by Rob Roper
It’s three and a half months to the November election and people are starting to pay attention. You can tell because the folks who pay attention to politics and policy 24/7/365 are beginning to release their scorecards for the benefit of all the normal people out there. Two organizations, the Ethan Allen Institute and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, recently published their lists of the most important legislation of 2011-2012, how Vermont House and Senate members voted on them, and, in the case of the Chamber, whether or not those votes were a good thing or not.
The Vermont Chamber of Commerce (see their card HERE) scored six votes in the Senate and seven in the House on policies they believe are important to a “healthy business climate, strong economic development programs, sound ﬁscal policies, an increase in tourism base, and Sensible environmental regulations. The specific votes scored covered telecommunications, taxes, healthcare, labor regulations, jobs and energy.
In addition to checking off the Ys, Ns, and As (absent), the Vermont Chamber holds legislators accountable for voting for or against the Chamber’s position on a given piece of legislation. The most hostile senators to the Chambers agenda – 9 out of 30 senators, all Democrats or D/P “fusion” candidates — scored just 17%. Five senators, all Republicans, scored 100%.
In the House, the lowest score was 20%, dubiously owned by Kathy Keenan (D-St. Albans) and Peter Peltz (D-Woodbury). A number of representatives scored just 33%, including Democrat Majority Leader, Lucie Lariche (D-Hardwick), former majority leader Caroline Partridge, Paul Porrier (I-Barre City), and Eldred French (D-Shrewsbury). Interesting, French will be facing a largely new set of voters in his bid for reelection in November, the result of redistricting. Not exactly a great thing to have on the resume when introducing yourself to voters whose number one concern is jobs and the economy.
Thirty-three representatives scored a perfect 100% voting record, including, again interestingly enough, Eldred French’s redistricted opponent Dennis Devereux (R-Mount Holly). Out of the 150 members of the House, 74 scored 50% or lower.
The Ethan Allen Institute (EAI), Vermont’s Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization (full disclosure, the author is a board member), also came out with their biannual voter scorecard (HERE). EAI looked and nine votes in the house and nine in the senate, covering taxes, energy, healthcare, and free speech rights. Unlike the Chamber, EAI does not score the votes, but lets the voters decide for themselves whether a yea or a nay is a good or a bad thing.
A lot of people complain that when candidates campaign they say one thing, but when they get to Montpelier they vote completely differently. This is how to hold their feet to the fire. This is how to tell your friends and neighbors who voted for higher property taxes, higher energy bills, higher healthcare costs and more regulation – and who didn’t!