Tom Chastenay

Now that H.926, an act relating to changes to Act 250, has been vetoed by the governor, what should the Senate do next? What reform of Vermont’s land use laws and regulations, if any, is still needed?

"The governor was right to veto the bill. The original revisions to the legislation were for the purpose of streamlining the Act 250 process, to make the rules less arbitrary.

"Instead, a whole new layer of regulations was added to it. Let’s just call Act 250 what it is. Vermont’s anti-development law."

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that access to the internet is now a near necessity for school and work. What can the Senate do to provide increased broadband access to rural and low-income Vermonters? 

"In this day and age, broadband is a vital necessity for every household in Vermont. The state could do its part, and support the telecom companies by offering incentives such as tax credits.

"The federal government has given Vermont $12 million to expand it’s broadband coverage. This is woefully inadequate. Where is our congressional delegation?They have failed miserably in doing the job of procuring federal money."

How can the state government make housing in Chittenden County, and across the state, more affordable? 

"This gets back to my philosophy of a free market approach to solving problems. When the supply exceeds the demand, the prices go down. This is directly tied into question number one about Act 250 reform.

"There’s no reason a 10-unit subdivision should take a year and a half to two years and $150,000 in engineering and permitting fees. The process is arbitrary and capricious. Why not have 10 or 12 well-defined criteria?"

S.54, an act that proposes a system for the regulation and sale of cannabis in Vermont, currently sits on the governor's desk awaiting approval. Did you vote, or would you have voted for the bill? Please explain. 

"This is a hard question for me. It puts my libertarian and conservative views at odds with each other. However, since it has been passed, I think the production and sale of it should be regulated and taxed."

Other than the four issues asked about here, what else do you think is a priority for the legislature to address and why?

"In the past 20 years or so, Vermont has found itself in a downward spiral. We have one of the highest cost of living, a serious lack of affordable housing, no industry that can provide quality, high-paying jobs and offset high property taxes. This didn’t happen overnight.

"Our kids graduate from school and can’t find a good job, so they move away. New business does not want to come to Vermont. The workforce isn’t here. Vermont has an adversarial attitude towards business. We could encourage new business to come to Vermont by offering tax incentives and we should be expanding vocational training.

"Another area of concern for me would be the lack of support for our law enforcement. These professionals put their life on the line every day to do the job that you and I wouldn’t or couldn’t do. I am wary of any legislation that begins with the phrase "police reform." When you limit the options the officer has to defuse a volatile situation you not only jeopardize the officers life but the person he is interacting with."

 

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