2016 Election Issues

In the six years I have served as the State Representative for Charlotte it has been a privilege to serve on the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. I hope to continue serving on that committee in my next term as well.  However, there are many other issues that every legislator must consider during every session.

As I run for re-election, I have three priorities that I intend to work for.

1. Reform education funding system to have less reliance on property taxes.
The cost of our public education system has been rising while the number of students being served has fallen dramatically in the last 15 years. We have been supporting the same educational infrastructure while serving 20,000 fewer students. Act 46 of the 2016 session provided for school district consolidation. I believe this law has the potential to save money across the state while providing access to educational programs that are not currently available to some students. At eh same time property owners are reeling as their education property taxes continue to increase.  while income sensitivity helps the large majority of Vermont homeowners, they continue to feel the pinch. This is especially true of homeowners who are retired and have lived in their homes for decades. Their property values have risen substantially while their incomes have not kept up or even decreased. The education funding system has to be adjusted to lessen the dependence on property taxes and be based more on the ability to pay.

2. Increase funding for low income weatherization programs.
As a member of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, I am very concerned about climate change and its effect on Vermont both from an environmental and an economic perspective.  We need to not only support our goal of transitioning to renewable energy sources, but to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for heating and transportation. We need to increase incentives for weatherizing Vermont's aging housing stock as well as encourage highly energy efficient new construction.  Transportation in our rural state presents the most difficult energy sector to address. We need to investigate and develop ways to allow people to reduce their carbon footprint for transportation in an affordable way.

3. Require background checks on all firearms sales.
Responsible citizens have the right to own firearms.  However, it is necessary to help prevent firearms from getting into the hands of criminals and dangerously mentally ill persons.  Federal law requires background checks when guns are purchased through a federally licensed firearms dealer, i.e. any sporting goods store or gun shop.  Background checks should be extended to gun shows, online and person-to-person sales as well. As the NRA is fond of saying, "Guns don't kill people; people do."  So, we have to take whatever steps we can to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people.  Persons who can pass a background check when purchasing a gun from a dealer have nothing to fear from this legislation.  Only felons, domestic abusers and persons judged in a court of law to be dangerous to themselves or others would be prohibited.  While there will always be an opportunity for such a person to skirt the law by buying from an unscrupulous individual, responsible, law abiding gun owners will be helping to protect their fellow citizens when selling their unwanted guns with a background check.