by Russ Ingalls
Editor’s note: Sen. Russ Ingalls (R-Essex Orleans) read this statement on the floor of the Senate today to explain why he opposed JRH6, Joint Resolution relating to Racism as a Public Health Emergency. The resolution passed the Senate and now goes to Gov. Phil Scott for his signature. May 12 it passed the House 99-42, on a largely ‘party line’ vote.
I believe that we must always continue to eradicate Racism where it persists. I also believe that Racism is real.
I also believe that Vermont is not a Racist State, when in making that statement would mean that I believe Vermonters as a whole, are not Racist. In my personal and business life, I have found that Vermonters, when meeting people for the first time, really don’t care of the color of ones skin, what god they pray to, whether you have lots of money or none, whether you are big or small, short or tall, what you’ve accomplished or not, what sex you identify with nor what political affiliation you align with.
Vermonters care of only one thing. Are you a good person. If you are, then you are in.
Is Vermont Systematically or Institutionally Racist? The dictionary says that Institutional racism, also known as systemic racism, is a form of racism that is embedded through laws within society or an organization. If that persists in Vermont, then please let me know where it’s at so we can address it today.
Is Racism a Public Health Emergency? Not as defined by The National Disaster Medical System Federal Partners Memorandum of Agreement, which defines a public health emergency as “an emergency need for medical services to respond to a disaster, significant outbreak of an infectious disease, bioterrorist attack or other significant or catastrophic event.”
And as for some of the findings in this Joint Resolution, the fact that 241 of the 251 deaths due to COVID19, for which race and ethnicity are known, 96% are white, non-Hispanic people. According to the US Government Census, Vermont is 94.2% White. So it does not appear that any population disportionately has seen deaths because of systematic Racism.
There is a Public health Emergency in Vermont. It’s the deaths of 94 people a year to opioid overdoses. That’s happened every year since 2009 with a 38% increase in 2020. Let’s find a solution to that problem.
I want to work with everyone of my Colleagues to keep Vermont an inclusive State for all, as I believe it is now.
This joint resolution is something that I can not support.