Senate President Peter Shumlin

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The leaders of the House and Senate are determined to adjourn this
legislative session on Saturday, but several critical pieces of business
need to be finished to meet that goal. The president pro tempore of the
Vermont Senate, Peter Shumlin, updates us on the work that’s been
finished, the bills that still need to pass, and the compromises that
might allow lawmakers to conclude the biennium this weekend.

Also in the program, VPR’s Ross Sneyd joins Bob Kinzel to analyze the
top stories in Montpelier and around the state. (Listen)

And we listen back to
some of the voices in the news this week. (Listen)


Listener comments on the Legislature:


Margaret in Norwich:

If you want to provide a quick economic stimulus, send our property tax assistance checks for the full amount directly to the taxpayers, not the towns, right now. I have learned that the Legislature has just passed a bill which will postpone half of the assistance payment an extra six months. This will have a contracting effect on the economy this summer because individuals will have to be coming up with hundreds of dollars to pay property tax bills – money they didn’t expect to have to come up with and still don’t even know they’ll have to come up with. Postponing our tax assistance payments will hurt people individually and the economy in general. This is a simple and direct idea which will give people a quick burst of money when they need it most.


Heather in Burlington:

Personally, I am horrified that the Legislature is quitting early. As a Vermonter I feel abandoned by my own government. Our economy is in recession, our roads are falling apart, the price of food is skyrocketing, gas is almost unaffordable and they’re quitting now? If they don’t step up to the plate now then when will they step up to help Vermonters?


Fred in Windsor:

Vermonters themselves need to do more to cut gas prices. Conserve, buy less junk and healthier foods. It will pay back much more in the long run.


Bruce in South Burlington:

Mr. Shumlin is wrong when he claims a 55 MPH speed limit is not effective in reducing fuel use and therefore personal expense. His response was that manufacturers should make more fuel efficient vehicles. Eeveryone can have a more fuel efficient vehicle now without buying anything let alone waiting for the manufactures to break down and actually do something to substantially increase mileage.

I already have the most efficient model for sale today – a Toyota Prius. At 65 MPH, I generally get 45 to 47 MPG. Most people would be very happy with that considering what they get in their vehicles. However, based on repeatable long mileage Interstate testing, I can make it at least 15 percent more efficient simply by driving 55 MPH, generally achieving 55 to 58 MPG. At $3.65/gallon, a 15 percent decrease in fuel use results in an effective price of $3.10. If every vehicle on the Interstate slowed to 55 MPH the minimum fuel savings would be 15 percent. How many miles are traveled on Vermont Interstates in a year? If you were to divide that by an assumed ‘all vehicles’ average of 25 MPG and 28.5 MPG (15 percent improvement), how many gallons would be saved? And at $3.65/gallon, how much money?

In actuality, the minimum savings would be more than 15 percent as fuel use increases with speed, especially over 55 MPH. In my experience, no more than two or three percent of the vehicles on the interstate are traveling at or below the 65 MPH speed limit. I have been passed while driving 65 MPH on I-89 by people on Route 2 in the Bolton area. According to a law enforcement friend, the reason the limits are not enforced is because it is not cost effective. The Legislature can help decrease fuel use (and in so doing, air pollution and global warming) by instituting a 55 MPH Interstate limit and increasing the fines for speeding such that they are a real deterrent which also covers the cost of enforcement. Replace the ‘Click it or Ticket’ signs with "Speeding? Minimum $500 Fine" and start enforcing. People will quickly get word that the current perceived limit of "anything less than 10 MPH over" is no longer the ‘in practice’ speed limit.



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