Closing out Week 11 of the 2023
Legislative Session

There are a significant number of bills on this week’s schedule for brief introductions. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will receive further attention this session. Our team will be monitoring these hearings closely and will be working with our clients should additional action be needed.

The Senate’s Economic Development and Housing committee and the Senate Natural Resource and Energy committee continued the tug-of-war over the Omnibus Housing Bill. Weeks ago the Economic Development committee approved a version of S.100 that makes changes to local zoning ordinances seen as barriers to increasing housing density, and changes to Act 250 jurisdiction allowing more units to be built in designated downtowns, villages and neighborhoods. But it also increases the number of units that can be built outside of those designated areas without triggering Act 250 jurisdiction. That proposal was a step too far for the Natural Resources committee who struck that language from the Economic Development version, instead offering an amendment permitting more units in designated areas but including a sunset on the provision.

The Natural Resources committee amendment also struck language from the bill that would have eliminated the ability of any ten people to contest a municipal permit. Instead, the Natural Resources committee narrowed the proposal so that any combination of ten voters and property owners who have a “common injury to a particularized interest” in a permit may contest it. A showdown on the Senate floor is possible on S.100 as negotiations continue.

The Senate Committee on Health and Welfare concluded their work on S.56, the child care bill, though without a funding source identified. It is anticipated that the Senate will seek a payroll tax for $100 million to fund the bill’s appropriations for this year and $200 million for the next fiscal year. The bill provides a full subsidy for childcare for those making up to 185% of the federal poverty level (FPL) and then decreasing subsidies to families making up to 600% FPL (about $180,000 for a family of four). The committee backed off from plans to enact full-day prekindergarten in public schools, but the legislation does dramatically increase payments to child care providers.

The committee also added a proposal from Sen. Jane Kitchel, D- Caledonia that would provide 12 weeks of paid parental leave to one parent. The proposal would cost about $15 million annually and is a potential alternative and compromise to the separate Paid Family and Medical Leave bill that has been a priority for the House. The move could signal a showdown over these two major pieces of legislation.

What to expect in Week 12
March 20 – March 24, 2023

Note: The Legislative Committee Agendas are updated frequently throughout each day. The latest committee schedule can be found on this link. A list of weekly hearings for all committees can be found here.

House Committee Work

Agriculture, Food Resiliency, & Forestry – The committee took up H.81, an act relating to fair repair of agricultural equipment, last week and missed voting the bill out by the 3/17 crossover deadline. Sponsors of the bill hope to get a rules committee vote to waive this deadline, enabling the bill to continue its progress this session. It is the only bill on their agenda for this week.

Appropriations – will continue their work on the FY24 Budget. They will also consider H.127, an act relating to sports wagering, H.165, an act relating to universal school meals, H.157, an act relating to the Vermont basic needs budget, H.66, an act relating to paid family leave, and H.126, an act relating to community resilience and biodiversity protection.

Commerce and Economic Development – will be hosting a round-robin of 10-minute bill introductions:

  • H.79, an act relating to the Vermont Fair Repair Act,
  • H.159, an act relating to the Vermont Broadband Internet Access Service Privacy Act, 
  • H.277, an act relating to creating a rural business technical assistance exchange, 
  • H.367, an act relating to promoting economic development, administrative capacity, and vitality in rural communities
  • H.343, an act relating to protecting genetic information privacy and consumer health information,
  • H.344, an act relating to adopting minimum security standards for connected devices,
  • H.337, an act relating to the classification of independent contractors,
  • H.453, an act relating to preventing yo-yo motor vehicle sales, 
  • H.104, an act relating to worker cooperatives,
  • H.160, an act relating to minimum reimbursement rates for labor related to automobile insurance claims,
  • H.186, an act relating to regulating warranty registration requirements, 
  • H.299, an act relating to creating the Vermont-Ireland Trade Commission,
  • H.304, an act relating to automobile insurance and aftermarket parts, 
  • H.390, an act relating to limiting the transport of catalytic converters, H.451, an act relating to limiting the transport of catalytic converters, H.451, an act relating to the cancellation of life or long-term care insurance policy for nonpayment of premium,
  • H.460, an act relating to clarifying the right of adjunct faculty to unemployment insurance benefits, 
  • H.434, an act relating to creating the Vermont Office of Film and Creative Media,
  • S.95 (page 300 of the Senate Journal), an act relating to banking and insurance.

DRM will be monitoring continued discussions to learn which bills may receive additional time in committee.

Corrections and Institutions – TBD

Education – TBD 

Environment and Energy – will review an Appropriations amendment to H.126, an act relating to community resilience and biodiversity protection, and a Ways and Means amendment to H.158, an act relating to the beverage container redemptions system. They will begin work on S.5, the controversial bill termed the “Affordable Heat Act.” 

General and Housing – will host their round-robin of bill introductions:

  • H.260, an act relating to the Commission on Native American Affairs,
  • H.336, an act relating to providing the Abenaki with access to State lands,
  • H.463, an act relating to creating an Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator position for the General Assembly,H.239, an act relating to designating “National Emblem” as the State March,
  • H.267, an act relating to the establishment of year-round U.S. Eastern Standard Time,
  • H.329, an act relating to the establishment of year-round U.S. Eastern Daylight Saving Time,
  • H.432, an act relating to establishing the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for the Institution of Chattel Slavery,
  • H.448, An act relating to promoting racial and social equity in economic opportunity and cultural empowerment,
  • H.184, an act relating to exempting an owner of rental housing from renovation, repair, painting and maintenance licensing requirements.  

Government Operations and Military Affairs – will review charter changes for various districts.   

Health Care – will receive an overview of Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM). They will take testimony on H.428, an act relating to prescribing by doctoral-level psychologists, H.263, an act relating to emergency medical services, and receive a presentation from the Department of Financial Regulation regarding a report on Prior Authorization.

Human Services – will discuss a developmental disabilities housing initiative, hear from the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee and receive an update regarding the STARS child care rating system.

Judiciary – will receive an introduction to H.22, an act relating to sexual exploitation of a person who is being investigated by law enforcement, H.250, an act relating to obtaining a blood sample during a DUI investigation, and S.14, an act relating to a report on criminal justice related investments and trends.

Transportation – will work on their Transportation Bill floor report. On Wednesday, the committee will receive a brief introduction to transportation related bills.

Ways & Means – will review the Yield bill and school budgets, the Transportation Bill, H.222, an act relating to reducing overdoses, H.10, an act relating to amending the VEGI Program, H.276, an act relating to creating a rental housing registry, and a committee bill on school construction.

Senate Committee Work

Agriculture – will continue discussions regarding animal welfare and their review of Maine’s programs to prevent animal cruelty.

Appropriations – TBD

Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs – will review the Senate Natural Resource Committee’s amendment to S.100, the controversial housing bill. The committee will receive an introduction to S.123, an act relating to fair disclosure of lodging rates and resort fees, and receive an overview of the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive Program. On Friday, the committee will review S.105 and H.127, both acts relating to sports wagering. They will also review H.157 and S.20, acts relating to the Vermont basic needs budget. 

Education – will receive overviews for a variety of education related bills. They will consider potential Pre-K amendments to S.56 and consider a committee bill that would enhance workforce and economic development opportunities. They will receive an introduction to S.66, the bill that would end public funds going to independent schools. 

Finance – will begin their work on the financing related to S.56, the child care bill. The fiscal details for this bill have been unclear, but a fiscal note is forthcoming this week On Wednesday they will discuss and possibly vote out of committee  S.18, an act relating to banning flavored tobacco products and e-liquids.

Government Operations – TBD

Health and Welfare – will take up H.411, an act relating to extending COVID-19 health care regulatory flexibility, S.89, an act relating to establishing a forensic facility, and S.91, an act relating to competency to stand trial and insanity as a defense. 

Institutions – will discuss a proposal for the State House Expansion.

Judiciary – intends to vote out of committee S.91, and S.79, an act relating to limitations on hospital liens.  They will begin work on H.41, an act relating to referral of domestic and sexual violence cases to community justice centers and H.41, an act relating to referral of domestic and sexual violence cases to community justice centers.

Natural Resources – will vote out of committee their changes to S.100, the housing bill. They will discuss their priorities for the rest of the session and begin work on H.67, an act relating to household products containing hazardous substances. They will receive testimony on Thursday morning regarding the Trapping Working Group Report.  

Transportation – TBD

Related Practice Areas

Government Affairs