Session Was Productive
A lot of grumbling has greeted the end of this session of the state legislature, in terms of how it ended and what it accomplished [Fair Game: "Endgame Fail," May 29, and related coverage].
Lost in the noise is that the legislature is elected in a two-year cycle. Two sessions. Just ended was the first session. Bills that were not disposed of in this session will be picked up in the next, January 2020. So the two bills that are causing the kerfuffle among Democrats and others — paid family leave and raising the minimum wage — are not dead. The work done will be carried over to the next session, where the bills will be considered again.
As to the criticism that the Democrats are a great disappointment: We should not expect a group of 94 people of different genders, geographies, ages, incomes, personalities, ethnic backgrounds, races, etc. to always agree.
Contributing to the disappointment is the mistaken belief that because the Democrats have a veto-proof supermajority, they can get anything they want. They do not. All those diverse Democrats would have to agree.
Nevertheless, the House passed 37 bills! They address issues such as broadband, workforce, abortion, childhood sexual abuse, waiting periods for handgun purchasing, banning plastic bags, fair and impartial policing, and funding for clear water.
With all the attention on paid family leave and raising minimum wage, the substantial accomplishments of this session have been overlooked. The result is a distorted picture of what really happened in Montpelier this year.
Kuch is the chair of the Windsor County Democratic Committee.
Motoring on Bike Path
[Re 802much: "Dude, Where's My Scooter?" June 5]: A crucial question in my mind is whether the Lime electric scooters will be allowed on the Burlington bike path, akin to the current policy that tacitly permits bicycles with electric-assist motors. Will road-licensed scooters be permitted on the bike path? What about electric motorcycles? The path signs warn "No motorized vehicles," but this admonition is clearly not enforced. Unless we restrict the path to vehicles powered solely by humans, posting speed limits and adding a pedestrian lane might become necessary.
The Seven Days article showcasing Health Hero Farm as a leader in Vermont's growing animal-welfare-certified farming community was quite timely, because this was a hot topic in the 2019 legislature ["Better Beef," May 21].
Lawmakers adjourned after signing off on a bill elevating the value of and growing markets for animal-welfare-certified products. The legislature's annual agricultural development bill (S.160) included a provision making Vermont the first state in the nation to promote access to funding for independent animal welfare certifications in our farm business development program. This fall, farmers and businesses will be able to apply for grants from the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative to help them achieve these valuable certifications or expand their existing welfare-certified operation. This effort will help Vermont farmers meet the growing demand for welfare-certified products both in and outside the state.
Vermont is known for its local, sustainable food. The Vermont brand will be strengthened by this new emphasis on improving animal welfare and helping our farmers effectively communicate how they're raising their animals. There's still a lot to do as we work toward a more humane, transparent food system, but the passage of S.160 has set the tone and ensures that Vermont will be at the forefront.
Shannon works in farm animal welfare for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Sound and Fury
Seven Days reported both the unexpected landing of four F-35s in Burlington and the new sound map of the noise impact ["An F-35 Preview Shakes Up Winooski," June 5, and related coverage]. My experience of the sound, sitting in my condo, was terror and horror.
The sound was a penetrating roar. It felt and sounded like a warplane. I had flashes of people in bunkers during the bombings of World War II. I was terrified. I am a sensitive person, which makes me a good psychotherapist but vulnerable to warplanes zeroing in on my home. I was shaken and scared for two days. If I felt this way, as a grown woman, what would happen to a child hearing this? An infant? Pets? Other animals, birds? Refugees in Winooski? Veterans? How would this affect anyone with PTSD, anxiety, depression? The elderly, the sick?
Some internet research tells us:
- A 2017 study published in the New York Times reported that seven in 10 U.S. teens say mental health is a big issue among their peers. How will teens in Burlington and Winooski make sense of this warplane and its horrifying roar?
- Reasons for the "rising epidemic of anxiety in children and teens" presented in a 2016 article included post-9/11 anxiety, terrorism and perceived threats.
This plane is a horrifying choice for our city, our people, our children and our Guard. I encourage everyone to work against its basing here. Both the Vermont House and Senate recently passed resolutions against basing it here. It is not a done deal.
Editor's note: The Vermont Senate passed a resolution expressing "its strong opposition to the basing of any nuclear delivery system" in the state. The Vermont House did not vote on it.
["A Möbius Yarn," May 29] is a meaningful review of a difficult but engrossing novel. I felt alone on my journey reading it — and afterward, when I looked for reviews to help me articulate my complex feelings about the book. The other reviews praised Kathryn Davis (of whom I've long been a fan) but treated the work like a closed circuit, only addressing the whole, which gave me no insights into the huge, inchoate feelings the novel engendered. After reading your review, I feel I have a fellow pilgrim on my journey to understanding the ineffable landscape I traveled in reading The Silk Road.
Eiben codirects the Hudson Valley branch of the Writers Studio.
Last week's Fair Game column reported erroneously which Vermont Senate committee weakened a House bill on paid family leave. It was the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, which is chaired by Sen. Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden). Tom Haley was misidentified in the same piece. He is chair of the Bennington Town Democratic Committee.