Doyle survey looks at constitutional amendments

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(Host) Washington County Senator Bill Doyle says the results of his Town Meeting Day survey could influence how lawmakers deal with two proposed constitutional amendments.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The two amendments concern the length of terms in office for the governor and individual lawmakers. Vermont is one of two states in the country that still maintains a two-year term for governor; the other is New Hampshire.

Doyle is the lead sponsor of a proposal to extend the governor’s term to four years, but some members of his Senate Government Operations Committee will support this plan only if lawmakers are also given four year terms.

Doyle’s Town Meeting Day survey gauges public sentiment on both of these issues. Constitutional amendments must start in the Senate and to advance initially, they must be supported by at least 20 of the 30 senators. Doyle says the outlook right now is uncertain:

(Doyle) “There are those in principle who would never vote for a four-year term. Let’s say mathematically, hypothetically, there are five or six. That gets us to 24, and I think the 24 senators are split whether to, should be, four [year terms] across the board for legislators and the governor. And then there are probably 12 that would say it should be for the governor and statewide officials. So it will take a lot of consensus to get it out of committee.”

(Kinzel) Doyle expects to receive roughly 10,000 responses to his survey and he thinks some lawmakers will be influenced by the results of these constitutional questions:

(Doyle) “It certainly would send a message, a strong message – not only to the committee but 180 lawmakers. It would be a thoughtful message, it would be message that would have to be considered.”

(Kinzel) Doyle has been tabulating surveys for the past 35 years. He launched his first Town Meeting Day survey in 1969 as a way to measure public support for Governor Deane Davis’s plan to implement a sales tax in Vermont to help deal with the state’s growing budget deficit.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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