Long Road Ahead

There's a Long Road Ahead

This legislative session has been a disappointing one thus far.  Of our A.C.T. asks, H.210, the health equity bill was the only substantial policy that successfully advanced. Worse, our analysis of the policy as it left the House was not incredibly favorable.  It is our hope that the Senate Health and Welfare Committee can help in repairing this much needed policy to a place where it can serve some immediate benefit to Black and Brown folks experiencing a health care system that consistently produces disparate outcomes. The Good news is that the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery and indentured servitude is moving forward (more below).   

Despite our disappointment, now is not a time to relent.  We’re asking you now to escalate the calls for the passage of these landmark policies and work with us to eradicate systemic racism and transform Vermont.  Please take the actions outlined below to help in this work.  We need your help!  

  1. Abolish Slavery – PR.2 – Yesterday the Senate Rules Committee voted in favor (5-0) of our proposal to amend the  Vermont constitution with language clarifying that slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited. The  proposal will go to the Senate floor on the on April 9th for a vote.  The Vermont constitution is the grandfather of all constitutional slavery (244 years) and this amendment is far more than symbolic. The exception clause in the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was modeled after Vermont’s constitution.  We must finish the work that we started last Biennium and bring an end to this crime against humanity in our state and in our nation.  #AbolishSlaveryVT

    Action:  Call on the Senate to pass PR.2 AND pass a joint resolution for application under the United States constitution to rescind and replace the 13th Amendment.
    Contact:  
    Find Your Senator HERE
    Senate President Pro Temp Sen Becca Ballint, bbalint@leg.state.vt.us ,
    Senate Judiciary Committee vermont-senate-judiciary@googlegroups.com 
    Senate Government Operations Committee vermont-senate-government-operations@googlegroups.com 
     
  2. Racism is a Public Health Emergency – J.R.H.6 – The governor has FINALLY changed the rules to allow the prioritization of BIPOC COVID-19 vaccinations.  This doesn’t address the underlying problem.  Existing disparate outcomes produced by systemic racism in housing, education, employment, economic development, the justice system and the health care system itself continue to be exacerbated by the COVID crises. This is not just a public health emergency for Black and Brown folks, this is a public health emergency for all of us!  We’re calling on the House Human Services Committee open testimony on J.R.H.6, a Joint Resolution calling out racism as a public health emergency. 

    Action:  Demand that the legislature jointly resolve that racism is a public health emergency.  Ask them to pass a joint resolution stating the racism is a public health emergency!
    Contact:  
    Senate President Pro Temp Sen Becca Ballint, bbalint@leg.state.vt.us ,
    Speaker of the House, Rep Jilll Krowinski, jkrowinski@leg.state.vt.us
    House Human Services Committee vermont-house-human-services@vtracialjusticefoundation.org
    House Judiciary Committee  vermont-house-judiciary@googlegroups.com 
    House Government Operations Committee vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com
     
  3. Health Equity – H.210 –  The health equity bill missed the mark on several fronts in the House.  It 1) eliminated the
    creation of a Health Equity Department within the Department of Health; (2) eliminated the continuing medical education requirement for cultural competency training; (3) eliminated the grants to projects proposed by community members to
    advance BIPOC, LGBTQ and disability health equity; and (4) eliminated a grassroots-driven Health Equity Advisory Commission and 5) failed to fund the Office of Health Equity.  As the bill heads into Senate Health and Welfare, we’re asking that they help us repair the damage done to the bill in House Health.  The House Health Committee was told that the Health Department is too busy with their response to COVID to create a health equity department.  We believe that it is because of COVID that the immediate creation of this department is so important. Join us in requesting that the health equity office be created now.  There has never been a time when it has been more important to do so.

    Action:  Urge the Senate Health and Welfare Committee take up testimony on this bill.
    Contact: 
    Senate Health and Welfare Committee senate-health-and-welfare@vtracialjusticefoundation.org
    Senate President Pro Temp Sen Becca Ballint, bbalint@leg.state.vt.us 
     
  4. Economic Equity – H.406 – Economic equity is at the heart of systemic racism.  This bill did not make cross-over due to a late introduction and time constraints. The sense of urgency remains. Waiting until next year to do the work on this bill is unacceptable.  It will only serve to perpetuate unnecessary additional time constraints for a crucial economic policy that we all know is required for true transformation.  We are disappointed with the priorities articulated by House General, Housing and Military Affairs’ current agenda as nearly a quarter of Black Vermonters still live in poverty and the median wealth of a black family is at 1/13th (and widening) of that of a white family. Please join us in requesting House General, Housing and Military Affairs to immediately take this bill up and place it as a top priority for testimony. 

    Action:  Demand that this bill be immediately taken up and testimony begin. There must be a sense of urgency in addressing the economic impact of systemic racism.  
    Contact: 
    House General, Housing and Military Affairs, vermont-house-general-housing-military-affairs@vtracialjusticealliance.org
    House Appropriations, vermont-house-appropriations@googlegroups.com
    Speaker of the House, Rep Jilll Krowinski, jkrowinski@leg.state.vt.us
     
  5. Land and Home Equity – H.273 –  We all know that land and home ownership are the cornerstone of amassing generational wealth.  Yet while white people own and operate over 99 percent of farmland in Vermont and 71 percent of White Vermonters own homes (20 percent for Black folks are owners) a bill on land and home ownership sits in House General, Housing and Military Affairs after cross -over in the middle of a global pandemic.  Why?  This bill was not introduced late in the process.  It sat in committee for a month prior to cross-over!     The Racial Justice Alliance stands with our partner organizations on this historic land and home ownership equity policy. Join us in asking the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee to immediately take up testimony on this bill that we may move forward with the work of clearing obstacles for BIPOC generational wealth.

    Action:  Ask the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee to take up the H.273 and call for testimony.
    Contacts: 
    House General, Housing and Military Affairs, vermont-house-general-housing-military-affairs@vtracialjusticealliance.org
    Speaker of the House, Rep Jilll Krowinski, jkrowinski@leg.state.vt.us
     
  6. Cannabis Market Equity – H.414 – Last year we worked hard to incorporate racial equity language into what was then S.54 (Act 164).  Why? We know that from arrests, convictions and violations of Black and Brown folks that the laws across this nation and in Vermont have been disproportionately applied.  We know that they, their families and their communities have been adversely disproportionately impacted. We also know that generational poverty inflicted by systemic racism has created barriers to entry for Black and Brown folks consisting of lack of access to land and capital.  We made little progress last year but won the governor’s support for more work on racial (and agriculture) equity in his non-signing statement.  We returned with our demands this year in H.414 only to find that the Senate introduced updates to Act 164 with S.25.  As much we have tried to incorporate a robust racial (and agriculture) framework into S.25, most of our requests (H.414 language) have been rejected.  Please join us in asking House Government Operations Committee to amend S.25 with the racial equity language that we have introduced in H.414.  This is our opportunity to ensure that BIPOC folks are able to enjoy equitable entry into this emerging market.   

    Action:  Ask the House Government Operations Committees to take up S.25 and incorporate equity language from H.414 into S.25. 
    Contact: 
    House Government Operations Committee vermont-house-government-operations@googlegroups.com
    Speaker of the House, Rep Jilll Krowinski, jkrowinski@leg.state.vt.us
     
  7. Reparations Task Force – H.387 – Our demands are intentional.  We asked for a reparations task force last Biennium with H.478.  No action was taken in House Government Operations. Recently Evanston, Ill instituted reparations using tax money from the sales of its recreational cannabis. Last year the United Nations Human Rights Chief  called on nation states to “make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination, including through formal apologies, truth-telling processes, and reparations in various forms”. HR.40, a bill that proposes the creation of a Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans was introduced this year (117th congress) for the 32nd consecutive year. The city, Asheville, N.C., will provide funding to programs geared toward increasing homeownership and business and career opportunities for Black residents as part of a reparations initiative Burlington, Vermont launched a Reparations Task Force late last year!  We believe strongly that Vermont has an obligation to address this crime against humanity by empowering a task force to research Vermont’s role and determine if an apology or reparations proposal is in order.  In order to do so, we need the  House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee to take up H.387.

    Action:  Ask the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee to take up H.387 and call for testimony.
    Contacts: 
    House General, Housing and Military Affairs, vermont-house-general-housing-military-affairs@vtracialjusticealliance.org
    Speaker of the House, Rep Jilll Krowinski, jkrowinski@leg.state.vt.us


Thank you for supporting the work of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance!
Vermont Racial Justice Alliance Leadership and Team 


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About the Racial Justice Alliance:

To secure sustainable power, ensure agency and provide security for American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS), while embracing their history and preserving their culture.

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