On October 17, 2018

Candidate Charlie Kimbell discusses the issues

By Curt Peterson

Charlie Kimbell
Charlie Kimbell

WOODSTOCK—Charlie Kimbell is the unopposed legislative candidate for re-election representing Woodstock, Reading and Plymouth. The Mountain Times had an opportunity to ask Kimbell about the major Vermont issues on for the 2018 election at the Thompson Center on Oct. 10.

On marijuana legislation, Kimbell said he is not in favor of a “tax and regulate” strategy, which he feels would increase use of the drug.

“I don’t know if we want that,” he said. “I know I don’t.”

Those in favor of tax-and-regulate hope for $80 million in new state revenue to educate people about marijuana’s effects and its safe use. Vermont is also surrounded by states that have legalized the drug – Massachusetts, New York and Quebec .

“Frankly, I don’t think we should spend time on marijuana – we have more important issues to deal with,” Kimbell said.

Kimbell believes the current real estate tax education financing scheme is already progressive, which counters gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist’s and Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s suggestion that wealthier Vermonters should pay a larger share of their income to support schools.

“Forced mergers” of small schools with existing ACT 46 consolidated districts are a major battleground in the state. Barnard has been struggling to stay independent as the state board of education works toward a Nov. 30 deadline regarding alternative governance structures.

“Some of the mergers being contemplated do not make any sense because there is no real benefit, either financially or for improving the quality of education,” Kimbell said. “In those cases, the districts should not be forced to merge. But it has to be very clear there is no benefit.”

Kimbell feels a historic work ethic has been lost among students, few having jobs after school. He has sponsored bills proposing Dual Enrollment Career/Technology Education (H.391), Workforce Development and Recruitment (H.811) and Workforce Training Funds (H.833), efforts to prepare students for the workplace.

Kimbell applauds much of the gun control bill Gov. Phil Scott signed following the thwarted Fair Haven school shooting, but he has reservations about some provisions.

He is in favor of expanding background checks to cover private firearms sales, but questions raising the minimum age for purchasing a firearm from 18 to 21.

“If a person can serve in the military or legally sign contracts at 18,” he said, “he should be able to purchase a firearm.”

He said he sympathizes with people who want 30-bullet magazine rifles, but he voted for the magazine limit and for outlawing bump stocks, an accessory that increases a semi-automatic firearm almost to a fully automatic weapon.

Kimbell cited a 20-year Center for Disease Control study revealing Vermont has the highest per capita rate of women giving birth while addicted to opioids – 5 percent.

“We have a highly-addicted population, and we need to do a better job of treating the problem,” he said.

The Woodstock resident said public-private partnerships are helping the job situation in Vermont. The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association is training 50 needed oil burner technicians, and GW Plastics in Randolph joined  Vermont Technical College to teach high school students skills for today’s jobs.

Because Vermont accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, Kimbell said, we have to work with the other New England states to make a difference.

“I do support expanding the network of electric charging stations to facilitate more [electric vehicles], and … continuing the financial support to weatherize Vermont homes,” he said. “I am not a fan of large-scale wind … or large scale solar farms like the one in Ludlow/Cavendish,” he said. Kimbell voted against raising the minimum wage.

“Ninety percent of businesses have fewer than 20 employees. Many of them struggle to make payroll as it is,” he said.

On the subject of single-payer health care, Kimbell believes Vermont is too small to create its own system.

“This is, and should be, a national discussion,” he said.

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