William Shouldice and Associates Lobbying Report


2022 FINAL REPORT - Vermont Legislative Session

If one is not overly familiar with the activities during the final days of the session under our beloved Golden Dome, it’s sort of like legislating on a teeter totter; “The question is, will the house concur with the house proposal of amendment to the Senate proposal of amendment to the House proposal of amendment to the Senate proposal or amendment, with further proposal of amendment, all those in favor, say aye”. Really though, does anyone else have a case of motion sickness? This would be the perfect situation to be able to magically morph into an owl as you really need eyes on all sides of your head.

For those who placed bets on the adjournment date, unlike the 80-1 odds that we saw in the Kentucky Derby, most folks were quite close when they guessed “this week”. It may not seem like it, but many of the legislators have quite a sense of humor. One can find little morsels of humor squeak out a bit especially when many of them are running on empty as the session winds down, although it feels more like a microburst.

On Thursday, the Vermont General Assembly adjourned, narrowly escaping a potential showdown veto session. It appears level minds prevailed and most of the rough spots in the ‘must pass’ budget were ironed out with the Governor’s Office. With a record number of vetoes and several that were sustained, Governor Scott often felt like he was “the last man standing”. Most consider a successful session is when no one gets what they want, and compromises have been made along the way.

This session was a bit different than last session as much of the negotiations were being done over the weekend and behind closed doors. Again, sneaky little buggars. Governor Scott was criticized profusely over the last two weeks of the session for his lack of engagement of letting Legislators know what changes he needed in legislation to avoid a much too familiar confrontation at the end of the session.

Very typical of the last week of the Biennium many Legislators made their retirement announcements. The House of Representatives is seeing a large roster of Committee Chairs retiring. At last count, seven Committee Chairs were retiring in the House, and so far, three of the Senate Chairs are bidding goodbye to the halls of the Statehouse. For some, bidding adieu ends more than a 30-year career in the General Assembly.

H.740 FY 2023 Budget Overview “BIG BILL” (Passed)

The FY23 budget as voted by the Committee of Conference appropriates a total of $8.3 billion to meet the ongoing costs of operating state government.

Community Investments:

  • Broadband - $95m ARPA Capital Projects Fund
  • Housing – VHCB $50m ($30m ARPA, $10m GF contingent and $10 in base)
    • S.226 Safe &Affordable Housing provides $20m for ‘missing middle” and manufactured housing
    • S.210 provides $20m VHIP rental unit update program
  • Community, Workforce and Economic Development - $137.8m including S.11 (Economic Development & Workforce)
  • Childcare providers ($4.9m), Children’s Integrated Services ($900k) and Parent Child Centers ($1.5m) base increases
  • Regional first responder dispatch development ($11m) with task force on fair funding options
  • Conservation Districts allocated $250k base in AAFM
  • UVM ($10m) and VSC ($10m) base increases and VSC ($14.9m ARPA) transition bridge plan

Climate investments $215M

  • $80m for weatherization
  • $45m for H.518 Municipal Energy Resilience Grant program
  • $8m for advanced metering infrastructure
  • over $60m for other electrification initiatives

Water investments $104M

$23m for mobile home and low-income failed onsite water and wastewater

$50m for municipal water and wastewater initiatives

H.739 An act relating to the capital construction and State bonding budget adjustment (Passed)

This bill proposes to adjust the FY 2022 capital construction budget. H.739 adds $17.2M in funding to the current Capital Budget and appropriates $113M in one-time ARPA funds. (a portion of ARPA funds allocated via H.518).

H.736 An act relating to the Transportation Program and miscellaneous changes to the transportation program

(Passed)

This bill proposes to adopt the State’s annual Transportation Program and make miscellaneous changes to laws related to transportation. The Legislature passed this record setting budget of $867M due to an estimated $1.645B in highway funding over five years Vermont will receive from the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA).

  • Paving 

$158.8M

  • Interstate Bridges

$ 36.7M

  • State Highway Bridges

$ 57.8M

  • Roadway

$ 51.3M

  • Traffic & Safety

$ 45.6M

  • Bike & Pedestrian Facilities

$ 19.8M

  • Transportation Alternatives

$  5.6M

  • Town Highway Bridges

$ 30.3M

  • TH Class 2 Roadways

$  8.6M

  • Town Highway Aid

$  5.6M

The bill appropriates more than $22.5M for electric vehicle incentives and infrastructure and additional funding intended to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. It also requires the Agency of Transportation ensure the proposed FY2024 Transportation Program focus funding on projects that align with the recommendations of the Climate Action Plan.

The bill also includes the use of sustainable building components such as recycled glass which can be used as an aggregate to substitute for virgin or manufactured sand or ground and used as a pozzolan. 

The bill does not include policy for an alternative method of funding for maintenance of roads due to decreased gas tax revenue as more electric vehicles hit the road and car manufacturers continue to increase MPGs on new vehicles. Several states have started pilot programs which tax vehicles based on vehicle miles traveled.

S.287 An act relating to improving student equity by adjusting the school funding formula and providing education quality and funding oversight (Passed)

The bill proposes to improve student equity by adjusting and adding pupil weights and creating the Education Fund Advisory Committee to analyze Vermont’s education financing system and recommend improvements. The bill includes a study to look at funding and governance structures of Career Technical Education in Vermont.

S.11 An act relating to economic and workforce development; Previously titled, An act relating to prohibiting robocalls (Passed)

This bill addresses the economic impacts of COVID-19 on Vermont’s economy and establishes several workforce and economic development programs.

The bill appropriates $84.5M to increase the workforce through recruitment/retention and training for workers in the trades, nursing, and mental health.

CTE Construction & Rehabilitation Program – includes new construction projects

$15M

VTC to develop skilled Meat Cutter training & apprenticeship facility

$387K

VEDA Short-term Forgivable Loan Program – businesses harmed due to COVID-19

$19M

Restaurants & Farmers Feeding the Hungry

$1.3M

New Relocating Employee Incentives

$3M

COVID-19 Related Paid Leave Grant Program – benefits employees and employers

$15.18M

The bill also increases the Unemployment Insurance maximum weekly amount by $60 beginning July 2022 through June 2025. If during that time the Vermont Department of Labor updates their IT system, they will provide a $25 Supplemental Benefit and the increased maximum will end. The bill does not include an increase in Vermont’s minimum wage.

This bill combines H.703 and H.159 which were discussed throughout the session. Click here to view the Committee of Conference Report and here for the Conference funding report.

S.210 Relating to rental housing health and safety and affordable housing (Passed)

The bill as passed does not include the Rental Housing Registry as proposed over the past few years. This was a point of contention for Governor Phil Scott.

Appropriations included in S.210:

Recipient

Detail

Source of Funds

FY22

Div. of Fire and Safety

One time for Inspector positions

ARPA

$400K

VT Rental Housing Program

Establishes new program & grants

APRA

$20M

Total

$20,400,000

Click here to view the Fiscal Note/Committee of Conference Report.

 

S.226 Relating to access to safe and affordable housing (Passed)

This bill makes several changes to existing programs and introduces new programs with the goal of increasing housing stock and making existing homes more affordable to homebuyers, amending existing Act 250 rules to allow for designated smart growth areas exempt from Act 250, formerly part of S.234 an act relating to changes to Act 250. The bill also creates a Residential Contractor Registration program for contracts above $10K.

A huge win for the development community is the inclusion of Wastewater Connection Permit amendments, which will remove the need for Act 250 permit if development is connecting to a registered municipal wastewater system.

The bill appropriates $15M for the Missing Middle Income Down Payment Assistance and $1M for the Community Partnerships for Neighborhood Development.

H.466 An act relating to surface waters and inter basin transfers (Passed)

This bill proposes to regulate surface water withdrawals and inter basin transfers of surface water occurring in the State.

Beginning January 1, 2023, a person will be required to report surface water withdrawals over 5Kgal/24 hours or 150K/30 days. Withdrawals over 50K gal/day require metering or approved measurement method. The Agency of Natural Resources will collect data and create a permit program beginning July 1, 2026.

The agriculture sector will be exempt from the permit program but will report to the Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets if withdrawals go over the de minimis limit of 10,000 gal/day or 150,000 gal/month. Municipal and State infrastructure projects will be issued a 10-year General Permit to cover projects.

S.234 Relating to changes to Act 250 (Passed)

This bill proposes to make multiple amendments to the State land use and development law Act 250 and restructuring the Natural Resources Board to the new Environmental Review Board. Click here to view the summary of bill and here for as passed.

REGULATION

S.113 Relating to establishing a cause of action for medical monitoring expenses (ACT 93 Signed into law April 21, 2022)

BILLS VETOED BY GOVERNOR SCOTT

 

H.157 An act relating to registration of construction contractors (Vetoed February 10, 2022)

H.715 Relating to the Clean Heat Standard (Vetoed by Governor; veto sustained 99-51)

This bill proposes to establish the Clean Heat Standard to reduce Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions from the thermal sector. The Clean Heat Standard shall be administered by the Public Utility Commission with assistance from the Clean Heat Standard Technical Advisory Group and the Equity Advisory Group. The Public Utility Commission must return to the legislature for approval prior to implementing a Clean Heat Standard program.