Legislative Update- March 18, 2024
Sunday, March 17, 2024
by: Matt Musgrave

Section: Legislative Update

sentate meeting
The legislative week of March 12, 2024 was a week known as crossover for bills. The goal of crossover is to regulate the legislators to pass bills out of their chamber so that the other chamber has time to vet and vote the bill prior to adjournment in late May. This means this is the week bills need to pass from the House to the Senate or vice versa or they will not pass this year with few exceptions. As the legislature spent the majority of the first half with deep dives into their priorities and left short time at the end for other bills. Some advocates were frustrated that their bills didnt get their attention and pushed to have them pass this procedural week with some receiving little testimony prior to making big decisions.

AGC/VT testified multiple times during the week on a bill S.96 which is related to privatization contracts. A privatization contract is one that a state agency replaces the work of a state employee to save money, or due to lack of staff. This practice is offensive to the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA) who along with Progressives on the Government Ops committee in the Senate produced a bill to curtail the practices. What they did do was create language that would arguably involve typical state contracting in the oversight functions of privatizations contracts which would involve oversight from VSEA and other state agencies besides the contracting one. AGC/VT objected to the change in definition and after multiple suggestions the committee rammed the bill through and added more requirements for typical contracting such as "Just Cause Termination" which would significanlty change the employer relationships during state projects. This doesnt just involve capital, transportation and civil work done for the state it wraps in everything including healthcare, education, technology or any other contract or grant issued by the state. Its highly unlikely that this bill will pass the legislature with such haste in passing with little care for the contractors who have been helping the state for decades. It appears that the Governors administration has plans as they decided to refuse to testify on the bill. This has pretty easy to conclude assumptions that a veto may befall the bill if it should pass. Watch your inbox you may receive a call to action on this bill....

AGC/VT also testified on bill S.253 which would set up a study committee to discuss what, how and whether Vermont should adopt a building code for single family homes and includes some language asking the Office of Professional Regulation to improve their Residential Contractor Registry system. This bill was written as a compromise to the Act 47 report that we detailed earlier in the year that looked at compliance with building energy standards and how to improve on the program. A small group of home builders and architects are now pushing for more. Their wish would be that we would immediately adopt the International Residential Code without further consideration, immediately require the Department of Fire and Safety to take over jurisdiction over single family homes and code, require strict residential contractor licensing and inspections of homes during the building process seemingly with no care of the repercussions of such a plan that the state agencies are not prepared for. The state agencies involved, AGC/VT, several training outfits, members and some pragmatic legislators are working to help accomplish the goal of improving our housing stock, training building science and working with the Office of Professional Regulation to move the needle at a rational level without further burdoning the housing market or reducing the number of contractors available. There is a rational path and so far S.253 is the next step. AGC/VT is on record planning to oppose the bill if those advocates trying to force their plans into the bill when it gets to the House.

While the committee work for crossover is complete the bills must pass their floors in many cases which will occur this week. AGC/VTs lobbying team will gather for an upcoming ConstructVT Podcast Series for our Crossover Report once the dust settles on April 3.