by Angela Chagnon
Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington) and ten other legislators (9 Democrats and 1 Progressive) have introduced a bill, H.385, that would establish a “Common Assets Trust Corporation”, designed to “protect certain common assets (such as air and water)”.
H.385 starts out by quoting Roman civil law, the Declaration of Independence, and makes mention of the Magna Carta and English common law. When those who have shown little respect for the laws contained in these documents turn around and use them to justify a political move, you know something bizarre this way comes.
And bizarre it is. The bill lists as “common assets” the following: “undisturbed habitats, entire ecosystems, biological diversity, waste absorption capacity, nutrient cycling, flood control, pollination, raw materials, fresh water replenishment systems, soil formation systems, and the global atmosphere”.
And that’s not all. The bill includes “social assets such as the Internet, our legal and political systems, universities, libraries, accounting procedures, science and technology, transportation infrastructure, the radio spectrum, and city parks.”
The bill would create a Vermont Common Assets Trust Advisory Committee consisting of nine members: two senators, one member appointed by the “committee on committees”, two House members, one member appointed by the Speaker of the House, and three members appointed by the Governor.
Included in the committees responsibilities are:
· overseeing the use of Vermont’s “common assets” like air and water
· to “consider the advantages and disadvantages of establishing caps on the use of a common asset”
· creating and regulating “fees for polluting or other non-beneficial uses of common assets”
· “endowing citizens with enforceable rights to require that the common assets be managed for the benefit of future generations, which includes rights to experience natural ecosystems and to live among healthy, diverse nonhuman species”
· and to figure out how to distribute the income from the trust fund to every citizen of the state.
H.385 was assigned to the committee on Natural Resources and Energy early this week.
The other bill sponsors are Cheney of Norwich, Deen of Westminster, Edwards of Brattleboro, Klein of East Montpelier, Masland of Thetford, Partridge of Windham, Ram of Burlington, Sharpe of Bristol, Weston of Burlington and Wizowaty of Burlington.