Vermont State House
Vermont State House
Universities: Differentiate Between Bad Grades and Sexual Assault
When a student is convicted of sexual assault and then dismissed from their college or university, there is little to no indication on this person’s transcript as to why they were dismissed. At some colleges and universities, a small asterisk is placed at the bottom of his/her transcript indicating they have been dismissed. This symbol is used to indicate a dismissal for poor grades as well as the commitment and conviction of sexual assault. It then falls upon the college or university viewing this person’s transcript to not only notice the small asterisk, but then to contact this person’s former institution and inquire about his/her dismissal. This is a rare occurrence. When a student is convicted of sexual assault, many college and universities are mainly concerned about getting this person off their campus, which is understandable and something that needs to happen. However, what happens when s/he transfers schools and arrives on a new campus? This person’s new school most likely is not fully aware of the reasoning behind their dismissal, and without proper knowledge of his/her past. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), 51% of all alleged rapists have at least one previous conviction, 19% have 2-4 previous convictions, 12% have 5-9 previous convictions, and 8% have 10 or more previous convictions. RAINN also states that 69% of the people that have been sexually assaulted are aged 12-34. Female college students aged 18-24 are 3 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than females in general. We are proposing a bill that would require colleges and universities to explicitly indicate that this person was dismissed for sexual assault and is therefore a danger to students, faculty, and staff not just at the college or university s/he is dismissed from but to any institution to which s/he applies. This bill would transform the admissions process allowing colleges and universities to manage risk before it even steps foot on their campus and would serve as a preventative measure to combat sexual assault on college campuses. In addition to bettering reactionary services available to someone after s/he has been sexually assaulted, there needs to be systems in place to stop it from ever occurring. Should a college or university choose to ignore this new indication to the applicant’s past, the school would then be held accountable in the event this person commits sexual assault on their campus, eliminating the possibility the college or university could claim ignorance. New York and Virginia have passed similar laws requiring their colleges and universities to indicate whether students were dismissed due to sexual assault. They had hoped to create a domino effect, with other states following their lead in the hopes that a federal law would be introduced. Unfortunately, this did not happen. By signing this petition, you are expressing support in favor of a bill that would require colleges and universities to explicitly mark on a student's transcript whether or not they have been dismissed from that institution on the grounds of sexual assault. It is time our country stops protecting the perpetrators of sexual assault and starts protecting those who have been sexually assaulted and implements measures to keep the number that have been assaulted as low as possible. explaintheasterisk.org Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explaintheasterisk/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/explainasterisk or use hashtag #ExplainTheAsterisk Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/explaintheasterisk
Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!
I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!
Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!
When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities
Call for Blue States to Move On
What happened to make this country the focus of judgment, laughter, and fear from the rest of the world? The industrialized world outside of the United States enjoys a better quality of life and general happiness that most of us can only imagine. First class education, comprehensive health care, clean food/water/air and an overall better relationship with their fellow citizens. And as a country, we have higher mortality rates at younger ages, poorer health, and an impoverished population who can't learn new skills without going deeper into debt. As much as we like to blame Donald Trump for our national problems; these problems were here before him, and they will still be here if Trump is removed from office tomorrow. We have a political system that centralizes power to a consolidated political center in Washington, DC and an economic center in New York City. Our Electoral System will isolate the power to determine the direction of our political system to a very small, easily manipulated portion of the electorate in a strategic location.Worst of all, we have a large portion of the population who will empower a mentally unstable man to the highest office in the world; just so they can say “We Won”. This group is constantly complaining about a simply lost world with plentiful jobs in their communities. And now, they have the nerve to complain about losing the federal government programs they benefited from and voted against.It's time we said “ENOUGH” and have Progressive States and Communities band together and share resources and ideas to provide a better quality of life for its people, that the Trump Administration wants to take away. And furthermore, we need to ensure that we only support States and Communities who will change their policies for its people. We can no longer provide assistance to the Red States, just so they can abuse and neglect their citizens for business interests. For the future of this nation, we need to explore every legal method possible to protect the people from an extremely dangerous President Trump. A Values-Based Alliance of the States (VBAS) is one way of resisting this new reality of government, and the dangerous changes that we all know are inevitable. I understand that the constitution will not allow us to directly stop this monstrosity, but it will allow us to devalue it. A VBAS of certain states with similar values and policy preferences can and will use its population centers and economic influence to co-op, share resources, and implement policies with other co-opted states, while not having to depend on or engage the federal government. Examples: There are certain states with a majority of people that believe single-payer healthcare system (CA, MA, VT, NY, WA, OR, IL, HI.). If those states passed laws to provide single payer health care for its people, a Single Payer Healthcare VBAS organization of those states can share resources to improve efficiencies, expand medical training/education amongst the co-opted states, negotiate pharmaceutical/treatment, amend needed tax policies and petition the US Government. This would also force neighboring states to decide if they want to change their internal policies to provide single payer, so they can join the Health Care VBAS. A resident of Indiana might ask his state to join the VBAS because he could literally see his next-door neighbor in Illinois fully covered, and using a Doctor that just came back from his training at a medical school in California.Although the VBAS states cannot legally sign the Paris accords, they can change their internal policies to abide by its recommendations. There could be an environmental protection VBAS, where the states involved agree to abide by the Paris accords, improve safety protocols within its states, take climate change seriously, and provide economic preference to states and nations that do the same. CA, OR, NY, MA, VT, WA HI, and NV could agree to be a preferred customer of states or nations that voluntarily reduce its carbon emissions and address climate change, instead of LA or TX, which most likely will not.Other issues could include minimum wage, education, trade agreements, gun control and virtually every policy not adjudicated solely by the federal government.As more VBASes are organized and more states agree to join them, Donald Trump and the ignorance of future presidents become less and less relevant. Please sign this petition and pass it on to as many people as possible.
Vermonters Want Comprehensive Marijuana Legalization
Vermonters have a history of being on the moral side of history by opposing unjust law. A leading example is the Habeus Corpus Law of 1850 which was passed by the Vermont Legislature to command state law enforcement agents and judges to assist captured fugitive slaves. In response to Vermont's Habeus Corpus Law, then U.S. President Millard Fillmore threatened Vermont with a military occupation for essentially nullifying the Fugitive Slave Act within Vermont’s borders. Vermont was not intimidated. Marijuana prohibition is another example of an unjust law we Vermonters oppose. While federal code criminalizes the voluntary use, cultivation, and exchange of marijuana by informed and consenting adults, jurisdictions such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, have taken independent measures apart from the U.S. Congress to decriminalize and/or re-legalize the consumption, cultivation, and trade of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. Vermonters who support marijuana decriminalization and legalization do not necessarily condone drug use. However, we do oppose the dangerous practice of criminalizing consensual and victimless behavior by responsible adults. We the undersigned Voters of the State of Vermont, petition the State of Vermont to uphold it's constitutional duty to promote the general welfare through public health and safety policy, by defining reasonable regulations around personal marijuana use, cultivation, and commerce, such as product safety standards and product labeling requirements to facilitate informed consumer choice. We believe marijuana has not been empirically proven to be a significant danger to public health and safety justifying criminalization. No negative physiological health effects have ever been proven to be caused by consuming tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) found in marijuana. Since legalizing recreational marijuana in 2012, Colorado violent crime rates have declined, and the growth rates in impaired driving and marijuana use by minors are statistically insignificant. We believe marijuana prohibition is not a reasonable form of regulation, but the abdication of regulatory authority by the State of Vermont, whereby public courts become closed to a minority group of consumers for adjudicating civil and business disputes, arguably in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and whereby state regulatory authorities cease to protect Vermont consumers by defining product safety standards and product labeling requirements. We recognize the collateral damage caused by marijuana prohibition as a greater danger to public health and safety than personal marijuana use, cultivation and regulated trade. Our conclusion is based on the large number of otherwise law abiding, functional, and peaceable human beings having their private property confiscated under civil asset forfeiture law, and whose prospects for future prosperity are harmed after being labeled criminals for life over a marijuana related arrest and conviction. We require expungement of all nonviolent marijuana related arrest and conviction records. Over 80,000 Vermont residents surveyed by the RAND Corporation admit to regularly using marijuana. This suggests a narrow jury pool for Vermont prosecutors who wish to convict persons for the victimless acts of possessing, growing and voluntarily transacting for marijuana. We affirm every human being has natural authority over their mind and body, whereby the free exercise of informed choice, voluntary consumption, consensual trade, and cultivation of marijuana among responsible adults must be protected by Vermont state statute and municipal ordinance. We believe moral ends require moral means, and we recognize marijuana prohibition as both an ineffective and immoral means of promoting public health and protecting public safety. Our belief is based on overwhelming evidence from legal and policy research groups dating back to landmark finding of the 1972 National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (aka The Shafer Commission), showing unreasonable collateral harm being done to individuals, families, and society from marijuana prohibition enforcement. We believe police lives matter. Marijuana legalization reduces demands on law enforcement to confront otherwise law abiding individuals over behavior as personal possession, consumption, cultivation, and consensual trade, which enhances officer safety by reducing officer exposure to harmful risk, and reserves crime-fighting resources for allocation towards solving and preventing genuine crimes having genuine victims. We believe responsible adult Vermonters have the moral right, civil right, and legal right to grow marijuana at home for personal use. If the people do not have a right to grow marijuana at home for personal use, no representative of the people in government may commercialize and license-out a nonexistent right of the people for profit. Lawmakers shall not turn the people into a captive market and divorce them from their values and capabilities, by commercially licensing-out the people's right to grow marijuana, while denying the same people the same ability to personally exercise this right for themselves. We believe genuine marijuana legalization restores civil rights. Racial and political minorities are arrested at higher rates for illicit marijuana not because police are inherently biased or racist, but because prohibition laws were designed to disrupt minority communities under the guise of public safety. President Richard Nixon's domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman, admitted on public record about the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) saying, "We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the [Vietnam] war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities." Therefore, We the undersigned Voters of the State of Vermont, pledge to support political candidates who back comprehensive marijuana legalization. We pledge to oppose any political candidate in Vermont’s upcoming state, county, and municipal election cycle(s), who explicitly or implicitly opposes passing a comprehensive marijuana legalization bill. Thank you for signing our petition. Our goal is to get 10,000 voters to sign before Vermont's 2017 legislative session closes. Please share our petition with your friends and family over Facebook, Twitter and email. Doing so helps improve petition visibility which brings us closer to our goal.
Save Lives: Require Spinal Muscular Atrophy Newborn Screening
August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Awareness Month. Please join our efforts to require SMA newborn screening, and help end the deadly effects of SMA. About SMA: • SMA is the number one genetic killer of babies and children under the age of two.• SMA is a motor neuron disease like ALS.• SMA robs the ability to move, swallow, and eventually breathe. • One in 40 unknowingly carries the gene responsible for SMA.• When two carriers have a baby, there is a 25% chance the baby will have SMA, a 50% chance the baby will be a carrier, and a 25% chance the baby will be unaffected.• One in 10,000 babies is born with SMA. The FDA approved Spinraza as the first treatment for SMA on December 23, 2016. However, newborns continue to go untreated when they would receive the most benefit, as no states are performing SMA newborn screening. Newly diagnosed Type 1 SMA babies treated with Spinraza didn't lose their ability to move, swallow, and breathe, but instead gained strength. Some even crawled and took steps — steps away from the deadly effects of SMA. Newborn babies treated within the first two weeks never lost abilities to SMA, and developed as average babies do. They crawl, eat, stand, and walk. Only newborns with older SMA siblings have been treated this way, as their parents knew to screen for SMA. Every newborn needs to be screened for SMA, so babies born with SMA can develop just as babies without SMA do. For this to happen, SMA needs to be added to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP), states need to require SMA newborn screening, and funding needs to be provided for SMA newborn screening. The Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (Committee) is scheduled to vote to add SMA to the RUSP at its February, 2018 meeting. Once the Committee votes favorably to add SMA to the RUSP, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will add SMA to the RUSP. This is an important step, as many states look to the RUSP when adding new conditions to screen for. This petition will be delivered to both the Committee, and the Secretary of HHS. States also need to require newborn screening, as the RUSP is only a recommendation, it does not mandate states to test for conditions. We will continue to pursue SMA newborn screening in every state, and this petition will help our efforts. Missouri is the only state to enact newborn screening legislation, and will begin screening for SMA in January of 2019. Federal and state funds are also needed to begin and continue SMA newborn screening. This petition will help us as we advocate for funding with the appropriate federal and state congressional members. Act Now: With an FDA-approved treatment, it is urgent we secure SMA newborn screening. Newborn babies treated within the first two weeks will have the best chance at progressing as they would without SMA. Every baby born with SMA should be afforded this life-saving treatment. Please sign our petition urging Committee to vote to add SMA to the RUSP, urging states to require SMA newborn screening, and urging federal and state congressional members to provide funding for SMA newborn screening.
Adopt S.281 to create and Equity Commission for Mitigation of Systemic Racism
While protection of civil liberties at the national level continue to be dismantled on an ongoing basis, Vermont continues to struggle with racial disparities in housing, employment and law, education, law enforcement and other public accommodations. The lack of a centralized authority designated to address systemic racism makes it impossible to implement a data-driven, results-based solution. Last year we asked for a Racial Justice Oversight Board to do this (H.492). Instead we got Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel (Act 54). We're back! We need S.281 to make this happen. Here is what the petition said last year... People of color are being treated unfairly as a result of institutionalized racism across the nation and here in Vermont. In the criminal justice system these disparities create challenges ranging from disproportionate traffic stops to overrepresentation in prisons. Ashley Nellis of The Sentencing Project reported that Vermont leads the nation with "one in 14 African American males incarcerated". Stephanie Seguino of UVM reported that "the Black arrest rate is almost double the White arrest rate". Addressing these challenges requires outreach to our communities and the implementation of mitigating strategies that address implicit bias. Our legislature is positioned to act upon H492 and create an unprecedented Racial Justice Oversight Board. "The Board shall conduct management and oversight of the implementation of racial justice reform across the State, including within the criminal justice system, by managing and overseeing the collection of race-based data, ensuring such data are publicly available, and developing policies and trainings to address systemic implicit bias." The establishment of this board will assist in making Vermonters safer and ensuring that Vermont is a place where opportunity exists for everyone. Institutionalized racism hurts us as a State because it erodes trust and creates disunity. You can learn more and support the bill here
Howard Dean said Tulsi should not be in congress: Howard Dean shouldn't be a Democrat
Howard Dean said that Representative Tulsi Gabbard should not be in congress because she is skeptical of claims that Assad ordered the recent chemical attack on civilians in Syria. Peter Ford, ex UK Ambassador to Syria, expressed his doubts in this interview: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-07/ex-uk-ambassador-syria-questions-chemical-attack-it-doesnt-make-sense-assad-not-mad Wolf Blitzer made a strange assertion while interviewing Rep. Gabbard, "The pentagon has photos of Syrian planes dropping chemical bombs in the region at the time of the attack." How would a photo show what was inside the bomb? The pentagon has not claimed that it has a photo of the impact of a chemical bomb on the ground. What is the difference between, 'in the region,' and, ' the exact location of the chemical attack?' http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/09/politics/democratic-leaders-gabbard-syria/index.html It is also possible that the White Helmet group could have left the bombs in a manner in which they would activate in the event of being bombed. It is possible that Assad ordered the attack, even though, by doing so, he didn't have anything to gain, and he has everything to lose. It is possible that the doctor at the nearby hospital who was present when a flood of chemical attack victims poured in is just expert at multi tasking: he live streamed on FB, and tweeted, tweeting, 'we are overwhelmed with victims. There are hundreds of victims of a chemical attack and we are overwhelmed. If you don't believe me, pm me, and I'll send you proof." It is odd that he had time for so much social media work during a crisis. Representative Gabbard is not the only one to have doubts: “It’s hard to know exactly what’s happening in Syria right now. I’d like to know specifically how that release of chemical gas, if it did occur — and it looks like it did — how that occurred,” Representative Thomas Massie told CNN’s Kate Bolduan. “Because frankly, I don’t think Assad would have done that. It does not serve his interests. It would tend to draw us into that civil war even further.” For Howard Dean to immediately condemn and state that Representative Tulsi Gabbard should not be in congress just for being skeptical of the Trump administration's statements on this issue is inexplicable. Howard Dean should resign from the Democratic Party. Personally, I applaud Representative Tulsi Gabbard's commitment to peace, and her public attempts to end our endless wars. Maybe Howard Dean is receiving compensation from interests who profit from endless war?
Revoke and Reassess the Vermont Fracked Gas Pipeline!
On Friday, March 3rd, the Climate Solutions Caucus, our allies in the Vermont Legislature, sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Public Service, June Tierney. The letter requests that she act to reopen the permit that has allowed construction of the ANGP Pipeline and expresses concerns about cost overruns, safety violations, environmental impacts, and questions about whether there is any need for the pipeline. You can find a copy of their letter here and a link to the VT Digger article, highlighting the Climate Solutions Caucus's letter, here. Your signature will show June Tierney and the Department of Public Service that Vermonters are against this pipeline. It will also show support for the Climate Caucus Legislatiors' request to reopen the Certificate of Public Good that was granted to Vermont Gas Systems. This pipeline is bad for us, bad for Vermont and bad for the world. Stop construction and Keep it in the Ground!
We Call For Racial Justice Reform AND a Constitutional Amendment
We Call For Racial Justice Reform and An Amendment That Removes All Reference To Slavery From The Constitution. The racial climate in The United states continues to deteriorate with shootings of African Americans by law enforcement and Vermont is not immune to the unprecedented racial justice tensions that we are experiencing in the United States. Vermont ranks highest the nation at a rate of 1 in 14 African American males in State Prison (Ashley Nellis of the Sentencing project). Racial disparities in police traffic stops made by Burlington, South Burlington, Colchester, UVM and State police have increased over the last number of years (McDevett, Northestern University and Seguino, UVM). Something has to be done here at home to raise the awareness of this crisis. This is the time to advance dialogue and take action on racial disparities in Vermont We feel strongly that there many steps that can be taken to address challenge in Vermont. We call for a Constitutional Amendment that eliminates all reference to slavery from the Vermont State Constitution. We are also calling on legislators to provide appropriate funding to implement effective transparency into the criminal justice system. Grants must also be funded to provide resources for racial justice organizations for research, training and education. Vermont must make racial profiling illegal. Legislators should integrate Racial Impact Assessments into the law making process. Anti-bias training for all law enforcement officers must be expedited. Anti-bias policy and training must be implemented for all of the remainder of justice system personnel immediately. It must be enforcedly mandated that race traffic stop, use of force, plea, sentencing and other metrics related data be made publicly available to the fullest extent the law permits. It is imperative that law enforcement civilian oversight (with a community reporting apparatus, independent investigative, and prosecutorial and decertification powers) be implemented to reinforce trust and legitimacy in communities of color and increase overall public safety. S.W.A.T. or other heavy-handed punitive policing tactics to address suspected drug crimes must be prohibited and replaced with use of data-driven and community oriented policing. Racial disparities in Vermont touches additionally upon access to housing, educational institutions, access to healthcare, employment and various aspects of the political process. It is for this reason that we are asking that elected officials in Vermont ensure the effective implementation of Act 54 (2017) and Act 9 (2018 Special Session).