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Legislative Notes for April 12, 2012

April 7, 2012

We were planning to finish legislative reapportionment this week. This grueling process to establish new legislative districts for the next decade in Vermont would finally be complete. However, due to the circumstances presented below the final action on the bill was postponed until next Tuesday.
Just one day after the House gave overwhelming support to the new and final legislative representative districts by a vote of 123 Yea’s to 9 Nays, the Democrats and House Legislative Leadership brought forth a last minute amendment to modify the plan. The targeted section had been approved by the Burlington Board of Civil Authority and City Council in accordance with all guidelines established by the legislature earlier this session. The House Government Operations Committee (committee) had been working in a non-partisan manner on this issue since last fall. They sought and received recommendations on where the district lines should be drawn from all communities that were represented by two or more representatives. The committee prior to this maneuver had embraced the concept of local control and local people know their community best. These local recommendations were all incorporated into the final map. However, after the vote on Thursday rumors started swirling that the House Assistant Majority Leader would be proposing a plan to manipulate the city of Burlington’s ten legislative districts. This plan was proposed as an amendment Friday and met with significant resistance. The committee voted 6-5 to support this proposal even though last week they voted 8-3 to oppose a similar proposal in an effort to support the local board’s decision. This was very disappointing to me and many other members of the House. The product of this relatively non partisan process could have served as a model of redistricting for the country. Members of all parties could find areas to support and areas of disagreement. But local input was valued and neighborhoods respected if at all possible. I supported the bill, was proud to have been part of the process and of Thursdays tri partisan vote. Unfortunately, little did we or the City of Burlington know that we were about to be blindsided by the almighty Legislative super-majority. I always knew that partisanship could find its way into this process at any given time. This is exactly what occurred Friday when the proposed map to amend was put forth. It dictates the new final legislative district boundaries to Burlington residents. Its intent was to replace the plan that Burlington’s board of civil authority spent time and effort developing. I feel that Vermonters deserve to be represented in a fair manner and to have input on who represents them. Friday we were able to cause enough concern about these proposed changes to have action on the bill postponed until Tuesday. This was the best we could do to preserve the integrity of the process and the rights of Burlington’s residents. It is unfortunate that the super majority portrays that it knows best and refuses to work in a collaborative manner for the betterment of Vermont. This maneuver is just one more example of the negatives associated with single party rule. Single party rule does not produce the best legislation, is not good government and is bad for Vermont! If this amendment passes on Tuesday, I will vote against the final bill in protest to the way Burlington residents have been treated.
As your representative, I look forward to representing you and your concerns in Montpelier. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I am very interested in hearing from you. During the session, I can be reached at the Statehouse by calling 1-800-322-5616 or by cell at 373-5960. My email address is dturner@leg.state.vt.us. My web-site address is www.donturnerjr.com. Thank you and have a great week.

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