Legislative Agenda

Proposal 2 (PR.2)
Declaration of rights; clarifying the prohibition on slavery and indentured servitude. (Proposed VT constitutional amendment)

Status: Passed by both houses on 23-Jan-2020.  Awaiting consideration by the 2021-2022 legislature. If it passes both chambers again next biennium, the question will be on the ballot in 2022 for the approval of Vermont voters.

Action: None at this time.

(a) History. While Vermont was the first state to include a prohibition on slavery in its Constitution in 1777, it was only a partial prohibition, applicable to adults reaching a certain age, “unless bound by the person’s own consent, after arriving to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.” The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1865, prohibited slavery within the United States “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted[.]” Despite subsequent revisions to it, the Vermont Constitution continues to contain only a partial prohibition on slavery.

(b) Purpose. This proposal would amend the Constitution of the State of Vermont to eliminate reference to slavery. Eliminating reference to slavery in the Vermont Constitution will serve as a foundation for addressing systemic racism in our State’s laws and institutions.

An act relating to establishing a task force to study and consider a State apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery.

Statement of purpose of bill as introduced: This bill proposes to establish a task force to:

(1) study and consider a State apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery; and

(2) make recommendations to the General Assembly on appropriate remedies.

S.119 and H.464
An act relating to law enforcement training on appropriate use of force, de-escalation tactics, and cross-cultural awareness.

This bill proposes to require

1) the collection and distribution of data regarding the use of force used in a traffic stop;

2) the Criminal Justice Training Council to develop a model policy regarding the use of force, de-escalation, and cross-cultural awareness, and for law enforcement agencies to adopt a policy containing each component of the model policy; and

3) the Criminal Justice Training Council to report to the Executive Director of Racial Equity regarding trainings on the model policy and race based data collection.

An act relating to data collection in the criminal justice system.

This bill proposes to require the Judiciary, the Center for Crime Victim Services, the Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs, and the Department of Corrections to collect and publicly post criminal justice data.

Policies of Interest

Periodically policies are introduced that have do or have the potential of having a significant impact on black and brown people in Vermont. We will summarize them below:

An act relating to the regulation of cannabis

This bill proposes to establish a comprehensive regulatory system for the production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products in Vermont. The bill creates the Cannabis Control Board as the independent regulatory authority for a commercial cannabis market.


Our initial analysis is based upon national and statewide arrest and incarceration rates of black people for “marijuana” and other low-level drug possessions. Many are aware that this has contributed to a larger “war on drugs” resulting in an unprecedented racially centric mass incarceration in the United States. Today more black men are under the control of corrections than there were under slavery in 1850. In further analysis we conducted careful review of the three reports produced by the “Marijuana Commission”, after the statewide tour. There was no consideration given to any plans to attempt to compassionately address matters of restoration, fairness, or equity in any of these reports. Our testimony in Senate Judiciary yielded little in adopting language to address this blind spot.

Act 250
Conservation and development; land use; natural resources

This bill proposes to make revisions to the State land use law known as Act 250

A 50 year review (18 months in duration) of Act 250 failed to provide any analysis to determine the extent to which the legislation contributes to limiting statewide racial diversity or creates to economic racial disparity. This review was directed in the wake of the legislature flagging racial disparities as an issue across all state systems (Act 54, 2017) and providing a statute to”mitigate systemic racism” (Act 9, 2018). Further, The Commission was tasked to specifically, “assess the extent feasible, the positive and negative outcomes of Act 250’s implementation from
1970 to 2017.” Section (e) (2) (H) of ACTC47 charges the Commission to submit a report, including “review and recommendations relating to such other issues related to Act 250 as the Commission may consider significant.” With the median white:black wealth gap in the united states at 13:1, a 50 year review of Act 250 that does not take racial equity into into account is very difficult to justify by any standard.

Emerging Policy

Our policy development cycle is ongoing as we continue to hear the concerns of our communities and conduct our research. Look for our “Bill that addresses Antiracism” in the 2020 legislative session.