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Stories about Vermont

Three states to have veto-proof legislative majority and governor of the opposing party

2022-Veto-Proof

Two of four states heading into the 2022 elections that had a veto-proof legislative majority and governor of the opposing party—Kentucky and Kansas—maintained that status after the elections. Vermont became a state with a veto-proof legislative majority and opposing-party governor as a result of the 2022 elections.

Maryland and Massachusetts will no longer have a veto-proof legislative majority and governor of the opposing party since the party that held a veto-proof majority also gained control of the governor’s office in the 2022 elections.

State governors may veto bills advanced by the state legislature. With sufficient support—between one-half and two-thirds of sitting legislators, depending on the state—state legislatures may overturn a gubernatorial veto. When one party controls enough seats to overturn a veto without support from the other party, a legislature can hold a veto-proof majority.

Heading into the 2022 elections, four states had a governor of one party and a veto-proof state legislative majority of the opposing party: Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Three states—North Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin—could have switched to having a veto-proof majority and an opposing party governor due to the 2022 elections.

  1. In Kentucky, Republicans maintained their veto-proof majority in both chambers of the state legislature. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) is not up for re-election until 2023.
  2. In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly (D) won re-election. Republicans maintained their veto-proof majority in the state Senate since that chamber did not hold regular elections. Republicans also won at least two-thirds of the seats in the state House of Representatives.
  3. In Maryland, Democrats won the governorship while maintaining their veto-proof state legislative majority and became a Democratic trifecta. Wes Moore (D) won the Maryland gubernatorial election. Incumbent Larry Hogan (R) was term-limited.
  4. In Massachusetts, Democrats won the governorship while maintaining their veto-proof state legislative majority and became a Democratic trifecta. Maura Healey (D) won the Massachusetts gubernatorial election. Incumbent Charlie Baker (R) did not run for re-election.
  5. In Vermont, Democrats gained a veto-proof majority in the state legislature and Phil Scott (R) was re-elected governor.

Two states could have gained a veto-proof legislative majority with an opposing party governor in 2022.

  1. In North Carolina, Republicans gained a three-fifths majority in the state Senate. The final margin of the Republican majority in the North Carolina House of Representatives has not yet been determined. North Carolina holds gubernatorial elections in presidential election years, so Gov. Roy Cooper (D) was not up for re-election.
  2. In Wisconsin, Republicans gained a two-thirds majority in the state Senate but fell at least two seats short of a two-thirds majority in the Wisconsin State Assembly. Incumbent Gov. Tony Evers (D) won re-election.

Four states with a governor of one party and a veto-proof state legislature of the opposing party—Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, and Massachusetts—maintained that status after the 2020 elections. None of those four states held gubernatorial elections that year. Five states could have switched to having a veto-proof state legislature and an opposing party governor because of the 2020 elections but none of them achieved the sufficient legislative majorities to achieve that status.

Additional reading:

https://ballotpedia.org/Supermajority

https://ballotpedia.org/Veto-proof_state_legislatures_and_opposing_party_governors_in_the_2020_elections



Measures to repeal constitutional language on slavery and indentured servitude as criminal punishments are on the ballot in five states this November

On November 8, 2022, voters in five states—Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont—will decide on amending their state constitutions to repeal language regarding the use of slavery or indentured servitude as punishment for a crime, or, in the case of Vermont, for the payments of debts, damages, fines, costs.

The ballot questions are below:

  1. Alabama Recompiled Constitution Ratification Question: Ratifies an updated and recompiled state constitution, which was adopted by the legislature following voter approval of Amendment 4 in 2020. The proposed constitution repeals language that provides for involuntary servitude as a criminal punishment.
  2. Louisiana Amendment 7: Removes language in the state constitution that provides for slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime and instead says that slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited, except that this cannot be applied to otherwise lawful administration of criminal justice.
  3. Oregon Measure 112: Repeals language providing for slavery or involuntary servitude as criminal punishments.
  4. Tennessee Amendment 3: Repeals language providing for slavery or involuntary servitude as a criminal punishment.
  5. Vermont Proposal 2: Repeals language stating that persons could be held as servants, slaves, or apprentices with the person’s consent or “for the payments of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like” and adds language saying that “slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.”

The Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—which was ratified on December 6, 1865—prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States, except as a punishment for those convicted of crimes. The text of the Thirteenth Amendment reads:

1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

As of 2022, 10 state constitutions included provisions prohibiting enslavement and involuntary servitude but with an exception for criminal punishments, while nine states had constitutions that included provisions permitting involuntary servitude, but not slavery, as a criminal punishment.

The states with constitutions that include provisions regarding slavery and involuntary servitude as a criminal punishment are Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

The states with constitutions that include provisions regarding involuntary servitude, but not slavery, as criminal punishment, are Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio.

Vermont is the only state that has a constitutional provision regarding involuntary servitude to pay a debt, damage, fine, or cost.

Nebraska, Utah, and Colorado put measures on the ballot to remove language from their state constitutions regarding the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments. These amendments were approved in Nebraska and Utah in 2020, and in Colorado in 2018.



Six abortion-related measures are on the ballot in 2022—the most on record for a single year

In 2022, there are six ballot measures addressing abortion—the most on record. Measures have been certified for the ballot in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont. Votes on these ballot measures follow Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.

Voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont will be the first to decide on ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. These measures are also the first abortion-related ballot measures since 1992 to have the support of organizations that describe themselves as pro-choice/pro-reproductive rights.

In August, voters in Kansas rejected a measure to provide that the state constitution cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. Turnout on the amendment was 49%, exceeding the number of votes cast in the state’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial primaries on August 2. On November 8, voters in Kentucky will decide on a similar amendment. These types of amendments are designed to address previous and future state court rulings on abortion that have prevented or could prevent legislatures from passing certain abortion laws. 

In November, voters will decide on five abortion-related ballot measures:

  • California Proposition 1: Amends the California Constitution to provide that the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including decisions to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives
  • Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2: Amends the Kentucky Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding of abortions
  • Michigan Proposal 3: Amends the Michigan Constitution to provide a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, defined to include abortion, contraception, and other matters related to pregnancy
  • Montana LR-131: Provides, in state law, that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons and requires medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or another method
  • Vermont Amendment: Amends the Vermont Constitution to provide a state constitutional right to personal reproductive autonomy

From 1970 to August 2022, there have been 48 abortion-related ballot measures, and 41 (85%) of these had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-life. Voters approved 11 (27%) and rejected 30 (73%) of these 41 ballot measures. The other seven abortion-related ballot measures had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights. Voters approved four (57%) and rejected three (43%).

Additional reading:



Newcomers will represent at least 32% of Vermont’s state legislative seats next year

Fifty-seven state legislative seats up for election in Vermont this year are open, meaning no incumbents filed to run. This represents 32% of the state’s legislature, a marked increase compared to recent election cycles.

Since no incumbents are present, newcomers are guaranteed to win all open seats.

Vermont restructured its House and Senate during the state’s redistricting process. Previously, the state had 117 state legislative districts containing 180 seats. After redistricting, there are 125 districts, still containing 180 seats.

While the number of open seats increased this year, other competitiveness metrics—like the number of contested primaries—decreased compared to the 2020 election cycle.

Across all districts, there are 24 contested primaries, representing 10% of all possible primaries.

A contested primary is one where there are more candidates running than nominations available, meaning at least one candidate must lose.

There are 17 Democratic primaries, a 23% decrease from 2020. Republicans are holding seven contested primaries, the same number as in 2020.

Overall, 276 major party candidates filed to run for the state’s 150 House and 30 Senate seats this year: 174 Democrats and 102 Republicans.

Vermont has had a divided government since Republicans won the governorship in 2016. Democrats hold a 91-46 majority in the House, with 12 other seats held by minor party or independent officeholders and one vacancy. The party holds a 21-7 majority in the Senate, with two seats held by minor party officeholders.

Vermont’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for Aug. 9, the 12th statewide primary date of the 2022 state legislative election cycle.

Additional reading:

Vermont House of Representatives elections, 2022

Vermont State Senate elections, 2022



Vermont’s only U.S. House seat is open for the first time since 2006

The filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in Vermont this year was May 26, 2022. Seven candidates filed to run for Vermont’s At-Large U.S. House district, a decade-high. That’s one more than the six candidates who ran in 2020 and two more than the five who ran in 2018. 

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  1. Because it has only one U.S. House seat, Vermont did not need to redistrict after the 2020 census.
  2. Vermont’s only U.S. House seat is open for the first time since 2006, when incumbent Rep. Peter Welch (D) was elected. Welch is retiring to run for the U.S. Senate. 
  3. Four Democrats and three Republicans are running to replace Welch, meaning both primaries are contested. Both primaries were contested in 2020 and 2018 as well. 

Vermont and three other states — Connecticut, Minnesota, and Wisconsin — are holding primary elections on August 9, 2022. Winners in Vermont primary elections are determined via plurality vote, meaning that the candidate with the highest number of votes wins even if he or she did not win an outright majority of votes cast. In the event of a tie, a runoff election is held.

Additional reading:

List of U.S. Congress incumbents who are not running for re-election in 2022



Vermont enacts new state legislative districts

Vermont enacted new state legislative districts on April 6 when Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed H722, the redistricting proposal approved by both legislative chambers, into law. The maps will take effect for Vermont’s 2022 state legislative elections.

On Oct. 15, 2021, the Vermont Legislative Apportionment Board voted 4-3 to approve a single-member district House map proposal. The board sent this proposal and another with a mix of single- and multi-member districts to the legislature on Nov. 30. After rejecting the single-member district proposal, the Vermont House of Representatives voted 129-13 to advance the multi-member district proposal on March 16. On March 25, the Vermont State Senate unanimously approved the new districts.

State Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas (D) said the redistricting process was “really one of a tremendous time crunch,” but “everybody supported the bill because they supported the process and the fairness and inclusion of the process.” State Sen. Jeanette White (D) said, “Some people are happy and some people are not happy. I think we did the right thing.”

Gov. Scott did not address the bill upon signing it, but spokesman Jason Maulucci said, “We see the consequences of the our [sic] demographic challenges in numerous ways, and the further redistribution of representation from rural areas to more economically well-off parts of the state are another example.” State Republican Party Chairman Paul Dame (R) said, “The mix of single- and double-member districts is problematic because, fundamentally, some Vermonters get twice as many votes as other Vermonters.”

As of April 7, 43 states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers and one state has adopted maps for one legislative chamber. Courts in three states have overturned previously enacted maps, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin’s enacted maps, and two states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census. As of April 7, 2012, 44 states had enacted legislative redistricting plans after the 2010 census.

Nationwide, states have completed legislative redistricting for 1,758 of 1,972 state Senate seats (89.1%) and 4,776 of 5,411 state House seats (88.3%).

Additional reading:



Sixteen Thirty Fund, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood contribute to the campaign behind Vermont Proposal 5, the Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment

In its March 15 campaign finance filings, Vermont for Reproductive Liberty, the campaign behind Proposal 5, reported receiving $183,207 in contributions. Proposal 5 would amend the Vermont Constitution to add language protecting the right to personal reproductive autonomy and prohibiting government infringement unless justified by a compelling state interest. Currently, the right to abortion is protected in Vermont statute. 

The top donors to the campaign included Planned Parenthood Action Fund ($50,141.70), Sixteen Thirty Fund ($27,800.00), Donna and Jake Carpenter ($25,000), Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund ($20,841.51), and the ACLU ($11,002.00).

Jessica Arons, senior advocacy and policy counsel for reproductive freedom for the ACLU National, said, “The right to abortion in this country is on the line as it’s never been since Roe was first decided. This is the time to show up for the right to reproductive freedom and send the message that we will do whatever we can to ensure that people can get the care they need no matter what.”

The campaign opposing the amendment, Vermont Right to Life, reported receiving $778.65 in contributions. Joanna Ellis-Monaghan contributed the most with $320.

Vermonters for Good Government also opposes Proposal 5. It argues that if the amendment passes, “future generations of voters will be unable to ever start an amendment removal process, it will be out of their control, as amendments must originate in the legislature. As we look around the country, we see changing laws, opinions, and attitudes about this critically important topic.”

In December, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for a case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, challenging court precedent on abortion. The court will announce its decision this summer.

In 2022, there will be at least four ballot measures, including Vermont Proposal 5, addressing abortion—the most since 1986. In Kansas and Kentucky, the ballot measures would declare there is no state constitutional right to abortions. In Montana, a legislative referral would state that “an infant born alive is a legal person” and that present healthcare providers shall provide “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the [infant’s] life and health.”

In addition to the four certified ballot measures related to abortion, Ballotpedia is tracking five proposed ballot measures—two citizen-initiatives and three legislative referrals—that voters could decide in Colorado, Michigan, Maryland, and Oklahoma.

Additional reading:



Voters approve all 15 ballot measures at the town meeting election in Montpelier, Vermont

Ballotpedia covered 15 local ballot measure in Montpelier, Vermont, on March 1, 2022. Voters approved all 15 measures at the city’s town meeting election.

The voter-approved ballot measures were designed to do the following:

*authorize $30,000 to fund the 2022-2023 operating budget of the Central Vermont Public Safety Authority (CVPSA) and the CVPSA’s Telecommunications Improvement and Acquisition Plan;

*authorize spending $10,656,060 for the payment of debts, expenses, and taxes in the 2022-2023 fiscal year;

*authorize spending $4,080 to compensate the mayor in 2022-2023;

*authorize spending $12,240 for city council member compensation to pay each member $2,040 for the 2022-2023 fiscal year;

*authorize Montpelier to issue up to $7.2 million in bonds to fund the reconstruction of East State Street;

*authorize Montpelier to issue $1.815 million to fund the purchase of a pellet boiler at the Public Works Garage, street light replacements, and intersection improvements at Barre and Main Street, a retaining wall on Marvin Street, Confluence River Park, and other highway infrastructure projects, with repayment over a term of 20 years;

*authorize Montpelier to issue $2 million in bonds for the purchase of approximately 138 acres of land, formerly the Elks Club;

*authorize the city to issue $16.4 million in bonds for sewer treatment systems;

*authorize the city to levy an additional property tax of $51.5 per $100,000 in assessed property value on non-residential property in Montpelier’s Designated Downtown to fund downtown streetscaping and marketing;

*authorize spending $395,696 for the Kellogg-Hubbard Library for the 2022-2023 fiscal year;

*authorize spending $23,500 for the Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice;

*adopt an annual budget of $26,938,821 for the Montpelier Roxbury School District’s 2022-2023 fiscal year, amounting to an estimated $17,829.69 per equalized pupil;

*authorize spending $260,000 to supplement the Capital Reserve Fund in the 2022-2023 fiscal year;

*authorize spending $9,700 for the compensation of the school board of directors for the 2022-2023 fiscal year; and

*authorize the school board of directors to hold any audited fund balance as of June 30, 2022, to be spent on district operations under the control of the board.

In 2022, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also providing information on all local measures in California, as well as statewide ballot measures in the 50 states. Ballotpedia’s 2022 local ballot measure coverage includes Vermont’s state capital, Montpelier.



Vermont Town Meeting day on Tuesday; Montpelier voters to elect town officials and vote on 15 ballot questions

Most towns in Vermont will hold town meetings on Tuesday, March 1. These meetings are held every year on the first Tuesday of March. Citizens of the towns elect officials, but they also directly decide on the town’s annual budget, specific appropriations, and other policy issues through ballot questions called articles.

Towns in Vermont use two methods for electing officials and deciding ballot questions: (a) floor voting or (b) Australian ballots, which are ballots cast at a polling place like during in-person, election-day voting for other elections. Towns can also use a combination of the two methods. Floor voting takes place when town citizens congregate in one location and hold debates and vote on motions.

Floor voting can take place through (a) voice votes; (b) hand counts, usually used when the moderator cannot tell the results of a voice vote; or (c) paper ballots passed out, filled in, and collected at the meeting. State law requires paper ballots to be used to elect officials when they are elected through floor voting.

Vermont law makes town meeting day a holiday for employees of the state. It also allows all employees in the state to take unpaid time off for town meeting day, with an exception for the essential operation of the state’s business. State law allows towns to hold town meetings for floor votes on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday before the first Tuesday in March. Polls, however, must be open for Australian Voting on Town Meeting Day if that method is used.

According to the Vermont Secretary of State’s voting methods and turnout statistics by town for 2021:

  • about 65% of listed towns used Australian ballot voting to elect town officers, and 35% used floor voting;
  • about 28% used Australian ballot voting for approving a budget, and 72% used floor voting;
  • about 37% used Australian ballot voting for ballot questions; and
  • about 56% moved to Australian ballot voting in 2021.

To get a clearer idea of town meetings, which are unique to New England local government, we’ll look closer at the officers and articles that voters in Montpelier, Vermont, will decide at their 2022 town meeting.

Montpelier voters will use Australian ballot for all officials and ballot questions. They will choose

  • the mayor;
  • District 1, 2, and 3 city council members;
  • a parks commission member;
  • two cemetery commission members;
  • Montpelier Roxbury School District board members, school treasurer, and school clerk; and
  • a Central Vermont Public Safety Authority Board member.

They will also vote on 15 local ballot questions: 10 town questions; four school district questions; and one question for the Central Vermont Public Safety Authority, which includes the towns of Montpelier and Barre. Three questions were put on the ballot through signature petitions. Binding, financial expenditure measures can be added to the Montpelier ballot through a petition signed by 10% of registered voters.

Citizens will vote either in favor of or against specific proposals deciding:

  • mayor and city council member compensation;
  • a $10.66 million budget for debts, expenses, and taxes in the 2022-2023 fiscal year;
  • two measures proposing town appropriations for specific purposes;
  • four bond issue measures;
  • a property tax within the town’s designated downtown area;
  • Montpelier Roxbury School District board member compensation;
  • a $26.94 million budget for the Montpelier Roxbury School District;
  • an additional appropriation for the Capital Reserve Fund of the Montpelier Roxbury School District and a measure allowing the district board to spend audited fund balances for operations; and
  • an appropriation for the Central Vermont Public Safety Authority District of $30,000—with $15,900 from Barre City and $14,100 from Montpelier.

Ballotpedia is covering local measures in 2022 that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities and all local ballot measures in California. Ballotpedia’s 2022 local ballot measure coverage in Vermont includes Montpelier.

Additional reading:



Vermont voters to decide whether to add a right to personal reproductive autonomy to the state constitution in November

On Feb. 8, the Vermont House of Representatives took the final vote to send Proposal 5 to the November ballot. Proposal 5 would add language to the Vermont Constitution stating that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course.” The amendment would prohibit the constitutional right from being denied or infringed unless there is a compelling state interest, which would need to be achieved using the least restrictive means.

The amendment has received support from the University of Vermont Medical Center, ACLU of Vermont, and League of Women Voters of Vermont. Rep. Ann Pugh (D-Chittenden) said, “The lack of a definitive enumeration of reproductive liberty in Vermont’s Constitution, the threats to Roe v. Wade being weakened or overturned by a very conservative US Supreme Court, and the cloud of multi-state efforts to erode reproductive autonomy all build a strong case for Proposition 5.”

Rep. Anne Donahue (R-Washington), who voted against the amendment, said she was worried about how the term, “reproductive autonomy,” could evolve. She said, “It’s a term far more open to interpretation and, in fact, could mean a great many things that we don’t currently envision.”

In Vermont, a constitutional amendment requires a vote in each chamber of the Vermont General Assembly in two successive legislative sessions with an election in between. However, there are different vote requirements depending on the session and chamber. During the first legislative session, a constitutional amendment needs to receive a two-thirds vote in the state Senate and a simple majority (50%+1) vote in the state House. During the second legislative session, a constitutional amendment needs to receive a simple majority vote in each legislative chamber.

The amendment was introduced during the 2019-2020 legislative session. The lead sponsors were State Sens. Timothy Ashe (D-Chittenden), Becca Balint (D-Windham), Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden), and Richard Sears (D-Bennington).

On April 4, 2019, the state Senate approved Proposal 5 in a vote of 28-2. To meet the two-thirds vote requirement, at least 21 votes were needed to pass the amendment. On May 7, 2019, the state House approved Proposal 5 in a vote of 106-38, with four members absent and one member abstaining. To meet the simple majority requirement, at least 73 votes were needed.

The amendment was taken up again during the 2021-2022 legislative session. On April 9, 2021, the state Senate approved the amendment by a vote of 26-4. A simple majority of 15 was required to pass the amendment in the senate the second time. On February 8, 2022, the state House approved the amendment by a vote of 107-41.

The amendment is one of three amendments related to abortion that has qualified for a statewide 2022 ballot. In August, Kansas voters will decide a constitutional amendment that would say that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion. In November, Kentucky voters will also decide a constitutional amendment to adopt similar language.

In Michigan, a citizen initiative targeting the 2022 ballot has been proposed that would create a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom. Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said, “We have reached a critical moment in history for abortion access in Michigan with the Supreme Court poised to overturn nearly 50 years of precedent and restrict abortion access for 2.2 million Michiganders. We are exploring a ballot measure that would preserve every individual’s constitutional right to make the very personal decision about reproductive healthcare.”

Ballotpedia has identified six ballot measures to amend state constitutions to declare that nothing in the state constitution provides a right to abortion. In Tennessee (2014), Alabama (2018), West Virginia (2018), and Louisiana (2020), these constitutional amendments were passed. In Massachusetts (1986) and Florida (2012), these constitutional amendments were defeated.

In November, Vermont voters will also decide Proposal 2, which would prohibit slavery and indentured servitude without exception in the state constitution. The 2022 amendments are the first to appear on Vermont ballots since 2010. Between 1995 and 2022, Vermont voters approved the only other two amendments that appeared on statewide ballots.

Additional reading: