Letter to the Editor: Mark Higley of Lowell, Representative Orleans-Lamoille

in Letter to the Editor

I would like to inform residents about some of the legislation that has been considered and some that has passed in Montpelier. I consider myself fortunate to have represented the people of Eden, Lowell, Troy, Jay and Westfield, with a respectful and conservative voice in Montpelier. My votes on issues don’t come easy for me, but after listening to constituents and researching information from many different sources I do my best to advocate for or oppose legislation.

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With the very real possibility of Phil Scott as our next Governor, we have the opportunity to stop the over regulation and taxation of Vermonters. I agree with Phil that we can’t continue to grow the general fund at around 4.8%, when revenue comes in at around 2.2%. This requires tax packages, fee increases, possible rescissions and budget adjustments. With new or expanded laws come new regulations, expanded oversight by agencies and taxes or fees to pay for them. While many new laws being drafted and considered have merit, Vermonters are looking for predictability and stability in regulations and fees so they can plan for the future. Example are: expanded regulations and certification fees for small farms, harvest notification regulations for landowners looking to cut timber, and mandates on our small businesses like paid sick leave, to name just a few.

Many of of my constituents have said, Mark, for every law you pass you should find 2 to rescind. I proposed with co-sponsors, like 13 other states, a limit on the number of bills a legislator can sponsor during the session. The Rules Committee voted down this proposal. The Attorney General’s Office requested consideration to license Home Builders and Home Improvement contractors through the Office of Professional Regulations (OPR) sunrise review process. Through my work and that of other committee members in the House and Senate, we were able to turn down that request at this time. We talk about supporting our small businesses, but so much of what we do stifles innovation and growth of our businesses.

Because the Majority sets the agenda in Montpelier, and I don’t believe we will reach a majority, I would like to comment on a couple of proposals that are being considered.
Both the carbon tax and background checks for all gun sales have had legislation drafted in the past. The carbon tax would be another state run program increasing the price of fossil fuels, (gas, fuel oil, propane, etc.) while at the same time giving surrounding states a economic advantage. I also believe background checks on all gun sales would only affect law abiding Vermonters with increased costs and would be hard to enforce. Having talked with constituents over the years regarding these proposals, I will do my best to explain to my colleagues in Montpelier why these initiatives are not right for Vermont.

Thanks for your support in the past, and I hope to return to Montpelier and continue to be a part of solutions to issues facing us here in Vermont.

Mark Higley

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