Meet JT Dodge
An advocate for Vermonters
I and many others have observed a substantial shift in Vermont government operations regarding how citizen speech has been dealt with since the implementation of COVID-19 measures in 2020. This shift affected Vermont’s open platform of free expression. and speech. Before the COVID-19 regulations and guidance, those of us who were involved routinely spoke in support of and against Vermont House and Senate legislative bills. Everything changed for the worse when the Vermont Statehouse adopted a more closed atmosphere as a result of COVID restrictions and mandates. Many individuals, including myself, have found it far more difficult to follow up on or provide input on problems and positive ideas here in Vermont.
Vermont has a dreadful legislative website that is difficult to navigate and appears to be broken when it comes to obtaining the most recent committee “Roll Call” votes. This creates a barrier for Vermonters to participate and follow up. I doubt you’ll come across anyone who disagrees with me on this. The website is the major mechanism for Vermonters to keep up with any legislative initiative in the house or senate, yet it is pure garbage when confronted by its aim of allowing Vermonters to obtain pertinent data in a structured manner. Otherwise, it may as well be a private legislative tool, having no function other than to keep curious citizens’ eyes away. This notion encouraged me to have a look at the video broadcasts of House and Senate Committee sessions on the official YouTube streams. I discovered that informal video stream comments are closed. To be clear, nobody expects the official YouTube stream’s comment box to be a formal route for committee feedback, so why shouldn’t Vermont citizens be able to comment? Some of the state’s “powers that be” are anxious that citizens may say things that offend the legislator’s sensibilities toward an issue.
In 2018, I and several other people contacted the A.C.L.U. of Vermont to formally complain that Governor Scott’s team was illegally picking and deleting specific remarks and individuals with which they disapproved after signing Act 94, a controversial gun control bill into law, that I and many others vehemently disagreed with. The Governor had blocked me after saying that my comment was too harsh. Elected officials cannot delete or ban residents’ speech from their official political pages; in this example, the “Governor Phil Scott” administration stepped on voters’ free speech and expression rights. In response to the warning issued on our behalf by the ACLU, the administration was obliged to reopen previously restricted accounts and define an official social media policy that safeguards our constitutional right to free speech. There are no ill feelings between the Governor and I on this subject because he established a good social media policy on speech and has had few issues subsequently.
In 2022, the Vermont House and Senate committees will all stream live on Youtube, following COVID-19 measures applied by the House and Senate Rules committees. I recently sat through a State Senate committee hearing where the first four to five minutes were devoted to something on which I felt compelled to speak. I wondered whether the other Vermonters in the YouTube audience felt the same way. I didn’t expect any sort of official response by that committee to my comment; I just felt fellow listeners might agree. And why not allow folks to express their ideas and opinions in the comments? I was very surprised to find that the comments were set “off” for this and all House and Senate committee meetings.
My name is JT Dodge, and as Caledonia district State Senator, I will work daily for an open government that listens to all residents, not just those who are convenient or complimentary.
Additionally, I will speak to and prod the powers that be regularly until we have a well-considered and implemented website that assists the average Vermonter when they attempt to learn more about the actions of local government.
Vermonters in the Caledonia Senate district demand skill development, jobs, and it is high time we embrace and support paths to trade skills.
• Taxes and fees across the board have hit a fever pitch. Families, low wage workers and elderly are struggling to afford their expenses. Meanwhile the state embraces financial mandates and fees that the legislators state are there to help.
• Carbon taxes, penalties, and forced legislation will gentrify our rural areas communities, harming those Vermonters who choose to remain.
- School-Choice could raise the bar here in Vermont and lower the taxes. I have a lot of experience here. My wife and I homeschool our two children. We are vocal advocates of School-Choice, as a parent knows their children best.
- Education shouldn’t be a coerced choice, as one size does not fit all.
We should focus on not making the economic picture worse than it already is. The state should have an exhaustive, top to bottom financial audit. This falls upon the office of Secretary of State to get this important job done.
We should freeze new expenditures while focusing upon paying debts.
Vermont needs a legislated Ethics panel to address legislators when potentially corrupt behavior occurs by any legislator. There should be hearings and teeth when violations occur. Here is an example of why this is needed:
In the recent past, there were three House Representatives that in one way or another, worked for a single major Vermont solar panel installation firm. They spoke to bills regularly that presented legislation on taxpayer subsidized solar panels and their installation. This was wrong and I called it out. Government shouldn’t be in the business of playing favorites, and this is an example of unethical behavior.
My name is JT Dodge, I am a father a husband, and a Vermonter. Additionally, I work both as a systems engineer and an entrepreneur with an online shop.
I am passionate about Liberty and individual rights. My wife and I homeschool our children and they are on their way to becoming good and healthy citizens who care about their neighbors and have clearly identifiable skills.
Years ago My wife and I lived in Maine while she went to school and I worked with AmeriCorps, building accessibility into the homes of disabled Americans.
I am a leader in a board member at the Dodge house in Rutland. The Dodge house is a veterans assistance home that happens to be named after my father Michael T Dodge. My Father was a Vietnam veteran and committed suicide in 1986. As a systems engineer for a large multinational corporation, I field challenging budgets and troubleshoot tricky technical problems with how our company and our customers communicate. Our budgets must be accomplished with strategy and care. If I don’t put forth responsible budgets, the system falls apart and we don’t have what we need when we need it.
A number of years back I stood up a group called “No carbon tax Vermont” that stands today with the purpose of resisting Carbon Dioxide taxes fees and schemes in Vermont; they are regressive. We fight for diversity in fuels because in a state that is so rural and remote having a wide choice of fuels is prudent and expands a Vermonter’s resiliency to the elements.
Here is what people are saying about this campaign: