Vermont Senator Joins Rx Advocacy Group

Published November 1, 2001

State Senator Cheryl Rivers (D-Windsor), considered one of the most liberal members of the Vermont Senate, has left her seat to take a job with a lobbying group that advocates government control of prescription drug prices.

The chairwoman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, Rivers has represented Windsor County for 11 years. She was first elected to the Senate after serving as a lobbyist for the Vermont Low-Income Advocacy Council.

Rivers announced her resignation at a State House press conference. She will become the first executive director of the Northeast Legislative Association of Prescription Drug Prices (NLAPDP).

Her new boss is a familiar face. Senator Peter Shumlin (D-Windham), president pro tem of the Senate, is also president of the Northeast Legislative Association. Sources said Rivers had interviewed, was offered, and accepted the job in Boston.

Rivers’ husband, Richard, said she was unavailable for comment because she was getting ready to go to the Fryeburg Fair in Maine. Rivers raises and trains Morgan horses. Shumlin couldn’t be reached for comment either.

Association Seeks Price Controls

The NLAPDP was formed several years ago by the six New England states, plus New York and Pennsylvania, in an effort to find ways to lower prescription drug prices charged by pharmaceutical companies.

Rivers’ drug pricing reform bill failed in the waning hours of the 2000 legislative session in a committee of conference. But a substitute plan supported by Governor Howard Dean was approved, then ruled unconstitutional earlier this year by a federal appeals court.

Rivers has been a strong liberal voice in Montpelier for the past decade. However, the Senate has tilted in a more conservative direction in recent years, and the liberal agenda propounded by Rivers and others has been thwarted by the drift and by the House shift to Republican control in the last election.

Rivers’ departure leaves a key Finance Committee post vacant. Rep. Ann Seibert (D-Norwich) and former Rep. Matt Dunne (D-Hartland) have been mentioned as possible replacements. At press time, no Republican names had been mentioned.