SPEAKER SHAP SMITH PLAYS POLITICS WITH HOUSE HEALTH CARE COMMITTEE
Speaker’s Political Moves Aligned With Governor Shumlin, Not Vermonters
Montpelier, VT – In a shocking revelation revealed late on Friday evening — when most Vermonters were focused on the weekend — The Burlington Free Press published a story about bare knuckled politics being played by Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith in advance of this week’s kick-off of the legislative session.
The Speakers actions indicate that the message sent by Vermonters in the November 4th election may have fallen on the deaf ears of a Speaker who is more aligned with Governor Shumlin than he is with Vermonters.
Vermonters spoke clearly on November 4th. They wanted change, a new direction and a more positive and balanced bipartisan effort by Governor Shumlin and the Democrat majority in Montpelier. However, before the session has even begun there are indications that it’s “politics as usual” from Speaker Shap Smith.
The Burlington Free Press reports (Mike Donoghue, Morrissey’s Seat on Health Care Panel in Jeopardy, The Burlington Free Press, January 2, 2015) that Speaker Shap Smith is intending to remove a clear and reasoned voice on the House Health Care Committee — that of Republican Representative Mary Morrissey of Bennington. Rep. Morrissey has been a member of the House for 18 years. As a member of Health Care Committee, she has shown the courage to ask tough questions on behalf of thousands of concerned Vermonters — especially regarding Speaker Shap Smith’s blind allegiance to the radical government run health care plans of Governor Shumlin.
Given her deep background and knowledge of the history and workings of the Health Care Committee — and her knowledge of the inherent errors of Governor Shumlin’s health care schemes — it seems Rep. Morrissey would be the perfect choice to not only remain a member of the committee, but to be given a leadership position on it. But, the Shumlin-Smith political machine in Montpelier seems more focused on political retribution than it is on good health care policies that actually benefit Vermonters with lower costs, better access and enhanced quality and service levels.
There is still time for Speaker Smith to hear the message from Vermonters and move from the political fringe to a more centrist political position. He can still reverse his poorly considered decision and not only reappoint Rep. Morrissey to the House Health Care Committee, but also appoint additional reasoned and mainstream Republican voices to the committee. He can singlehandedly bring a more balanced and bipartisan tone to this critical committee and promote government that truly listens and responds to the will of Vermonters.
When the legislature convenes this week, Vermonters will be watching and listening to see if their strong, loud and clear message was heard in Montpelier. Speaker Shap Smith — and his allegiance to Governor Shumlin — will be put to the test from the very beginning and his actions could set the tone for the entire legislative session.