Legislative Update- February 20, 2023
Sunday, February 19, 2023
by: Matt Musgrave

Section: Legislative Update

Decisions are required in the legislature to move key policies forward. With crossover only a handful of working days left the House and Senate are pushing forward on their priorities and finding time to take up a limited other bills. Floor sessions are starting to deliberate policy items and its clear that we are in the peak of the first half of the season.

The House General and Housing committee voted out the paid family and medical leave bill H.66 which would provide 12 weeks of full wage replacement. The bill includes a .58% payroll tax split between the employee and employer. The bill has been committed to the House Ways and Means committee which will likely approve the bill and move it forward. The bill will likely pass the House in its existing form and continue on to the Senate for further review. AGC/VTs lobbying team will continue to track the bill and seek to make improvements such as requiring benefits be paid only to working people with qualifying eligibility.

Matt Musgrave testified at the Senate Government Operations committee on S.9 which would allow the State Auditor unprecedented access to the records of companies that execute state contracts. Musgrave testified that contractors already are compliant with bulletin 3.5 which allows the awarding agency to audit documents related to “performance of the contract”.  He agreed that the Auditor should have the same jurisdiction as the awarding agency but that the rules should be the same that it is strictly tied to a standard of “performance”. “If you ask the contractor to provide 10 miles of guardrail at a spec and they deliver on a low bid contract there should be no further question or inquiry of the contractor” Matt explained to the committee. State Auditor Doug Hoffer testified as well rebutting opposing viewpoints and defending the position that the office should have the ability and jurisdiction to examine “all documents and accounts related to a contract”… The government affairs team and many other advocates in the state house will fight to keep the standard “performance of contract” in any audit situation.

The bill S.5 which would regulate heating fuels with either required reductions of use or what many believe is a carbon tax has passed the Senate Natural Resource Committee. The bill requires sellers of oil, propane and kerosene to reduce their clients usage by selling them heat pumps, wood burning fire, or other efficiency tools. In the event the usage of fuel is not met, a fee on each gallon which has been estimated to be 70 cents/gallon by ANR Secretary Julie Moore must be paid by the seller. The seller would then logically pass it down to the purchaser. This bill has a significant cost to people and Vermont Fuel Dealers has been active opposing the policy which could cost Vermonters $500+ per year on top of other lingering expenses that will be voted out of this body of legislators. Stay tuned for outreach by AGC/VT related to this bill.