Legislative Update- Veto Session and Whats Next.
Sunday, June 23, 2024
by: Matt Musgrave

Section: Legislative Update

The legislature has finished their last work of the 2023/2024 legislative biennium by responding to vetoes to bills that Governor Scott opposed for several reasons. Now that they have completed their work and left the building they'll begin their races for the election coming up in November.

Possibly the biggest news of the 6 veto overrides was H.887 which was known as the "yield bill" which sets the state property tax rates for education. The legislature passed bill would hold the average rate increases to 15% for residential and 20% for non residential properties. Governor Scott offered a proposal to use surplus funds to buy down the rates further but the legislature decided to go with their own plan. Many Vermonters have expressed frustration with this ever increasing education funding scheme which rarely works to spend within its means. The current system makes it almost impossible according to some, for a resident to know the true impacts of their school budget votes because of the centralized system. Vermonters who asked for affordability from the legislature feel let down.

Another one closely watched was the veto of H.687 known as the "housing bill" was vetoed for many reasons. The bill reorganizes the Natural Resource Board, creates new Act 250 districts forcing properties that may have been immune into the program, moves forward the controversial road rule and other policies that will create further challenges to rural areas who want to build affordable homes. Vermonters also asked for expanded housing and will not get it this session.

The Governor also vetoed and was overridden on H.645 which expands on the court diversion program which keeps "relatively minor" offenses out of criminal court. Some say that the bill is intended to create education opportunities and some believe its gives people "another chance" to commit more serious and possibly violent crimes before the courts can step in. Does this bill create a safer Vermont as voters asked for during the 2022 election and polls since? Some would say no. 

There were other overrides that included the "Renewable Energy Standard" which aim to require power companies to move to net zero carbon sources or participate in a credit program similar to the "Affordable Heat Act" which is expected by experts to increase fuel costs for Vermonters. Before the previous program has even sorted out the challenges to what is essentially a carbon tax with fuel, the legislature pushed out the next version on electric energy. We are still waiting to hear from Vermonters if this will make Vermont more affordable but most doubt it. 

In the 2022 election Vermonters in unison across party lines asked the legislature for more housing, a safer Vermont and a more affordable Vermont. So whats next? The 2024 election!

Your lobbying team and staff have already been working hard on three initiatives that will help promote politicians want to achieve those aforementioned goals and be contractor champions. 

Our award winning Run To Win campaign training course has already started with its second meeting this week. The offerings have been expanded and will go throughout the election season. This will help us train good candidates, and create relationships down the road!

Our candidate support system has already begun. We will be fundraising with the Politically Active Contractors PAC to reach a new record goal that will be used to support contractor champions. Last election the PAC supported 40 candidates and 35 of those won their election. Once we have met our goal we will be interviewing candidates and working with the PAC committee to determine who will get support.

Third is the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign similar to 2022. We will have multiple engagement events for members and their staff at Burgers and Brews as well as other opportunities. We will reactivate our GOTV website with access for members and their staff to check their voting status, learn who they will be voting on and learn more about mail in balloting with a hope that this year we will have record participation from our industry because the stakes could not be higher.

Keep an eye on your inbox and in your community for AGC/VTs election efforts this year. If you are interested in participating in any way reach out to matt@agcvt.org