6-5-15 – Another Teachable Moment at the State House

Posted by Rob Roper

This story by VPR, State Government Branches Battle Over Blocked Internet Sites, appeared toward the end of the legislative session and got lost in the bigger stories of budgets passing and taxes rising, etc. However, it’s worth going back to for entertainment and educational purposes.

Apparently our erstwhile elected representatives were sucking up a lot of State House bandwidth watching movies and downloading music from sites like Netflix and Pandora. According to the article, this activity was consuming more than 7 percent of the state’s data transfer capacity, enough to “negatively affect state applications” and “slow down services to Vermonters.” The administration was confronted with a choice of having to block the sites or shell out precious taxpayer dollars to buy more bandwidth for loafing legislators. The administration opted for the former.

Legislators howled!

Senate President Pro Tem, John Campbell framed this as a separation of powers issue: the executive branch doesn’t have the authority to micromanage the behavior legislative branch. He said, “…what is really deeply concerning is that they would think that they have the right to unilaterally make a decision affecting the Legislature.” And, “For them to think they … should not be challenged that whatever their rule is … it’s quite dictatorial.”

Yes, this from the folks who just spent four months making decisions that affect the citizens Vermont in far more significant ways. These legislators say we eat too much sugar, so they taxed our sodas. They say employees are mean for not providing enough sick leave… they passed a law mandating that they do so, no matter what the cost or the impact on small businesses may be. We use too much of the wrong type of electricity. The legislature will decide for us to change from whom we must buy electricity. The list goes on.

Rules, rules, rules to change our behavior because it will, so they claim, save money in the long run. But a rule imposed on them to save money here and now because they waste too much time goofing off on line? Absolutely #[email protected]!ing NOT! That’s quite — What was the word? — “dictatorial.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Kirker June 5, 2015 at 10:54 pm

I believe that the taxpayers support legislators’ ipods, laptops, or whatever they use, with hard-earned dollars . That equipment should be used solely for legislative-related work. Period. There are enough people living off of the businesses and their employees in this state. We don’t need to add legislator’s music to those costs. What an arrogant and abusive abuse and affront to taxpayers. Where is the respect?

Linda Kirker


Jim Bulmer June 5, 2015 at 11:54 pm

Hipocrites all. WAKE UP Vermonters, it’s YOUR money!!!!


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