Yet another slate of endorsements graces my inbox today. This time, from Vermont Conservation Voters, the nonprofit organization that lobbies the Legislature and educates voters on its environmental priorities.
VCV’s list focused on contested primaries in the House and Senate, “looking for candidates with demonstrated leadership on environmental issues,” according to VCV political director Lauren Hierl.
My cynical eye immediately turned to the absences on the list, and there are a couple of notable ones.
The group is not endorsing incumbent Democratic Senators Phil Baruth and Alice Nitka.
I don’t know if it’s the Hansen effect or what, but lately House Minority Leader Don Turner has adopted a more aggressive stance toward his job. Instead of loudly complaining about the maneuverings of the Democratic majority, he’s now finding opportunities to play the active obstructionist.
This is kind of a new thing in Vermont politics, and is of a piece with how Congressional Republicans act on the national stage.
Turner’s latest exercise in Human Speedbump concerns S.230, the energy siting bill vetoed last week by Governor Shumlin. He has reportedly crafted a “fix” to the bill that would allow him to sign it; but Turner is vowing to block passage in any way he can.
Yesterday, the State Senate took up S.230, the energy siting bill.
And promptly dropped it on the floor, kicked it around, and stomped it into mush, in a particularly unedifying display of sausage-making. A four-and-a-half hour debate included a blizzard of amendments — some adopted and some never even considered — and produced a result that satisfied no one on either side of the debate. Including many of the Senators who actually voted to pass the much-amended bill, Seven Days’ Paul HeintzTerri Hallenbeck:
By 7 p.m., when the final vote came, the majority of the senators appeared to be voting for the bill just to put an end to the day’s events.
Democracy in action, folks.
I wasn’t there, but from media accounts, this has the greasy fingerprints of Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell all over it. His tenure has been marked by frequent breakdowns in process, and headstrong senators taking advantage of the situation. This was classic Campbell: helpless to steer a complicated course through the reefs of strongly-held viewpoints and the shallows of senatorial ego.