Legislative Update- May 17, 2021
Unemployment insurance and the bill S.10 remained front of mind this week as we look forward to a hopeful May 22 adjournment. The House committees on Commerce and Government Operations held a public comment period regarding unemployment Tuesday, May 11. Only a few employers spoke but AGC/VT was well represented by our own Deborah Wright from Green Mountain Traffic Control who discussed how challenging it is to hire. The unemployed individuals generally described challenges with getting signed up or not making ends meet.
The House Commerce Committee then took testimony from Vermont Department of Labor specifically specifically related to the $50/week dependent benefit and why the department/administration did not support it. The agency first said they did not support a benefit increase at this time and that their mainframe computer system could not handle the additional programming necessary. The committee deliberated and overnight created a new draft working with House Ways and Means committee that would leave the dependent benefit out but give an across the board $25/week benefit for all UI claimants until the total spent equals $100 million dollars. Labor advocates and Democrat/Progressive lawmakers made it clear that without a benefit increase they would hold the bill hostage and employers would loose the $400 million saved by the "2020 fix" and the other pieces of the bill. At the end of the week the House Commerce Committee voted out the bill which will move through Appropriations to the House floor. Governor Scott has not yet indicated whether or not he would sign the bill but some wonder if the additional benefit will make him reconsider.
AGC/VT and the coalition of businesses who have been focused on S.10 which since was added to bill S.62 which creates incentives for employees to move to Vermont. The AGC/VT Government Affairs Committee meets Monday, May 17 and will discuss what position to take on the new draft. This week is expected to have very long floor sessions and completion of several committees of conference but they are expected to adjourn by weeks end.