This week the Legislature went back into session to override two of Governor Scott’s vetoes on municipal charter changes.
H.177 An act relating to approval of an amendment to the charter of the City of Montpelier and H.227 An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the City of Winooski both allow noncitizens to vote those two communities’ municipal elections. The charter changes were supported locally by two-to-one votes in their respective towns. VLCT has detailed information on Dillon’s Rule and municipal authority – and walks through the process a town goes through to propose this kind of change. Not all charter changes get a vote in the legislature – these two did.
As with all bills, and especially those having to do with voting, whether or not the proposal is Constitutional was the key factor legislators referenced in their vote determination. I’ve included below the testimony of a legal scholar which lays out previous court cases and history and indicates that allowing legal residents who are non citizens to vote in local elections is not a violation of the Constitution. For this reason, and because I believe every person who wants to vote should be able to do so, I voted for the charter changes originally and voted to override the governor. Both vetoes were overridden.
under the Vermont constitution, the legislature has discretion to authorize the City of Montpelier to allow non U.S. citizens to vote in purely local elections. That is true notwithstanding the requirement in Section 42 of Chapter II of the Vermont constitution that, in order to vote in state elections, voters must be U.S. citizens. To those who have become accustomed to thinking that qualifications for voting in municipal elections must necessarily be the same as for voting in state elections, this must seem like something of an odd claim. But the fact is, in the field of state constitutional law, courts have long drawn a constitutional distinction between voting in state elections and voting in municipal elections, and have consistently held that the constitutional requirements for voting in state elections do not limit legislative discretion in setting the qualifications for voting in purely local elections. See Jamin B. Raskin, Legal Aliens, Local Citizens: The Historical, Constitutional And Theoretical Meanings of Alien Suffrage, 141 U. Penn. L. Rev. 1391 (1993).Testimony of Peter R. Teachout, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School May 2, 2019
There were not enough votes to override a third veto that would have allowed for withholding the names of anyone younger then 20 year old upon initial arrest. Members of the Vermont Press supported the veto and lobbied legislators to sustain it. I would not have voted to override the governor’s veto. I was convinced by the governor’s letter and repeated discussions with law enforcement that reforming our criminal justice system requires putting in place different types of systems, not just eliminating consequences and penalties.
Follow the Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report
The Task Force will recommend to the General Assembly an action plan and proposed legislation to ensure that all public school students have equitable access to educational opportunities. The recommendations are due to the General Assembly by December 15, 2021. Show More
Senator Randy Brock Senator Ruth Hardy Senator Cheryl Hooker Senator Andrew Perchlik Representative Scott Beck Representative Peter Conlon Representative Kathleen James Representative Emilie Kornheiser
Next Meeting is June 29th at 9 am and will be livestreamed
Amtrak to resume service throughout Vermont beginning July 19
As always, if you have suggestions, concerns or critiques please be in touch so we can schedule time to discuss them.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow my regular posts online at http://www.laurasibiliavt.com
Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham