Vermont House Minority Leader Don Turner may want to consider where he is, because he certainly isn’t in Washington DC. Turner “went to the speaker and I laid the list on the table and I said here’s seven things we really want, these are not surprises, we want to get these things taken care of.” Turner laid down a list of demands that he wanted met or he would refuse to suspend the rules to allow legislation to come to the floor faster. The session is already a week past due, and that means that the state has to spend more money to keep the session going.
Turner has constantly whined about the spending in Montpelier.
WCAX explains that:
“Suspending the rules” is a common phrase you’ll hear under the golden dome. In this instance, the minority party– Republicans– has to agree to “suspend the rules” by allowing a bill to come to the floor more quickly than it usually would. This is part of an effort to get through the stockpile of bills left at the end of the session in a timely manner, something Turner agreed to do at the beginning of this session. Now, he’s changed his mind.
Turner’s demands are “no cloud computing tax, a provision that would inhibit utilities from charging ratepayers for merger expenses, ensure ratepayers are protected against higher rates on the energy bill, no agency fees for non-union members, no early childhood educators union and workers compensation for volunteer firefighters.”
Even before Turner’s demands were made, the issue of cloud computing had already been, basically, held over until next year. A moratorium on it was agreed upon by the House and Senate, and now it will not go into effect until 2013. This gives the legislators another year to study it.
Turner’s power play did not sit well with the Senate Education Chairman, Kevin Mullin. The Rutland Republican was, apparently, furious over their attempts to scuttle the education bill over rules that would have non-union members pay fees because they benefit from union bargaining. Mullin, who broke ranks with the Republicans two years ago to vote for same-sex marriage, stated “If you care about education, you either suspend the rules or stay until Tuesday.” Going anti-union in Vermont could be very tricky.
House Majority Leader Lucy Leriche, unfortunately, gave into her frustrations with Turner stating that “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” She did say that she regretted those words almost immediately. Still, Turner stated “It’s disturbing that it had to come to that, get that emotional that you had to say that. I would never use that kind of term or language, especially today.” The Hardwick Democrat explained that “Here we are in a really tense environment at the end of session trying to get to adjournment and it’s kind of a pressure cooker in here.”
Let us be honest here. This is not Washington, DC. The behavior of Turner is not in keeping with the politics of Vermont. Demanding that the Majority Party do what you want or you are going to cost Vermonters money is just wrong. Leriche’s words are also divisive, but it should be noted that Turner’s behavior triggered that. Both acted improperly, but the worst one in this was Turner, who has sounded like a Republican from DC or Texas and not a Vermont Republican throughout these two years. He has routinely attacked Governor Schumlin and the Democrats for the sake of attacking and nothing else.
Minority Leader Turner should understand this- Vermonters do not like divisive politics. Attempts to use this kind of politics against Senators Leahy and Sanders has resulted in devastating losses for the Republican Party. If he wants to bring the VTGOP back into power, he needs to come up with ideas that work.