For reasons I won’t go into, I found myself looking at the roll call vote for S.169.
The vote in the Vermont House of Representatives on the bill, which establishes a 24-hour waiting period for handgun purchases — its passage Thursday was hailed as a victory by suicide-prevention advocates — was largely along party lines and the Republican-heavy Rutland County Delegation provided a sizeable chunk of the “no” votes. It wasn’t entirely partisan, though. Two Rutland County Democrats — city Rep. William Notte and David Potter, of Clarendon — broke ranks.
“As a legislator, I would love to do something to decrease suicides in Vermont,” Notte said. “This bill was not it.”
Notte serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which took testimony on the bill, and he said the data he saw did not convince him the bill would prevent a single suicide. He said the bill only applies to handguns, but that one-third of suicides in Vermont are carried out with long guns. Even if the waiting period applied to all guns, he said, people who kill themselves with a gun have usually owned that gun for some time.
On top of that, Notte said, Rutland has gun shops and gun shows that draw people to the area. He said all he saw the bill doing was inconveniencing gun buyers and damaging Rutland’s economy with no benefit.
Notte said he had also voted against the minimum wage increase. He said during his campaign that while it might seem to be a good idea in Chittenden County, it would make labor prohibitively expensive for many of the family-owned small businesses in Rutland.
“I had a huge day for swimming against the stream,” he said.
I also found myself on the phone Friday with Rep. Peter Fagan, R-Rutland. Whenever I talk to him about the session, he always has a laser-like focus on the budget — which makes perfect sense, since he’s ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee — and that trend continued.
“We’re close,” he said. “We’re very close. The money, as is every year, will be the deciding factor. We should finish sometime Tuesday such that we’re out of here Thursday — absent something really going off the rails.”
Monday, the Board of Aldermen meets. The agenda includes a request for tax stabilization and a discussion of zoning enforcement.
Zoning comes up again at the Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, when a bylaws update is on the agenda.