By Guy Page
The House Government Operations Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday morning on Burlington’s proposed legalization of prostitution.
According to the committee calendar for this week, ‘H746 – An act relating to an amendment to the charter of the City of Burlington’ is scheduled for a ‘Mark-up and vote’ at 9 am, Thursday April 27.
H746 would remove from the Burlington City Charter the municipal power “to restrain and suppress houses of ill fame and disorderly houses, and to punish common prostitutes and persons consorting therewith.”
Critics of H746 say it would give official sanction for legal, unregulated prostitution from the state’s largest city, thus paving the way for similar action for the entire state. Supporters say state law prohibiting prostitution trumps municipal law, so the Burlington charter change is “symbolic.” Their claim might be technically true, provided Burlington police and the progressive-minded Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George opt to fully enforce state law within city limits.
Two bills to legalize prostitution – H268, human trafficking and prostitution, and H630, voluntary engagement in sex work – are currently in the House Judiciary Committee. Several of the Burlington lawmakers – including Judiciary member Barbara Rachelson – sponsoring the city charter change are also sponsors of statewide prostitution repeal bills.
If approved by Government Operations Thursday, H746 could come before the full House as soon as next Tuesday.