Simply put, the privacy of Vermonters' financial information has been breached. This is cause for real worry now, and it should have been cause for real worry by our legislative leaders during the 2007 legislative session.
I, and many of my Republican and Progressive colleagues in the House, raised these significant concerns numerous times last session. Unfortunately, each time we raised the issues, legislative leaders chose to ignore them. Contrary to some newspaper reports, legislative leaders were very much aware of the breach in privacy that this new system would entail and yet were unwilling to do anything to prevent it.
Legislative leaders had numerous opportunities to protect the financial privacy of Vermonters. Earlier this year Republican Rep. Rick Hube and Progressive Rep. Chris Pearson introduced a bill that would have allowed Vermonters to "opt out" of the new payment scheme. After this bill was buried by House leadership, I offered an amendment on the floor of the House to return to the previous prebate/rebate system, at the very least until we could be assured of protecting the privacy of Vermonters. House leadership scuttled this attempt as well. To see how your representative voted on this amendment you can go to:
Speaker Gaye Symington now says she will bring the concerns to her committee leaders so that they can be addressed next year. In my view, this is a day late and a dollar short. The information is already out there. The privacy of Vermonters is no longer sacred. The damage has already been done. Madam Speaker, next year is too late.
David Sunderland, a Republican,
State Representative from Rutland Town.