The Issues

◊ Here’s a PDF of the recent newsletter outlining my positions and my record:

robin4rep-news-web2

 

 

No Bland Bullet Points Here

In this campaign I’m offering alternatives to the general goals that everyone uses (and everyone agrees with) in their promotional material; like “Boost the Economy” and “Create Jobs”. So in addition to a 4 page mailer sent to every home in the district I’ve been running small but specific ads in the Lakes Region Free Press. They are called, “Where I Stand…” and offer voters short policy positions; more than a bullet point but less than a full report. Here they are.

Where I Stand…
Policy Position #1 – Farms

Farms are the backbone of this district, but in the 21st century we need to expand possibilities. There are great opportunities in local, specialty, and farm-processed foods where farmers can put retail dollars into their pockets, selling Vermont branded products to 20 million consumers within 200 miles.

I will continue to fight for more opportunities for farms, building on last term’s successes with on-farm slaughter and raw milk legislation.

 

 

Position #2 – On School District Consolidation

I voted “No” on Act 46, anticipating the problems that many small rural communities face as they try to comply. Tinmouth acted early and joined the new Mill River district. Middletown Springs and Wells are moving toward a solution, but Pawlet and Rupert are struggling.

As Representative, I do not advocate for either choice or designation. That decision belongs to the communities. I will continue to work to fix Act 46 with specific changes – extend the deadlines, to allow more than one study committee at a time, and reduce the required size of merged districts to something that actually works for our towns.
Policy Position #3 – Gun Rights

I am a gun owner. I know that the great majority of gun owners are safe and responsible. Like 84% of Vermonters I support expanding background checks* to include most private purchases. The loophole in our current system makes no sense. A simple background check is an effective tool for keeping guns from criminals or the mentally unstable.

I support exemptions such as gifts, within-the-family exchanges, and inheritances.

* VPR poll, October 2016
Policy Position #4 – Carbon Pollution Tax

The idea of a carbon pollution tax has become fodder for recent attack ads. As a sound bite, you can be certain it is oversimplified. Vermont is already a member of a cap-and-trade association of nine states. Because we have a “clean” energy system, this brings in payments to Vermont of 3 to 4 million dollars a year.

Carbon pollution taxes in other countries return 90-100% of revenue to taxpayers. Vermont proposals would likely follow suit, while also reducing the state sales tax. However, for Vermont to even consider a carbon pollution tax, I believe that it would need to be a regional or national effort. I do not support Vermont enacting a carbon pollution tax alone.

 

 

 

◊ Here is a link to my voting record for the 2015-16 Session.

It’s not the easiest thing to parse! If you have any questions, please contact me.

http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/single/2016/23999#voting-record

The Economy 

This graph really says it all. Vermont has been swept along in the national trend of the highest incomes reaping more and more benefits and the lowest incomes steadily losing even more ground. Many of the causes are federal policies including tax, trade, and banking regulations.

TaxChart

Here in Vermont we don’t ride quite as high on the crest of the wave or hit bottom quite as hard as the rest of the country. But you can see from the graph that this growing inequality is not fair, it is not growth oriented, and it is dangerous.

Our congressional delegation is working hard to correct these inequalities, but frankly they are drowned out by the big money of the Citizens United ruling and other undemocratic laws.

Our job in Vermont is to do what we can to reverse this harmful inequity. One step was increasing the minimum wage, moving it closer to a livable wage. This puts money directly into worker’s pockets and the local community. Another step is to increase investment in Vermont – supporting small businesses and farms, increasing energy efficiency, and building infrastructure, to ensure that money earned in Vermont is recirculated in Vermont.

We need to re-examine our regulations, including Act 250, to ensure that the are updated to work for us in the 21st century. Regulations are also there to protect us from groundwater contamination from fracking, from the environmental and economic destruction that has occurred in strip mining states, and from the sprawl of dying malls. But the same regulations should not prevent safe and clean businesses from opening here.

Energy 

Who would have believed just ten years ago that Vermont, famous for short winter days and fierce storms, would be the center of a burgeoning renewable energy boom? We are seeing huge growth in solar installations, in geothermal pumps, biofuels and, with the closing of Vermont Yankee, in hydro generation consumption. This leads Vermont to claim the smallest carbon footprint per capita in the country. With the development of a sister organization to Efficiency Vermont which focuses on thermal efficiency, we should do even better.

I have serious reservations regarding the two pipeline controversies engulfing our state. One pipeline is to transport heavy crude oil from the Alberta tar sands across New England to New Brunswick, Canada. I do not support the exploitation of tar sands oil as extremely polluting and environmentally destructive. In addition, the pipeline was engineered to transport cooler, thinner, and less caustic oil, a very different product than tar sands oil.

The other controversy involves a natural gas pipeline on the western side of the state. I am adamantly opposed to hydro fracking as it is practiced now, with the side effect of contaminating groundwater supplies, even miles from the actual fracking site.  There are also concerns raised about who is paying for the pipeline (VT ratepayers) and who is benefiting most (International Paper in Ft. Ticonderoga).

Education Reform

Education promises to be one of the hot topics in Montpelier next session on several fronts: governance, funding, and quality of education. Lots of claims, proposals and arguments are swirling about. The fact is that these issues are complex; communities are fiercely defensive of their schools, federal mandates are a huge cost driver, and there is no simple solution.

One looming problem is the misguided No Child Left Behind Act with its total reliance on standardized testing and evaluations. Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe wrote to parents of public school students regarding this “Broken NCLB policy”. NCLB has declared nearly every school in the state to be low performing. This designation is not an accurate reflection of student achievement, but it is an accurate reflection of the problems inherent in “one size fits all” evaluation.

We need to let teachers do their jobs instead of saddling them with ever increasing numbers of mandates, regulations, and testing.

We need to reduce the cost and burden of bureaucracy, regulations, and red tape.

We need to make higher education affordable for those who choose to pursue it, so 21 year olds donʼt start out in life carrying $100,000 in debt. With that burden, how can they possibly buy a house, raise a family or start a business?

Common Sense Healthcare

Only in the United States is your physical well-being dependent on where you work.

Why? – there is no natural connection between the two; itʼs like your health care coverage depending on where you grocery shop – which may actually make more sense. We need to unlink health care and place of employment.

We all know people who would love to change jobs, start a business, open a day care center, brew fine beers, or mentor young people, but who donʼt dare to because they will lose their health insurance. Again, why is health care dependent upon where you work?

In the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet we CAN afford to take care of ourselves – all of us. We already do; through higher hospital fees, higher insurance premiums, higher product costs, and taxes.

The transition will be awkward, no doubt about it. But we can and should be making it. It will mean a shift away from the hodge-podge of premiums, deductibles, co-pays, collectables, and high profits for insurance companies, toward a simpler and more direct plan that covers everyone. I will represent your many views and relay your stories as we work through this challenging transitional time.