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Platform

VERMONT DEMOCRATIC PARTY

2016 PLATFORM

As Amended and Approved by the State Committee of the VDP

and by the Vermont Democratic Party Platform Committee

August 20, 2016

STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

The Vermont Democratic Party believes it is government’s role to protect and empower people to create equal access to health care, education, clean air and water, privacy, peace and prosperity. We believe in the right to organize and speak freely, and to earn a livable wage.

The Vermont Democratic Party values empathy and accountability.  We value an open government that provides its citizens with a strong voice. 

We hold these principles, goals and commitments in common as members of the Vermont Democratic Party and will work together and individually, to the best of our ability, to promote them as the guiding philosophy of a just and fair government.

The Vermont Democratic Party Platform committee shall report to legislators, County chairs and Town chairs each year on planned targeted action items to advance the Platform.

 

A. ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

The Vermont Democratic Party is committed to creating economic opportunities for all Vermonters, giving focused attention to building and maintaining a strong middle class and attracting and keeping young adults in Vermont.  We will create economic opportunity within a framework of sustainability, diversification, individuality and social responsibility.  

1. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB CREATION

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Encourages the development of jobs that provide workers with a livable wage, the right to organize and collectively bargain for wages and benefits, and jobs that improve working conditions and the standard of living for Vermont workers.

  • Supports businesses in downtowns, village centers, and designated growth centers.  We support giving priority to redevelopment of currently unused industrial space in “brownfields” or currently permitted sites throughout the state, before undeveloped land is used.

  • Supports measures to give small businesses access to capital and assistance in meeting regulatory requirements.

  • Will offer fiscally responsible incentives to attract and strengthen Vermont-based businesses, especially in areas of most need that support clear and measurable outcomes. Will prioritize the establishment of locally controlled universal broadband telecommunications services state-wide at the Federal High Speed standards or better.

  • Supports efforts to end discrimination in higher education and in the licensing of trades and professions based on immigration status and calls for greater diversity in state and local contracting practices.

  • Welcomes all races, refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants to our communities and value their contributions to local economies

  • Resolves to end income inequality based upon gender, race, disability, or any other immutable characteristic.

2. JOB RETENTION

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Opposes outsourcing and privatization of state and public-sector jobs, outsourcing of private-sector jobs, and off-shoring of jobs to other countries. These practices undermine workers’ rights, adversely affect local economies, destroy community safety nets, and threaten the environment.

  • Opposes doing business with employers who ignore the rights of workers.

3. REGULATORY REVIEW

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Encourages the review of our Vermont land use policies as responsible stewards of the environment, our communities, and the planet.

  • Supports the right of public input and the need to protect the public good in the regulatory process.

  • Works to foster working partnerships among federal, state, regional, local, and private agencies involved in development including housing, business, infrastructure, and job creation.

  • Seeks to identify and resolve conflicting regulations.

4. JOB TRAINING

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Supports public and private partnerships to link training and job opportunities to create a skilled workforce that meets marketplace demands.   

  • Supports investing in education and training with emphasis on employment opportunities for young adults, the underemployed, the unemployed, and people with a criminal record.

5. TAXATION

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Commits to a policy of fiscal responsibility that reflects our values of social and environmental responsibility.

  • Encourages consideration of tax policies that address inequalities of income and wealth.

  • Supports continuing efforts to modernize our tax system to reflect a 21st century economy, focusing on equity, progressivity, and fairness.

                        

B.   ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP, INVESTMENT AND CONSERVATION 

A healthy environment is a critical element of Vermont’s economy and valued quality of life.  In light of the scientific community’s overwhelming evidence of global climate change, the Vermont Democratic Party supports the protection and conservation of our environment. We are committed to the enactment and enforcement of such environmental laws and regulations. We support Vermont’s energy goals to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

1. INVESTMENT IN SUSTAINABILITY

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Supports and encourages local businesses to develop and incorporate sustainable business principles.

  • Supports measures that encourage sustainable farms in diverse areas of agriculture. We support sustainable and ecologically sensitive uses of Vermont’s natural resources.

  • Encourages businesses that keep profits circulating within Vermont.

2. CONSERVATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Respects private property rights and supports environmental laws and regulations.

  • Supports legislation and regulation that prevents pollution and wasteful land consumption.

  • Supports the continuance of soil and forest conservation initiatives.

  • Supports the development and use in Vermont of organic agricultural methods.

  • Promotes the conservation of Vermont’s working farms, forests, and traditional mining industries.

  • Supports a greater emphasis on the goals of Vermont’s land-use (Current Use) planning laws.

  • Encourages the identification and protection of Vermont’s unusual ecological habitats and critical wildlife corridors.

  • Supports the protection of threatened and endangered species native to Vermont.

  • Calls for the vigorous enforcement of and necessary updating of laws for wastewater treatment and surface water runoff to protect our lakes, e.g., Lake Champlain, streams and rivers from pollution.

  • Supports state and federal assistance and education for farmers, property owners, and industry to reduce phosphorus discharges that cause toxic blue green algae that endangers our drinking water, aquatic life, and clean air.

  • Supports recycling legislation to reduce waste in Vermont’s landfills.

  • Supports the development of programs to eliminate or mitigate invasive species in Vermont.

3. TRANSPORTATION

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Supports investments in the creation and renovation of a public transportation infrastructure that expands economic and cultural opportunities.

  • Supports transportation services to Vermont’s underserved people, businesses and geographic regions.

  • Supports increasing incentives to further the development of community-based walking and biking trail networks.

  • Encourages education programs that focus on vehicular efficiency including miles-per-gallon, speed, tire pressure and idling.

  • Seeks incentives to maintain highways, decrease carbon emissions, and lower transportation costs.

  • Supports the development, wherever possible, of a modernized rail system for freight and regional commuter traffic.

4. CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY POLICY 

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Acknowledges that climate change is real and substantially caused by human behavior.

  • Encourages renewable energy and energy conservation education programs in schools and public forums.

  • Supports the reduction of Vermont’s dependence on fossil fuels for the generation of electricity, thermal use, and transportation.

  • Supports the transition of Vermont’s energy resources to sustainable, reliable, renewable and low-impact energy sources while taking into consideration the immediate and long-term effects on human health and the environment.

  • Supports cost-efficient energy initiatives through weatherization projects, lighting and Energy Star appliances.

  • Supports smart growth land use choices that promote energy savings.

  • Encourages the continued development and dissemination of statewide education programs to inform Vermonters of energy efficiency practices.

 

C. GOVERNMENT

Democrats understand that “We, the people of Vermont,” are “the government.”  We stand for the separation of powers among the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of government as defined in the Constitution, and held to account by voters informed by a free press. The work of our government must be conducted with transparency, fairness, responsibility, and accountability at all levels.

1. SOUND FISCAL POLICY

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Supports a system of progressive equitable taxation.

  • Believes that the purpose of our state budget is to address the fundamental needs of all residents, and to advance dignity and equity (32 V.S.A. § 306a).

  • Believes sound fiscal policy is vital to the beneficial operation of government.

  • Supports responsible spending, equitable taxation, and the creation of protections against revenue shortfalls.

  • Supports an annual balanced state budget.

  • Supports ongoing and timely investments in current and future infrastructure, healthcare, education, renewable energy, and green technologies.

  • Believes these investments are hallmarks of good government and sound fiscal policy that will reduce future costs.

  • Believes that government officeholders and their appointees must be accountable to taxpayers for their ethical and fiscal actions.

2. MANAGING STATE GOVERNMENT

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Is committed to consistent and fair enforcement of regulations.

  • Believes coordination among state agencies will better serve Vermonters.

  • Supports government services that are efficient, cost effective and well-coordinated.

  • Supports adherence to all open meeting and public records laws.

  • Supports transparency and accountability in all areas of government.

  • Supports better protection of whistleblowers.

  • Supports the creation of an independent ethics commission.

  • Recognizes that regulatory reporting requirements and timetables must be reasonable and practical for effective implementation.

3. CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM AND PUBLIC FINANCING

The Vermont Democratic Party: 

  • Is committed to substantive campaign finance reforms, including public financing, that will withstand court challenges.

  • Believes that Super PAC influence has no place in Vermont elections.

  • Will work to counter and legally reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

  • Is committed to transparency in the funding of elections.

  • Believes in fair, open, and transparent elections and ballot procedures.

4. VOTING

The Vermont Democratic Party: 

  • Supports measures to educate and encourage all citizens to exercise their right and fulfill their responsibility to vote.

  • Supports the principle that voting should be convenient, easily accessible and understandable for all citizens and will work to ensure that voting rights include early voting.

  • Insists on free and fair elections with accountability for all votes via clear paper trails to verify voter choices.

  • Voices strong concerns that all candidates for office be given the same rules for ballot access to avoid special advantage to any individual or political party.

 

D. EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY

The Vermont Democratic Party supports individual liberty and the community of citizens caring for and about each other.  Laws and regulations must be administered so that all Vermonters are treated equally.   We reject racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic rhetoric, and encourage diversity of race, attitudes and beliefs.

1. EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Believes in equitable treatment for all, including an end to institutional racism.

  • Will work to amend Article 1 of the Vermont Constitution to clarify that slavery in any form is absolutely prohibited.

  • Seeks the passage of laws and regulations that ensure equality regardless of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, criminal history, ancestry, place of birth, age, physical or mental condition, military service, or economic status.

  • Celebrates legal equality in Vermont for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals and couples.

  • Expects all agencies and officers of state government to act with respect for the dignity, individuality, and cultural distinctiveness of all Native American peoples, and supports them in their quest for formal tribal recognition.

  • Supports civilian oversight of law enforcement with a community reporting apparatus, independent investigative, and prosecutorial and decertification powers to reinforce trust and legitimacy in communities of color and increase overall public safety.

  • Calls for an adequately funded state racial justice oversight board to implement effective transparency and accountability.  

  • Seeks a Racial Impact Assessment integrated into the legislative process.

  • Seeks anti-bias policies and mandatory training for all justice system personnel

  • Supports legislation that makes racial profiling illegal.

  • Opposes the current trend of militarization of local police forces around the country and requests our Congressional delegation to investigate and act upon their findings to protect our democratic rights. 

2. WORKERS’ RIGHTS

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Believes employees have the right to organize a union, bargain collectively, and to work free from discrimination in a safe, healthy and fair environment.

  • Supports equal pay for women and the strengthening of Vermont’s Equal Pay Act.

  • Supports paid parental leave.

  • Is committed to ensuring that workplace standards in Vermont promote public health and safety and are responsive to the needs of Vermont's workforce and families.  

  • Supports fully funding pension obligations to all state and school employees.

  • Supports a standard, indexed, legislative-established livable minimum wage.

 

E. BUILDING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES

Vermont Democrats believe the values of education, healthcare, housing and other essential human services form the foundation for healthy communities.

1. CHILD CARE

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Supports sufficient state subsidies for child care.

  • Supports affordable and accessible high quality child care.

2. EDUCATION

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Supports equal access to high quality pre-K–16 public education and continuing education for all Vermonters.

  • Supports the use of multiple measures to assess students’ achievement and not a single high-stakes test to assess student and teacher success.  

  • Supports school-based disciplinary systems that provide for the equal treatment of all students.

  • Supports measures to establish school safety for students, staff, and parents.  

  • Supports efforts to dramatically lower student loan burdens for higher education and move towards tuition-free and debt-free education for at least two (2) years at Vermont public colleges for Vermont residents pursuing their first degree or certification.

3. HEALTH CARE

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Supports the premise that access to appropriate, affordable, accountable healthcare is the right of every human being. This includes mental health, prescription drugs, long term care, choice of provider, end of life care, reproductive freedom, oral health for adults and children, optical care, auditory care, and privacy rights.

  • Recognizes that health care is best delivered locally and supports investments in strong, community-based primary care.

  • Believes that prevention is the cornerstone of sound healthcare policy.

  • Supports an individual's right to make reproductive choices. This includes access to health care, sex education, and information. We respect an individual's right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, family planning and access to an abortion.

  • Supports the efforts by the medical and pharmaceutical communities towards responsible opioid prescribing; and supports efforts to seek alternatives for chronic pain management in patients, as suggested by current best practices.

  • Supports initiatives to provide rehabilitation and treatment services without delay for all Vermonters seeking help with drug or alcohol addiction or dependence.

4. AGING AND DISABLED POPULATION

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Encourages businesses and agencies to provide job opportunities based on ability without unlawful discrimination.

  • Encourages businesses and agencies to make their facilities accessible in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

  • Advocates for policies that encourage and support family caregivers.  

5. CRIME PREVENTION

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Supports crime prevention through education, drug prevention, treatment, recovery, and partnering with communities to make Vermonters safe.

  • Opposes increased policing, militarization, or punitive policing tactics to address non-violent drug crimes in favor of the use of data-driven and community oriented policing.   

  • Supports adequate funding of law enforcement and courts to protect our citizens and decrease the costs of incarceration.

  • Opposes Vermont’s use of out-of- state, private, for-profit prisons that separate incarcerated Vermonters from family and community ties necessary to successful and safe reintegration.

  • Supports addressing mental health issues in the community or psychiatric facilities, not prisons.

  • Supports the exploration of the decriminalization of drug use and instead treating it as a health and mental health issue.

  • Supports the expansion of less expensive alternatives to incarceration, such as drug treatment, and post-release services such as supervision, job training, and transitional housing to lower recidivism rates.

  • Supports the long-standing tradition of hunting and gun ownership in Vermont.  The Vermont Democratic Party supports taking steps to reduce gun violence through universal background checks prohibiting the purchase of firearms by those prohibited by {18 V.S.C. S 922(g)}.

  • Supports a comprehensive effort to reduce domestic violence including vigorous enforcement of the Possession of Firearms After Conviction of Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence Act {18 U.S.C. S 922 (g) (9)}.

6. HOUSING

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Promotes homeownership and housing within existing town and city development zones, construction of affordable housing and moderately priced homes, and housing accessible to elders, people with disabilities, and people of color. 

  • Supports the enforcement of safe housing standards.

  • Is committed to restoring and increasing program funding to subsidize low-income rental housing.

  • Supports fully-funded, low-income home heating assistance or energy-efficient upgrades and the adoption of policies to restrict speculator control of energy futures contracts.

  • Supports the construction of energy efficient buildings.

  • Supports enhanced measurement and oversight to provide transparency required to enforce equal access to housing.

  • Supports enhanced analysis of housing demographic statistics to create a data-driven approach to ensuring compliance with equal housing laws.

  • Supports efforts to expand provision of shelter for the homeless.

  • Opposes the proposed New Vista project.

 

F.  EXTERNAL ISSUES AFFECTING VERMONT

Vermont Democrats support efforts to build international partnerships that enhance economic opportunities while remaining vigilant to transnational threats.

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Promotes international cooperation to solve problems such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, economic dislocation, genocide and pandemics.

  • Works with others to discourage war as an instrument of national policy.

  • Supports judicial actions that are undertaken against those who would harm Americans at home and abroad.

  • Encourages our members of Congress to consider the root causes of “terrorism” and how to ameliorate them.

  • Supports comprehensive immigration reform.  

  • Supports efforts to provide healthcare for all as a human right and public good.

  • Opposes unfair trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as it stands and in addition to other trade deals that would undermine worker and environmental protections, limit access to needed medical and pharmaceutical treatments, and limit state and national rights to protect citizens

  • Encourages the development of strategies to protect Vermont towns against the loss of businesses due to forces thought at present to be beyond their control.

  • Supports international programs that fight poverty, improve educational systems, promote democratic governance, and improve healthcare and practices.

 

G.  MILITARY

Vermont Democrats support the men and women of the Vermont National Guard, our Armed Services, and our veterans; we are grateful for their service on our behalf.

The Vermont Democratic Party:

  • Asks our Congressional delegation to ensure the government promptly provides all necessary support services to military personnel, veterans, and their families.

  • Supports steps necessary to assure that our service members are able to cast timely ballots in local, statewide, and national elections.

  • Supports continued public funding and oppose privatization of the state-owned and operated Vermont Veterans Home.  

_____________________________________

2016 VDP Platform Committee:

Jeff Fannon, Platform Committee Chair

Dottie Deans, Party Chair

Rep. Tim Jerman, Party Vice-Chair

Stephen Amos, Party Secretary

Sen. Claire Ayer

Charlotte Osterlund

Rachel Kinney

Mark Hughes

Conor Casey, VDP Executive Director

 

Adopted, as amended, by the Vermont Democratic Party Platform Convention

August 20, 2016