Rarely do lawmakers tangle over procedural issues on Day 1 of the session. But on the Senate floor Tuesday morning, Sen. Peter Galbraith let it be known that he, for one, was none too pleased with the appointment of a free-standing committee to oversee his chamber’s legislative redistricting process.
Galbraith, a Windham County Democrat on the Senate Committee on Government Operations, had been under the impression that his five-member committee would be handling reapportionment.
The House, after all, leaves that task to its government operations committee.
Upon learning that the Senate would in fact appoint a separate, seven-person panel to oversee what promises to be a controversial process, Galbraith let loose on Senate President John Campbell.
“I think in fact this can only be interpreted as a vote of no-confidence in the committee on government operations and its chair,” Galbraith said.
Campbell chided Galbraith for his “unfortunate” choice of words and said the decision has nothing to do with confidence in chairwoman Jeannette White and everything to do with assuring broader geographic representation.
Sens. Dick Sears and Dick Mazza, veterans of the body, tried to assure their first-term colleague that the appointment of a larger body is in keeping with longstanding Senate tradition. White herself said she supported delegating the reapportionment duties to the larger panel.
Galbraith, though, was unmoved. He said he could only take the creation of the committee to mean that Campbell believes “the Committee on Government Operations is not capable of carrying out its mandate.”
The Senate proceeded to pass a resolution approving the committee. Galbraith was the lone 'no' vote.
The seven-person panel includes Republican senators Vince Illuzzi (Essex County) Bill Doyle (Washington County) and Peg Flory (Rutland County). Democratic members include White (Windham County), Sears (Bennington County), TimAshe (Chittenden County) and Dick McCormack (Windsor County).