Legislative
Roll Call

Facts and figures about the men and women at work under Montpelier's golden dome

by Craig Bailey

In politics, we're told, it pays to walk the middle road. Taking extreme positions might win-over small numbers of devoted voters with compassion for specific issues, but the real volume is in the mushy middle -- the moderate easy chair the majority of voters kick their feet up in.

That won't buy any points here.

Here Business People takes a look at the extremes -- the oldest, the youngest, the naughty and the nice -- of Vermont's Legislature. Our statistics come from the Secretary of State and Legislature Web sites (www.sec.state.vt.us and www.leg.state.vt.us), which, among other useful tidbits, include brief biographies and photos of our 180 legislators.

Legislator rankings on the pro-business scale are courtesy of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce's "Legislative Midterm Report Card." More on that later.

Fewer than half (47 percent) of Vermont's senators and representatives were born in-state. For those 94 who took their first breath outside the Green Mountains, 36 percent did so in New England. The most common non-New England states of birth: New York, 29; New Jersey, 10; Pennsylvania, 6.

Two senators were born in foreign lands: Jean Ankeney (D), Chittenden, b. Foochow, China; Ben-Zion Ptashnik (D), Windsor, b. Tel-Aviv, Israel. Honorable mention: Rep. Steven Hingtgen (P), Chittenden-7-2, b. Chula Vista, Calif.

Party split

Democrat    94 (52%)
Republican    79 (44%)
Progressive    4 (2%)
Independent    2 (1%)
Libertarian/Republican    1 (1%)

Gender split

Male    123 (68%)
Female    57 (32%)

Top three in-state birthplaces

1.    Burlington    15
2.    Rutland    9
3.    Bennington (tie)    6
        Brattleboro (tie)    6

Top three out-of-state birthplaces

1.        New York, N.Y.    12
2.        Hartford, Conn.    5
3.        Boston, Mass. (tie)    3
        Washington, D.C. (tie)    3

Three oldest legislators

1.    William Fyfe (House-R), Orleans-2, b. July 30, 1916
2.    Oreste Valsangiacomo Sr. (House-D), Washington-4-2, b. Oct. 31, 1919
3.    William Suchmann (House-R), Windsor-5, b. Jan. 7, 1922

Three youngest legislators

1.    Jason Barney (House-R), Franklin-1, b. July 10, 1976
2.    Doran Metzger (House-R), Chittenden-2-2, b. May 14, 1974
3.    Alysia Krasnow (House-D), Chittenden-5-3, b. Jan. 18, 1972

Separated at birth?

Martha Heath (House-D), Chittenden-2-3, b. Dec. 21, 1946
Gerald Morrissey (Senate-R), Bennington, b. Dec. 21, 1946

Legislative report card

This fall, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce in Berlin published its latest "Legislative Midterm Report Card." Intended to "highlight legislators' voting records on issues that increase economic opportunities for Vermonters," according to the introduction of the pamphlet, the data was based on roll call votes relevant to the chamber's session priorities.

The chamber's number-crunchers determined scores by dividing a legislator's number of votes for economic opportunity by the lawmaker's total votes.

House scores

Scores in the House were determined by tracking votes on: Act 250 permits, bottled water labeling, sales tax limitation, sales tax cut, education income tax, small business tax credit, water rules, electric utility efficiency, minimum wage increase, and indexing minimum wage. Forty-four representatives earned perfect scores: Angell, Randolph; Baker, West Rutland; Bourdeau, Hyde Park; Brown, Walden; Buckland, Newport Town; Clark, St. Johnsbury; Crawford, Burke; DePoy, Rutland City; Flory, Pittsford; Freed, Dorset; Gray, Barre Town; Hathaway, Barton; Helm, Castleton; Holmes, Bethel; Hudson, Lyndon; Hyde, Fayston; LaBarge, Grand Isle; Larrabee, Danville; Livingston, Manchester; Maslack, Poultney; Mazur, South Burlington; McGrath, Ferrisburgh; Metzger, Milton; Morrissey, Bennington; Mullin, Rutland Town; Neiman, Georgia; O'Donnell, Vernon; Peaslee, Guildhall; Pike, Mendon; Pratt, Castleton; Richardson, Weathersfield; Robb, Swanton; Schiavone, Shelburne; Sheltra, Derby; Sherman, St. Johnsbury; Smith, H., New Haven; Sweetser, Essex; Towne, Berlin; Voyer, Morristown; Westman, Cambridge; Willett, St. Albans City; Winters, Williamstown; Wood, Brandon; and Young, Orwell.

Three received scores of zero: Bouricius, Corren and Zuckerman, all of Burlington.

Senate scores

Scores in the Senate were determined by tracking votes on: HMO liability, minimum wage increase, training wage, background checks, school choice, workers' compensation, health care mandate, chiropractor mandate and elimination of income tax cut.

Top three scores:

1.    Maynard (Rutland)     89%
2.    Bahre (Addison; tie)    78%
    Greenwood (Essex-Orleans; tie)
    Morrissey (Bennington; tie)
3.    Bloomer (Rutland; tie)    75%
    Ide (Caledonia; tie)

Bottom three scores:

1.    McCormack (Windsor)    11%
2.    Ready (Addison)    14%
3.    Ankeney (Chittenden; tie)    22%
    Kittell (Franklin; tie)

The chamber plans to combine these results with scores from the 2000 session and publish a final score card for the 1999/2000 biennium.