Congressman Peter Welch has one of the most liberal voting records in Washington. At the same time, he’s one of the few Democrats to work closely with some of the most conservative Republicans in the House.
Welch’s work on the House Oversight Committee serves as a good example of his approach to politics. For the past year, the committee has been the scene of some extremely partisan behavior.
Lawyers for three female employees say the state of Vermont has violated its own Equal Pay Act. And a Washington County judge will now decide whether the state has run afoul of a law designed to prevent gender-based pay inequities in the workplace.
No one disputes that the man in this case was making more money than his women counterparts for performing nearly identical functions – $6,000 to $10,000 more per year than the three female Department of Corrections employees who filed suit against the state in 2012.
When the late Dan Darrow was running for the state legislature in my district almost twenty years ago, he handed out a campaign brochure with the recipe for his famous blueberry pie. His opponent accused him of offering pie in the sky.
Two years ago, Vermont’s House Committee on Health Care became the first legislative panel in the country to approve a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The vote triggered a massive response from the beverage industry, which poured more than $600,000 into advertising and lobbying aimed at killing the measure.
“We really got outspent, big time,” says Tina Zuk, director of government relations for the American Heart Association. “I think we got outspent 80-to-1.”
Congress is scheduled to leave Washington at the end of the week with a number of critical issues still unresolved. Vermont’s delegation says there is hope for progress on two bills covering veterans’ health care and transportation funding.
The House and Senate are far apart on an immigration bill to deal with more than 52,000 undocumented children who have crossed the border.
The Vermont Democratic State committee will meet tomorrow to endorse a full slate of statewide candidates including Gov. Peter Shumlin, Congressman Peter Welch and Secretary of State Jim Condos.
The committee is also scheduled to hear from Progressive Lt. Governor candidate Dean Corren as part of his effort to officially win the Democratic nomination. Corren is eyeing this possibility because the only Democrat interested in this race, John Bauer, dropped out last month.
A downgrade in revenue projections has opened up a $31 million hole in the state budget. And the shortfall will likely result in unexpected cuts to government programs.
When lawmakers and Gov. Peter Shumlin gave final approval to the fiscal year 2015 state budget back in May, they assumed a 4.8-percent increase in revenues over the coming year. But it turns out the economic recovery isn’t going quite as well as they’d hoped.
A special legislative committee met in Montpelier Wednesday to hear from a number of key players on child safety issues.
State police officials, local police chiefs and prosecutors were all represented at today’s hearings, which were spurred by two toddler deaths earlier this year that resulted from abuse. Dave Yacovone is the Commissioner of the Department for Children and Families. He says that despite recent problems, today’s hearings show the state’s commitment to child safety.