State government standing up

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We were pleased to see this past week that Gov. Phil Scott, Attorney General T.J. Donovan and state legislative leaders have made clear to the Trump administration that Vermont won't be going along with any misguided federal efforts to harass and intimidate immigrants — or anyone else the administration decides to target.

Scott, Brennan and legislative leaders — Democrats, Progressives and some Republicans — are backing legislation that would prohibit the creation of registries based on religion, national origin and immigration status. The bill would also require the governor's approval before state and local police could be pulled into federal immigration enforcement actions. State Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington) is pledging to fast-track the measure in that chamber.

"This is an important step to ensure that all who reside in our state and visit Vermont feel safe and free to engage with law enforcement and other government authorities without fear," Scott said.

"It does not matter who you are, where you're from, who you love or whom you worship.

"This bill simply says one thing: When we identify people in this state, we use one word — 'Vermonter,'" Donovan added.

Now, things haven't entirely gone smoothly for Scott in his first month in office. For example, his budget proposal asking local school boards to level-fund K-12 education for a year has gained little traction.

But we've been pleased to see the extent to which Scott has been willing to challenge his national party bosses and stand up for this state's values, especially when it comes to immigration.

It would be easy to view this cynically, as a quick and easy way for Scott to win points with moderate lawmakers and voters. Surely, there's political capital available for Scott in joining a cause that's as American as the Statue of Liberty. But it would have been easier to go along and get along and repeat — or retweet, if you will — the party line about national security.

This initiative also recognizes a new reality: While government by Twitter might pass for leadership in Washington, it's at the state level where the grownups in the room have to sort through the consequences of soundbites and dogwhistles disguised as sane policy.

And it seems that state leaders now have more power to take on Trump than any Democrat in Congress.

For example, it was Minnesota and Washington state who took the Trump administration to court over his ill-conceived, anti-Muslim immigration executive order, and prevailed unanimously in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This stands in contrast to the situation in Congress, where the den of vipers now passing for "leadership" has decided to win arguments by silencing dissent.

So in our estimation, Vermont is in good company. And we're glad that our state leaders are willing to stare bigotry and authoritarianism squarely in the face and say "Not in our state, you don't."


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