so ok, the other day i was hanging out in montpelier because i had nothing better to do.
ok, i was in montpelier to play ingress because the weather forecast suggested rain and more rain so i decided it wouldn't be a good time to go camping and then it turned out to be three days of lovely warm sunshine but anyway, there i was in montpelier, doing some ingress missions on the statehouse lawn and picking up some unique captures i need to work on my badges.
i love the vermont statehouse. it is a beautiful building and citizens of vermont have an unusual degree of access to it. according to the state constitution, "The doors of the House in which the General Assembly of this Commonwealth shall sit, shall be open for the admission of all persons who behave decently, except only when the welfare of the State may require them to be shut."
now i may dress all in rumpled clothes, but i can behave decently.
plus i figured i should go have a look at laws being made because i can. i follow the news about the legislature and i talk to my legislators, but i haven't gone in to watch in a long time.
there's really no excuse not to do it if you're there.
when i went in they were debating an amendment to an amendment to the house version of a bill the senate passed to fix the school redistricting plan.
it sounds kind of useless, but there's a perennial problem with education funding and school districting and mostly we just keep trying to get all the kids a good education and equitable opportunities without breaking the bank.
it's complicated, and we have to keep going back to try to get it to work right.
anyway, it was cool to see the representatives work on it. there's a lot of procedure they go through that seems a little weird, but i seems to me that a lot of it is designed to keep things civil and professional and also really nail things down with a high degree of specificity.
they never seem to talk to each other, but only to the speaker, as in "madam speaker, i wish to interrogate the member from (town) as to the percentage of the educational fun budget this will represent."
and then the member from (town) rises and tells the speaker the answer to the question.
there was an interesting bit where a member, citing the controversial nature of the law, asked for a roll call vote on the amendment and the speaker asked it this was sustained and several members stood to show that it was.
so then i got to see a roll call vote, which involved a recess "of a few minutes" which appeared to be a pause for people to get their ducks in order and for members who had been elsewhere in the building to come into the chamber.
the speaker then read the motion and gave "an english language translation" for anyone who had not been following for the last ten minutes or so, which i thought was interesting. because it was a procedural thing she boiled it down to "members who are likely to vote no on the larger bill will probably want to vote no on this amendment and members who are likely to vote yes on the larger bill will probably want to vote yes on this amendment"
and the vote was taken. there were 123 yes votes and no no votes, or more accurately, there were 122 "yes" votes, one "aye" vote, and no "no" votes.
the handsome fellow at the center of this frame is jim mccullough of williston, the "aye" voter.