Tag Archives: Keith Ellis

Not looking good for legalized pot

A lot of lawmakers are throwing stones at the idea of legalizing marijuana in Vermont this year. A lot of influential lawmakers. The latest, and perhaps most dispiriting: the brontosaurus of the State Senate, “Democrat” Dick Mazza. He’s chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, which is one of the committees that would have to pass the bill, because reasons. In an interview to be broadcast this Sunday on WCAX-TV, he sent loud signals that he’s prepared to put the kibosh on the idea. Bottom line?

… I say let’s not hurry it. I don’t think a year or two will make a difference, but let’s answer all these questions with our eyes wide-open.”

In addition to that cheery comment, he also argued that public-safety funding needs a boost before making pot legal. His reasoning:

“Public safety always has some sort of shortfall. The reason they do is because we are asking public safety to do more, more and more. There are a lot more crimes in Vermont, so before you burden them with a service, let’s make sure that they are fully funded on their existing services that they are providing today.”

Not sure what he means by “burden them with a service.” I could infer that he expects more trouble for the police if marijuana is legal. This is a common sentiment among law enforcement types and lawmakers looking for reasons to vote “No,” but the evidence is decidedly mixed, where evidence exists at all.

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Shunned by the vaxxers

Was it something I said? Yes, I’m sure it was.

Sometime today, the Twitter voice of Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice cut me off. They blocked me from reading their Tweets.

Let me mark the occasion by reproducing the last Tweet I ever got from them.

Stay classy, folks. As your lobbyist Keith (my mistake, his name is Kevin, I know that, I’ve spoken with him often and have a lot of respect for him) Ellis is probably trying to tell you, you’ll attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Or as I Tweeted in response to the above:

And that’s when they cut me off.

Methinks the vaxxers are feeling the heat. The last rounds of the vaccine saga are playing out at the Statehouse this week and next. There’s one more day of testimony before the House Health Care Committee — including a long-awaited appearance by Dr. Harry Chen, Vermont’s Health Commissioner. After that, it remains to be seen whether H.98, a bill that would remove the philosophical exemption, will be heard on the House floor.

From what I hear, the votes could be had; but House leadership might decide to put it on ice for the year. They have the always-plausible “out of time” excuse in their back pockets, and Governor Shumlin has reportedly said he doesn’t expect the bill to reach his desk.

In which case, we’d wait till next year. Between now and then, either of two events would absolutely tip the balance against the philosophical exemption: a breakout of a vaccine-preventable illness, or a continuing decline in childhood vaccination rates. We’ll hope it’s the latter, not the former.