As many as 15,000 Vermonters are expected to fill out Senator Bill Doyle’s Town Meeting Day survey this year.
The 2012 survey marks the 44th consecutive year that Doyle has solicited the opinions of voters on a variety of issues facing the state.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel has more:
(Kinzel) When Washington County senator Bill Doyle initially launched his Town Meeting Day Survey in 1969, Deane Davis was in his first months as Governor of Vermont, there were no cable TV stations, Richard Nixon had just been elected President and the Apollo moon landing was still 4 months away.
Doyle originally started the survey to gauge his constituents’ opinion on Governor Davis’s plan to implement a state sales tax in Vermont.
He says he’s continued with it because he thinks people like to express their views on important issues.
(Doyle) "Constituents naturally want to be involved in the political process. This is one way you can express your opinion… and I think the legislators themselves want to know, over 100 legislators will be taking these surveys out to their own constituents."
(Kinzel) One of the questions Doyle is asking this year is whether Vermont’s bottle deposit law should be expanded to include all bottled beverages. Last year, 79 percent of people responding to the survey said yes.
(Doyle) "That’s a high degree of affirmation. I know an attempt will be made to pass the bill. I don’t know whether it will or not but ultimately it will pass if it’s not this year I assume next year."
(Kinzel) Although Doyle’s survey is not scientific, the results from last year’s question on a four year term for governor were nearly identical to a recent poll by the new Castleton Polling Institute.
By roughly a two to one margin, people responding to the poll and Doyle’s survey backed the idea.
Despite this support, Doyle says he’ll be surprised if lawmakers pass this constitutional amendment this session.
(Doyle) "When you take a look at Washington you see the trend over the years towards the executive branch dominance and you take a look at the executive branch in Montpelier over the years there’s a feeling that a four year term upsets the balance between the executive and legislative branch."
(Kinzel) Doyle’s 2012 survey also includes questions about the future of Vermont Yankee, the possible decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, if drivers should be prohibited from using cell phones while operating a car and approval ratings for Governor Peter Shumlin and the Legislature.
The initial results from the survey should be available in about two weeks.
For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier