Sunday, February 26, 2017

'Something to Write Home About'

Third in a series of updates from 13-term Windsor County Senator Dick McCormack.

Legislative Report
Senator Dick McCormack


Before I take issue with Governor Scott I want to thank him for his reason and courage in condemning the bigoted banning of refugees based on their religion. We Americans have many conflicting opinions, but the things that unite us are greater than the things that divide us. Mutual respect among people of different faiths is one of those unifying things (or should be).

I’ve heard from folks who object to state officials speaking out on national issues, saying we should concentrate on issues closer to home. I’m happy to report that we don’t have to choose, that we can and do tend to all the issues before us. We don’t neglect budget issues in order to address human rights issues. Vermont has a long and proud history of addressing national issues, most notably legislative instructions to Vermont’s congressional delegation to oppose slavery. Vermonters have reason to be proud that we’re continuing our tradition of defending human rights.

Respecting the Education Fund

That said, I disagree with Governor Scott’s positions on the Education fund. Increasing financial support for higher education is a worthy goal, but I disagree with tapping the Education Fund to pay for it. Twenty years after the passage of Act 60 it’s important to remember that the Ed Fund was created in the first place as a tool to equalize the school tax (property tax) burden town to town. It has been derided as a Robin Hood scheme and a “shark pool” because towns with richer grand lists relative to their student populations pay in more than they keep while property poor towns, relative to student population, are paid more than they pay in. But the end result is that in both sending towns and receiving towns X per pupil spending requires the same tax rate. This is the tax equity required by the Vermont Constitution as interpreted by the Vermont Supreme Court in the Brigham Decision.

In the debate that preceded passage of Act 60, and has continued ever since, opponents have warned that future legislatures would raid the Ed Fund thereby diverting property taxes that support the fund. “Mark my words, you guys set this thing up and you’ll come after it!” The Legislature promised that the Ed fund would be used only for local public school systems. The only part of Act 60 that I wrote was the provision that lottery proceeds go into the Ed Fund, but I supported the entire law. So,as a supporter, I was personally a party to that promise.

When it was created, the Ed Fund supported K-12, the range of education for which local property taxes were directed. I support expanding K-12 systems to include preschool as it still involves local systems. But funding higher education is a separate demand. It needs a separate source of funding. The Governor has not suggested a new source. Instead he proposes we tap the Ed Fund, the very “raid” of which tax equity opponents have warned for twenty years.

The problem is not just a broken promise. Every penny diverted from the Ed Fund for purposes other than local schools is either a loss of funding for those local schools or a property tax increase. I’m not aware of a public demand for higher property taxes.

Right to Try

I’ve introduced a bill, S. 37, to create a legal “Right to Try” (RTT) under which a person afflicted with a deadly and incurable illness, who is approaching his/her death, would have legal access to experimental drugs that have not completed vetting by the Federal Drug Administration. Such people already have a right to hasten death medically. This bill would expand legal end of life choices to include the right to keep fighting.

There are good arguments against continuing the struggle; possible side effects, false hope, loss of the benefits of peaceful surrender. Similarly, there are good arguments against medically hastening death. But I don’t think the issue of the best choice is the question. Rather, I think the question is who should get to make the choice.

Interestingly this bill has made for some strange bedfellows. It comes from the Goldwater Institute, a conservative/libertarian organization, and my carrying water for them has raised a few eyebrows. And my cosponsors are all Republicans. Ah well, I reason that RTT is a good idea, and that over rides any qualms about awkward alliances.

Call me at 802 793 6417 or email me at    


  1. The first paragraph seems to contradict itself.Bigoted banning and conflictings opions.If my position on a subject happens to be some what in line with yours then we may have conflicting opions,but if I disagree with your position then I some how become a bigot.

  2. chuck gregory2/27/17, 5:11 PM

    Rich Parry, being in favor of the banning sought by our Leader is indeed bigoted. Wanting to ban specific individuals whose past actions indicate a great likelihood of future harm wherever they live is not bigoted. So, the terms Dick McCormack uses are not contradictory. You would only be a bigot if you support our Leader's sought-for ban. It, by the way, has reduced holiday travels to the US by 17 percent already. The industry is not happy. Neither are American colleges, which are already taking a big hit through losing foreign students.

    1. Chuck, please cite your source. Is the holiday you speak of Margi Gras, or are you looking forward to Cinco de Mayo? Probably just more of Chuck's alternative April fools facts...

    2. chuck gregory3/1/17, 3:41 PM

      No apology necessary, 8:49. It's always a pleasure to humor you.

    3. chuck gregory3/1/17, 3:44 PM

      and here's the college cite:

    4. Rich Parry3/3/17, 1:18 AM

      Chuck.Do you really believe that everyone that has an opinion on bringing people into our towns and paying their way are bigots.Then name calling is okay? I consider you and your rants foolish and so you must be a fool.When your posts are researched most of them are wrong.I agree with my president that we should be very careful who we bring into our country.If you're to slow to see the problem then it only confirms that you indeed are a fool.My problem with you is that you called me and people like me a bigot.See you around Chuck.

    5. chuck gregory3/3/17, 9:38 AM

      Rich, I didn't call you a bigot; I said, "being in favor of the banning sought by our Leader is indeed bigoted." I am certain that if you and I sat down to discuss this, you would agree that it is not right to prevent tuition-paying college students from Somalia (who pay triple what American-born students pay) from returning to their campus or to prevent legally-hired Microsoft programmers from returning to their job in Seattle, and so forth.

      If you agree to any of those situations, then you do not agree with our Leader's ban, and by definition you are not a bigot. You can decide for yourself if you agree completely with his ban. Then let me know.

      It would be helpful to me if you point out the flaws in my citations. I like to do better.

    6. Rich Parry3/6/17, 8:37 AM

      Chuck,you really have a hard time staying on subject.I stated that if McCormick is using the term conflicting opinions then he has no business using bigot.If he agrees that people can disagree by using conflicting opinions then people that have an opinion should not be deemed a bigot because he happens to disagree with that opinion.You said on 3/3/17 that you did not call me a bigot and went on to try to prove that I was.You truly are the fool that I said that you were.You are trying to sell a bunch of bull; like you are all knowing.Really? I never gave an opinion on the refugees.Only that the two terms contradicted each other.

  3. What bothers me the most about this Muslim Ban (to use Trump's words) as well as phrases like "Radical Islamic Terrorism" is that they are inherently prejudicial, and therefore fly in the face of our Constitution. Today it's Muslims, tomorrow the Jews, and the next it's Catholics, and so on. Demonization for political purposes is ALWAYS dangerous; sooner or later they run out of scapegoats and then YOU'RE IT! Are you REALLY American enough? You look kind of funny to me........

  4. Filet-O-Fug3/2/17, 10:44 AM

    I was unable to locate a quote using the term "Muslim ban" attributed to Trump. Perhaps another 10 minutes of googling would have produced one but I don't think it's worth the trouble...I have no problem using "inherently prejudicial" terms to describe America's enemies, nor do I believe the practice of doing so is unconstitutional. And the old saw, "today they came for...blah, blah, blah...doesn't really fit the reality of American history, does it? I mean, did we set out to annihilate the Jews and Catholics after defeating the Nazis?...or after dropping nukes on the Japanese?...hardly. In reality they became valued trading partners and allies...Perhaps understanding why this happened will help in understanding why radical Islamic terrorists will never enjoy the same status...the only thing that looks funny to me are "Americans" who seem unable to recognize allies from enemies because of some mindless PC mantra.

    1. So, being from one of the seven countries makes them automatically our enemy? That's the textbook definition of prejudice! As far as the Nazis, THEY were the ones who murdered Jews and Catholics, WE stopped them. Oh, by the way, the group of people second most likely to be lynched in the Jim Crow South were, in fact, CATHOLICS. So, we did murder them after defeating the Nazis, or rather SOME OF US DID! And yeah, it IS funny how Trump and his people can't tell friend from foe; it's really a no-brainer! FASCIST SCUM!

  5. chuck gregory3/2/17, 11:55 AM

    Our government is about to target a specific subgroup in our population as threats to the rest of society:

    Of course, since America is doing this, it's perfectly fine.

    And when Germany did it back in the 30's and 40's it was perfectly fine, too.

  6. Filet-O-Fug3/3/17, 11:30 AM

    The breathless characterisation of "targeting a specific subgroup in our population" sounds dramatic, however it is actually a core tenet of US law enforcement strategy, the specific subgroup in question being criminal immigrants. Law enforcement routinely targets violent and destructive "subgroups" which represent a dangerous threat to society, as criminal immigrants do, which is indeed perfectly fine with me, thank you. And as I've remained unable to locate a direct quote by Trump regarding any sort of "Muslim ban", the tired old analogy to the religious persecution of Nazi Germany's Hitler remains an insulting, but inaccurate troll line...

    1. Whether you call it a "Muslim Ban" or a "Ban on Muslims" or anything else; the meaning is clear. Quibbling over words is a sign of a criminal mind, anyway. Hitler analogies would be tired and old if people like Trump didn't come along and breathe new life into them. I will also add that it was Conservatives, and not Liberals, who first began making those references. Too many good Americans of BOTH political parties died to keep us free from the horrors of Fascism, AND WE SHALL NOT FORGET. Nor shall we stand by while it happens here. COUNT ON IT.

  7. chuck gregory3/3/17, 2:28 PM

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are fairly enthusiastic about rounding up and shipping out undocumented immigrants:

    Of course, they're starting with the low-hanging fruit, such as the people who were brought into the country at the age of 2 by their parents and have never known another country, the ones who have been strong supporters of their American communities for years and have been taken away, much to the regret of their fellow townsmen, and those who identified themselves as undocumented in order to achieve the American dream by applying for higher education.

    It is hardly unfair to compare the work of the ICE with that of the Gestapo; both of them were organizations in which people were doing what they were hired to do, so you can't fault them for their practicality. But it is fair to characterize the present administration for adopting its own version of ethnic cleansing, especially when it, like the Nazis, specifically proposes to promulgate to the nation a news service dedicated to demonizing a significant (about 3.3%, somewhat the same as the number of German Jews in 1932) portion of the population.

    The fact that they will be identified as "criminal" will serve two purposes: First, to distract the general public from issues of more importance to them, such as the 50% chance of going bankrupt because of health care expenses; and second, to establish in the public mindset the fallacy that all immigrants are criminal (and this despite the fact that native-born Americans are 300% more likely to be criminal than are our immigrants, documented or not).

  8. Filet-O-Fug3/4/17, 10:08 AM

    "Whether you call it a "Muslim Ban" or a "Ban on Muslims" or anything else; the meaning is clear."...really? Clear to you perhaps...but I still haven't found a citation for Trump's use of these phrases, and, at the risk of sounding like someone with a "criminal mind", words do mean least to me.
    Either he said it, or anybody who claims he did is simply spreading propaganda, no?

    And this gem..."It is hardly unfair to compare the work of the ICE with that of the Gestapo; both of them were organizations in which people were doing what they were hired to do"...really? Except one is rounding up criminals, as defined by US law, and the other was rounding up people based on their religious beliefs, but other than that little difference, they're the same, right?
    LOL, and by the way "undocumented immigrants" is another term for illegal aliens, or criminals.

    You guys are great at using words like "Muslim ban" and "all immigrants are criminal", that nobody but you actually said, and inflammatory analogies that aren't based in reality to make your points, but it's just phony emotional garbage, easily ignored by anybody who is actually paying attention.

    By the way...undocumented immigrants are 100% criminals, until they are either documented, or gone. Any statistics intended to somehow compare their relative danger to US citizens are irrelevant.

    1. Filet-o-fug, I'm not trying to convince you of the ignorance of your beliefs; I learned years ago that delusional ideologues such as yourself are beyond appeals to logic, or conscience. What I'm doing is providing a contervailing force to the ignorance that you spread. After all, "all that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." (Here's where you stand reality on its head, and say that Trump is good!)


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