending faucet, the Clean Energy Development Fund, which got some serious cash from Shumlin’s power merger deal.

In plain English, electric ratepayers and taxpayers are making these subsidies possible.

Now, if electric and thermal efficiency is a good thing, which it is, why are the ratepayers and taxpayers being made to pay for other people’s benefits? Why don’t the lucky recipients pay for their own investments out of the savings from reduced electric and heating oil bills? Shumin won’t go there because that route doesn’t involve government spending programs that he has the uncontrollable urge to claim credit for.

- John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute


The Ethan Allen Institute is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty and free market solutions for Vermont. We are supported by small, local donors such as yourself. Join the cause. Be part of the solution! JOIN HERE! Contributions are tax deductible.

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8-20-14 – Russian Navy Making Waves in France 

August 20, 2014

By John J. Metzler ST. NAZAIRE, France—Far from the sputtering conflict, the war of words,  and the diplomatic jousting between Russia and the West over the future  sovereignty of Ukraine, there’s a lucrative business deal unfolding in the  French Atlantic port of St. Nazaire. There amid the construction cranes and buzzing machine shops of one [...]

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8-28-14 – A Nation Without Boarders Is Not A Nation

Posted by Frank Mazur Ronald Reagan said that “a nation without borders is not a nation.”  Around the world nations vigorously enforce country access.  Try entering another country...

8-27-14 – From Sarajevo to Now

By John J. Metzler VIENNA, Austria–The countdown started in Sarajevo in June 1914, the conflagration followed in August. The assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serb...

8-27-14 – Mark Steyn on Canadian single payer health care

Posted by John McClaughry Mark Steyn is an internationally known writer who now lives in New Hampshire. He lived for quite a while in Quebec, and tells this story...

8-26-13 – Burger King Will Have It Their Way

Posted by Rob Roper Would it be fair to say that any income sensitized Vermonter who elects to pay a lower property tax bill based on their income...

8-25-14 – Government Extortion

posted by Frank Mazur I look forward to the Larry Kudlow podcast each Saturday.  He’s insightful, covers a wide range of subjects, is opinionated and has outstanding guests. ...

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