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Sen. Bobby Starr: Remembering Where He Came From

August 9, 2012

Sen. Bobby Starr Photo by Christopher Roy

NORTH TROY – Sen. Bobby Starr wants to return to the State House.
Starr, a democrat, has served Vermonters for 34 years, eight years in the senate and 26 years in the house of representatives. He said it seems every year has its challenging moments. 
Last year, legislators were able to continue property tax relief for IROC. Starr said IROC is no different from the YMCA in Burlington with the exception that the YMCA has a permanent property tax exemption. Lawmakers are trying to get the same exemption for IROC.
Starr, who served on the agriculture committee this past year, played a big part in the Working Lands Bill, which puts forestry on the same level as agriculture as far as tax status and its importance to Vermont’s culture. The bill has tax incentives to help companies in both industries.
Starr also played an important role on the appropriations committee to make sure there are ample funds so senior citizens can stay home and receive help from homecare providers. Starr convinced his fellow committee members to go along with his idea.
Starr was one of four lawmakers who didn’t want to close Vermont Yankee because he strongly felt the discussion was out of lawmakers' purview. Lawmakers discussed the safety of the plant, but safety is out of the jurisdiction of the legislature.
Vermont Yankee has produced power for years at 4 to 4.5 cents per kilowatt, said Starr. He said there should have been some negotiations with the owners of Vermont Yankee to build some type of new generating facility. The grid there, said Starr, is set up to distribute power to other states.
Starr disagrees with the current state energy plan. “Renewables are all fine and good and we should get away from buying foreign oil to produce electric energy,” said Starr. “At the same point and time, we could be using natural gas, biomass and hydro.”
Vermont uses 80 to 85 percent green power and uses very little power produced by oil, said Starr. He called commercial wind towers a big problem because they have a visual impact in many towns. The host town might be happy about wind, said Starr, but the community involves many towns and power from the wind towers is going to southern New England.
Energy generated by methane digesters is very efficient and runs 95 to 98 percent of the time, Starr said. Methane digesters also cut down on the odor and produces money for the farms involved. 
Starr said he doesn't support a single-payer healthcare system because lawmakers couldn’t get their questions answered. Lawmakers still don’t know who will be in or out, how much it will cost or who will pay the bill.
Act 250 could use some “minor tinkering,” said Starr, who feels the big problem is the cost. Big companies have the resources to put into the permit process; local government could deal with smaller projects. 
“Many of our visitors come here because they like our environmental situation here in Vermont,” said Starr. “The locals have done a pretty good job taking care of things. Big Brother doesn’t always know best even though they think they know best.”
The agricultural community is facing problems because of feed costs due to the droughts elsewhere in the country. Milk prices not keeping up with feed costs is also a problem, Starr said.
Starr said he worked well across party lines over the years and never forgot where he came from.
Starr is married to Anita Cadieux; the couple has one adult son. Starr is a retired business person. 

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