Statement in Support of AAPI Community & Bill Update

MONTPELIER, VT- On Thursday, the House Progressive Caucus released the following statement on the rise of bigotry against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic.

The Vermont Progressive House Caucus celebrates the contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Vermonters while also acknowledging the need to respond to the rise of bigotry against Asians and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up about 1.9% of Vermont’s population. They are our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and business owners in our communities. AAPI Vermonters contribute immeasurably to every city and town in Vermont in which they reside, and it is more important than ever that we stand in solidarity with them. Xenophobia and acts of bigotry against Asians and Pacific Islanders across the country is sharply on the rise in our country. Asian-targeted hate crimes increased 149% in 2020. The most well known incident involved the killing of eight people, including six Asian women, in Atlanta on March 16, 2021. Vermont is not immune to these sentiments. We denounce all AAPI-targeted attacks, and all forms of racism.

We encourage our constituents and all Vermonters who are not Asian American or Pacific Islander to show support for their AAPI neighbors by showing up to events sponsored by local organizations, supporting local AAPI-owned businesses, and educating ourselves about the experiences of AAPI residents in Vermont.

We stand in full support of the demands made by the Vermont Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American For Black Lives Group in their statement following the Atlanta attack in March 2021. If you have yet to read this statement, please do so as their call to action is as relevant today as it was then. We offer our full support for their demands, as listed below:

1. For Governor Scott, Senators Leahy and Sanders, Representative Welch, and Mayors, colleagues, friends, and public figures to denounce the attacks, hate crimes and murders against the Asian American community and promise that similar attacks here in Vermont will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

2. When the victim of crime is a person of color, for all to assume from the start that it is a hate crime until a full and thorough investigation proves otherwise. Ensure that every investigation at the law enforcement and prosecutorial level is reviewed and guided by a person of color.

3. For those in power to immediately issue an Executive Order that calls upon every Agency, Department, University, Employer to study and address equitable representation and equal pay on their boards, commissions, and positions of leadership.

We also express our full support for the following bills, as endorsed by APIDA in their statement:

· H.387: A proposal to establish the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for the Institution of Chattel Slavery, with the purpose of studying and considering a state apology and proposal for reparations, and to make recommendations on appropriate remedies.

· Status: This bill has been read and referred to the Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs and no further action was taken in the 2021 session.

· H.245: Proposal to add three members to the Vermont Ethnic and Social Equity Standards Advisory Working Group, as well as funding to the Working Group.

· Status: This bill was absorbed in S.115, a miscellaneous bill on education. It was passed into law on June 7, 2021, and is now in effect.

· H.428: Amends statute related to hate-motivated crimes to clarify that a victim’s actual or perceived social categories don’t need to be the only reason or the predominant reason for the defendant’s actions in order for them to be subject to enhanced penalty under the statute.

· Status: This bill was signed by Governor Scott on May 18, 2021, and is now in effect.

· H.320: Prohibits agreements that settle a discrimination claim from preventing an employee from working for an employer or an affiliate of the employer.

· Status: This bill has been read and referred to the Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs, and no further action was taken in the 2021 session.

· H.329: Amends laws prohibiting discrimination to state that harassment does not need to be so severe and pervasive to constitute unlawful discrimination, as well as establish a six-year statute of limitations for claims of discrimination in employment, public accomodations, and housing. This bill also further amends the laws to state that employees do not need to pursue internal grievances before filing a claim of discrimination, or be required to demonstrate that an employee was treated differently in order to prove discrimination occurred.

· Status: This bill has been read and referred to the Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs, and no further action was taken in the 2021 session.

· H.210: Establishes a Health Equity Commission to promote equity in health access and eradicate disparities among Vermonters, particularly Black, Indigenous, and/or Vermonters of Color, as well as LGBTQ+ Vermonters and disabled Vermonters.

· Status: This bill was signed by Governor Scott on May 18, 2021 and will be put into effect on July 1, 2021. A full description of the role of this new commission can be found here.

We continue our commitment to fighting white supremacy, racism and pursuing the liberation of all and encourage other Vermonters to join us in this work.

State Representative Emma Mulvaney-Stanak

State Representative Tanya Vyhovsky

State Representative Selene Colburn

State Representative Brian Cina

State Representative Taylor Small

State Representative Mollie Burke

State Representative Heather Surprenant




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