Legislative Update- January 22, 2021
Friday, January 22, 2021
by: Matt Musgrave

Section: Legislative Update

Matt Introducing AGC/VT to House Corrections and Institutions

The third week of the 2021 legislative session has come to an end. The majority of the past two weeks included training of new legislators, multiple training sessions for the whole assembly and this week state agencies gave their reports on activities from the past year. AGC/VT has been making the rounds to committees and introducing the trade association to new legislators. The main character of the discussion is the COVID-19 pandemic challenges. A flurry of bills have emerged from the House and Senate and its become clear that the message from over 20 business associations to stick to COVID-19 recovery and must pass bills only went by the wayside. Many of the bills introduced were reruns from years passed that have not had action or time to pass. Few were directly related to COVID-19.....

Two bills AGC/VT has been tracking deal directly with COVID-19. One bill S.9 which is expected to pass quickly extends policy for some front line workers have an unrebuttable presumption that they contracted the virus at the job triggering workers comp. Currently the bill does not include contractors. Another bill introduced by the Senate Economic Development Committee aims to extend COVID-19 emergency unemployment insurance provisions. One of those provisions, particularly attractive to contractors, is a waiver of charges to an employers experience rating during the pandemic. There is much discussion as to whether it should be blanket policy, or if employers should have to prove the layoff was due to COVID-19. AGC/VT will work to ensure extension of the experience rating extension during the pandemic.

We are already seeing several bills and discussions revolving around Act 250. This week began with an executive order from Governor Phil Scott which shifts power from the 9 voluteer districts to a professional statewide board. Legislators and attorneys immediatly recoiled and efforts to override the executive order have begun. Another bill introduced would address developments above 1500 feet in elevation. One part would trigger Act 250 review if a development or construction would begin above 1500 ft elevation close to a stream and the other would trigger Act 250 review if a development over 2000 feet elevation which would be a 500 ft reduction from current law. There is also a reintroduction of a committee bill from House Natural Resources very similar to the House passed version which failed in the Senate last year.

A huge transportation initiative bill was introduced with the goal to electrify transportation. It includes mandates that state busses and one way transports must be electric when purchased. There are financial incentives to purchase either new fuel efficient/electric vehicles and an incentive to purchase an electric bike. There would also be rules directing employers to provide electric vehicle chargers to 6% of thier parking lots for organizations with more than 50 employees. Residential building energy standards would be required to include electric vehicle charging capability at all new housing.

Exempting military retirement income has also been reintroduced. This is attractive to AGC because those military retirees may choose to move to or return to Vermont after their service. Many would return qualified as equipment officers, safety officers and have many other skills beneficial to the trades. This is not the first time we have seen this policy but with a recent report from state economists showing better than anticipated statewide performace, this may be the year to pass this bill.

As always your lobbying team and government affairs committee will continue to monitor activities and support your industry. If you have any questions please contact matt@agcvt.org.