Legislature

Postings from Progressives elected to the VT Legislature

Progressives Announce Slate of 21 Candidates

June 1, 2014; Anne Galloway; VTDigger

The Vermont Progressive Party will have four statewide candidates, three incumbent senators and 14 House candidates running for office in the 2014 election.

The Progressive party, one of four state major parties, announced its slate on Saturday — well ahead of the Vermont Democratic Party and the Vermont GOP, and the June 12 filing deadline for candidates. While the Democrats are fielding a preponderance of incumbents, the Republicans have announced some House and Senate candidates, but have yet to declare who will be running for statewide office, including the gubernatorial race. The Vermont Liberty Union Party, which gained major party status in the 2012 election, is also fielding a slate of statewide candidates and a candidate for the House of Representatives, who may be the sole contender for Rep. Peter Welch’s seat.

Progressive Party officials touted the “real growth” in the number of candidates since 2012.

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Building a Movement for Happiness

May 15, 2014; John de Graaf; Truthout

Vermont and Bhutan have embraced happiness rather than GDP as a measure of social success. The world's happiest countries share surprising characteristics - a small gap between rich and poor; work-life balance; urban design favoring community over cars; high degrees of interpersonal trust; a strong social safety net, and the highest tax rates in the world.

You probably missed it, but April 13, 2014, marked the third annual Pursuit of Happiness Day. April 13 just happens to be the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote those famous words "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" into our Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson and other American revolutionary leaders including Washington, Adams and Franklin all believed that the main purpose of government was increasing the happiness of its citizens. They said so on many occasions. But the idea of government promoting happiness or its corollary, "wellbeing," is more often derided in contemporary politics - "social engineering," some call it.

One significant exception is the state of Vermont. In addition to electing the most progressive and independent of US senators, Bernie Sanders, Vermont has become a laboratory for promoting new ways of understanding and promoting happiness and wellbeing. Its governor, Peter Shumlin, has proclaimed Pursuit of Happiness Day in Vermont for the past three years. Its legislature, with support from Democrats, Republicans and Progressive Party members, has established a state GPI or Genuine Progress Indicator, that uses some two dozen measures of health, wealth, education, leisure and sustainability to measure progress (Maryland has the same index and other states may follow soon).

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"As Consumers, We are Guinea Pigs": Vermont Set to Become First State to Require GMO Food Labeling

Click here to watch on DemocracyNow.org

Watch on DemocracyNow.org >>

"Vermont is poised to become the first state to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms in food products. Governor Peter Shumlin said he would sign the pro-GMO-labeling bill as early as this week. The new law would take effect in July 2016 and would also make it illegal to label foods containing GMOs as "all natural" or "natural." Vermont could prove to be the tipping point in a national movement to inform consumers about whether their food contains GMOs. Twenty-nine other states have proposed bills requiring labeling this year, and two have already passed similar bills. But those measures only take effect when neighboring states also approve the requirements. We speak with Vermont State Sen. David Zuckerman, who first introduced GMO labeling bills more than a decade ago when he served in the House."

Progressive Legislative Roundup

Aptil 18, 2014; Bob Kinzel; VPR

Click here to listen!

When the 2014 legislative session started, leaders in the Progressive Party were expressing concern with some of the policies of Governor Shumlin. How do they feel about the Governor now as the session winds down?

We’ll talk with the House Progressive Caucus leader, Burlington Representative Chris Pearson, and with Enosburg Representative Cindy Weed and Senator David Zuckerman about the progressive legislative priorities for the end of the session.

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Vermont puts lessons from past in GMO bill

April 15, 2014; Jenny Hopkinson; Politico

Vermont lawmakers seeking to make their state the first to require the labeling of genetically modified food are hoping history won’t repeat itself.

A bill (H. 112) that the state’s Democratically controlled Senate passed Wednesday in a 28-2 vote would mandate labels on all genetically engineered edibles sold, with exemptions for animal feed and some food-processing aids, such as enzymes for making yogurt.

The House passed the bill 99-42 in May. If that chamber backs the Senate’s amendments, which could happen as early as next week, the measure could shortly head to Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin for his signature.

But this isn’t the first time that the Green Mountain State has been challenged on its efforts to enforce labeling requirements on products. In those instances, which involved labeling dairy products from livestock treated with growth hormones and mercury-containing devices, the state has had mixed results.

Now, lawmakers are looking to learn from their mistakes, adding language to the bill that they hope will provide an iron-clad legal justification for the measure.

“Yes, it’s quite likely we will be sued, and we have looked at the various court cases out there” and wrote the bill to reflect those rulings, said state Sen. David Zuckerman, a member of the Vermont Progressive Party, who sponsored the bill.

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Could Vermont change the healthcare game?

Click here to watch on MSNBC.com

From MSNBC's UP With Steve Kornacki: "Could Vermont’s single-payer health care experiment be a game changer? Vermont State Rep. Chris Pearson joins the UP panel to discuss."

Watch on MSNBC.com >>

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