March- Government Affairs Update

By: Matt Musgrave, Deputy EVP/Government Relations Director
   March 5th marks Vermonts town meeting day. It also marks the halfway point in the legislative session known as “crossover” when bills that have not passed either the House or Senate will likely have to be taken up the following year. The Senate $15/hour by 2024 minimum wage bill is one of the only major business bills to have passed out of the House or Senate by the authoring of this update. Its likely to be taken up and passed by the House. Governor Phil Scott is reported to have said he opposes the bill although no veto messages has been sent. H.107, the mandatory paid family leave bill has passed out of the General, Housing, and Military Affairs committee and is being reviewed in Ways and Means before going to the House floor for a second reading. Governor Scotts Twin State Paid Family Leave bill H.396 which is a competing bill to H.107 has just been introduced. The Governors bill would create a voluntary paid family leave program shared with New Hampshire while H.107 would be a mandatory program requiring a .93% payroll tax split between employer and employee. Both proposals would allow up to 12 weeks off but each plan offers different benefits. AGC/VT supports the Governors Twin State plan because it is voluntary and any risks would be owned by a third party insurer rather than state government. The legislature will continue to compare the two proposals and it is expected one or the other will pass although they are running out of time this session. The rewrite of Vermonts flagship development bill Act 250 has taken most of the attention of House Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife committee. There are a number of substantial changes to the policy including the makeup of the natural resource board, appeal process, forest blocks and the altitude threshold for developments triggering permitting. At approximately 80 pages long the Act 250 rewrite is expected to take at least a full year to complete. With a number of new legislators and committee chairs policy has had a slow start this year. Although the start is slow it has been ambitious as there are currently 616 bills introduced this year and its rumored that another 600 bills are being drafted by legislative council for introduction. To put the large number of bills in perspective only 1200+/- bills were introduced in 2017 and 2018 combined. If you are interested in getting involved send an email to AGC/VT’s legislative committee meets the 1st and 3rd Mondays at 8:15am and all are welcome.
If there is anything you would like to see and obtain more information about please contact Matt Musgrave, or (802) 223-2374.