The Constitution of the State of Vermont is the fundamental body of law of the U.S. State of Vermont. It was adopted in 1793 following Vermont's admission to the Union in 1791 and is largely based upon the 1777 Constitution of Vermont which was ratified at Windsor in the Old Constitution House. At 8,295 words, it is the shortest U.S. state constitution.
The first chapter is a "Declaration of Rights of the Inhabitants of the State of Vermont," was drafted in 1777, and is followed by a "Plan or Frame of Government" outlining the structure of governance with powers distributed between three co-equal branches: executive, legislative and judiciary.
Prior to 1791 Vermont was an independent state, known as the Vermont Republic, governed under the Constitution of the Vermont Republic. The Vermont Constitution was in 1777, and remains, among the most far reaching in guaranteeing personal freedoms and individual rights. It is the first constitution in the New World to prohibit slavery, guarantee universal manhood suffrage regardless of property ownership, and universal free education, a mandate for public funding of primary and secondary education available to all citizens.
The Vermont Republic's constitution's Declaration of Rights of the Inhabitants of the State of Vermont anticipates the United States Bill of Rights by a dozen years.
The Vermont General Assembly has the sole power to propose amendments to the Constitution of Vermont. An amendment must originate in the Senate, where it must receive a two-thirds vote. After passing the Senate, it must also receive a majority vote in the House. Any amendment that passes both Houses, must be repassed by majority votes, after a newly elected legislature is seated; again, first in the Senate, then in the House. The proposed amendment must then be passed by a majority of the state's voters at a referendum. Only every other Senate session may initiate the amendment process. Thus, Senates elected in off-year (i.e. non-Presidential) elections may initiate amendments, but not Senates elected during Presidential elections. (Vermont Constitution, Chapter 2, Section 72)
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