Doyle Surprised By Town Meeting Survey Results

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(Host) The preliminary results of Senator Bill Doyle’s town meeting survey are in.

And as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, Doyle was surprised by some of the results.

(Kinzel) Doyle has tabulated the results of several thousand surveys from different parts of the state. And he says further tallies aren’t likely to change the current results by more than a percent or two.

One of the most emotional issues that could be considered in the second half of the session is a bill that allows a terminally ill patient to end their life with the assistance from their doctor.

Supporters refer to it as "death with dignity" and opponents call it ‘physician-assisted suicide."

Back in 2004, Doyle asked the question using the terminology of the opponents. So he says he used that same language again this year to be able to compare the results.

And the results are almost exactly the same as seven years ago. Roughly 54 percent support the bill and 32 percent oppose it.

Doyle says the margin might have been bigger if he had used the phrase "death with dignity."

(Doyle) "It’s an issue that people feel very strongly about and have made up their minds one way or the other. So you don’t expect a swing of public opinion on that issue."

(Kinzel) Doyle says people responding to the survey feel very strongly about a plan to expand the state’s bottle deposit law to include all bottled beverages.  They support it by a margin of 79 percent to just 14 percent.

(Doyle) "Seventy-nine is very high and was one of the surprises that people feel strongly about. One person wrote in he said Maine‘s had a bottle deposit on all bottles for 20 years, which I didn’t know."

(Kinzel) Over the past few years, Doyle has asked if it should be illegal for drivers to use a cell phone while operating their car. Every year support grows stronger. This year 77 percent said yes, while 17 percent are opposed.

(Doyle) "People do definitely think that it’s a distraction. And sometimes I get comments that while people are talking on the telephone while someone’s in a  crosswalk. That’s pretty dangerous too."

(Kinzel) Doyle says he also received a lot of written comments about whether there should be a mandatory minimum jail sentence for repeat drunk drivers. Seventy-five percent said yes, 14 percent said no.

(Doyle) "I’ve never seen an electorate more upset about an issue than this one.  The general feeling in Vermont is that we’re really soft on that issue."

(Kinzel) The survey also found strong support for a four-year term for governor.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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