In January, when a new legislative session begins, ambitious agendas are rolled out. Big bills are proposed. Committees are ready to get down to work. This year, hopes were especially high on the Dem/Prog side, thanks to their historically large majorities in the House and Senate.
And then stuff starts to happen. Things get complicated, or are perceived to be complicated. The days rush by like the old movie trope of a calendar’s pages flying in all directions. Now, suddenly, time is short, hopes are muted, compromises are made, bills are sidetracked, and the aspirations of a new session lay in tatters. Yes, it’s Disappointment Time.
Necessary stipulations: Lawmaking is hard. It takes thorough consideration. It takes time, a commodity that’s always in short supply. Building majority support is complicated work, even when a single party holds all the cards. The Vermont Democratic Party is not a monolith; lawmakers have their own beliefs and constituencies. Many a Democratic lawmaker would have been a Republican before the VTGOP went off the rails. Now they’re moderate Democrats who often don’t support the party’s agenda.
That said, the VDP puts forward a platform every two years and urges people to give them money and elect Democratic majorities so they can get stuff done, not so they can think about it and decide that maybe it’s not such a good idea after all and they need to give it more study. It’s definitely not so they can parrot Gov. Phil Scott’s assumptions about public policy, and there’s a hell of a lot of that going on right now.
So let’s take a look at some of the areas where the Brave Hopes of January have given way to the Turtling of March.Continue reading