Joe Benning | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Joe Benning 
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Re: “Walters: Scott, Hallquist Draw Clear Contrasts in Second Debate

Re: "He asserted that boosting the economy will bring organic wage growth instead of an "artificial" boost in the minimum wage. Which seems to be another way of saying "trickle down."

Re: "Scott agreed on the importance of broadband, but seemed to place it lower on the priority list than his general references to affordability. "

Re: "If you like what's been done over the past two years, Scott offers more of the same. Hallquist presents an ambitious agenda ...".

I forget John, are you writing a news column or a blog opinion column for Seven Days?

41 likes, 21 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 10/11/2018 at 1:12 PM

Re: “Up in Smoke: What Turner and Zuckerman's Pot Plan Says About the Lt. Gov. Candidates

As one of the core group of legislators who have pushed for a properly taxed and regulated system from the beginning (a group that includes LG Zuckerman), as someone who has worked with the lobbyists quoted in this story, and as someone who has worked with Don Turner extensively in our respective roles as minority leader (he in the House; me in the Senate) I'd like to make a couple observations.

First, Don was opposed to legalization. But after it became law he told me he recognized that we needed to do it right and he'd decided to support the concept of taxing and regulating it. He took considerable heat from those in his caucus who remained opposed. His change in position was hardly a "political stunt." It was a sincere decision on his part to try and do what was best for Vermont given the new status of the law.

Second, I have to disagree with the opinion expressed by LG David Zuckerman that Don "single-handedly killed any chances of success." It was David who initially told me that Don had changed position. But the votes were not there, in either the Republican or Democrat caucuses. We all knew that. I recall David expressing hope for a shift when Don came out supporting tax and regulate, but I also recall being skeptical that enough votes could be changed that late in the session and saying so to David. It is not fair to place failure of this initiative at that time on Don's shoulders.

14 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 09/27/2018 at 11:48 AM

Re: “Walters: Scott Appears to Snub Addison Republican Senate Candidate

Come on John Walters. The headline of this story is clearly click-bait in the worst possible sense. Phil Scott didn't "snub" anybody. He gets invited to an event that he's not putting on. He agrees to go. How in the world do you go from that to deciding he thus "snubbed" somebody else who wasn't invited? If I invited you to my birthday party and didn't invite my brother, have you "snubbed" my brother in agreeing to come? Quite the leap. Your partisan leanings are showing.

35 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 09/21/2018 at 1:34 PM

Re: “Walters: Scott Speaks Softly, Carries Big Stick on Taxes

Re: "It's amazing how well he knows what's in the Democratic majority's minds, considering that he rarely seems to talk with them. "

Actually John, I suspect he might have just read one of your previous articles illuminating their strategy. You know, the one with the picture you took of their off -campus meeting with the white board setting forth their agenda.

33 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 05/17/2018 at 9:19 AM

Re: “Vermont Senate Votes to Override Scott's Veto of Toxics Bill

Despite the contention by "Roy" that we Republicans are "motivated mostly by greed and hate," there was perfectly good reason for us to vote against this bill. First, at present a Commissioner is vested with authority to designate a chemical as "dangerous" with certain provisos. The chemical must be found "on the basis of credible, scientific evidence" to be a threat. This bill dillutes that by simply calling for "independent, peer-reviewed scientific research." (I can find an "independent, peer-reviewed scientific research" paper arguing that vaccines cause autism easily on the internet.) We've gone from credible evidence to suspicious opinion, hardly a wise move when considering Commissioners are creatures of political winds. Secondly, regulating sale of a product now requires a finding by a legislatively created working group of experts that a given child's product contains a chemical of high concern. They determine that a child "will" be exposed to that chemical. They then must find a probability that exposure could cause or contribute to an adverse health impact. But the bill eliminates need for the working group's approval. Then it destroys the chemical/exposure/harm nexus by permitting regulation only if it "may" cause harm. This is regulation by opinion, not demonstrable evidence that children will be harmed. There is no evidence that any Vermont child has been harmed with current practice. No other state has gone this far and manufacturers and retailers cannot rely upon political winds. Personally, this isn't about party politics or greed; it's about smart legislating.

24 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 04/19/2018 at 7:35 PM

Re: “Vermont Senate Votes to Increase the Legal Age for Gun Buyers to 21

John Greenburg: Re: your comment: " they will have to wait until they are 21 to buy (legally) a weapon that can be used for killing. "

Please recognize the distinction of this bill's "having to wait to buy" versus actually "possessing" a weapon. Twenty year old Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook school shooter, didn't buy his weapon. He used his mother's. Seventeen year old Dylan Kleibold and eighteen year old Eric Harris, the Columbine shooters, didn't purchase their weapons directly; they used a straw purchaser. Proponents of this new age restriction produced not one shred of evidence that any of our country's mass killings would have been prevented if this law were in place.

So as a result of the actions of a (thankfully still) mere handful of our population, what, exactly, does this bill accomplish to prevent the next tragedy? We don't know, but it makes us feel good. However, we DO know some of its unintended consequences. An 18 through 20 year old trainee at the Vermont State Police Academy will not be allowed to purchase a gun. A 20 year old veteran returning from Afghanistan, who is no longer on active duty status, will not be allowed to purchase a gun. An 18 through 20 year old Olympic athlete in training for the biathlon will not be allowed to purchase a gun. They will all have to borrow or steal somebody else's.

For me, without evidence that this law will prevent anything and knowing the unintended consequences, I submit impinging on the constitutional rights of the roughly 70,000 perfectly law-abiding Vermonters between the ages of 18 to 20 is unjustified.

13 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 03/05/2018 at 4:31 PM

Re: “Brock, Two Others Nominated For Franklin County Senate Seat

Doug Hoffer: I think you need to reread the thread. It was Mr. Quintana who claimed that the number one reason to move to Vermont was the entitlements. I didn't refer at all "to people receiving public assistance because they 'feel entitled'." But you did, and then tried to imply I'm somehow not caring in that regard, which is quite ironic given how I've dedicated my life to supporting the most disadvantaged among us. And Mr. Salem appears to have jumped on your bandwagon. My point was that I found it offensive for Mr. Quintana to suggest the number one reason to come to Vermont is to receive entitlements. No more, no less. If that is truly the mindset of people coming here, your and my respective jobs are going to become far more difficult since we are currently struggling to support those already here. And maybe I'm out of touch, but I happen to believe Vermont's way of life is a far more important reason to come here than for the free stuff Mr. Quintana appears to believe he is entitled to.

20 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Joe Benning on 12/18/2017 at 4:58 PM

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