Legislative Update- March 8, 2021
Friday, March 5, 2021
by: Matt Musgrave

Section: Legislative Update

Legislators did not meet this week as it was town meeting week. Instead Vermonters convened in person and some voted by mail for town budgets, leaders and other municipal policy. Burlington reelected Democrat Mayor Miro Wienberger by a slim margin and a vote to reinstate "ranked choice" voting means next election there is much at stake for the small city as it significantly favors third parties and in Burlingtons case that means Progressives. Another noteworthy item passed by the city of Burlington is a new path to create laws regulating the types of heat sources buildings can use and sets up an avenue to apply what is essentially a carbon tax on homes using fossil fuels to heat.

A massive $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill has passed the US House and is within days of passing the Senate. Included in the bill is approximately $1.3 billion headed to Vermont to provide financial relief to state and municipal government, business support and the popular $1400 per person stimulus checks for those individuals under the income thresholds. Another bill that has peak AGC of Americas interest and is the major topic of messaging is the Pro Act. The bills title "Protecting the Right to Organize" doesn't describe the broad reaching scope that both open and organized shops oppose. It tears down employees right to privacy from unions seeking organization, fast tracks workers ability to strike before reasonable accommodations could be made and essentially stands in the way of individuals trying to start their own business due to overreaching subcontractor misclassifications rules. It will likely pass out of the House on a partly line vote and unless either Republicans in the Senate support it or Democrats vote to end the Filibuster or more correctly put end the cloture rule which requires 60 votes to end debate on a bill for a floor vote. Although ending the cloture vote is often discussed particularly during single party leaderships its highly controversial and the Pro Act might not be the policy they would up end long standing traditions for.

AGC/VT members had special guest Lori Valburn from VTRANS Civil Rights and Wage Division to discuss Davis Bacon Wages required for projects using Federal funds. After several members contacted AGC/VT about increased rates in both highway and heavy construction we decided it was time to learn more about the process to make sure rates are in concert with actual rates paid across the state. Lori explained the process and how challenging it was for contractors to submit their wage surveys in 2017 and due to such a lack of response Federal regulators were left with little to no data forcing them in some cases to reach out to out of state unions for their pricing to apply in Vermont. AGC/VT and VTRANS will be working together to make sure that we are prepared, have a plan and get massive responses to the next surveys when they take place. 

If you have interest in government affairs and would like to join the committee contact matt@agcvt.org.