‘Truth and Reconciliation’ Commission gets look this week

South Africa began the Truth and Reconciliation movement to heal the wrongs of apartheid in 1996. A bill for a similar Vermont commission will be reviewed by a House committee Wednesday afternoon. Photo credit Brittanica.com

By Guy Page

Bills up for House committee review this week would encourage home visitation by school workers, allow candidates to spend campaign money on personal expenses, let a judge order police to take away firearms, study a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” for Vermont, promote BIPOC home ownership, and reimburse farmers for crop damage caused by black bears.


12:30 pm Corrections and Institutions will discuss S18, limiting ‘good time’ sentence reductions for the most serious crimes, such as murder, manslaughter, arson, sexual assault, child sex crimes, and other serious offenses. This bill amends a ‘good time’ bill passed last year, and addresses concerns by sponsor Sen. Richard Sears and others about universal sentence reduction. 

1 pm, General, Housing and Military Affairs will discuss J.R.H. 2, “sincerely apologizing and expressing sorrow and regret to all individual Vermonters and their families and descendants who were harmed as a result of State-sanctioned eugenics policies and practices.”

Beginning at 1 pm, House Education will discuss H106, the “community schools” bill that would help low-income students by removing “out of school” barriers to learning. Community schools work with social services and law enforcement to address the whole needs of the child, including family, substance abuse, hunger, trauma, etc. Home visitation is among the suggested strategies.

At 3:15 pm, Government Operations will discuss H10, allowing a candidate to “spend campaign funds on expenses necessary to allow a candidate to campaign, such as expenses for the care of a dependent family.” A short list of prohibited expenses is included. The sole sponsor is Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, chair of Government Operations. 

This bill would appear to allow fundraising and expenditure of campaign money on some daily living expenses of the candidate, “such as” but not limited to childcare and eldercare. This bill could be especially attractive to lawmakers who face little competition yet are able to raise funds from interest groups. 

Tuesday afternoon and all week, Human Services will review H171, governance and funding of childcare

Tuesday afternoon, Judiciary will resume review of H133, allowing a judge to order police to take away the guns of a person subject to a relief from abuse court order. 


10:30 am, Gov’t Operations will review H227, the proposed City of Winooski charter change allowing non-citizen voting in local elections. 

2:45 pm, Agriculture and Natural Resources will discuss H67, authorizing farmers “to seek compensation from the Department of Fish and Wildlife for damage by a black bear to crops, fruit trees, or crop-bearing plants.” Louis Porter, Commissioner, Department of Fish and Wildlife is scheduled to testify. 

At 3:15, Gov’t Operations will review and possibly vote on H196, adding staff to the Vermont Director of Racial Equity

In the afternoon, General, Housing and Military Affairs will discuss H96, establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission study task force. Sponsored by Representatives Christie of Hartford, Colston of Winooski, Stevens of Waterbury, Cina of Burlington, Copeland Hanzas of Bradford, LaClair of Barre Town, LaLonde of South Burlington, Lippert of Hinesburg, Long of Newfane, and Redmond of Essex, H96 creates a task force to develop “legislation to create one or more truth and reconciliation commissions to examine and begin the process of dismantling institutional, structural, and systemic discrimination in Vermont, both past and present.” 

The Truth and Reconcilation movement began after the downfall of apartheid in South Africa, to peacefully address its wrongs. A modern-day movement in the U.S., with a focus on law enforcement, has set up similar commissions in San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia. 

Later that afternoon, the committee will discuss  H 232, promoting BIPOC land and home ownership and economic opportunity (Rep. Katherine Sims D-Craftsbury), and H 273, promoting racial and social equity in land access and property ownership. H232 would provide housing and land purchase funding for disadvantaged populations, including BIPOC, through the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. H273 would do likewise, but has a more “progressive” tone and would create a new Vermont Land Access and Opportunity board and fund. 


6 replies »

  1. The level of dysfunction in our government today cannot be exaggerated. I suppose it is a reflection of society at large. It has shifted from the realm of politics to the self-destructive behavior inherent in what psychologist Carl Jung called ‘the shadow’. To some extent, we all exhibit this behavior, and it’s in our common best interest to recognize it and point it out, not only before we inadvertently injure ourselves but before we injure others.

    Rather than taking responsibility for our actions, many of us make use of the psychological phenomenon known as ‘projection’, which occurs when we attribute an element of our subconscious personality, to another person or group. We can project both negative and positive characteristics. However, there is a greater tendency to project the former rather than the latter. It’s a defense mechanism used to avoid the anxiety that is provoked when one is forced to face up to their faults, weaknesses, and destructive tendencies.

    As Jung explains:
    “When one tries desperately to be good and wonderful and perfect, then all the more the shadow develops a definite will to be black and evil and destructive. People cannot see that; they are always striving to be marvelous, and then they discover that terrible destructive things happen which they cannot understand, and they either deny that such facts have anything to do with them, or if they admit them, they take them for natural afflictions, or they try to minimize them and to shift the responsibility elsewhere.”

    I’ve witnessed this phenomenon firsthand. When I see foolish behavior these days, my first response is disbelief, then anger. My second response is avoidance – to simply be left alone. And thirdly, when pursued in my attempt to flee, to become defensive, to turn and fight.

    There is another option. As Hawkeye, in The Last of The Mohicans, said: “Don’t try to understand them; and don’t try to make them understand you. For they are a breed apart and make no sense.”

    Avoid the conflict as best you can. It will come searching for you soon enough. In fact, if anyone watched Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes last night, we conservatives, who simply disagree with these people, are now being characterized as crazy QAnon, supremacists of one color or another, racists, fascists, and worse. They now say we need to be ‘deprogrammed’. We may soon be required to wear a scarlet letter Q on our foreheads, or, worse, pin a yellow star to our lapels as we are led away to a boxcar.


    Now we have the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a movement that began after the downfall of apartheid in South Africa, to peacefully address its wrongs. Well, how did that work? Here’s a list of Africa’s most peaceful countries in 2021 according to the Global Peace Index Report.

    1. Ghana
    2. Mauritius
    3. Nambia
    4. Senegal
    5. Malawi
    6. Botswana
    7. Zambia
    8. Sierra Leone
    9. Lestho
    10. Tanzania

    What? South Africa isn’t on the list? How about the richest African countries: South Africa is ranked 8th.

    Yes, as you can see, this ‘projection’ thing has happened before, many times in history, and I have no idea how this instance is going to end. But forewarned is forearmed. Godspeed.

  2. The legislative agenda: You know, in good faith, I have to assume that our legislators are pursuing what they think us constituents want. Why does it continue to feel like they all up-in-our-lives doing things TO US under the rubric of doing “common good” things FOR US? It apparently hasn’t occurred to the agenda setters that repealing intrusive laws might be legitimate legislative undertaking.

  3. In response to legislators agenda;school workers are not wanted in our homes! Candidates can not use campaign money for personal expenses! For what reason would a judge order police to take firearms,this really needs to be explained in detail!! BIPOC home ownership is not unnecessary,anyone can own a home in Vermont today!! “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission “ ,if it is to be truthful should apologize to black people,Irish,Indians,Japanese,Chinese,Indians,white people etc,in fact all who have been abused,first of all the Jewish people!! BLM should apologize for nationwide riots,looting,murder,fires,painting on streets,lawlessness,etc!! In short are our Governor and our legislators going pass or do anything to actually help Vermonters,and adhere to our Constitution?!Our dairies need help,our people need help,small businesses need help,and we need to work now,and not be a pathetic welfare state!!

    • Actually, if the government would just stay out of the way and stop charging everyone more and more taxes for for their always failed programs, we wouldn’t need any help.

  4. My hope is that the creeping intrusiveness of most government action becomes ever more transparent. My fantasy is that as a citizenry we will undergo an enlightenment about this and ignite a blooming of individual freedom/responsibility…where we do the “pursuit our happiness” rather than relinquish it to the commonweal.