MONTPELIER — The Capital City has two bills in the Legislature asking for state approval of city charter amendments. One of the amendments would allow non-citizen voting while the other calls for a ban on single-use plastics, such as shopping bags, straws and takeout food containers.
If the Legislature approves the non-citizen voting amendment, Montpelier would be the first city or town in Vermont to do so after residents approved the charter change request in the November election. The item was first proposed by City Clerk John Odum, who said on every Town Meeting Day, when residents vote on local issues, one or two people ask why their spouses can’t give input on city decisions.
In September, the Winooski City Council rejected a proposal to put a non-citizen voting referendum on the ballot for voters to approve.
Several Maryland communities allow non-citizens to vote in local elections and San Francisco does for school board elections.
It is not clear how the Legislature will vote on the charter change request to allow non-citizen voting in Montpelier. The bill, H.207, was submitted by Democratic Reps. Mary Hooper and Warren Kitzmiller on behalf of the city of Montpelier.
Regarding the plastics ban, Brattleboro has already enacted such an ordinance and other Vermont towns are considering similar measures. Hooper and Kitzmiller submitted a bill, H.206, seeking a charter change to enact a similar ordinance in Montpelier.
Rep. Robin Scheu, D-Middlebury, is the lead sponsor of H.74, calling for single-use plastics to be banned in July, while a draft Senate bill proposes a longer period to assess an evaluation of existing municipal bans, such as the one in Brattleboro.