Update! Dame’s essay has been posted on True North Reports. The “Donahue” typo is fixed, but nothing else.
Update Update. I got something badly wrong. I wrote that Sen. Richard Westman is a Republican presence on the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. He is not. Dame was right about that, and I apologize for my mistake.
I could write a blogpost every week about VTGOP Chair Paul Dame’s weekly email to party members, but that would be a big waste of my time and yours. Once in a while, though, it’s too good to pass up.
Take this week’s message. Please, take it. It’s entitled “Democrat Steamrollers” because (1) he’d rather be ungrammatical than refer to the Democratic Party as “Democratic,” and (2) he sees the Democratic majorities in the Legislature running roughshod over everything. In his essay, he takes three big swings and misses all three. Yer Out!
Dame’s complaints begin with the reassigning of Rep. Anne Donahue from the Health Care Committee to Human Services. The House majority had “punished” Donahue “by stripping her of her [Health Care] Vice Chair position and assigning her to another committee entirely.”
A few things. First, he’s deeply concerned about Rep. Donahue’s status but he couldn’t be bothered to spell her name correctly. That’s right, he called her “Donohue.”
Second, exiling Donahue to Human Services is a pretty damn soft landing. That committee is also heavily involved with mental health care, so she’ll still have a chance to put her knowledge and passion to good use.
Third, the Dems’ alleged machinations are picayune compared to what Dame’s fellow Republicans in the U.S. House are doing with their majority. So far, I’ve heard no hint that Speaker Jill Krowinski has ordered a bunch of investigations of Gov. Phil Scott’s family.
Finally, whatever the Democrats may have done to reduce Republican influence is nothing compared to what the Republicans did to themselves by running an incompetent campaign and allowing the Dems to win a supermajority!
Enough of that. Let’s get on to the real whoppers.
Next, Dame asserts that the Dems have “completely eliminated the Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee,” which is nonsense. They’ve shifted responsibilities, and that’s all. Most of the committee’s work lies in the newly-renamed Energy & Environment Committee, and the rest resides with the rebranded Agriculture, Food Resiliency, & Forestry Committee.
The idea, as I understand it, is that since climate change is Job One, it makes sense to pair energy and environment. Well, it makes a lot more sense than the committee’s former charge, energy and technology. That panel struggled to focus on two major policy realms that don’t have much in common. So no, they didn’t eliminate the Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee.
Dame also whines that House leadership consigned broadband to some kind of legislative purgatory. He drew that conclusion after a quick and inadequate reading of the new committees’ descriptions. Since Energy & Technology no longer exists, broadband gets moved elsewhere. Much of the work goes to Institutions & Corrections for a very simple reason: In the near future, Vermont’s community-governed broadband providers are going to run out of grant money and will have to finish their work with borrowed funds. Well, Institutions is all about public-sector debt financing. Its expertise will be invaluable in making that transition.
In truth, there is no perfect committee structure, and no committee has an inherent right to exist in an unaltered state. The structure always gets a reset at the opening of every biennium.
I’ve saved the best for last. Dame is all hot and bothered by something the Senate majority did: “…for the first time in recent memory, Democrats ensured that they did not have ANY Republicans on the Natural Resources & Energy Committee. Not one dissenting voice was to be allowed.” In Dame’s mind, this will allow the Dems to ram through what he calls a “Heating Fuel Tax,” formerly known in Republican brains as a “carbon tax.”
But Dame is dead wrong. One of the committee’s five members is Republican Richard Westman. And with only seven Republicans in a chamber of 30, a single member is all they can expect to get on each committee. The fix for that is for Dame to go win some damn elections.
Correction: Dame wasn’t dead wrong. I was. I managed to look at the last biennium’s committee membership and thought it was this year’s. The committee does, in fact, contain five Democrats and no Republicans.
It’s his job, after all.
Well, it should be, but Dame would prefer to spend his time cranking out ill-conceived essays for those unfortunate enough to be on the VTGOP’s email list.