Sen. Francis Brooks, Washington

District: Washington FBrooks
Party: Democrat
Contact Info:
27 Harrison Ave.
Montpelier, VT 05602
FBrooks@leg.state.vt.us
Tel. (802) 223-3170
Contact Local Paper(s):
news@timesargus.com
thenorthfieldnews@gmail.com
news@valleyreporter.com
news@waterburyrecord.com
editorial@montpelierbridge.com
http://www.vt-world.com/letters-to-the-editor


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.


 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – YES

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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – 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. BROOKS – YES


Elected, November 2016


 

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