Dear Friends -
It may soon be even more difficult to compete in Vermont elections. Under pressure from Democratic and Republican Party operatives, Legislators recently made changes to a formerly promising campaign finance bill that would more than double what statewide candidates can raise from a single source, and triple what political parties can raise. Democrats and Republicans are attempting to use Legislators’ legitimate fear of what “Super PACs” might do in future elections to convince them they should be allowed to raise more money, that the solution to the flood of money in our elections is even more money.
As you and I know, we are not going to overcome the Super PACs and corporate interests by throwing more money into our elections. Allowing the corporate-funded parties and their candidates to accept even more money from the likes of Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, AT&T, and HP (all actual donors to the VDP last cycle), doesn’t fix the problem, it exacerbates it. Please join me in calling on the Legislature to stand strong and pass a bill that will help rein in election spending, rather than increase it. If you live in Vermont, find how to contact your State Legislators here, or you can leave a message for them by calling the Sergeant-At-Arms at 802-828-2228.
Update from Burlington: Over thirty-two years since Burlington first elected Bernie Sanders Mayor in 1981, the Progressive spirit is alive and flourishing in Vermont’s Queen City! On Town Meeting Day last week, Progressive Jane Knodell was elected in Ward 2 and Progressive Vince Brennan was reelected in Ward 3, bringing Progressives’ total on the City Council to four. Democrats were held to seven Councilors and, in a result reminiscent of November’s results, Republicans lost the only race they contested, leaving them with just one member on the Council.
Once again, Progressives continue to be on the rise in Vermont, even as the Vermont Republican Party continues its decline. But these wins did not come easily last week in Burlington. It takes a lot of resources to run the kind of strong, grassroots campaign needed to take on the Democratic machine and win. And we can’t do it without your help! Have you considered becoming a monthly donor to the Vermont Progressive Party? Becoming a monthly donor is the best way to ensure our people-powered party has the resources to stand strong against the corporate-funded parties, but any contribution is very much appreciated.
Finally, I want to make sure you are aware of an upcoming event. On Saturday, March 16th at 10:00 am at Montpelier High School, Senator Bernie Sanders (who has sure come a long way since he was Mayor of Burlington!) will be holding a Conference on Global Warming, featuring Environmental Activist Bill McKibben as the Keynote Speaker. You can learn more about the event here.
Thank you for all you do,
Legislative Update: Prohibition Has Failed
by Rep. Susan Davis
It's been nearly a century since Vermont first prohibited marijuana in 1915. It hasn't worked and it's time for a new approach.
Just like alcohol prohibition, marijuana prohibition does not eliminate the use of the product and simply steers all of the profits to the underground market. Given the fact that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, it is time we have it produced and sold in a legitimate, regulated market.
Regulating marijuana like alcohol and allowing the production of industrial hemp would create hundreds of new, legal jobs and generate business for a variety of other Vermont industries.
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Legislative Update: Weekly Update
by Rep. Cindy Weed
Town meeting week signifies the traditional halfway mark of the legislative session in Montpelier. Typically, the first year of the biennium starts off slowly, as committees get used to new members and each other, and begin the work of taking testimony on and passing a variety of bills out of committee. Last week was the deadline to submit any and all bills. In total, approximately 500 bills will be introduced in the House and half that amount in the Senate. Naturally, with a part-time legislature, many will not get attention and literally die on the wall. Next year we will start all over again creating and introducing new bills.
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In the Media: Vermont Democrats Want More Money in Politics
by Paul Heintz
On Wednesday, they settled on a fivefold increase for statewide candidates, allowing them to collect $10,000 checks from each donor. But after Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) protested, on Thursday, the committee scaled that back to $5000.
“There’s no reason why anybody should give $10,000 to a political campaign,” Pollina argued to his fellow committee members.
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In the Media: Balance shifts in Burlington Council makeup
by Joel Banner Baird
Until the final vote count, Knodell said later, "I didn’t know if I was the underdog or not in this race. Both sides wanted it bad."
She credited a "classic, Progressive grassroots campaign" with her victory.
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