Gov. Phil Scott has offered a “compromise” on mask mandates. An offer that’s so ridiculous, so insulting to all who differ with him, that it deserves to be rejected out of hand.
He sent a letter to legislative leaders containing the following proposition. He would call the Legislature into special session in December for one purpose and one purpose only: To pass a bill allowing municipalities to enact their own mask mandates. The mandates would have to be renewed every 30 days, and must expire no later than April 30.
That’s it. He won’t accept any other legislation, and he won’t accept any changes to his proposal. Come back to the Statehouse, please, and let me tie your hands behind your backs!
Many words come to mind, “fucking bullshit” prominent among them.
This proposal is so complicated and so low-impact that it seems tailored to be rejected by lawmakers. I believe the term of art is “poison pill.” For starters, you’ll never get a majority of both houses to go along with a pre-written, unchangeable bill. (If they did, it’d be a first.) Besides that, the plan would place a tremendous burden on local decision-makers. They’d have to take a stand on a controversial issue and revisit it every damn month. If I represented the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, I’d urge rejection of the proposal simply to preserve the sanity of municipal officials.
But perhaps I am too harsh. Maybe it wasn’t offered in a spirit of duplicity. Well, the best-case interpretation is that the governor is abdicating all responsibility. He’s made an offer, so he gets to put off any further talk of action until next month. He gets to claim that he’s done something to satisfy his critics. He gets to throw the whole thing out if the tiniest little change is made.
This is stupid, offensive and wrong.
Apparently Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint is prepared to take up this offer. She’d rather have a statewide mask mandate, she told VTDigger, but “We want towns to have more tools.”
I would urge Balint to give this another thought. The minimal payoff isn’t worth sacrificing the Legislature’s dignity at the altar of Phil Scott’s ego. He will seemingly do anything to avoid taking responsibility or admitting he’s been wrong about Covid since the Delta variant arrived in the summer.
The governor’s spokesman Jason Maulucci characterized this offer as “an olive branch.” That’s just plain laughable. It’s more like a piece of bait in a trap.
I keep thinking Scott can’t get any worse on Covid policy. He just disappointed me again.