Unexpected new Vermont law oppresses citizen involvement in annual town meetings

This commentary is by Nancy Gassett, of Vernon.

One can only guess what is going on in Montpelier to explain why the Vermont Legislature recently passed bill H.42, suspending the Vermont Open Meeting Law until July 1, 2024.

H.42 was passed and signed into Vermont Law by Gov. Phil Scott on Jan. 25, 2023. There is no explanation in the language of H.42 for the purpose or need for the sudden suspension of Vermont Open Meeting Law or the changes made to Annual Vermont Town Meeting procedures.

This unexpected new law was passed just in time to greatly affect Vermont’s tradition and practice of annual open town meetings throughout the state. The directives in this newly passed bill will oppress the freedoms of Vermont citizen involvement in their local governments. The voting decisions made annually at Vermont town meetings on the spending of citizen tax dollars and the decisions on other local matters, directly affect the everyday lives of Vermonters. Many Vermont citizens look forward to participating in their local town meetings.

Not only did this bill suspend Vermont Open Meeting Law, but it went further to mandate certain requirements and it omits others. Here are some specifics in the language of the bill:

  • Bill H.42 allows public meetings including pre-town informational meetings, to be entirely electronic.
  • Bill H.42 dismisses the previous requirement to have a “designated physical location” when holding a public electronic meeting. The previous physical location requirement served those without access to electronic meetings and/or those choosing to attend in-person.
  • Bill H.42 says that meetings of legislative bodies in municipalities and also school boards shall record their meetings, “unless unusual circumstances make it impossible to do so.” This language seems to say that recordings of public meetings recorded in the past are now optional.
  • Bill H.42 changes the requirements regarding the postings of public meeting notices and agendas that inform the public.
  • Bill H.42 allows for the use of Australian Ballot Voting (paper ballots) for what would otherwise be an open floor gathering of the citizenry, taxpayers and/or representatives to allow for in-person questioning, debating, making changes where allowed and open floor voting.
  • Bill H.42 suspends the use of the specified language previously used for the school budget ballot.
  • Bill H.42 extends the suspension of Vermont Open Meeting Law until July 1, 2024.

Over the past two plus years we have experienced the repeated usurpation of our Vermont State and United States constitutions in many ways. Our Vermont state politicians have repeatedly joined together in agreement to violate their oaths allowing for laws and actions that betray us as the people they are supposed to serve and protect.

It is disconcerting to see how the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont governor are now betraying us once again, as they casually dismiss Vermont law and citizen involvement in their own local governments.

Is this the action of elected public servants who took an oath with serious intent and are supposed to act in the best interest of the citizenry, upholding our constitution and laws and protecting our freedoms, rights and privileges? Or is this one more action of out of control, power-hungry politicians who see themselves as rulers above the citizenry and the law?

In our constitutional republic, it is our duty as both United States and Vermont citizens to hold our elected officials accountable (Vermont Constitution, Article 6). Please call your representatives, senators and governor and hold them accountable for this unreasonable and unnecessary oppression of Vermont’s citizenry.

Image courtesy of town of Cambridge

10 thoughts on “Unexpected new Vermont law oppresses citizen involvement in annual town meetings

  1. Given all the name-calling, mean-spirited and vulgar comments on this site one would have to say something extraordinary vulgar for TNR not to post it.

  2. In Europe every one has a personal information card, with a number, date of birth, country of birth, photo ID, iris scan, fingerprints, legal residence, etc.


    If you want to vote, you show up at the polling place for your legal residence ON ELECTION DAY.

    There is no early voting and no late voting
    All ballots are time/date stamped
    All ballots are HAND-COUNTED, NO MACHINES ARE ALLOWED, by law, to minimize fraud possibilities
    Result are know late in the evening on Election Day, or the next day.
    Voter turnout out is much higher than in the US

    There is NO UNIVERSAL MAIL-OUT OF BALLOTS, by law, to minimize fraud possibilities

    There is NO UNIVERSAL HARVESTING OF BALLOTS, by law, to minimize fraud possibilities.

  3. This is all part of the neutering of Vermonters, killing their spirit, empowering never do wells, and misfits, and criminal/corrupt/unethical practices, and illegals walking across the border, who could not fight themselves out of a paper bag, but end up in the legislature, on the courts, in high bureaucratic positions, and being recipients of government program largesse, and, if illegal, etc., get to be registered to vote, without having any documents to verify their past.

    • You forgot catered breakfasts and lunches that the taxpayers pay for. I think this is under the radar of most Vermonters. Crickets for those who don’t work for the state or federal gov’t.

  4. Re: “Bill H.42 allows for the use of Australian Ballot Voting (paper ballots) for what would otherwise be an open floor gathering of the citizenry, taxpayers and/or representatives to allow for in-person questioning, debating, making changes where allowed and open floor voting.”

    It’s not that this Bill (H. 42) allows for the use of Australian Ballot that’s concerning, but that it empowers only the “municipal officers’ to make the declaration.

    Conversely, 17 V.S.A. § 2680 states:
    “Unless specifically required by statute, the provisions of the Australian ballot system shall not apply to the annual or special meeting of a municipality unless that municipality, at its annual meeting or at a special meeting called for that purpose, votes to have them apply.”

    And the sponsor of Bill H. 42 is the House Committee on Government Operations and Military Affairs. No single legislator sponsored it.

    What’s up with that?

    I smell another gubernatorial State of Emergency proclamation around the corner. I just wonder what the emergency will be this time.

  5. I can’t wait to retire and move from Vermont, your only for the homeless drug addiction and thieves run free

  6. Why is this unexpected/? The state is run by Communists. They are consolidating their power and giving themselves free healthcare while doing it.

    “A leopard can’t change its spots and a skunk can’t change its smell”. D.B. Wilmer

    • Lols! I tried to add a comment the other day in agreement with you Mr Vito Lanese, but I guess True North Reports doesn’t like certain Vermonters opinions to be shared, and it seems they are doing the commies cencorship themselves to keep Constitutionalists, Conservatives and Patriots quiet because of maybe a few bad words and just repeating what they say and want. To me this self censoring, or censoring on crazy fascist commies behalf & censoring based on telling the truth or a bad word or two is part of the reason not just Vermont but the world is being taking over by evil commie socialist scumbag globalists, World Government orgs like the UN & EU as well as wealthy foreigners along with their non profits.. If we can’t write/ type our opinions and research freely like God has given us the ability to do which the Government is reminded about with the Vermont State & the USA Constitution. In my opinion the Vermont GOP needs scrutinizing along with the Federal GOP because they are a joke , & the only difference with VT GOP & VTs progressive commies & Demoncrat parties are the names!!

      • Uniparty is strong, when they have brothers fighting, they win. Mad people are easy to control. The only thing these two can agree to is, they don’t want a third party. They like things just the way they are.

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