Proposed ‘common property’ constitutional amendment dead for this year

By Guy Page

PR9, the proposed amendment to the Vermont Constitution declaring natural resources “the common property of all the people,” will not be taken up this year, lead sponsor Sen. Chris Bray (D-Addison), chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, said Monday.

In response to a Vermont Daily inquiry about the status of energy and environmental legislation sent to the Senate by the House before the pandemic recess in March, Bray answered, “I can say, with regret, that the Constitutional amendment will not be taken up. I am sure we don’t have enough time for that work, which, by virtue of its very nature, requires the greatest diligence of all — i.e. the careful amending our legal foundation, a/k/a the Vermont Constitution.”

PR9 would enshrine in the Vermont Constitution the “right to clean air and water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, and cultural values of the environment. The State of Vermont’s natural resources are the common property of all the people. The State shall conserve and maintain the natural resources of Vermont for the benefit of all people.”

Guy Page

PR9 is co-sponsored by Sens. Rebecca Balint, Philip Baruth, Brian Campion, Alison Clarkson, Ruth Hardy, Cheryl Hooker, Deborah Ingram, Virginia Lyons, Richard McCormack, Corey Parent, Christopher Pearson, Andrew Perchlik, Anthony Pollina and John Rodgers. It was introduced Feb. 14.

Critics of PR9 say the language about “common property of all the people” impinges on constitutional protection of the right of private property.

As for if/when the Senate takes up other energy/environmental legislation, including Act 250 reform and the Global Warming Solutions Act, “I will be better able to answer your good questions in about a week,” Bray said. “For the time being, we are still focusing (as a Senate and General Assembly) on COVID-based emergency bills. We will get some time to do non-COVID work in the coming weeks, but I don’t yet know how much time. As always, we will have to prioritize and limit what we can take on with appropriate due diligence. Once I know the amount of time and once the committee makes choices based on that amount of time, then I can provide more solid answers.”

Severe revenue shortfalls must be faced

Apart from emergency bills, the Legislature is faced with adjusting the current (2020) budget in the face of expected revenue shortfalls of just under $200 million. Once that herculean task has been completed, it must prepare a 2021 budget. The only thing known about the 2021 revenue is that it will be way, way down. Lawmakers are considering approving by the end of June the spending for July, August and September, taking a break, and then returning in August or September.

By then, it is hoped that revenue will be well-enough understood for the Legislature to allocate spending for the final nine months of the 2021 fiscal year.

“Everything really depends on whether we can use COVID $$ for revenue replacement,” House Appropriations Committee member Dave Yacavone (D-Morrisville) told Vermont Daily. “If not, things could get very ugly.”

Legislature passes emergency-related bills

The Legislature during the last week approved and sent to the governor these SOE-related bills:

S.340, FY 2020 interfund borrowing authority. This bill allows Treasurer Beth Pearce to borrow from state funds 45 days before and after July 1 to pay the state’s bills, provided the money is repaid within that timeframe at appropriate interest. It’s a financial flexibility bill that doesn’t raise additional funds.

S.341, disclosure of tax information to facilitate the provision of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits. This bill allows the Tax Department to tell the Department of Labor the earnings of applicants for pandemic-related financial assistance.

S.114, emergency judicial response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This bill during the SOE gives judges discretion about requiring rent payments, suspends time frames for judicial hearings, allows defendants to appear by video, accommodates the new normal for deed registration and notarization, and grants an additional 60 days after the SOE expires to statute of limitations for civil action.

S.316, execution of wills during an emergency, waives for the SOE the legal requirement for a will’s author to be physically present when the will is signed by witnesses.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s House calendar brings up for review two Covid-19 bills approved by the Senate:

S. 333, establishing a moratorium on home ejectment and foreclosure actions during the COVID-19 emergency.

S. 182, suspends the need for the credentialing process of emergency medical services workers during the SOE.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR
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11 thoughts on “Proposed ‘common property’ constitutional amendment dead for this year

  1. The proposed amendment should stay dead forever. the citizens of VT. who like their freedoms should be scared of the elected officials who are pushing this.

  2. Hey, Senator Bray, you forgot to include the following in PR9: motherhood, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness??? Last time I checked there also are our unalienable rights. You could then tie them up with a pretty pink ribbon as it is brought up for consideration.

    • This seems rather facetious on your part, given your position with regard to the edicts for the Wuhan virus.

      • Re: Mike

        Keep in mind:
        The comments listed here have not been confirmed to originate from identified individuals. They may, in fact, be generated by sources using pseudonyms, or contrived using automated content moderation software that responds using Artificial Intelligence and contextual analysis to elicit an intended response and effect.

    • She is amAzing. She and the medical team were pro active, used the anti malaria drug as a profilactic to those who are in danger and she SAVED lives AND their economy.

      Well spoken. Perhaps we could offer her all our relocation money to bring people into our state?

      Notice how she’s not getting any national press? No coincidence.

  3. The controlling elitists in Chittenden County that control the Montpelier Government will not allow any change to their rock solid establishment of control and power. They took an oath to the Constitutions, but that is ionly a lip service formality. All hell is descending onto the populace.

    Amazing when in office they think people are stupid and need guidance and they will seek to honor that mentality. But somehow upon elections, they want the “smart” populace to keep them in office. Just look at this proposal about their grab of private lands. They will take care of it for all. Common property must mean common to the state, not the free property owners. Freedom is a threat to them.

    To take away the power of the Chittenden County and others alike, at election time when resolutions are introduced and voted upon as individuals state wide wherein the power is returned to the people. The resolution being limiting the size of the Senators to each county and dictating what the Legislature can and cannot do—eliminating the power grabs. For instance, Mitzy Johnson replaced legislators she didn’t like on committees.
    Ref:
    What REALLY happened between cynthia browning and mitzi johnson Wednesday?
    https://vermontdailychronicle.com/2020/03/28/what-really-happened-between-cynthia-browning-and-mitzi-johnson-wednesday/

  4. The controlling elitists in Chittenden County that control the Montpelier Government will not allow any change to their rock solid establishment of control and power. They took an oath to the Constitutions, but that is ionly a lip service formality. All hell is descending onto the populace.

    Amazing when in office they think people are stupid and need guidance and they will seek to honor that mentality. But somehow upon elections, they want the “smart” populace to keep them in office. Just look at this proposal about their grab of private lands. They will take care of it for all. Common property must mean common to the state, not the free property owners. Freedom is a threat to them.

    To take away the power of the Chittenden County and others alike, at election time when resolutions are introduced and voted upon as individuals state wide wherein the power is returned to the people. The resolution being limiting the size of the Senators to each county and dictating what the Legislature can and cannot do—eliminating the power grabs. For instance, Mitzy Johnson replaced legislators she didn’t like on committees.
    Ref:
    What REALLY happened between cynthia browning and mitzi johnson Wednesday?
    https://vermontdailychronicle.com/2020/03/28/what-really-happened-between-cynthia-browning-and-mitzi-johnson-wednesday/

    There are more TNR articles I could make reference to, but am limited. Also wish VT had a governor like South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem, very level headed.
    South Dakota Residents Throw Parade for Governor Who Refused To Issue Stay-at-Home Order
    https://www.westernjournal.com/south-dakota-residents-throw-parade-governor-refused-issue-stay-home-order/?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=wcjemail&utm_campaign=CAN&utm_content=2020-04-29

  5. Another attack on private property rights. This needs to stop. We are long past due to clean out Montpelier. Time to replace all of them with common-sense Vermonters that protect people’s private property rights and have fiscal control.

  6. They’ve been itching to put meters on all the private wells in the State for a long time. Anything to get a few more dollars to keep the progressive dream going.

  7. PR9

    That should scare the hell out of everyone. That is a taking of private property, and they want to put it into the constitution. See they really wanted to get into that document and update it. Get it a little closer to the communist manifesto.

    How does even proposing this bill not get you kicked out of your position? It’s the tearing down of our constitution they were sworn to protect. It’s not like the state doesn’t have control via regulatory strangulation, so clearly it’s not about control, it’s an out right taking.

    I’m saddened to John Rodgers supporting this. Sadden to see any American supporting this. When will we have had enough?

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