Download this document in MS Word format


State of Vermont

Senate Chamber

Montpelier, Vermont

Joint Senate Resolution

   By Senator Lyons,

     J.R.S. 24.  Joint resolution relating to the federal "fast track" process for Congressional review of international trade agreements.

Whereas, the State of Vermont benefits greatly from international trade, which is responsible for a greater percentage of its gross state product than is the case for any other state, and

Whereas, to a considerable degree, the state’s success in international trade is tied to the fact that the character, beauty, and environment of the state itself, the Vermont brand and Vermont products are internationally recognized to be of high quality, and

Whereas, Vermont laws developed by generations of sensible and independent civic-minded citizen legislators are a major reason why the products produced within the state achieve that quality and why the state itself remains attractive and open to foreign visitors, service providers and investors alike, and

Whereas, as international trade has evolved in recent years as supervised by Congress under the so-called “fast track” authority by which it reviews international trade agreements, which is due to expire on June 30, 2007, significant and troubling questions have developed with respect to the continuing ability of states to retain their character, environmental controls and quality of life, and to assure the continued quality of their products, and

Whereas, under “fast track” rules, Congressional review of complex trade agreements is limited to an up-or-down vote, after limited time for consideration, without possibility of amendments, and

Whereas, the relationship among the states, the federal government, foreign investors, foreign countries and tribunals made up of international trade attorneys has evolved during the existence of “fast track” in ways that could not have been anticipated and most likely would not have been tolerated by the founders, and that strain the bounds of our Constitutional framework, and

Whereas, despite the variety of significant impacts that trade and investment agreements have been demonstrated to have on state governance, taxation authority, environmental protection, land use regulation and many other areas of intense state interest, states and local governments have not yet received assurances that their concerns will be adequately addressed in any “fast track” renewal process, and

Whereas, in the absence of improvements in this Congressional review process, the ironic and sad result may be that international trade agreements that are intended to help states increase their mutually beneficial involvement in international trade may themselves provide the tools that destroy the ability of a state such as Vermont to retain and develop the very laws that make its character, environment and quality of life attractive to foreign visitors and investors and that make its products desirable worldwide, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That “fast track” should not be extended in its current form by Congress, upon its expiration, and be it further

Resolved:  That federal legislation should clarify the negotiating agenda of the United States Trade Representative in a way that establishes a much stronger role for states, which in turn must be prepared to do their part to communicate with the federal executive branch and the Congress with respect to state concerns, and be it further

Resolved:  That the following requirements must be included in any trade legislation governing future international trade agreements:

1.  Each state must be provided with better economic data and trade impact‑related information from the federal government, together with resources for its own studies regarding the likely effects of a particular trade agreement on the laws, people, businesses and natural resources of the state, while trade agreements are being developed;

2.  Each state desiring to do so must have meaningful input and an actual seat at the table, regarding provisions trade agreements should include and subjects they should address;

3.  State legislative concurrence must be required, in addition to gubernatorial approval, in order for a state to consent to be bound by a trade agreement;

4.  Federal legislation on trade, in general, and agreements entered under that authority must be revised to acknowledge explicitly that facilitating international trade is not the only goal of federal policy, and must be crafted to assure that other important state and local values are accorded due consideration and respect;

5.  Trade agreements must not be crafted to contain intentionally vague terms that are left to international tribunals to construe, which experience shows may well happen in a manner that adversely and unpredictably affects crucially important state and local laws;

6.  Trade agreements must mandate that any dispute resolution procedures give due deference to rational state policy decisions;

7.  “Necessity tests” and other commitments that subordinate state and local decision-making to “least trade restrictive” international standards must be firmly rejected;

8.  Foreign investors must not be empowered to sue the United States directly before international tribunals, a power that may accord them greater substantive rights than investors from the United States;

9.  States must be reimbursed any costs incurred in participating in the United States defense against attacks before international tribunals that are based on state laws; and

10. As a matter of intergovernmental policy, not to mention federal Constitutional law, state and federal court determinations must not be subject to re-litigation before international tribunals, and be it further

Resolved:  That Congress must retain the ability in any extension of trade promotion authority to review fully and amend any international trade agreements as necessary to assure that any future agreements comply with the substantive requirements recommended in this resolution, and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Vermont Governor James H. Douglas, Vermont’s Congressional delegation, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the legislative leaders of the other 49 states, and the United States Trade Representative.





____________________________              Attested to:

President of the Senate


____________________________              ____________________________

Speaker of the House                                     David A. Gibson

                                                                      Secretary of the Senate



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont