PARTY LEADERS

Vermont Senate

Vermont Senate Democrats
Legislative Priorities

2021 - 2022

Preamble

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the life of every Vermonter. This crisis isn’t just about masks, PPEs, tests, and contact tracing. In the wake of the 2008 financial catastrophe, and amid the global emergency of climate change and the awakening of the country to the neglected ravages of racism, the COVID health emergency has presented Vermonters with an urgent need to understand and address the inter-connected ways in which deep-seated inequities subvert, obstruct, and distort the promise of our state and the well-being of its residents.

 

We have learned, for example, that “essential workers” are among those with the least economic mobility in our society. We have been reminded that in an employer-based health insurance system, people whose jobs are at risk during a pandemic also risk losing affordable medical care when they need it most. We have confronted the reality that without universal access to broadband and personal computers, families can’t rely on telemedicine visits with a doctor or continue their children’s schooling from home. We have grasped with new urgency that two generations of real wage stagnation have left too many Vermonters vulnerable to food and housing insecurities, to hopelessness, and to the harmful effects of self-medications like opiates and alcohol. And we have faced the crippling consequences of the Trump administration’s failure to lead.

To meet these challenges, the Vermont Democratic Party is committed to these priorities:

1. Equity:

To vigorously examine and reform practices, processes, policies, regulations, and legislation that may inhibit or obstruct access to and participation in the life of our communities by any Vermonter for reasons of sex, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, religion, age, physical ability, mental health status, incarceration history, or immigration circumstances.

2. Prosperity for All:

To direct public and private investments focused on developing a 21st century economy that promotes shared and sustainable economic, social, and ecological well-being.

3. Environmental Justice:

To enhance the quality of every Vermonter’s life within the carrying capacity of our supporting ecosystem and to fully implement the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act.

4. Health Care for All:

To establish health care as a human right by achieving universal, comprehensive, accessible and affordable health care for all and to ensure that all public health policies, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic, are driven by science.

5. Justice and Community Safety:

To improve the well-being of our communities through a comprehensive approach to public safety that recognizes our individual implicit biases and the institutional racism inherent within the criminal justice system, and that ends the criminalization of poverty, addiction, and otherness, while embracing more effective alternatives to incarceration.

6. Education Second to None:

To secure Vermont’s future by investing in our children — sustaining our commitment to equal and excellent preK-16 education, improving affordable access to early child care, and extending affordable, first-rate, post-secondary learning opportunities throughout adulthood.

7. Democracy:

To strengthen Vermonters’ engagement and confidence in government by ensuring fair elections, spirited public participation, transparent government, and a free press.

To be sure, these planks are neither exhaustive nor separable. They are indispensable, interdependent elements of a vibrant and creative future for Vermont that is rooted in respect for each other, care for our communities, and a collective responsibility for our planet.

1. Equity

Vermont is made stronger when all people are uplifted and afforded equitable opportunity and access in all of our communities, whether rural or urban, and regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, religion, national origin, immigration status, age, physical ability, mental health status, or incarceration history. In addition to emphasizing equity here, we recognize that equity is fundamental to Democratic beliefs, and as such have intentionally interwoven our commitment to equity as an ideal, as well as equitable practices and outcomes throughout each additional plank of this Platform.

 

The Vermont Democratic Party affirms that Black Lives Matter. We recognize that systemic and institutional racism exist throughout our state. We acknowledge past and present inequities, and strive to dismantle the systems of oppression that continue to marginalize valued members of our community. To achieve this, we will:

  • Examine and evaluate policies and legislation -- including the Vermont Constitution -- through a racial equity lens, regularly assess decision-making processes at all levels of government, and work towards diverse representation and equitable distribution of and access to power;

  • Work to close the racial wealth gap by raising the minimum wage and enacting other legislation and policies that promote equitable hiring and retention practices, high quality jobs, and hold institutions accountable for engaging in predatory lending;

  • Recognize that present-day Vermont occupies traditional Abenaki lands, acknowledge the challenges this has caused for the Abenaki people, and work to reduce health and socioeconomic disparities faced by the Abenaki community;

  • Confront the deep inequities experienced by migrant farmworkers, a community critical to the success of Vermont’s agricultural economy, by addressing inadequate housing conditions, poor health care access, and food insecurity;

  • Provide support and outreach to New Americans with linguistically and culturally appropriate services to enhance integration of New Americans into our community;

  • Support racial justice curriculum in Vermont schools;

  • Work to root out harassment, including but not limited to sexual and racial harassment, in our workplaces and other institutions, and take action to ensure those committing these injustices are held accountable;

  • Remove barriers to participation in vital democratic practices such as voting and Town Meeting, to ensure equitable opportunity for underrepresented communities;

  • Support policies and legislation that reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities, such as the heightened dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic faced by Black and Latinx communities, and strengthen access to quality health care to reduce Black and brown maternal health disparities; 

  • Denounce divisive rhetoric and hate speech that generates division and fear towards marginalized individuals or communities; and

  • To ensure a safe, affirming Vermont for communities of Black, Indigenous, and people of color, commit to continually educating ourselves and our communities about racial justice.