Opinion: Van Wyck responds to criticism about voting record
There is a saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover. That’s often the case for an act and its title in the Vermont Legislature. So it is with Act No. 31 (H.99), an act relating to equal pay. Equal pay has been a Vermont law since 2002 (and federal law before that) and I support equal pay for equal work. Act 31, however, is primarily about imposing various other mandates on employers and contractors in Vermont. This is the reason that I voted against it.
I will also present other explanations for some votes I have made. Shoreland protection should be decided on the local level, not “one size fits all” decided on the state level. Lake Champlain is very different than Kettle Pond in Marshfield. Property owners have a vested interest in water quality themselves as demonstrated with improvements done locally at Lake Bomoseen.
Though legislation might be well-intentioned, such as further raising the minimum wage (it had already increased every year based on the Consumer Price Index), the Legislature can not override the laws of economics, which demonstrate that though some employees will have increased wages, others will lose their jobs and have a zero wage, and others lower wages due to fewer hours.
Vermont’s minimum wage is already over $1 more than New Hampshire’s ($7.25), yet according to a 2013 Census report Vermont experienced an increase in the percentage of people living in poverty, while New Hampshire saw a decrease. Ask yourself the question: Why not increase the minimum wage to $20 per hour?
Vermont already has high electric rates and net metering will cause them to increase higher. This makes Vermont less affordable for families and businesses. Given Vermont’s struggling economy, common sense dictates that we must have competitive energy costs to have a competitive business environment. Common sense also indicates that a small state of some 625,000 cannot supplant the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (or FDA), which has a budget of over $130 million and over 500 employees. We must have some basic confidence in the work of that commission with respect to toxic chemicals in consumer products.
The bottom line is that Vermont must make wise choices based on costs and benefits using actual data and verifiable experiences, or a reasonable expectation of success. My votes have been based on that criterion. Please contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns, or view WarrenVanWyck.com.
I’m thankful to the voters who elected me despite the recent distortions about my record.
Rep. Warren Van Wyck
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