Tag Archives: Emilie Kornheiser

“Oopsie,” Says the Administration’s Oopsie Master (UPDATED)

Note: Updated below with comments from Gov. Scott.

Welp, the Scott administration, deliberately or otherwise, pulled a fast one on the Legislature. Remember that painfully-negotiated unemployment insurance deal? The one that obtained a supplemental $25/week in UI benefits in exchange for a great big tax break for businesses?

Yeah, well, you’re not getting the 25 bucks. I’ll assume that the businesses still get their [checks notes] $300 million over 10 years.

Yep, Vermont’s jobless — and the Legislature — took it in the shorts.

The problem, as VTDigger’s Fred Thys reports, is that the federal government has ruled that the extra benefit can’t be paid out of the state’s unemployment trust fund.

Here’s where the frequently embattled Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington comes in. He received word on June 14 that the feds might have a problem with the benefit as written.

He informed the Legislature on… wait for it… August 24.

He said he didn’t take action until he got definitive word from the feds. But the delay also meant the Legislature had no chance to take corrective action, which would have been pretty simple. “Hindsight is always 20-20,” Harrington said, unhelpfully.

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Hey Hey, We’re the Veepies!

This being midsummer in a non-election year, things are a little bit show in #vtpoliland. Or maybe there’s stuff going on, but since there are practically no reporters on the #vtpoli beat right now, we’d never find out about it.

As a result of this lack of news, this edition of the Veepies (our awards for stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sphere) roams far afield into the realms of journalistic conflicts of interest, conservatives panicking over nothing, and even sports talk radio.

That’s where we begin. The Please Stop Talking About Something You Know Nothing About Award goes to Rich and Arnie, co-hosts of the afternoon talk show on Burlington’s 101.3 The Game. On Tuesday afternoon, the day Simone Biles withdrew from the team gymnastics competition, the boys pulled down their pants and showed their asses for all to see. (The show is archived on the station’s website and podcast.)

Arnie repeatedly referred to BIles’ mental health crisis as “having a bad day,” and accused Biles of costing her team the gold medal. Rich questioned “the timing” of her withdrawal, and asked, “Was she having a bad day first, or was she having a bad day after she messed up the vault?” (She withdrew after a subpar performance on the vault.)

This happens every time a societal or political issue intrudes on the Toy Department of Life. Sports talk radio is suddenly, horribly out of its depth.

Look, guys. You can’t schedule a mental health crisis. You don’t know what’s going to set it off. When it happens, it can be like a tsunami dragging you down. We know that Biles felt unable to compete safely, so withdrawing was the responsible thing — for her well-being and for the team’s prospects in the competition. So just shut up about issues that you can’t be bothered to learn about, and stop making fools of yourselves.

After the jump: Two cases of conservative hysteria, and a veteran reporter steps in it.

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I Realize We Can’t Be First All the Time, But Can We Please Be First a Little More Often?

Ah, Vermont, home of Bernie, cradle of progressivism, always in the vanguard of positive change.

Or so we like to believe.

In reality, more often than not we lag behind other jurisdictions. And I’ve got not one, not two, but three examples to share.

First, we are now officially behind the Biden administration on the right to repair — which allows consumers to act as if they own the stuff they buy. Second and third, the state of Maine has enacted two bills that put Vermont in the shade. Maine has imposed a virtual ban on the use of PFAS chemicals (so-called “forever chemicals”), the compounds that have created a huge mess in the Bennington area. Also, Maine has passed “extended product responsibility” legislation that makes manufacturers responsible for the ultimate fate of their product packaging.

So why are we behind in these areas? Well, all three touch on corporate interests. Our lawmakers tend to wither and fade when exposed to testimony from the business community. Besides, these are exactly the kinds of bills that Gov. Scott frequently vetoes over vague concerns about competitiveness or costs.

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A Case Study in Arguing Against Your Own Interests

“Right to Repair” ought to be a simple, straightforward concept. But when it gets inside the legislative process, all sorts of complications arise.

The background: Large manufacturers want to keep taking your money long after you’ve purchased their product. They do this by severely limiting access to parts and manuals, and by voiding warranties if you try to fix it yourself or take it to an unauthorized repair shop. So you’re locked in to the manufacturer for service and parts, which is always more expensive than DIY or your local technician.

In response, some states have adopted Right to Repair legislation, which requires manufacturers to lower those barriers. The concept is, if you buy something you own it (incredible notion, that) and you have a right to take it outside the manufacturer’s ecosystem.

A Right to Repair bill was introduced by Sen. Chris Pearson in 2018. It got derailed, thanks mainly to a blizzard of testimony from high-priced suits representing the manufacturers. The Legislature passed a stripped-down version calling for, you guessed it, a study committee. That panel did its business in 2019, and produced a mealy-mouthed report that didn’t come to any firm conclusions.

Which brings us to now.

Rep. Emilie Kornheiser, D-Brattleboro, has introduced H.58, a Right to Repair bill specifically aimed at farm equipment. It got an initial hearing last Wednesday before the House Agriculture & Forestry Committee. That hearing was yet another case study in why this common-sense legislation gets all tangled up in outlandish worst-case scenarios and a curious solicitousness for the interests of big business.

The gory details… after the jump.

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