Referendum Mechanisms

The constitutional prohibition against delegating the legislative authority was primarily addressed through two mechanisms.

The first, an advisory referendum, gauged public support for, or opposition to, specific measures prior to formal legislative action. The 1976 referendum on a state lottery simply asked, “Shall the General Assembly consider enactment of a Vermont lottery to supplement state revenue?” The 127,001 to 49,447 favorable vote paved the way for introduction and passage of a lottery bill in the 1977 session.

The second mechanism was to pass a law that allowed voters to choose between two effective dates when the law would take effect. The understanding was that selection of the later date would cause an intervening legislature to repeal the act before it went into effect.

For example, in 1936 voters were asked whether an act to establish the Green Mountain Parkway should take effect on April 1, 1936, or on April 1, 1941. The voters chose the second date and the 1937 legislature repealed the original act by Act No. 243.

This page was last updated: 2015-05-08