Closing out Week 12 of the 2023
Legislative Session

This past week the House passed H.230, an act relating to implementing mechanisms to reduce suicide. The bill requires a 72-hour waiting period to purchase a gun, secure firearms storage, and allows family and household members to petition for extreme risk protection orders if they see their loved one is a danger to themselves or others, and it would be safer for that person to not have access to a firearm for a period of time.

The Senate Committee on Finance spent two afternoons working on S.56, the childcare bill, that was sent to them by the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare. After months of anticipation, the committee proposed a funding mechanism for the expansion of the Child Care Financial Assistance Program and a new parental leave program—the committee amended the bill by adding a 0.42% payroll tax, repealing the $32 million child care tax credit (to add these funds to S.56) and the Governor’s budgeted $50 million for early childcare. The payroll tax would be split 75% on the employer and 25% on the employee, and would increase in the second year of the program to an estimated 1%. FY25 cost estimates are $190 million for the program. The House is considering alternative taxes including a corporate tax and consumption taxes so the bill’s funding sources are still in flux.

The House Committee on Ways and Means took up H.10, a bill regarding the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive Program (VEGI). The bill extends a sunset on the program by two years, increases transparency in how grants are determined and awarded to businesses, and creates a study committee on what an effective business incentive program would look like. However, as the week went on, time constraints seemed to prevent the committee from getting to the bill, and it is likely to miss the crossover deadline.

What to expect in Week 13
March 27–March 31, 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 – will continue their work on H.81, an act relating to fair repair of agricultural equipment. Should this bill move out of committee, it is undetermined if it will be allowed to move to the Senate this session given that it has missed the crossover deadline.

Appropriations – It is House Appropriations’ big week. The state budget (aka “The Big Bill”) will be voted out of committee and  reported on the House Floor on Thursday and Friday. The committee will be taking much of their time in final reviews, considering amendments, and educating House members regarding proposed state spending.

Commerce and Economic Development – Work on H.121, an act relating to data privacy, will continue this week. The committee chair asked the Attorney General’s office to consider changes after working with concerned businesses. Given the spiking increase in catalytic converter theft (over 1,000% in recent years) the committee will review S.48, an act relating to regulating the sale of catalytic converters and H.390, an act relating to limiting the transport of catalytic converters. They will also take up H.160, an act relating to minimum reimbursement rates for labor related to automotive insurance claims and H.304, an act relating to automotive insurance and aftermarket parts. They will close out the week with an introduction to H.79, an act relating to the Vermont Fair Repair Act, from the bill sponsor and a local high school student.

Corrections and Institutions – TBD

Education – TBD 

Environment and Energy – will spend the week on S.5, the controversial bill termed the “Affordable Heat Act.” 

General and Housing – will receive a presentation regarding the legislative history of minimum wage and overtime exemptions in Vermont by Dartmouth College students. They will begin work on H.132, an act relating to establishing a homeless bill of rights and prohibiting discrimination against persons without homes. The committee will receive bill introductions on the following:

  • H.364 – An act relating to prohibiting discrimination based on immunization status,
  • H.361 – An act relating to prohibiting agreements that prevent an employee from working for the employer following the settlement of a discrimination claim,
  • H.359 – An act relating to amending the prohibitions against discrimination and harassment,
  • H.363 – an act relating to prohibiting discrimination based on certain hair types and style,
  • H.454 – an act relating to establishing a statewide bargaining unit for Vermont State Colleges adjunct faculty,
  • H.292 – an act relating to providing workers’ compensation coverage for PTSD suffered by certain public employees,
  • H.338 – an act relating to granting certain state employees the right to strike,
  • H.297 – an act relating to providing workers’ compensation coverage for PTSD suffered by certain state employees. 

Government Operations and Military Affairs – TBD   

Health Care – will take testimony on S.54 – an act relating to individual and small group insurance markets and on Thursday will receive a review of Act 131, Pharmacy Benefit Management.

Human Services – will focus their week on early childcare, starting with a walk-through of H.208, an act relating to child care and early childhood education, along with H.300, an act relating to establishing the Afterschool and Summer Care Grant Program and Special Fund. They will get an introduction to H.403, an act relating to inequities in child care grants and H.340, an act relating to the Child Care Financial Assistance Program.

Judiciary – will spend most of their week on S.36, an act relating to permitting an arrest without a warrant for assaults and threats against health care workers and disorderly conduct at health care facilities.

Transportation – will receive an overview of S.99, miscellaneous changes to laws related to vehicles.

Ways & Means – will consider S.45, an act relating to an elective pass-through entity income tax and credit (aka SALT). Notably, they are NOT taking up S.10 which would make changes to the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive. Without addressing this bill the program will sunset, ending the only economic business incentive program in the state.

Senate Committee Work

Agriculture – will continue discussions regarding animal welfare and their review of Maine’s programs to prevent animal cruelty. They will also discuss a committee bill related to protections from nuisance suits for agricultural activities.

Appropriations – TBD

Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs – TBD 

Education – will receive an overview of independent schools and public schools, discuss school mascots, financial literacy in high schools, and PCB testing in schools. They will also get a “sneak-peak” at the House’s universal school meals bill, H.165 that is on its way over to the Senate. 

Finance – will take up S.139, an act relating to the modernization for public safety communications in Vermont, S.25, regulating PFAS in certain product classes, H.110, the Section 248a sunset extension bill, and H.471, an act relating to technical and administrative changes to Vermont’s tax laws.

Government Operations – TBD

Health and Welfare – TBD 

Institutions – will review the House’s work on the Capital Construction Bill.

Judiciary – will continue work on H.41, an act relating to referral of domestic and sexual violence cases to community justice centers  and H.89, an act relating to civil and criminal procedures concerning legally protected health care activity. They will also finalize their work on S.79, an act relating to limitations on hospital liens.

Natural Resources – will continue work on S.100, the housing bill. An amendment is expected on the Senate floor to raise the cap on the number of housing units that can be built before triggering an Act 250 permit. Currently, 10 units or more requires a permit. The amendment being offered will increase that cap to 25. They will also begin work on S.140, an act relating to an energy storage study committee.  

Transportation – TBD 

Related Practice Areas

Government Affairs