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Vermont's Proposed Equity-Related Legislation

Vermont's Proposed Equity-Related Legislation

Posted by Jessilyn Dolan on 25th Feb 2021

Vermont has a number of valuable equity and social-justice focused bills making their way through the legislature. We'll keep you updated about their status, but here's a basic summary of what's on the docket this session.

S35 An act related to prohibiting discrimination.

This bill proposes to prohibit discrimination on the basis of hair types and styles associated with a particular race and on the basis of weight.

S.52 $15/hr min wage by 2025.

H.145 An act relating to amending the standards for law enforcement use of force. This bill proposes to:

  • Amend the standards for law enforcement use of force to make clarifying changes
  • Prevent the use of hindsight in evaluating law enforcement conduct
  • Narrow the definition of prohibited restraints including pressure to the neck, throat, windpipe, or carotid artery that prevents or hinders breathing, reduces intake of air, or impedes the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, or the use of such maneuver with the intent to cause unconsciousness, serious bodily injury, or death.

H.183 An act relating to sexual violence.

This bill proposes to revise and clarify the laws concerning consent to sexual activity, require data collection and reporting of information concerning reports of domestic and sexual violence, establish the Intercollegiate Sexual Violence Prevention Council, fund the expansion of forensic medical care for sexual assault patients within primary care and reproductive health care settings.

H.190 An act relating to prohibiting state contracts with for-profit correctional facilities.

This bill proposes to prohibit the Commissioner of Corrections from contracting with a for-profit contractor to own, operate, or manage a State correctional facility, or supervise or house inmates under the custody of the Commissioner in an out-of-state correctional facility.

H.196 An act relating to supporting the work of the Executive Director of Racial Equity.

This bill proposes to add and appropriate funding for two new FTE positions, one policy and research analyst and one outreach and education coordinator, to support the work of the Executive Director of Racial Equity to mitigate systemic racism in all branches of state government.

H.197 An act relating to an independent monitoring board for body-worn camera footage.

This bill proposes to establish an independent civilian board to supervise and control the storage of and access to law enforcement body-worn camera footage. The board shall be composed of five civilian members, appointed by members of the three branches of government, and shall be tasked with reviewing the footage, responding to requests to view the footage, and making redactions to the footage prior to release when appropriate.

H.210 An act relating to addressing disparities and promoting equity in the health care system.

This bill proposes to:

(1) establish the Office of Health Equity

(2) establish the Health Equity Advisory Commission

(3) issue grants for the promotion of health equity

(4) collect data to better understand health disparities in Vermont

(5) require an additional two hours of continuing medical education on cultural competency in the practice of medicine.

H.247 An act relating to racial impact statements.

This bill proposes to require that, at the request of the committee to which a bill, resolution, or amendment is referred, the Office of Legislative Counsel prepare a racial impact statement for each proposed bill, resolution, or amendment that impacts pretrial detention, sentencing, probation, or parole, or establishes a new crime or modifies an existing crime or the penalties associated with a crime.

The racial impact statements shall include:

1) an assessment of the potential impact of the proposed legislation on racial and ethnic minorities, including whether it is likely to have a disproportionate or unique impact on the racial and ethnic communities in the State and the rationale for the impact;

2) a statistical analysis of how the legislation would affect racial and ethnic minorities;

3) the impact of the legislation on correctional facilities;

4) the anticipated effect of the legislation on public safety in racial and ethnic communities in the State; and

5) an estimate of the number of criminal cases per year that the legislation would affect.

The bill also proposes to require that the sponsor of the legislation offer an amendment to the bill if the General Assembly finds that proposed legislation has a disparate impact on members of racial minority groups.

Photos by Gayatri Malhotra (thumbnail) and Cody Pulliam (sign) on Unsplash.

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