By David Flemming
On June 11, the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance held a webinar to discuss a bill “establish(ing) a task force to study and consider a State apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery. Vermont lawmakers remain SILENT on the matter, despite the national racial unrest.”
The alliance asked attendees of the webinar to read H.478, a bill aptly titled “An act relating to establishing a task force to study and consider a State apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery.” It has six sponsors: Rep. Brian Cina (P-Burlington), Rep. Kevin Christie (D-Hartford), Rep. Selene Colburn (D-Burlington), Rep. Harold “Hal” Colston (D-Winooski), Rep. Mari Cordes (D/P-Lincoln), and Rep. Diana Gonzalez (P-Winooski).
H.478 would recommend four appropriate remedies in consideration of the Task Force’s findings on the matters described in this section:
1. “How the injuries resulting from matters described in this section can be reversed and provide appropriate policies, programs, projects, and recommendations for the purpose of reversing the injuries.”
2. “How, in consideration of the Task Force’s findings, any form of compensation to the descendants of enslaved Africans is calculated.”
3. “What form of compensation should be awarded, through what instrumentalities, and who should be eligible for such compensation.”
4. “How, in consideration of the Task Force’s findings, any other forms of rehabilitation or restitution to African descendants is warranted and what the form and scope of those measures should take.”
The Task Force would consist of 11 members, three appointed by the governor, four by the Senate Committee on Committees, and four by the Speaker of the House. “At minimum, 4 appointees shall represent major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice, including the NAACP, Justice For All, and Black Lives Matter.”
It’s no surprise that legislators have “remained silent” on the bill, letting it languish in the Government Operations Committee since Feb. 27. After all, Gov. Phil Scott declared a state of emergency on March 13. Even before Covid-19 wrecked Vermont’s economy, the idea had questionable merit. Now that Black Lives Matter has become a lead headline, the bill is likely to receive renewed consideration.
David Flemming is a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.