Liberal, Irreverent

Monday, April 18, 2011

News from Vermont Progressive Party


PROGRESSIVE NEWS - April 18, 2011

In this Issue:

Legislative Update: Popular Vote for President Would Help Vermont

Legislative Update: Complete Streets

From the Blog: Protecting Collective Bargaining

Save the Date! Next Progressive State Committee

Follow progparty on Twitter Like us on Facebook Join us on LinkedIn

We do not accept corporate donations, and so we need support from individuals like you.

Please make a one-time contribution or become a regular monthly donor.

Make a donation

Legislative Update: Popular Vote for President Would Help Vermont

This week the House sent Gov. Shumlin the so-called "National Popular Vote" bill. This bill has Vermont join other states across the country in allocating electoral votes a different way. Once enough states pass this bill we will have a popular vote for president. Every vote will be equal and the candidate with the most votes will be guaranteed to win.

The Founders gave states complete control over how their electoral votes work. Today Maine & Nebraska award votes based on the "Congressional District" system - win the most votes in a Congressional district and you get one elector, two more go to the winner of the statewide total. The remaining 48 states (including VT) use the "winner-take-all rule" where the candidate with the most votes gets all of a state's electoral votes.

The winner-take-all rule means that most states are ignored. Vermont is a reliably blue state, so Obama doesn't campaign here because he can't lose, and McCain ignores us because he doesn't care if he loses by 1% or 30%, either way he loses the whole prize. 35 states are in this ignored/safe/fly-over category because we are predictably red or blue. We aren't polled, candidates don't visit us (except to raise money), and they don't advertise or organize in our states.

Consider, during the Fall of 2008 presidential candidates visited New Hampshire twelve times and never once crossed the river to say hi to Vermonters.

That's because New Hampshire was one of fifteen battleground states. In the Fall of 2008, 2/3 of all the money the campaigns spent went to six states and 98% of the money went to fifteen states. This hurts Vermont and most of the country. A single candidate for VT State Senate likely spent more in Vermont than Obama/McCain combined.

Under a popular vote we aren't going to be the center of campaign attention. But we won't be locked out either. We will no longer have vans taking volunteers from Burlington to West Lebanon because people can canvass their neighbors right here at home. If every vote is equal then the contest becomes about margins everywhere. McCain may still lose Vermont but losing by 12% will be much better for him than an 18% defeat.

Under a popular vote Vermonters will have the chance of our opinions being important to candidates. Right now, if a candidate wants to know where voters stand on renewable energy, Vermont is excluded from the poll (as are voters in 34 other states). Under a popular vote our phones will ring. Our mailboxes will get attention. And most importantly, our opinions will be heard and we will know we were a part of making history by passing the National Popular Vote bill.

The bill requires states that possess a majority of the electoral college to sign up before the change takes effect, that is states holding 270 electoral votes. With Vermont coming on board the total signed up is 77 electors or 29% of the way to the goal. We are joining HI, WA, IL, NJ, MA, MD and DC. The effort is relatively new but already has support from over 2,000 of the 7,000 legislators across the country. We could well see this change in the next election or two. And when we do, Vermont will actually matter in a presidential election and presidential elections will adhere to the one person, one vote principle. How refreshing.

Legislative Update: Complete Streets

While the Senate examines the Transportation Bill H. 443, the House Transportation Committee has been hearing testimony on several other bills. Testimony on H. 198, the "Complete Streets" bill finished up on Wednesday. This bill asks that the state and local municipalities consider the needs of all users of the transportation system - bicyclists, public transit users, motorists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities - in the planning and development of new transportation projects. Applying principles of Complete Streets could mean such simple solutions as providing for shorter crossing distances for pedestrians, signal count-downs, traffic calming, better bicycle lanes, and other measures to accommodate a variety of transportation options. The Vermont Attorney General, the Commissioner of Health, the Commissioner of the Department of Economic, Housing, and Community Development, and the President of the Vermont Public Health Association offered supportive testimony on the health benefits of this type of transportation planning. Several public works officials and a town planner weighed in with their concerns and basic support and the committee voted the bill out unanimously with one member absent. When the bill came to the floor on Friday April 15th it passed second reading on a voice vote. And the bill comes up for third reading on Tuesday, April 19th.

While this bill provides instances in which the state or municipality does not need to incorporate the needs of all users of the transportation system - (namely when use is prohibited by law, or the expense is not warranted due to probable use or need, or the incorporation of complete streets principles would be beyond the scope of a project) it does point in the direction of a multi-modal, comprehensive, and non-autocentric way of thinking about transportation. Applying complete streets principles in transportation planning can improve safety, promote health and fitness, contribute to vibrant and livable town and village centers, and address issues of congestion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Some form of Complete Streets legislation has been planned or adopted in 244 jurisdictions across the country, including 20 states. The idea has gained momentum as communities recognize the benefits of 21st century transportation thinking.

From the Blog: Protecting Collective Bargaining

"Labor unions must mobilize together in their communities and demand "No Concessions; no more cuts to pay, pensions or health benefits" for all public workers because the fight to protect collective bargaining can only be won if public workers believe that collective bargaining will save their wages and benefits."

Save the Date!

The next Progressive State Committee meeting will be on Sunday May 15th in St. Albans. Martha Allen, NEA President, will speak about organized labor as the frontier of political change in Vermont. With the expected adjournment of the Legislature in the next few weeks, Progressive caucus members will also be on hand to discuss how working Vermonters fared under the golden dome this legislative session.

Vermont Progressive Party
802-229-0800 ~


No comments: