Editor’s note: The date was incorrect in a previous edition.
by Guy Page
The Vermont House of Representatives will debate and vote Tuesday, February 9 on Proposition 5, the proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine unrestricted abortion in the Vermont Constitution.
House Speaker Jill Krowinski has announced the Prop 5 Tuesday vote, lawmakers say.
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If approved, the vote will complete the legislative approval process for Prop 5. Constitutional amendments are not subject to a gubernatorial veto. But it will face a possible ‘veto’ by voters at a statewide referendum at the November 8 general election. Here’s what happens after House approval, according to an April, 2019 document prepared by Legislative Counsel:
If passed by both chambers in both bienniums, the Governor must provide public notice of the proposed amendment by proclamation. Vt. Const. Ch. II, § 72.
17 V.S.A. § 1844 requires the Secretary of State to publish the proposal and a summary thereof in at least two newspapers having general circulation in the State. These publications must occur once each week for three successive weeks.
This statute also requires the proposal to be published on the websites of the General Assembly and of the Office of the Secretary of State for the same duration as the newspaper publications.
The proposal is then submitted to the voters of the State for ratification; voters must ratify by majority vote. Vt. Const. Ch. II, § 72. 17 V.S.A. § 1842 requires this vote to occur at the general election.
Prop 5 would amend the Vermont Constitution’s Section 1 – the section dealing exclusively with individual rights – for the first time since 1786. It would add Article 22: “That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”