Letters to the editor

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Working with the citizen legislature

During the 2015 Vermont legislative session, I worked with two Essex/Essex Junction legislators to create a Vermont Commission on Financial Literacy. This experience is a great example of just how a citizen legislature can work. I share this story to spread the notion that citizens with relevant ideas can collaborate with legislators to change Vermont. Here is what we did.

For several years I worked for the Center for Financial Literacy (CFL) at Champlain College and its Director, John Pelletier. In 2014 the CFL created and led a statewide task force to propose recommendations related to improving the financial knowledge of three constituencies here in Vermont: K-12 students, college students and adults. The central recommendation of the group was to form a Vermont Commission on Financial Literacy. The full report – “Helping Vermonters Beat Financial Funk” — can be found at www.financialfunkvt.org.

Initially I took the idea of a Financial Literacy Commission to Essex Junction Representative Tim Jerman, a long-time friend and my representative. Using the Task Force’s outline, Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy prepared a draft bill and Tim became its sponsor. In January 2015 the bill was assigned to the House Government Operations Committee, which is vice-chaired by Essex Town Representative Debbie Evans. By late February, we were all hoping the bill would pass the House and were fully expecting to try to move this idea though the Senate in 2016. Because of their legislative experience, Debbie and Tim were able to combine our bill with another consumer protection bill, Senate S.73. In the last weeks of the session, S.73 passed both the House and the Senate and was signed into law by the Governor.

A great team from Essex made this happen. Rep. Tim Jerman picked up the ball to have the idea considered and advised on how to keep it moving. Rep. Debbie Evans, through her committee role, arranged for hearings and promoted the idea of connecting the bill to the Senate’s bill. Though their work, Vermont has authorized the formation of a statewide Commission on Financial Literacy, an entity that should help our citizens and our high schools and colleges increase knowledge and understanding of personal finance opportunities and pitfalls. Thanks, Tim and Debbie. The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College couldn’t have done this without you.

Greg Morgan
Essex Junction
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Scam alert

Several Vermonters have reported receiving unsolicited emails similar to the following:

Notice to Appear,
This is to inform you to appear in Court on Aug. 26 for your case hearing.
Please, do not forget to bring all the documents related to the case.
Note: The case may be heard by the judge in your absence if you do not come.
You can find the Court Notice is in the attachment.

Sincerely,
Daniel Snider,
District Clerk.

These emails have NOT been sent by any Vermont Court. There have not been any attachments to these emails, but if an attachment is found, opening the attachment is not recommended. If you have any concerns or questions please contact your local Vermont Superior Court.

Patricia Gabel
Office of the Court Administrator
State of Vermont

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Putting a price on pollution

Fuel consumption is on the rise. After seeing dramatic reductions in fossil fuel use and subsequent carbon emissions post-recession, we are seeing a quick uptick in fossil fuel consumption. With cheap gas prices, Americans are driving more and releasing more carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

It’s time to tackle our fossil fuel dependence head on. We know that adding carbon pollution to the atmosphere is detrimental to our health and the health of the planet, and it’s time we take bold action to actively address this issue. Holding fossil fuel companies financially accountable for their carbon pollution is the single most important action we can take to address global warming. As of now fossil fuels can pollute our air and water for free. By pricing carbon pollution we include the cost of polluting our air and water into the price of fossil fuels. We can use the money generated to invest in energy efficiency, weatherize homes, and give tax breaks to Vermonters and Vermont businesses, and additional rebates to low-income Vermonters.

Pricing carbon pollution will reduce fossil fuel use and subsequent carbon pollution, it will grow Vermont’s economy, and it will ensure a better future for the kids growing up today. It’s time to act. Pricing carbon pollution is a necessary step if we are serious about addressing climate change.

Michael Morris
Burlington

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Sen. Paul coming in from the fringe

I read the article in last week’s edition on Senator Rand Paul speaking in Essex with dismay. The head of the Republican Party said: “Every candidate brings something different to the table that fits the party.” What this candidate brings is a matter of record, and it’s not one that many here will find anywhere near the mainstream.

Rand Paul opposes mandatory vaccinations and thinks they are a matter of personal choice. He opposes a woman’s right to choose in all cases, including rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life. He is now leading a charge to shut down the federal government if Planned Parenthood isn’t defunded. He opposes equal rights based on gender. Paul believes there is a “right to discriminate” and private sector decisions should go “unhindered”. He opposes refinancing of student loans to help young people, because it would “threaten the stability of society.”

There is much more, easily found with a simple Google search on any of his pet issues — elimination of the corporate income tax, ending all foreign aid, no medical services for veterans with disabilities, no path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

Is it a surprise that Paul is polling less than 5 percent of Republican primary voters? Why does the Vermont GOP continue to embrace extremist views? You can bet they’ll talk about NONE of these fringe issues in the 2016 Vermont election. Will anyone be fooled about what they really stand for?

Payne Morgan
Essex Junction