Vermont Progressive Party's blog

State Committee Meeting MINUTES - 5/16/15

Vermont Progressive Party State Committee Meeting 5/16/2015 

Meeting was held at the Champlain Senior Center Burlington VT between 1:00 and 4:00 PM.

 

1) Meeting called to order at 1:10 PM.

2) Panel Discussion Around State Budget Cuts:

Paul Cillo of Public Assets Institute started the panel discussion about the state budget:

-process this year strictly about cuts.

-presented the State of Working Vermont 2014 Report which confirms the distribution of gains from increased productivity in Vermont mirrors the rest of the country.


John Howe of the VSEA continued the discussion from Labor's point of view:

-not a good year for labor in the State House.

-reported a possible break between Democrats and organized labor in Vermont.

 

Jay Diaz of Vermont Legal Aid discussed budget impact on human services especially special ed:

-major point that budget cuts are especially harsh on persons with special needs and lack power in the system.

 

Discussion continued:

 -Is labor really ready to abandon the Democrats?

 -Budget proposals by the majoritarian party are all cuts and no revenues.

 - A peoples budget needs heros.

 -We need to counter false narratives.

 -We need outreach to young voters on college campuses, organize around student debt.   

 

3) Executive Director Kelly Mangan moved meeting to Town organization goals: 

-September Town Caucus meetings, October County Meetings.

-Take advantage of what the Democrats have done to their coalition, time to peel off labor and other groups by showing how Progressives are different. 

-Student & youth organizing is key. 

-Get elevator speeches together, 2 minutes: why vote Progressive?

-Need to meet locally on a more regular basis.

-Develop a tool kit for organizing.

-Look for friendly organizations to work with.

-We need to build data bases/lists in every town/county.

-Look for other organizing opportunities (i.e. Bernie)

-Every member needs to take more ownership of their party and lend a hand to grow it in the coming months. 

 

4) Jane Knodell reported on Burlington city elections, councilors discussed how their races ran. The importance of campaign managers was a major theme. Hopes are high to take the Mayor's Office next time.

 

5) Meeting turned to the election of an Assistant Treasurer and an at large CoCo member. Megan Brook nominated for post of Assistant Treasurer, no other nominations from the floor, Secretary instructed to cast a single ballot and Megan Brook elected to the post. Carl Davis nominated for the vacant at large seat, no other nominations from the floor, Secretary instructed to cast a single ballot and Carl Davis elected to the post. Meg Brook hit the ground running with a fund raising plea.  

 

6) Jeremy Hansen and Corey Decker presented on the Left Elect Conference in Chicago about the VT Progressive Party's victories.  Lessons learned/reaffirmed:

-Build local before moving national.

-VPP is the most developed third party in the country, and we have valuable experience to share with budding third party movements. 

-It's critical we not fall into the same trap as other movements on the Left, of allowing our differences to break us into smaller and smaller factions (always looking for ideological purity). More powerful to work in coalition toward the many things we agree on. This is why VPP has survived all these years and other groups/movements have not. 

 

7)  Kelly turned meeting to the Sanders Campaign, believes that a Bernie campaign would be good for party building. The question is should VPP be involved in Bernie's run for the White House (and if so, how much)? Floor discussed these issues. 

Straw poll taken around question: Should the VPP endorse Bernie Sanders for president? Overwhelming majority said yes. 2 voted no. 2 obstained.  The item will be placed on the agenda for the next State Committee for an official vote of endorsement (or not). 

 

8) Adam Norton moved to adjourn and motion approved by acclamation.

 

Meeting concluded at 4:27 PM.

Respectfully submitted by Chris Brimmer, state party secretary

Legislative Update - 5/22/15

 

My Recap on the Legislative Session

~Sen. Anthony Pollina, Washington County

“For the most part, this was a difficult session. Serving on the Health and Welfare Committee, I was very disappointed that we did nothing to lower costs or move towards universal healthcare.

And while we passed some so-called “big bills” (including water quality, renewable energy, and education governance), time will tell if any of them have a real impact and if the Legislature is willing to follow through with adequate funding and real commitment to change.

The Senate Government Operations Committee, of which I am Vice Chair, did some great work this session to further democracy: Same-day voter registration, of which I was the sponsor, will make it easier for people to participate in elections. States with same-day voter registration have seen increases of over 10% in voter turnout. At a time when voter turnout has been decreasing, we should do everything possible to remove barriers to voting. Same day voter registration is an important step forward.

A new lobbyist disclosure law, which I also introduced, does two important things: It requires lobbyists to disclose within 48 hours when they spend more than $1000 on advertising to affect legislation (This way citizens and legislators will know who’s behind big ad campaigns for/against important issues). The bill also prohibits so-called "Leadership PACs" from soliciting money from lobbyists during the two-year legislative session.

The Committee also made changes to our public financing law, to ensure that any penalties for minor violations are fair and do not discourage candidates from choosing public financing in the first place. Next session the committee will be taking a look at the entire public financing law, to make necessary improvements and updates.

Government Operations also called a special meeting with (among others) Attorney General Bill Sorrell, at which the Attorney General agreed with the need to appoint a special investigator to look into allegations of campaign finance abuses by the Attorney General himself.

As a result of this and other concerns, the Government Operations Committee delivered a memo to the Senate leadership outlining the need for (and structure of) a Senate Ethics Commission Committee, which I expect to be implemented next session.

 


 

The Astonishing Health Care Plummet

~Rep. Chris Pearson, Chittenden 6-4

“Six months ago Gov. Shumlin would have had us believe he was about to ask the legislature to raise in the neighborhood of $2 billion in taxes to make Vermont's health care system totally publicly financed. Fast forward to the last few days of the legislative session and we saw Shumlin threaten to veto an embarrassingly modest health care bill. What gives?

A charitable read on the governor's posture is that he didn't think passing the bill was worth the effort. Maybe he agrees with me that too often Montpelier passes bills, declares victory, and moves on, no matter how small the actual accomplishment (think of this year's ed reform bill). More likely though, in my mind, is that Shumlin needed a way to assert that he's still the governor and still a force to be considered. As he looked around to see which last-minute bills he could influence, health care was one of the few options. And so he flexed.

Instead of bumping Medicaid's primary care reimbursement rates up to Medicare levels, the governor's compromise offers them less than a 0.25% increase. Instead of offering middle-income families a hand with their deductibles and other cost-shares (as the governor himself proposed in his 2015 health care initiative), we barely hung on to the status quo. In fact, a veto of the bill would have made insurance more expensive for anyone between 200-300% of the Federal Poverty Level. When we talk about the "under-insured" expensive deductibles and co-pays is what we mean. Some 90,000 Vermonters fall into this category. They have insurance but can't really afford to use it.

In the end we have a weak governor casting about to exert his influence. The fact that he landed on the health care bill demonstrates to me that his heart was never really embedded in the principles of health care reform. More likely, his heart was and continues to be deeply embedded in the principle of political posturing. Pity.”


 

Improving Vermont’s System for Protecting Children from Abuse & Neglect

~Rep. Sandy Haas, Windsor-Rutland

“The legislature has passed a sweeping bill to improve Vermont’s child protection system. Responding to two tragic deaths last year of toddlers who had been in state custody, the House and Senate set up a summer study committee to travel around the state hearing testimony about how our child protection system could be strengthened. S.9 addresses that issue in many different ways.

Most importantly, the bill greatly improves the rules that allow sharing of otherwise confidential information regarding at-risk children and their parents. The Department for Children and Families (DCF) will now be required to keep mandatory reporters advised of the progress of any reports of possible child abuse or neglect. In addition, relevant information will be available to both the family and probate courts in any proceedings that involve custody, guardianship or visitation issues. The bill also requires better coordination with law enforcement.

A significant innovation in the bill provides for enforceable post-adoption agreements, which will allow a parent who voluntarily gives up his or her parental rights to continue some contact with the child. That child contact could range from receiving annual school photos to holiday or birthday visits. The adoptive parents must consent in writing, and the agreement can be modified by the courts if circumstances change and such contact becomes detrimental to the child.

As passed, S.9 resolves a tension between the needs of DCF to protect children from future harm and the interest of the law enforcement community to assure that they can successfully prosecute anyone charged with injuring a child. The most aggressive proposal by law enforcement to create a new crime of “failure to protect a child” was vigorously resisted by nearly all those who work with children and parents, including teachers, DCF workers, parent-child centers, domestic violence protection advocates, family law attorneys and judges. The final bill strikes a good balance between the need to protect and the need to prosecute, and we expect it to greatly strengthen our statewide system of child protection going forward.”

 


Water Quality bill passes, But Not With Nearly the Resources Needed to Fix Our Waterways & Lakes

~Sen. David Zuckerman, Chittenden County 

“This year the House and Senate passed H.35.  This bill was a “must pass” bill because as a State we had not fulfilled our obligation to keep the waterways healthy as per the federal clean water laws.  The EPA has set a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for phosphorus and Vermont has regularly exceeded that limit.  The consequence has been toxic algae blooms on numerous bodies of water in the state (particularly northern Lake Champlain and much of lake Memphremegog), as well as high levels of other elements (Nitrogen and others) in other bodies of water across the state (Connecticut River and others).  These levels of pollution have been caused by actions from the recent past through the whole last century. If we did not pass this bill, then the EPA would have been in control of changes we would have had to make at the state level and just about everyone agreed that would have been harder on our farms, forests, developers and the state as a whole.

There are many causes for these high pollution levels.  Some include farming practices of the recent past (too much manure being spread too thickly or too closely to the rivers, animals walking in streams (and defecating), development patterns (large paved areas where water can not seep into the ground and instead run off rapidly into streams while carrying high levels of pollutants), and road ways (again rapid wash outs due to impervious surfaces).  Some include practices from farther back in time including; the deforestation of the late 18th and early 19th centuries caused huge amounts of sediments to fill our rivers and streams, changing their flow patterns. Another cause was the Federal program to give farms super phosphorus fertilizers to boost production from the 50’s to the 80’s thus over saturating our soils. Now, with the rivers silted in, the high water events carve our farm fields carrying that nutrient laden soil down stream.

All of this is to say, we have a legacy problem that is being accentuated by continued current practices and it will take a while to reverse the tide.

H.35 started the work necessary to reduce the problem.  H.35 is bringing the Agency of Natural Resources and the Agency of Agriculture into the 21st century when it comes to addressing these issues whether they be by our development patterns or farming practices.  Water quality staff will be added at both agencies and money will be used to help developers, towns (roads) and farmers change practices so that we can fix the worst places first, and address ongoing practices that need to be changed.

For instance, at the agency of Agriculture, farming rules will be updated and all farms will be informed about what they need to do to come into compliance with the water quality rules.  For instance under current law, the Agency only monitors plans by large (700+ cows) and medium (200-699 cows) farms, but under the new law, all farms (there is a minimum so home farmers with a cow or two will not be included) will have standards and will need to register with the State in order for there to be oversight.  Money will also be available for farmers to come into compliance whether it be to protect a field stream with seeding and setbacks for their corn planting or to fence animals out of streams.

The biggest problem with the legislation came to funding it.  The House had passed a property transfer tax (paid when one buys a piece of property) and numerous other permit fees to raise the money.  The real conflict came in the Senate where the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy and the Finance Committee came to an agreement to have a parcel fee ($15) on all parcels in the state as well as an addition $1 per acre for parcels over 15 acres (with an exception for forest land enrolled in current use at $0.50 an acre) as well as some expanded permitting fees for development.  The Mayors coalition agreed to this and the per acre idea was brought to the legislature by some farmers.  This would have raised about $3 million more per year than the property transfer tax to more adequately fund all of the practices that would help improve our waters. It also would have been an “all in” approach whereby everyone would pay in.  This would have addressed the fact that all of us have contributed in some way in the past and we will all be responsible for the future (with developers and farmers paying more as there is more impact from these larger uses).  But there were a few in the Appropriations committee that did not want to go this route and pushed it back to the property transfer tax (and some fees).   So what this means is that any person who is buying a house (first time for instance), or a farm or forest land to start a business will be paying for the actions of all of us and our recent predecessors.  When the state is having trouble keeping young adults and when we are trying to encourage people to get into the working lands to keep Vermont “Vermont”, this seems to be a very backwards way.  Those people will be the ones carrying the tax burden for something that we all have a stake in improving.”


 

Breakdown of Renewable Energy Bill H.40

~Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, Rutland-Bennington

“One of the highlights of this legislative session was the passage of H.40, a comprehensive overhaul of electric generation and management in Vermont. The bill, called RES (for Renewable Energy Standard), consists of three main sections:

The first section clarifies the sale of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) into the New England market. Without this rewrite, other states would stop buying our RECs, resulting in an average 6% increase in electric rates statewide, with some utilities projecting a 20% rate hike. Instead, Green Mountain power requested a 2.9% reduction in rates this year! This is good news for all of us.

The second section of the bill continues the build-out of net-metered renewable energy, though more work will need to be done next year on siting issues. This action boosts our production of locally-generated clean energy, and will continue to save us hundreds of millions of dollars in avoided transmission upgrades and infrastructure.

The very progressive third section essentially requires that utilities become energy managers rather than just energy vendors, and that they work with customers to reduce fossil fuel consumption. How this happens is very flexible but can include building weatherization, cold-climate heat pumps, electric vehicle infrastructure, or other efficiency improvements.

Overall the bill is a win for consumers, a boost for the economy, and a step in the right direction for fossil fuel reduction.”

 


 

Much Work Still to Do on Criminal Justice Reform, Economic Empowerment of Women, & Transportation

~Rep. Mollie Burke, Windham 2-2

I introduced a bill (H. 221) this year at the request of former Representative Suzi Wizowaty, who now runs a non-profit organization called Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform. The bill proposes to help keep non-violent offenders out of prison, thus saving money and producing better outcomes. The Judiciary Committee took a fair amount of testimony, and representatives of States Attorneys were basically in favor, but it is a comprehensive bill and the Committee just had no time to get it out. I am hoping for next year.

This bill is also a priority for tri-partisan Women’s Caucus, of which I am co-chair. We are planning a fall conference at the State House (in conjunction with the Vermont Commission on Women) to address issues related to the economic empowerment of women.

In other news, a major transportation bill passed this session included the provision that the Transportation Agency will do a study on transportation funding. Because of better fuel efficient vehicles (a positive development), transportation revenues from the gas tax have fallen significantly and we need to look for added revenue sources. One of the possibilities that will be considered includes a carbon pollution tax designated for transportation infrastructure. We continue to hope that some form of carbon pollution tax will become politically viable. At the conference on Climate and the Vermont Economy which I attended in February, just about every one of thirteen break-out groups recommended a carbon tax. The Council on Rural Development, which sponsored the conference, has appointed a Vermont Climate Change Economy Council that will present its recommendations to the legislature in January.

 


 

Bill Protecting End of Life Safeguards is Signed by Governor

~Rep. Sandy Haas, Windsor-Rutland

"The Governor has just signed a bill to continue the procedural safeguards in Vermont’s End of Life Bill, which took effect two years ago. As passed in 2013, the explicit procedure set forth in the Patient Choice at End of Life act was set to sunset (be repealed) in 2016 and be replaced by provisions giving much less guidance to doctors and less protection for patients. S.108 removes the sunset and assures that those patient safeguards will stay in place.

Available only to patients with a terminal illness and a prognosis of six months or less to live, the law sets up a procedure for the patient to obtain a prescription for lethal medication to be self-administered. The patient must request the medication three separate times, including once in writing (with witnesses) and wait at least 17 days from the first request to receipt of the prescription. The doctor writing the prescription must report to the Vermont Dept. of Health and affirm that all the requirements in the law have been satisfied (including that the patient is a Vermont resident, does not have impaired judgment, made the request voluntarily and was offered all end of life services, such as palliative care and hospice).

Participation under the law is completely voluntary for all parties: for the patient, for the doctor, for the consulting doctor, for the pharmacist and for any facility where the patient may reside. Clarification that the safeguards will continue assures that this law will work properly for the small number of Vermonters who choose to use it."


Progressives of Central Vermont Organizing Meeting


Central VT Organizing Meeting

Tuesday, June 9th @ 6pm

Bagitos (28 Main Street, Montpelier)

 

Join other Progressives in Central Vermont to discuss the astounding right-turn taken by VT Democrats. Senator Anthony Pollina and Rep. Susan Hatch Davis will be there to talk about what did (and did not) happen in the Statehouse this year…. and why it’s a good time to be a Progressive! We’ll also be discussing Bernie’s run for the White House, next steps on Party organization, and much more!

 

For more information about this meeting contact: Ellen David-Friedman: 802-249-7320, ellendavidfriedman@hotmail.com

State Committee Meeting - May 16th, 1pm-4pm

The Progressive Party's State Committee Meeting is going to be in Burlington this Saturday! I hope you'll join us!

  • WHAT: VPP State Committee Meeting
  • WHEN: Saturday, May 16th from 1pm-4pm
  • WHERE: Champlain Senior Center (241 N. Winooski Avenue)

WHAT'S ON THE AGENDA:

We're going to have speakers to talk about the impact of state budget cuts on Vermont families (including Chris Curtis from VT Legal Aid and Paul Cillo from Public Assets Institute). 
 
Also on the agenda for Saturday:
- An update on the Burlington city council from Jane Knodell;
- Hear about the Left-Elect Conference in Chicago from two VPP leaders who went;
- Update on the Dean Corren lawsuit;
- Begin planning around Party reorganization;
- Discussion about the fact that BERNIE IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT! 
  (Yowza! Can't wait to hear from you all what you think about this development, and how you think it will affect the VPP in 2016!) 
 
Email kelly [at] progressiveparty [dot] org with questions. 
 
 

March 2015 Coordinating Committee Meeting - Minutes

CoCo Conference Call, March10, 6:30-8PM
 
In Attendence: Adam, Nancy, Martha, Caryn, Morgan, Corey
 
MD met with Emma, who will be out until after May State Committee meeting, but we may see her earlier; taking over the reigns.  Kelly is not able to be on the call due to a death in the family.
 
I. Agenda review/prioritization (5 min)
 
II. BTV Elections (10 min)
Martha recap =  Miro won re-election by large margin, Steve Goodkind turned in a reasonably good performance; we did well on council races. Dems had 13 paid staff working on mayoral and council, we had our usual shoe string budget and staff of one. Council now consists of 4 Ds, 4 Ps, 3 Independents (2 of them who often vote with Ps), and 1 Republican. Rob Millar won city council in Winooski & anti-F-35 measure passed. Changing of the guard happening in Winooski. 

Candidates in the future need a better understanding of what the Party can/cannot provide to help with fundraising. Hopefully elections debrief will get some of this out on the table. Elections debrief will happen on the 23rd. Kelly can provide more detailed analysis later.
 
Adam: Good to see majority of young people participating in the party this election.  
 
III. CoCo vacancies (10 min)
Shawn Jaroeki and Katherine Sims have stepped down from CoCo. We are allowed to fill vacancies in the interim, until the next state meeting and november re-election of coco. Emma has list of suggestions, Morgan is willing to pare down the list to prioritize candidates to pull into the April Meeting.
 
Martha: Be nice to have someone from Windham Co. Prev. participants who know what to expect through experience, better than newbies. We should have people more involved locally with the party.
 
Nancy: Suggests Noreen from NEK for diversity of ideas represented on the committee.
 
Morgan: Will reach out to Peter Cooper for southern Vt suggestions. Will call other people suggested, let folks know in advance of April CoCo meeting. 
CC, y; NP,y ; AN, y, MA,y; CD, y
 
IV. Committee Reports (20 min)
Jeremy, new chair of elections committee, did a recap at last state meeting, building on systems for upcoming elections next year and 2016
 
Communications Committee: Mari's work commitments precluding movement; suggestions for strategy, suggestions for who might chair, new coco, or current candidates for new chair.
  Martha: Maybe Rachel Siegel would be willing to chair? Brainstorm other folks who might also be candidates-- not necessarily be a good idea for a coco member.
  Morgan: Cindy Weed a possibility
  Adam: Can help on committee, have time and access to progressive social pages
  Nancy: lots of folks in NEK w/out cell phones, how to be included; an email once a week would be good
  MD: not a lot of any press going out right now, who ever can jump in and start running, having the chair look for geographic holes on that committee.
  CC: updating a FB page many times a day vs every other day; FB is one of many ways of reaching out to people not already part of the party...
  MD: will reach out to Rachel and Cindy and keep us posted
 
Fundraising: Martha, not a lot to report at the moment. Working on having Thrush tavern fundraiser like last year, but Republicans had their event with lots of negative publicity, Dems said they don't fundraise during the session, CPearson signed a bill to ban it; postponed until after the session, sometime in May. VSEA gave $2K anyhow! Lots of people involved in the committee now, and now there is a real cohesive group, can start doing lots of stuff: Martha, Adam, Ellen DF, Liz Blum, Katherine Sims
 
Organizational Development: Chris B chair (not on call), help with planning state committee meeting and town organizing; Nancy and Caryn are also on this committee. Should assume responsibility for Town Organizing; Morgan, Kelly, and Chris to work on getting a schedule on the calendar and a plan of action for when people show up to the state committee in May. Folks need help when running for office, they're the ones we should involve in town organizing, especially when voting for JP candidates. There are a lot of different ways to contribute-- from calls, emails, getting info and materials together, and the work can be fairly distributed. Caryn will be out of the country July and into August to study abroad in Germany.
 
Town Organizing (15 min)
Lots of work for Kelly, CoCo, Organizational Development Committee and volunteers over next 3-5 months. Morgan check in w/Chris Brimmer to see if he's up for the process. Lots of follow up and phone calls, paper work done on time, and ads placed on time. Good for someone who's good at keeping checklists and working through them.
 
Peggy Saphire requests establishing another standing committee and will be at next coco mtg in April to discuss.
 
V. May SC (15 min)
Place tbd, no brainstorming on agenda. Last meeting was very sparsely attended in Barre.
Ideas on where to have it and what to highlight as legislative session wraps up.
  AN: poorly attended, not much of an agenda, only one elected was there. 
  MA: didn't have dynamic exciting act. we need a draw, someone who people want to see, speaker on a particular issue or gravitas on experience. People wont go unless they feel inspired in some way. Also very little out reach, everyone should be calling 30 folks.
  CC: Last time we called, I had a lot of angry, disinterested folks.
  MA: we call members, hasn't been my experience, calling people who are active and interested in what we're doing
  AN: lots of topics, Austerity budget, HC, but people are burnt out, DZ marijuana laws;
  CD: VT yankee and Entergy decommission, Bill Sorrell, tie in w/Peggy Saphire; vehicle or way to present increased participation, base building; Ben Cohen StampStampede Get Money Out of Politics, and VPP Ben and Jerry's flavor with fudge moose and walnuts
  AN/MA: Chris Curtis, Dirty Budget and impact on low income, can lay out why the Progressives need to exist and the people need to know what the Dems are about to do to poor people. If we discuss the budget, we should have a panel.
 
We should deputize Morgan to have CPearson/DZuckerman to reach out to CCurtis and other potential panel members.
 
Just did bylaws, don't have to think about platform for a while. Next order of business is reorganizing, and also filling coco positions. Every two years, town, county, and state structures, september of the odd years, reorganize, starting from a caucus of whoever shows up, and moving up from there. Warn of public hearing, vote, elect officers, etc. 
 
CC: Have they [Sec of State?] thought of changing this process so as not to start from scratch every other year? MD = not that I know of
 
Thoughts on Location for state committee meeting:
Randolph? Newport or Rutland?
   MA: tried going to outskirts, but only keeps the die-hards and doesn't necessarily draw new folks. New, young people fired up in Burlington-- maybe help them get involved at the statewide level.
  CC: people in other parts of the state don't care about BTV politics, so not necessarily a good option. If there isn't a base in the out skirts, doesn't necessarily mean they'll attend. 
  CD: small agenda item to include BTV candidates, but focus should be on state wide issues
  AN: Washington county is getting old. Interesting topic might be school consolidation and education reform get people riled up.
  MD: Do May in BTV, then August at VTLaw school?
  Adam will work on getting speakers for May, and city chairs for getting a location.
 
VI. National Outreach (10 min)
Bernie still out as presidential hopeful
Group convening in Chicago, progressive politics and local races working with the model we've established. Increase in opportunities for elected officials and coco members to go out, speak on Progressives, fundraise, and start gaining contacts.
The Coco should discuss how much of our resources we should allocate to making connections, fundraising and other contacts out of state. Are our resources better spent here or elsewhere.
Ellen David Friedman approached Emma, who put the question out to the coco, in terms of who would like to go, further the planning of the out of state outreach.
  CD: offered to find out hard numbers on how much it'd cost exactly, if there's a bill to the party, discussion on whether or not good use of fund.
  MD: We've sent people to the Left Forum in NYC traditionally, and hasn't been a major expense from the party. Progressives have been there to present, it was good that it was close, not good in that it was theoretical, not a lot of action. Guess Chicago group is coming together out of frustration with Left Forum, but based on more action.
  MA: We are the experts on how to do this (a third party); thought about holding the conference in VT to have people come here and we can charge. Array of VT Progressives to talk about a variety of aspects of VPP's 3rd party success. Easier to spread the message, cheaprer than airfare.
  NP: sounds great, but it'll take some work
  MD: we should have someone at the Chicago event to make connections and bring the next convention to Vermont. Corey will get some numbers and we'll revisit this before the next meeting.
 
VII. New/April mtg (5 min)
 
AN: draft an email re: what the legislature is discussing on the budget. be on the lookout!
 
Dave Vandeusen, support of organized labor, seeking party support. 
Morgan will send out by email for discussion, vote, or resolution, watch your email
 
Saturday April 4th, or Sunday April 5th, or postponed. Keep eyes out on email for upcoming meeting dates and times.
 
NP: curious where our Progressive legislators are on universal health care bill. still have a lot of things I don't understand about this.
 
AN: you can ask Pearson, but never seen legislature so chaotic, and can't imagine that they'd accomplish anything this session.
 
MD: ask the electeds.
 

 

Move to adjourn, all in favor.
Submitted by Corey Decker (filling in for Chris Brimmer)

Feb 2015 State Committee Meeting - Minutes

Vermont Progressive Party State Committee Meeting 2/22/2015

Meeting was held at the The Old Labor Hall Barre VT between 1:00 and 4:00 PM.

1)     

Meeting called to order at 1:15 PM.

2)     

Emma introduced the question of the party policy resolution on Universal Health Care in response to the Governor's act and speakers for the health care panel. 

 

3)     

Marj Power discussed single payer under the UK system vs the American for profit system. Said that we are back to a patchwork that doesn't work very well and even though uninsured is less of a problem, under insurance is becoming the real issue. She likes the payroll tax as a way to fund the issue of the cost shift and that she sees it as a camel's nose for future funding for a real single payer system. Would like to see more moves to strengthen the Green Mountain Health Board. We will have to be incremental in the current situation and session.

 

4)     

Travon Leyshon discussed a financing bill vetted by economists that would include adult dental and vision care financed by a progressive payroll tax determined by business size and wage differential. A wealth tax should be looked at.  Refer to DBRSR website. Without a payroll tax we cannot fund a single payer system simply with income taxes and plan for a universal system. Turns out the ACA is actually a major barrier but he believes that the state can do single payer without a waiver. Universal health system is a major driver of a people's budget and should be a major goal of the party.

 

5)     

Marj Power concluded the panel stating that Peter Shumlin is running the state as a social liberal but a fiscal conservative and referred to his actions concerning state employees. But a payroll tax would at least build on what the Governor has put out there. 

 

6)     

Highlights from Q&A and comments from the panel discussion:

-Mari Cordes, concerned about what is politically possible after the Governor's broken promise.

-Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, gave a legislator's update, Chris Pearson says this is the toughest budget year ever so the push is to reduce the burden on the under-insured this should be doable is there is the will but the money is tough this year.

-Deb Richter, expects Phil Scott to be the next Governor yet the Health Committee has not taken up a single bill and all committees have been told to cut $1M from the budgets, wants to push Travon's plan and build unity around it.

-Michael Kane-asked how much savings out of pocket vs how much cost, Travon replied that the numbers have been run and 95% of Vermonters would save money, spreadsheets available on 2/26.

Paula Schramm-asking for more tax wise but will gain a net savings in premiums? Marge replied yes and they will be able to see the direct benefit, this will help small business but there will be winners and losers, the losers under the proposal are those who pay nothing.

Noël Kowalski-will further acts of civil disobedience be required to move the proposal forward? Marge replied that we need to do everything and everyone should do what is in their skill set. Travon commented that the sit in was a polarizing action but needed shock therapy and brought back discussion, a social movement needs social action.

-Adam Norton-this is not about what bill to support, don't waste time on the policy question but do we take the opportunity now to  represent the working people of Vermont? Do we want to build a real alternative?

 

7)     

Emma called the question. Martha Abbott moved the resolution for approval by the State Committee, seconded by Morgan Daybell. Motion opened for discussion.

-Undocumented immigrants would be covered.

-Get health coverage out of the conversation, this is health care.

Travon Layshon moved to amend the motion to add "Primary care for ALL Vermonters provides a working model for fed-up primary doctors nationwide." Motion seconded by Adam Norton.

Discussion of the amendment.

Robin Chesnut-Tangerman -- taxes based on an ability to pay would be fine but can we get to universal care through a payroll tax?

Marj-commented that executive pay refers to hospital administrators pay, not clear that the issue is broad enough.

Amendment voted and approved by a majority of voice vote.

Marj Power moved to amend the motion to drop the "reduced executive compensation" reference, seconded by Mari Codes. Chair split the floor and votes counted,  9 in favor of the amendment, 10 against, motion denied.

Motion as amended by the first moved amendment approved by acclamation.

 

8)     

 Chair moved to CoCo vacancies, they are filled temporarily by appointment and will be filled permanently by the State Committee in May. Candidates will need to be nominated.

 

9)     

Emma will be taking maternity leave and her functions will be filled by Morgan Daybell for the March/ April time frame.

 

10)  

Jeremy Hansen discussed election capacity building. He suggested that Phil Scott may be the only Republican on the ballot in 2016. The time to look into public finance is now. Proposes to distribute jars to collect change for matching contributions.  He attended the COPE conference and the unions are very angry and may be ready to dump the Democrats. We should look at 2016 and 2018 now and drum up candidates. We need improved data collection and opinion survey work. We need to lower the bar in the sense of what candidates need to do other than campaigning to run, especially first time candidates. A plea for help.

Ken Eardley- we need to get name recognition by running candidates for local offices.

Morgan Daybell- we need to beware of the nexus of duopoly and Secretary of State hostility to the public finance system and the budget hole the administration is trying to fill.

Travon Leyshon- noted our lack of a ground game, candidates are often operating alone.

Kelly Mangan- time and energy needs to be devoted to recruitment of campaign managers as well as candidates; candidates that act as their own managers almost always say never again.

Martha Abbott-we need to build our capacity to support campaigns but also sit down with candidates who can and will put the time in.

Ken Eardley- asked if there is a handbook for candidates and managers? Emma replied that there is such a document but that we are trying to update it currently.

Marj Powers- we need wider distribution of materials.

 

        11)  Chair moved the meeting to the VPP Bylaw amendment on the agenda. Item #1 CoCo responsibility for attendance. Item #2 platform to be reviewed in even years and requirement  

                for a 2/3 majority and the date during presidential years the same as presidential elections to    bring party                 procedures in line with state law. Discussion as follows:

                Caryn Connolly- are we going to have a standing platform committee and should this be a part of the                 amendment?

                Ken Eardley- will the convention be held only in even years?

                Discussion of more than one meeting, even year we tackle the platform, odd year town                 reorganization.

                Marj Powers, moved to clarify the language, second by Kent ?, amendment approved by            acclamation.

General discussion of the date of the convention and possible earlier platform meeting. Consensus that a May meeting is a better date.

Robin Chesnut-Tangerman- the platform is a guiding document and no one has ever asked him about his adherence to it.

Ed Stanak moved to divide the question, seconded by Cindy Weed and approved by acclamation. The two items will be considered individually.

General discussion of Item #2, timing for candidates and the adoption of the platform and if this was important. Jeremy Hansen called the question and Adam Norton seconded. Item #2 amendment for clarified language approved by a majority of voice vote. A state party convention  shall be held annually.  Item # 2 for amendment of the VPP Bylaw motion carries by a majority of voice vote with 3 nays.

Travon Leyshon moved amendment #1, CoCo attendance, seconded by Marj Powers and approved by acclamation.

Marj Powers moved to advise the CoCo to schedule the timing of the Platform Convention before the selection of candidates on an even year, second by Jeremy Hansen and approved by acclamation.

 

       12) Discussion of the FairPoint negotiation. Update on terms.

 

Meeting concluded at 4:15 PM..

 

Respectfully submitted by Chris Brimmer, state party secretary

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