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Act 185 problems

To the Editor: The Attorney General just ruled that the privacy and practical problems with Vermonts new prebate law are, in fact, codified. With the best of intentions, our legislature passed Act 185 in 2006, without fully understanding the consequences of its implementation. However, after Act 185s gross shortcomings were clearly and repeatedly demonstrated and timely solutions brought forward in 2007, a majority of the legislature closed their eyes and ears, and refused to either listen or act to fix these problems when they had the chance. Now the citizens of Vermont are forced, unnecessarily, to live with the results: 1) Taxpayers private, personal income information has been made public, leaving 110,000 low and middle income households privacy vulnerable to nosy neighbors, data-mining corporations and identity thieves. 2) Families that used to count on their lump-sum prebate check to pay for winter heating fuel, buy school clothes for kids, etc., can no longer do so. Its not just homeowners who have been harmed by Act 185. 3) Our town clerks have been put in legal jeopardy and threatened with lawsuits. 4) The law is causing problems for real estate transactions, escrow accounts, and assessments. 5) The ACLU has spoken out against the law, and the League of Cities & Towns has recommended that the state address its shortcomings immediately. County voters should know how our representatives voted when given the chance to fix (House, Amendment to H.88, offered by Rep. Sunderland, R-Rutland Town, February 16, 2007) this mess before it had a chance to do damage. Those from Addison County who showed the common sense to vote yes to fixing Act 185 in time: Clark R-Vergennes, Oxholm R-Vergennes. Those who voted no: Bray D-New Haven, Fisher D-Lincoln, Jewett D-Ripton, Maier D-Middlebury, Nuovo D-Middlebury, Sharpe D-Bristol. It really matters who you vote for. Vermonters need and deserve more representatives like the former, and less like the latter. Nancy Polk
Panton

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