Welp. Earlier this week, House Democratic caucus stalwart Tim Jerman announced he wouldn’t run for re-election. Today, Tony Klein, longtime chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, did the same. And since he’s actually my State Rep and I made some comments about Jerman, I’d better do the same for Klein.
Clearly, the Dr. Evil Lookalike Contest will be a wide-open affair in next year’s caucus. Otherwise, the House is losing a staunch advocate for renewable energy. Which, in some people’s eyes, really does make him Dr. Evil. For me, he’s a champion who has worked hard, and mostly quietly, to keep Vermont progressing toward a renewable future.
He told Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck that he actually made the decision early this year, but waited until the session was further along before going public. The timing will allow potential candidates to make plans before the late-May filing deadline.
He will have one more Sisyphean task to complete: trying to clean up the hash of an energy siting bill passed by the Senate last week. I bet he’s looking forward to a close examination of that turd. (On that note, he told VTDigger that he hopes to “remain involved in the energy field and the solid waste field.” Yeah, he’s been shoveling the manure for quite a few years now.)
But he’s used to it, and he faces legislative challenges with a smile and the occasional sarcastic remark.
It’s gonna be an interesting time when the House Democratic Caucus gets together toward the end of this year to organize itself for 2017. A lot of senior leaders won’t be around. The infusion of new blood is a necessary thing — hell, it’s gonna absolutely improve the Senate — but it’s also a risky time. We’ll have a new Speaker, Majority Leader, and some newbie committee chairs.
Being a good chair is a tough job, trying to set priorities and expedite legislation in little bits of available time here and there; trying to let members have their say but keeping the egos in check; and trying to give all parties some input while remaining true to the majority’s agenda.
And as committee chair, as often as not, you put in a ton of work on a piece of legislation and then watch it get carved up in other committees, on the House floor, or in the Senate. I don’t know how they stand it sometimes.
Anyway, thanks to Tony Klein for his years of service. I hope my next representative is half as accomplished. And I’m kinda hoping we’re near the end of the Retirement Parade, at least for a while.