Legislative Update September 8, 2020

The second week of the 2020 special session has concluded with state leaders operating at a much more focused pace than the week prior. As of Tuesday it was clear that leadership in the legislature had refocused committees on the priorities set fourth for the session: state budget, COVID-19 assistance and a handful of other priorities. Schedules changed at last minute this week after an apparent “redirection” which could cause several bills to be forced to wait until the 2021-2022 bienium.

The hot topic from the prior week which included contentious disagreements about how Act 250 should be written was on the schedule with close to 20 witnesses either supporting or opposing the bill. The major sticking point was an exemption for designated city/town centers from Act 250 jurisdiction. As of Tuesday the schedule had been cleared of Act 250 except for a session scheduled for Friday in the Senate Natural Resources and Energy committee. None of the witnesses who were scheduled testified on Friday gave testimony and the committee reviewed several changes to the bill. Chairman Bray said in the session that they would take up testimony on Tuesday and then they would consider the bill.

The Agency of Commerce and Community development met with the Commerce Committee to discuss requests for expanding the Covid-19 grant program. One of the topics discussed which had been flagged by AGC/VT was duplication of benefits and “clawback” of funds from grant recipients. Last week accountants began sending warning letters to their clients who received the grants warning them that if their overall revenue for the year was higher than 2019 that there was risk of having to repay the grants. After some discussion the committee heard that duplication of benefits specifically addressed if a recipient received other Federal or insurance benefits for the business interruptions. It was unclear at the commencement whether revenue would be considered a duplication of benefit and there still exists disagreement in messaging from the tax department and ACCD. AGC/VT has been meeting with legislators and the Vermont Congressional Delegation including both Senators and our Representative staff. The delegation seemed confident that revenue would not be considered a duplication but more research was needed to be done.

The transportation committee is working its way through VTRANS and the administrations budget adjustments and we expect additional monies for paving and maintenance.

Its clear legislators do not want to be in session very long. We expect the budget process to come to competion soon and will end the session. Your association will continue to advocate on your behalf and if you have any questions please contact matt@agcvt.org.