State Senate passes two changes to Constitution on slavery and reproductive rights

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State Senate passes two changes to Constitution on slavery and reproductive rights

Fri, 04/09/2021 - 3:31pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Today the Vermont Senate voted to advance two proposed amendments to the state Constitution. 

The Senate voted 29-1 in favor of Proposal 2, which seeks to clarify that slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited, and 26-4 in favor of Proposal 5, which seeks to ensure the personal reproductive liberty of every Vermonter. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint made the following statement regarding the votes: 

“Today, the Senate took an important next step in updating the Vermont Constitution to better reflect our values. While these formal legislative procedures may sometimes be hard for Vermonters to follow, this intentional process is in place to ensure that we do not make changes to our foundational document lightly. The Vermont Constitution controls the operation of State government. It is our shared agreement on how to govern ourselves. As such, it should not be changed on a whim, but it must also be able to be updated to reflect our shared values and ideals. 

The first amendment, Proposal 2, clarifies that Vermont prohibits slavery and indentured servitude. We know that Vermont is not immune to bigotry and racism. This amendment would serve as an important foundation for addressing systemic racism in our State’s laws and institutions. Many Vermonters want a future that is racially just, but we can’t get there until we’ve addressed the injustice of our past. This amendment reflects this value.

The second amendment, Proposal 5, addresses the right to personal reproductive liberty. Unlike many places in the country, Vermonters support and value reproductive freedom. The vast majority of people in Vermont believe that people should make their own personal health care decisions. They support the right to access reproductive care safely and legally with their health care providers, without interference from politicians. This amendment reflects this value. 

Today, we took the second step of the amendment process by affirming the work of the previous legislature on these two amendments. However, even our vote today, and a subsequent vote by the House, will not make the changes to the Constitution final. Ultimately, our Constitution dictates that such momentous questions must go directly to Vermont voters to weigh in on their own governance.  

We voted today to send these two proposed amendments on to the people of Vermont to have their voices heard directly on two ideas that are central to our understanding of liberty in our state. In taking this action, we continue the important task of rebuilding trust and engagement in our beloved democracy.” 

Source: Montpelier, VT – Senate President Pro Tem 4.9.2021