Nitka’s notes from the Statehouse, Feb. 28, 2020

Dear Editor,

It’s surprising to me that there are nine proposed amendments to the Vermont Constitution submitted for consideration this biennium. They can only be proposed by senators and only in every other biennium. The 2019-20 session is such a time when they can be proposed, and the next time this opportunity occurs will be the 2023-24 session. In order to pass, they must be favorably voted by the full Legislature within the two-year session in which they were introduced.

They then must pass again and this vote is by the newly elected legislators in the 2021-22 biennium. The voters of the state have the final say as to the approval of any and all amendments. Should a majority of voters support any amendment, it will become a part of the Constitution of our state. This is not an easy process and the proposals need advocates over the course of several years. In 1986, Vermont voters rejected an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

The proposed Amendments by number submitted for this session thus far are: Governor four-year term of office starting 2024; clarifying the prohibition on slavery and indentured servitude; individual right to privacy; equality of rights; right to personal reproductive freedom; for senators four-year term of office starting 2024; bail re violent acts; gender neutral terms re voters; and right to a clean environment, natural resources are the common property of all the people. Several of these have generated quite a bit of controversy and discussion.

There’s a new exhibit in the Statehouse. It was put together by the curator of the beautiful museum in which we work, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment for women’s suffrage. This small exhibit displays some Vermont memorabilia of women in the Statehouse including women in a 1938 photo and on the cover of a “Life” Magazine, dated April 6, 1953.

There are several events scheduled around the state including a “SuffrageFest and Parade” in Montpelier Aug. 22. The Vermont History Day Competition for students will give an award for the best student Suffrage-themed project April 4 at the UVM Davis Center. On Aug. 15 in Waterbury, there is a 5K Suffrage Scramble. The Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance in Montpelier is organizing many events, as are museums around the state for this 1920-2020 celebration.

The Legislature is closed for Town Meeting week, March 2-6. Feel free to contact me at the Statehouse at 802-322-5616, on weekends at 802-228-8432, or Letters can be sent P.O. Box 136, Ludlow, VT 05149-0136.


Sen. Alice Nitka

Windsor County

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