Press Releases - Rights and Democracy VT

Main Street Alliance of Vermont and Rights and Democracy Release Report Detailing the High Cost of ACA Repeal for Vermont

Contact: Kaycie Miltenberger,, 802-585-6242

James Haslam,, 802-272-0882

Main Street Alliance of Vermont and Rights and Democracy Release Report Detailing the High Cost of ACA Repeal for Vermont

BURLINGTON, VT – Main Street Alliance of Vermont (MSA-VT) and Rights and Democracy (RAD) announce the release of a new Health Care for America Now (HCAN) report that details the impact of dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on individuals, small businesses and Vermont’s economy. A Cost Too High: The Financial Harm of the Republican Plan to Eliminate Health Care is evidence that proposals to repeal the ACA cost too much and put Vermonters’ health and economic security at risk.

In Vermont, 35,000 people depend on the ACA for their health care. Repeal takes away coverage from these people and does away with provisions that protect patients with pre-existing conditions from being denied or charged more for coverage. Repeal could also end coverage for young adults who elect to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26 and eliminate no-cost preventive care for people of all ages.

"Standing up for health care in Vermont is about all of us. It's about the young mom working three part-time jobs without benefits to support her kids, the father who can’t retire because he can’t afford to lose health insurance for his family, and the retiree who has to choose between her blood pressure medicine and groceries. It's about the college grad with an entry-level job and no more parental safety net, the women who will be forced to pay more just because we are women, and the self-employed writers and artists and entrepreneurs who, like me, would be on their own again when it comes to health insurance,” said Brenda Patoine, a RAD member and beneficiary of an ACA insurance plan. “If we allow health care to become something only the wealthiest can afford, that does not make America great again.”

Under the Republican repeal bill, Vermonters who receive subsidies to help pay for insurance premiums under the law would lose an estimated average of $3,888 a year in premium assistance, leaving many unable to afford coverage. Seniors who currently receive reduced prices on prescription drugs would also lose their discount, costing the average Vermont senior on Medicare an estimated additional $1,102 per month. The report shows that eliminating the ACA could reduce money to hospitals, community health centers, and doctors by $98 million but would still require these providers to provide up to $78 million in “uncompensated care” to the people who lose coverage and no longer have insurance to pay their bills.

Along with repeal, Republican proposals to cap or block grant the Medicaid program and to privatize Medicare for seniors would also have dire consequences on older Vermonters. Republicans in Congress are trying to rush through a plan that would take away health coverage from 30 million people across the country. Repealing the Affordable Care Act is a first step in a campaign to slash state funding for Medicaid and turn Medicare over to Wall Street. Insurance companies would increase profits, seniors would get less care that costs more, and states would foot the bill for more uninsured people while receiving less Medicaid funding.

“Access to affordable health care is a known economic driver. There are many Vermont small business owners who would not have been able to pursue their livelihoods without access to Medicaid or Vermont Health Connect coverage,” said Jen Kimmich, Owner of the Alchemist and Chair of the Board of MSA-VT. “The Republican plan will shift huge costs to our state government, which will either force Vermont to raise taxes or make cuts in other critical areas, including cutting coverage for the children, working families, small business owners, seniors and people with disabilities who depend on Medicaid or ACA subsidies for their health care. Not only will this cost shift affect the health of our families, it will affect the health of Vermont’s economy by stymying entrepreneurship and small business growth.”

Because of the ACA, states like Vermont received additional funds to cover the uninsured through the Medicaid expansion program. Repealing the ACA would halt increased funding to states, and promises of caps and block grants will cut funding even more severely over time. Medicaid serves mainly children, people with disabilities, seniors and low-income adults, but also provides health coverage to 6.1 million small business owners and employees nationwide. Cuts to Medicaid would cost Vermont $120 million in revenue between 2019 and 2023.

Read the full report:



Main Street Alliance is national network of state and locally based small business coalitions that believe that when we support our communities, we support our small businesses. MSA-VT is committed to building a healthy Vermont economy through smart state investments and policy.

Founded in 2015, Rights and Democracy is a member-based organization in Vermont and New Hampshire, which engages in grassroots organizing and the empowerment of everyday people to build diverse, equitable, healthy, and environmentally sustainable communities.

Indigenous People's Day Solidarity Action

March & Rally for People and Planet Over Profit

On Monday, October 10th, after a brief rally hundreds of people are expected to join a march across one of the busiest intersections in the state en route to a major public Vermont Gubernatorial Debate at the DoubleTree Inn in South Burlington. In front of the hotel prior to the start of the debate, a broad coalition of organizations will call for bold action to protect the environment and improve communities under a “Clean and Green New Deal” for Vermont as well as stand in solidarity with the struggle of indigenous people of the Dakotas currently protecting native lands.

“The Standing Rock struggle is not just a struggle for indigenous people’s rights, but it’s a struggle for all people to have clean water and a healthy environment,” says Beverly Little Thunder, one of the event organizers who is a member of the Lakota Standing Rock tribe and chair of the Peace & Justice Center board.

“We believe it is a critical opportunity to press Vermont’s political establishment to take bold action to protect our environment, to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure, establish meaningful reforms for energy democracy and invest in clean water and renewable energy,” says Laura Mistretta, a leader of Rights & Democracy, one of the organizations coordinating this event and a new effort calling for a “Clean and Green New Deal for Vermont.  

Who: Sponsoring organizations include Rights & Democracy, UVM Renewable Energy Network, 350 Vermont, Sierra Club - VT Chapter, Lake Champlain International and Peace & Justice Center

What: On Indigenous People’s Day (formerly Columbus Day) a rally in solidarity with Standing Rock struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline will be held at the University of Vermont.

When: 5:00-7:00pm, Monday, October 10, 2016

Where: Rally begins outside upper entrance of Davis Center, University of Vermont in Burlington. Then marches to Double Tree Hotel in South Burlington.  

Visuals: There will be large banners, drumming bands

Associated Hashtags:

#JobsJusticeClimate, #EnergyDemocracy, #StandWithStandingRock, #WaterIsLife, #NoDAPL


350Vermont: 350Vermont is a statewide organization in Vermont working to build a grassroots movement to reverse climate change. 350Vermont’s mission is to catalyze the cultural and systemic transformation needed to reverse climate change and return to 350 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. Although we are an affiliated group of with a similar mission, 350VT is an independent organization, with local campaigns to divest the state pension fund, advocate for a carbon pollution tax, and stop any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure. 

Rights & Democracy (RAD): is a grassroots membership organization in Vermont and New Hampshire. RAD launched a year ago to build the political revolution on a local level to impact elections and move forward issues like a $15/hour minimum wage, universal healthcare, and environmental justice.   

Vermont Chapter of Sierra Club: The Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club is a volunteer-led affiliate of the national Sierra Club. The Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide and 9,000-plus members and supporters in Vermont. The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation.

Lake Champlain International: Lake Champlain International (LCI) is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization actively involved in shaping the future of Lake Champlain's water and fisheries health for the well-being of the people who depend on it today and tomorrow.  To protect, restore, and revitalize Lake Champlain and its communities, LCI educates, advocates, and motivates to ensure that Lake Champlain is swimmable, drinkable, and fishable, understanding that healthy water resources are essential for a healthy economy and a healthy community.

Peace and Justice Center: The Peace & Justice Center is a Vermont-based non-profit, membership organization with the mission to create a just and peaceful world. To this end, they work on the interconnected issues of economic and racial justice, peace, and human rights through education, advocacy, training, non-violent activism and community organizing.

Bernie Sanders to Join Rights & Democracy For Labor Day Celebrations

When: Labor Day, Monday, September 5, 2016

New Hampshire: 12noon - 2pm, MainStreet Warner Stage in the Jim Mitchell Community Park : 16 East Main Street, Warner, NH. w/Bernie Sanders.  Music from The Dobros. Free BBQ

Vermont: 4pm - 7pm, Middlebury Town Green, Middlebury, VT.  w/special guests Bernie Sanders, David Zuckerman, Deb Richter and more.  Music from Julie Winn and Bob Makenzie Band, food from Lu Lu Ice Cream and Lickskillet.

Background: The Labor Day Political Revolution Party will celebrate the one year anniversary of Rights & Democracy, as we fight to bring the political revolution home and announce our new Political Revolution Voter Pledge. It will be a great opportunity to learn about and in some cases meet the candidates we are supporting across Vermont and New Hampshire who will move this agenda on a state level. You will also be able to learn about Our Revolution, a new national group inspired by Bernie’s campaign to push a progressive agenda forward on environment, social justice, healthcare, the economy and more by supporting candidates and issues all across the country.

“The political revolution that began with Senator Sanders campaign is still only getting started,” said Michelle Salvador, founding chair of Rights & Democracy. “There is an enormous frustration with the political system in this country, and we believe the best thing we can do is build the movement for change on a local level.”  

Rights & Democracy launched a year ago to build the political revolution on a local level to impact elections and move forward issues like a $15/hour minimum wage, universal healthcare, and environmental justice. Vermont saw major gains for political revolution at the state primary on August 9th with Progressive David Zuckerman winning the Democratic Primary race for Lieutenant Governor and many of Rights & Democracy-endorsed candidates winning legislative primaries. The full report is available here: Rights & Democracy also played an instrumental role in 2016 successfully passing legislation for paid sick days and automatic voter registration.


The Political Revolution Pivots To Local Level


CONTACT: James Haslam, 802-272-0882,

Rights & Democracy thanks Bernie Sanders for changing the political landscape in this country.

PORTSMOUTH, NH - Rights & Democracy, a regional grassroots community-based organization with members in Vermont and New Hampshire, publicly thanks Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for his historic campaign for President of the United States and redoubles its commitment to building the political revolution on a local level.

“On behalf of the millions of disaffected working families across the country, we want to express deep gratitude for Vermont’s Senator Sanders transformational campaign standing with grassroots movements to push for livable wages, workers’ rights, universal healthcare, undoing structural racism, reforming our criminal justice system, taking bold action on climate change, addressing our country's substance abuse crisis and lack of appropriate mental health facilities,” says Christine Seibert of Manchester, New Hampshire, a local Rights & Democracy leader and County Commissioner candidate, Hillsborough County District 1.

Rights & Democracy launched in 2015 and has become the fastest-growing people-powered organization in Vermont and New Hampshire, arguably “ground-zero for the political revolution.” Founding board chair and union leader Michelle Salvador of Worcester, Vermont says “The political revolution that grew around the Sanders campaign will keep working defeat the Trump campaign. But there has also been a pivot to the local level as hundreds of Sanders supporters run for local and state office, and grassroots groups like Rights & Democracy build support for key issues like a $15/hour minimum wage, eliminating private for-profit prisons and pushing for universal healthcare at the state level.”

On June 23, Rights & Democracy introduced a new political action committee called the Vermont Political Revolution Fund and endorsed thirty-four candidates for statewide offices and seats in the legislature, including many of its members and supporters.  The Vermont primary will be held on August 9.

This Saturday, on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Rights & Democracy will be holding a “Doorstep Convention”: going door to door to have in-depth conversations, person to person, about raising the minimum wage and our vision to put people and the planet before corporate profits.  We will be joining thousands of people in Vermont, New Hampshire and across the country with peer organizations in our national network called People’s Action,  who are working to turn the tide towards justice.   

About Rights & Democracy:

Rights & Democracy was the first grassroots organization in New England to endorse Senator Sanders. Founded in 2015, Rights and Democracy is a grassroots organization based in Vermont and New Hampshire and dedicated to organizing everyday people to make their voices heard and win real change for their communities.

Quick Facts about Rights & Democracy:

  • Founded in 2015 in Vermont, and after quick successes, opened up a New Hampshire office in November 2015.

  • One of the fastest growing grassroots organizations in the region with hundreds of members and thousands of supporters.

  • Has over 50 founding advisors including Jerry Greenfield (founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream) and Bill McKibben (founder of

  • Played a leading role in the effort to win paid sick days, automatic voter registration and election day voter registration laws in Vermont.

  • Top goals for Rights & Democracy in New Hampshire and Vermont include raising the minimum wage $15/hour, pushing forward towards universal healthcare, pushing for the creation of green jobs to expand clean energy and clean water systems.

Rights & Democracy Announces Preliminary Endorsements at Packed VT Political Revolution Party

For info: James Haslam, Executive Director (802.272.0882 or

(South Burlington)--A large crowd of attendees at Rights and Democracy’s VT Political Revolution Party this Thursday evening danced to musical acts including Dwight & Nicole, Myra Flynn, Chad Hollister, Craig Mitchell, The Wee Folkestra and Radio Underground to celebrate the launch of the Vermont Political Revolution Fund. This political action committee will serve as an electoral arm of Rights & Democracy, and will allow the organization to endorse and support candidates chosen by its leadership committee for state and local elections.

“Rights & Democracy is committed to bringing the energy from Senator Bernie Sanders’ ‘political revolution’ home by by pushing for that kind of bold agenda here in Vermont,” said Michelle Salvador, chair of Rights & Democracy. “There is an enormous amount of support to move forward in Vermont with an agenda that includes things like, fair taxation, raising the minimum wage, move forward with universal healthcare and taking bold action on protecting our environment and planet.”

Joining the VT Political Revolution Party were special guest speakers Ben Cohen, Jerry Greenfield and Carina Driscoll (Bernie Sanders’ daughter). In between musical acts, Rights & Democracy staff, members, and leaders announced its preliminary endorsements for statewide and local offices.  These endorsements included Matt Dunne for Governor and David Zuckerman for Lieutenant Governor.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of Rights & Democracy, an inspirational grassroots organization fighting for the same progressive policies our campaign is about: a $15 minimum wage, universal healthcare and addressing the serious problem of climate change” said Matt Dunne, Democratic candidate for Governor. “Together, we can make this shared vision a reality.”

Lt. Gov. Candidate David Zuckerman said, “Vermonters, and working families across the country, are struggling. My campaign, leadership style, and vision focuses on addressing the fundamental factors impacting economic well-being. We must establish a $15 minimum wage. Every person deserves healthcare as a right from birth until death. We need a universal system that includes everyone. Vermont was close to leading on this, and I will continue to push for this as I have for the last 20 years. Vermonters face a severe shortage of affordable housing and this is vital for stable and economically secure families. If we can create an economy that provides a decent minimum wage, universal health care, and affordable housing, Vermont families will be vastly better off, their children will have the security they need to excel, and our communities will flourish.”

Candidates endorsed are as follows:

Statewide office

  1. Matt Dunne (Governor)

  2. David Zuckerman (Lieutenant Governor)

  3. TJ Donovan (Attorney General)


  1. Debbie Ingram (Chittenden)

  2. Chris Pearson (Chittenden)

  3. Anthony Pollina (Washington)

House of Representatives

  1. Jill Charbonneau (ADD-1)

  2. Diane Lanpher (ADD-3)

  3. Mari Cordes (ADD-4)

  4. Rachael Fields (BENN-2-1)

  5. Kiah Morris (BEN-2-2)

  6. Steve Berry (BEN-4)

  7. Selene Colburne (CHI-6-4)

  8. Brian Cina (CHI-6-4)

  9. Chip Troiano (CAL-2)

  10. Scott Campbell (CAL-3)

  11. Steve May (CHI-1)

  12. Mary Sullivan (CHI-6-5

  13. Diana Gonzalez (CHI-6-7)

  14. Robert Millar (CHI-6-7)

  15. Betsy Dunn (CHI-8-1)

  16. Mike McCarthy (FRA-3-1)

  17. Cindy Weed (FRA-7)

  18. Cheri Goldstein (LAM-WAS)

  19. Susan Hatch-Davis (ORA-1)

  20. Katherine Sims (ORA-LAM)

  21. Jeremy Hanson (WAS-1)

  22. Dottye Ricks (WAS-2)

  23. Carl Etnier (WAS-5)

  24. Tom Stevens (WAS-CHI)

  25. John Moran (WDH-BEN)

  26. Nick Clark (WDR-ORA-2)

  27. Dave Hinckley (WDR-3-2)

  28. Ashley Andreas (WDR-4-2)



Rights & Democracy to Host VT Political Revolution Party


Contact: Aly Johnson-Kurts -, (802) 595-9593

What: Announcement of the candidates Rights & Democracy will support in the 2016 election, introduction of the Vermont Political Revolution Fund, and dance party. Join us for music from Dwight & Nicole, Myra Flynn, Chad Hollister, The Wee Folkestra, Craig Mitchell, Julie Winn, Radio Underground and other special guests and speakers throughout the evening. 

Get your tickets today:

When: 7pm - 10pm, June 23, 2016

Where: Higher Ground, South Burlington

Why: Regardless of the outcome of the election, this historic, people-powered movement must continue to grow and work for change at the local, state, and national level. Here in Vermont, we have the opportunity to elect legislative leaders who will represent and serve working Vermonters, not just private, corporate interests and the wealthy. By bringing progressive voices into our State House, we can create our own political revolution. We are ready to join together and take back our democracy and demand economic, social, environmental, and climate justice.


Social Media: Follow @RightsVT, #VTRevolution

Rights & Democracy to Host Montpelier Gubernatorial Panel


Contact: Aly Johnson-Kurts -, (802) 595-9593 

Vermont Gubernatorial Candidates Panel in Montpelier

Who: Rights & Democracy to host gubernatorial candidates Matt Dunne, Sue Minter, and Peter Galbraith. Bruce Lisman has a scheduling conflict and will join our June 12 forum in St. Albans. Phil Scott has declined to attend. 

Co-sponsors include Main Street Alliance, Voices for Vermont's Children, and the Vermont Center for Independent Living.

When: Tuesday May 31st, 6:00-8:00pm 

Where: Unitarian Church of Montpelier

Why: The next Governor of Vermont will make critical decisions that will shape the lives of our communities for decades. Our next governor could be the leader who will help grow a vibrant, stable, open Vermont for all families. Who are the people who want to take on this role? Where do they stand on the issues that will most affect our lives and families in Washington County? We have invited all current candidates.

Social Media:  Follow @RightsVT


Rights and Democracy is a new statewide grassroots organization geared to bring people together to build healthy communities and make the values of our communities guide the policies of our government. We work in partnership with community groups, progressive unions, faith communities, organizations fighting for human and civil rights, and environmental and climate action groups.

Vermonters Push Resolution on Superdelegates at VT Democratic Party Convention


Contact: Aly Johnson-Kurts -, (802) 595-9593

Barre, VT – On Sunday May 22, a resolution calling for changes to the superdelegate process will be presented at the convention of the Vermont Democratic Party at the Barre Opera House. Advocates of the resolution say the superdelegate process leads to undue influence of a few delegates over the election process.

“We believe that in a democracy it is critical for the votes of the people to matter,” said Scott Garren, a Rights & Democracy member who submitted the resolution. Garren is also running to be the national DNC committeeman.  

An online petition launched by the grassroots advocacy organization Rights & Democracy has garnered nearly 300 signatures from Vermonters who support of the resolution and ask their town delegates to vote in support. More signatures are expected prior to the Sunday convention.  

This year’s convention is expected to have high participation with over a hundred party members running for eleven national Democratic National Committee convention delegate positions to support Senator Bernie Sanders. In April, Rights & Democracy launched an online open letter which was signed by over five thousand people calling on Vermont superdelegates supporting Clinton to change their position. Senator Patrick Leahy responded by “clarifying” his position that he would wait to support the candidate with the most pledged votes when all the states have voted.  

The petition and resolution can be viewed here:


Rights and Democracy is grassroots organization in Vermont and New Hampshire dedicated to organizing everyday people to make their voices heard and win real change for their communities. Follow @RightsVT and #ListenToThePeople on Twitter.

Main Street Alliance, Rights & Democracy, VPIRG: Shumlin Signs Automatic Voter Registration Bill

Contact: Kaycie Miltenberger,, 541-969-3517

MONTPELIER, VT - Today, Vermont became the fourth state with a secure automatic voter registration process on its books. The new law modernizes Vermont’s current voter registration system by automatically registering eligible Vermonters when they apply for or renew their driver’s license or other state-issued I.D.

 Jaquelyn Reike, owner of Nutty Steph’s in Middlesex and member of the Main Street Alliance of Vermont, spoke at the bill signing. She said, “This new law will protect the right of every eligible voter in Vermont – be they Democrat, Republican, Progressive, or Independent – to have their voice heard and their vote counted.”

“In Vermont at least, voting is an idea that leaders of all political stripes can get behind,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “The simple truth is, this law will mean more people voting, and that’s healthy for our democracy.“  

The law creates a secure and more accurate system that helps those who are eligible to vote get registered. It passed with near unanimous tri-partisan support in the legislature and includes language that protects noncitizens from prosecution should they inadvertently fail to decline to register.

“What struck me most about this process was that the debate turned entirely on ensuring that every part of this bill increased access broadly and equitably for all Vermonters,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, Director of the Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “While there is a push to limit voter access in other parts of this country, the members of all parties in Vermont questioned only the extent to which this legislation could be more inclusive and create more opportunities for people to vote. It reminded me how lucky we are to live in Vermont.”

Main Street Alliance of Vermont, VPIRG, and Rights & Democracy, worked closely with bill sponsor, Representative Chris Pearson (P-Burlington), the Senate Committee on Government Operations and Secretary of State Jim Condos to ensure that Vermont’s new law would protect and enhance the rights of all Vermonters. It also makes the system nimble and portable, so that a voter’s registration information is automatically updated whenever they change their address.

“At a time when several other states are busy setting up roadblocks to voter registration and participation, we are proud to be part of the effort to take an important step forward for democracy,” said Sheila Reed, board member of Rights & Democracy from Ryegate.



Rights & Democracy Delivers 5,000 Signatures Calling On VT Superdelegates to Vote Sanders


Aly Johnson-Kurts,, 802.595.9593

James Haslam,, 802.272.0882


BURLINGTON, VT - Standing by the Democracy sculpture outside the Main Street Federal Building, members of Rights & Democracy delivered an open letter, signed by over five thousands Vermonters, to our state’s superdelegate supporters of Hillary Clinton. Since the letter was first made public, one of its recipients, Senator Patrick Leahy, has “clarified” his position, saying he will vote for the candidate who has won the majority of pledged delegates at the end of the primary season. At the press conference, Rights & Democracy leaders released a statement calling on Vermont’s and all other state’s Democratic party superdelegates to follow Senator Leahy’s lead by committing to cast their superdelegate vote in accordance with the pledged delegate majority, and to work for the elimination of the undemocratic superdelegate system altogether.

“We have been overwhelmed by the amount of support this open letter received. It is clear people are ready for a much more democratic system,” said Brittany Nevins, founding board member of Rights & Democracy, the grassroots organization who posted the open letter on social media which was circulated widely and within one week garnered over 5,000 Vermont signatories.

Shyla Nelson, founder of One Earth One Voice, also called for greater accountability in the Democratic Party’s electoral system. "The superdelegate system has been rigged by the party establishment and, on the heels of the massive voter disenfranchisement we have already seen this primary season, it is little wonder why millions of Americans are frustrated by and disillusioned with our political process."


Background: The “Open Letter to Vermont Superdelegates” called on U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, Governor Peter Shumlin, former Governor and former DNC Chair Howard Dean, and Democratic National Committeewoman Billi Gosh to cast their vote in accordance with the 86.1% of Vermonters who supported Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. It received national media attention when Senator Patrick Leahy retracted his original pledge to back Clinton and instead committed to supporting the candidate who has the most delegate votes once all the states have held their primaries or caucuses.


Brittany Nevins, Rights & Democracy board

Shyla Nelson, founder One Earth One Voice

Abdullah Sall & Elise Greaves, Rights & Democracy leaders


Social Media: Follow @RightsVT, #ListenToThePeople

Rights and Democracy is grassroots organization in Vermont and New Hampshire dedicated to organizing everyday people to make their voices heard and win real change for their communities.

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