There is a proposal making its way through the Vermont House of Representatives to raise and expand Vermont’s bottle deposit law (H.175). The bill would double the cost of a standard bottle deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents, and it would apply the deposit to “water bottles, wine bottles and containers for all noncarbonated and carbonated drinks, except for milk, rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, hemp seed milk, and dairy products.” It would also create a 15 cent deposit requirement for liquor bottles.
The Vermont Tax Structure Commission has delivered its report, and its recommendations should trigger an intense debate. Switching public education support to the income tax and expanding the sales tax to include services will be very controversial. It’s regrettable that the legislature didn’t begin with a performance review, to decide what state government should be doing with $4.5 billion a year, and then address the tax structure needed to pay for it.
The climate activists have found a new target for their mandates, restrictions, and taxes – the City of Burlington . They’re pushing a resolution that would lead quickly to a ban on burners, boilers, furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, and dryers that use natural gas. The resolution could also allow a carbon tax on Burlington residents that decide to keep their current heating system rather than converting to electricity. Imagine that! A natural gas free Burlington!
Bernie Sanders has made it this year’s great cause to increase the federal minimum wage to $15. But regulatory law expert Mario Loyola writes that “Americans don’t fully understand … the many ways it hurts the very people it’s supposed to help. As the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes “The data show that increasing the minimum wage results in a significant net increase in unemployment. The increase is particularly pronounced among young adults — and most pronounced of all among low-skilled workers.
There is a bill currently before the House Transportation Committee, “An act relating to transportation initiatives to reduce carbon emissions” (H.94), that any Vermonter who has routinely experienced a miles-long, tooth-rattling ride over pot holes and frost heaves should be concerned about.
If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that governors across the country have more power during “states of emergency” than absolute monarchs did 500 years ago. A week ago, I wrote about how Vermont has the worst legislative oversight of the governor’s emergency powers in the country.
Five years ago I wrote a column explaining the Flint Michigan lead-polluted city drinking water disaster. At the root of it was a government project to build a new water supply system from Lake Michigan, sold as a jobs creation program for the distressed industrial city.
The Public Utility Commission, at the direction of the legislature, has “joined the chorus of voices seeking climate action”. Its all-fuels energy report takes note of the state’s ambitious carbon dioxide emission reduction goals, and almost screams what’s needed on every page: “More Funding!”
Steve Merrill, who runs a cable access news program in the Northeast Kingdom, was recently banned from Governor Phil Scott’s virtual press conferences for asking a tough question:
“Governor, you’d mentioned set-asides for the BIPOC community. What with no tribal — federal tribal recognition and, you know, reservations or anything like that, how would one qualify as indigenous?”
So, the Vermont Climate Council, established by the Global Warming Solutions Act passed last year, has started their work in how to figure out the ways in which Vermont can reduce its greenhouse gas emission to 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. It’s a daunting task. some would say impossible – others would say impossible and a useless gesture in virtue signaling that will accomplish nothing at great expense. But…