It’s not exactly a surprise that legislative leaders have given up on passing a mask mandate bill, but the timing is curious indeed. Last Friday, we appeared to be one single grumpy senator away from committee approval. Now, less than a week later, the white flag is waving.
On Friday (per VTDigger’s excellent Final Reading), Ginny Lyons, chair of the Senate Welfare Committee, asked her members if they were ready to vote on the bill. Sen. Ann Cummings replied that she wasn’t. Which is pretty odd, considering that a mask mandate has been a hot issue in #vtpoli for months now. Had she given it no thought until that moment?
Lyons asked if the committee could vote on Monday, usually an off day. The not-terribly-energetic Cummings responded, “What’s the matter with Tuesday?”
The bill was on the committee’s agenda first thing Tuesday morning. But at that point, Lyons announced an indefinite delay. “Leadership continues to discuss the path forward for that bill,” she said. “It was scheduled for this morning, but we’re going to postpone our work and hopefully it’ll only be until tomorrow morning.”
Would it surprise you to hear that Gov. Phil Scott remains overwhelmingly popular among Vermont Democrats? Our Bernie-inspired reputation for red-raggery notwithstanding, the Duke’s Mayo VPR/Vermont PBS 2022 Poll once again shows that Democrats have a strong preference for Scott’s brand of plausibly moderate Republicanism. This, despite the fact that they strongly support the tougher pandemic measures that Scott has resisted.
WTF, Democrats? Is it just the NICE GUY Effect?
Numbers! According to the Famous Idaho Potato VPR/Vermont PBS 2022 Poll, Democrats approve of Scott’s Covid performance by a whopping 77-14 margin. At the same time, 82% of Democrats support a statewide mask mandate, 76% would be fine with a state of emergency, 84% favor a vaccine requirement for eligible schoolkids, and 68% favor a vaccine requirement for indoor public spaces.
Here’s another oddity. Democrats like Scott’s Covid policy more than they like his overall job performance. It’s 77% on Covid and 71% overall, per the VPR/Vermont PBS 2022 Poll Presented By TaxAct.
There is not a rational explanation for those results. Well, maybe it’s that Scott’s recent performance hasn’t sunk in yet. His policies worked before the Delta variant, but he’s stumbled badly since then. Maybe the public simply hasn’t caught up yet.
Lt. Gov and wannabe U.S. Representative Molly Gray proudly tweeted out the above photo, writing that she was meeting “with the Central VT Chamber of Commerce on this moment of tremendous opportunity and how we can work in partnership to recover stronger from COVID-19.”
Lovely. Leadership and collaboration in action to tackle a tough issue.
See anything wrong with that photo?
Well, it’s an indoor space, and nobody seems to be wearing masks. Maybe they’re skating by on the technicality that it’s a lunch meeting, but I don’t see anybody eating or drinking. Gray certainly isn’t.
This isn’t the end of the world or anything, and I wasn’t going to write about it until I realized that this meeting was in the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier.
That would be the city with the mask mandate for indoor public spaces.
Such as this conference room.
I believe this is the same Molly Gray who’s called for indoor masking. Oh wait, here it is, from an interview with WAMC Radio: “…we need to continue to encourage Vermonters and Americans to get vaccinated, to get their boosters, and to wear a mask when they’re inside.”
Except when you’re talking to important people, I guess? Potential campaign donors, hmm? Is it harder to make your pitch if they can’t see the anodyne expression on your face?