Is Entergy Worried?
The early CW on the chances of Democrats overriding GOP Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of their Global Warming Bill - "The Vermont Energy Efficiency and Affordability Act" - was between none and next to none. H. 520 passed the House on an 85-61 vote. A two-thirds vote is required to take Gov. Jimbo's veto and park it where the moon don't shine.
Contrary to the CW, however, a few veteran Montpeculiar insiders took a very different approach. They suggested Democratic leaders actually should be able to override with no sweat. It's not just a matter of getting people to change their previous vote from "nay" to "aye," it's also about getting a few people to "stay home" that day - that day being July 11.
This morning, House Natural Resources Chairman Robert Dostis [left] and Rep. Tony Klein, a committee member, were the guests on The Mark Johnson Show on WDEV. Johnson asked Chairman Dostis how he could possibly override?
"Well," replied the Chairman, "You need two-thirds of who is there."
You think you can "realistically pull this off?" asked Marko.
"I would never count us out," replied Dostis. "Too important a piece of legislation."
In addition, he noted, "People who previously opposed the bill are now supporting it." When they learn the facts, he said, "They see it's a good bill."
Interesting. And soon things got even more interesting when Mark the Host took the next call and I - and the guests - instantly recognized the familiar South-Boston accent that's echoed up and down the Statehouse halls since the 1980s.
Gerry Morris, aka "Morris the Cat," is one of the top hired-gun business lobbyists under the golden dome. Mr. Morris [pictured below, right], represents Entergy Vermont Yankee among other distinguished business clients, including Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., Pfizer Inc, and Vermont State Colleges.
MORRIS: Well, you both know Vermont Yankee does not pay a property tax which is why we pay less in property taxes now than we did in 2002. You both know that, right?
DOSTIS: Yeah. And that’s why I have to keep talking about money into the Education Fund and money into the General Fund, so it is a difference, but the bottom line is, call it what you want, it’s still basically a property tax, but it’s not based on fair-market-value.
MORRIS: Well, here’s the bottom line. We pay between $4.5 and $5 million a year into the state of Vermont through the generating tax, and the Legislature decided that 56 percent of that would go to the General Fund and the rest go to the Ed Fund, which is why, I believe, we’ve about $2 million of our money is going into the Ed Fund. So, in addition to that $4.5 million, we also contribute another $4.5 million to your Clean Energy Fund, and we also pay our local property tax. So for someone to say, we’re not paying our fair share of taxes, I really can’t understand that argument.
Just once, I would like to walk into a legislative committee and have someone on that committee say, ‘Well, gee, thanks, Entergy Vermont for saving Vermonters $650 million on their electric bills, for paying almost over $12 million into the state of Vermont and local government and in your taxes. I mean, just once, I would like someone to say , ‘Thank you, Entergy, for all you’re doing for us!’
DOSTIS: Thank you, Entergy, for all you’re doing for us.
MORRIS: ...Instead of saying, here’s your 90 percent tax increase because we couldn’t figure out another way to pay for this new bureaucracy which doesn’t exist , hasn’t even been designed yet, as noble as its goals may be.
KLEIN: I do thank Entergy for paying into these funds, but one of the payments that he referred to was $4.5 million into the Clean Energy Fund. That money is only paid if Vermont Yankee is operating in their ‘uprate’ mode - the 20 percent that wheels out of the state at terrific profit levels.
Just a "Freyne Land" thought: When Entergy's top, hired-gun Statehouse lobbyist is the person who calls the Democratic environmental leaders on talk radio to take them on mano-a-mano demanding hommage, you don't think someone's getting a little desperate, do you?