Closing out Week 4 of the 2023 Legislative Session

Committees are busy continuing their committee work and finalizing their bill requests. The House deadline for these requests is January 31.

The RAND Report on early childcare in Vermont received much attention two weeks ago. Now, we wait to see what options for funding a childcare system might find its way into a bill. Meanwhile, the proposed Paid Family and Medical Leave program, H.66, was introduced last week with 103 sponsors, enough to override a potential veto from the Governor. The Department of Economic Development is collecting feedback from employers about the business community’s interest in participating via this short survey.

A review of the Omnibus Housing Bill continued in the Senate Economic Development Committee. The bill aims squarely at removing exclusionary zoning and permitting laws in areas served by municipal infrastructure – water and sewer. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns, representing most Vermont municipalities, testified with concerns on some sections, but acknowledged a need to change zoning bylaws.

The House and Senate Education Committees declared priorities for the session. The House committee is focusing on regulation of independent schools in the wake of the Carson v Makin US Supreme Court decision that affects Vermont’s tuitioning program. Both education committees are also intent on addressing school construction after years of deferred maintenance in some districts. They have been hearing from the Treasurer about what other states do and the Secretary of Education on Vermont’s current efforts to conduct a statewide assessment of school facilities as they consider funding models moving forward.

House Ways & Means will will hold their Tax Workshop on Consumption Taxes at noon on Friday and will be streamed on their YouTube channel here.

What to expect in Week 5
January 30–February 3, 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 be discussing changes to the Open Burning Statute with a possible vote on Wednesday and will hear from the Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation about the Forest Future Strategic Roadmap.

Appropriations – will vote on the FY23 Budget Adjustment Act so more than $285 million in surplus funds can be allocated this year. This bill will move to the Senate next week for their consideration.

Commerce and Economic Development – will take testimony on H.87, an act relating to regulating earned wage access services. Unemployment bills are up for discussion as well. H.55 would require all Vermont nonprofit employers to participate in the unemployment insurance program, to require nonprofit reimbursable employers to provide security for the potential cost of unemployment benefits, and to amend the sunset for supplemental unemployment insurance benefits paid out pursuant to 2022 Acts. H.92 proposes to establish additional instances in which an employee who voluntarily separates from employment may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. On Friday, H.10 will be on the schedule. This bill would severely gut the Vermont Employee Growth Incentive Program, the state’s only business investment program.

Corrections and Institutions – will review the Governor’s recommended FY24–FY25 Capital Budget Proposal. Later in the week, the committee will review Corrections system innovations.

Education – will be receiving general testimony on a vast variety of topics: Vermont Independent Colleges, town tuition program National Guard tuition benefit program, school accreditation process, Vermont Independent Schools Association, CTE funding, VSAC introduction.

Environment and Energy – will continue their education regarding H.67, a bill that considers household products containing hazardous substances. They will also receive an introductory overview on Act 248a and spend a few days receiving testimony on an act relating to community resilience and biodiversity protection.

General and Housing – will continue their discussions on H.66, an act relating to Paid Family Leave. They will also discuss basic needs and livable wages.

Government Operations and Military Affairs – will be receiving an introduction to a committee bill on sports wagering. A hearing on the roles and responsibilities of the Vermont Sheriffs on Wednesday will provide timely testimony regarding recent actions by some of Vermont’s elected sheriffs.

Health Care – will hold a field trip to Washington County Mental Health Services with House Human Services. They will also be considering the Governor’s proposed FY2024 budget.

Human Services – will be joining House Health Care on a field trip to Washington County Mental Health Services. They will also be receiving a walkthrough of an adult protective services bill and considering the Governor’s proposed FY2024 budget.

Judiciary – will be take up some new bills. H.89, an act relating to civil and criminal procedures concerning legally protected healthcare activity, will be taking up much of the committee time this week.

Transportation – will work with the Agency of Transportation reviewing their budget.

Ways & Means – will learn about pass through entities. H.61 would create an elective, entity-level income tax on pass-through businesses, such as S corporations and partnerships, that do business or have income derived from or connected with sources in Vermont. The pass-through businesses would be able to deduct the full amount of Vermont tax paid from the pass-throughs’ federal taxable income under the federal deduction for state and local taxes paid. This would save the businesses some money and the state would make money as well. The committee leadership wasn’t supportive of this proposal last year and so there is another push to get this passed this session. The committee will also discuss town reappraisals.

Senate Committee Work

Agriculture – will receive an update from the Cannabis Control Board, and continue with general overviews.

Appropriations – TBD

Economic Development – TBD

Education – will receive an update on Act 173, hold a discussion on proficiency based learning, discuss the universal school meals campaign and consider setting a minimum salary for teachers while learning about how teachers are educated. Leaders from two independent schools will be presenting to the committee on Friday.

Finance – Consumption tax discussion on Tuesday will help in the discussions later in the week regarding child care financing and the cost and funding for family leave bills under consideration. The auditor will be discussing his findings regarding the shortcomings of Burlington’s TIF administration on Friday.

Government Operations – will continue hearings on S.17, an act relating to sheriff reforms and learn about Emergency Response Operations.

Health and Welfare – will receive an overview on Federally Qualified Health Centers and Vermont’s Free and Referral Clinics. They will consider S.18, an act relating to banning flavored tobacco products and e-liquids. A controversial situation has resulted in S.26, an act relating to removing the residency requirement from Vermont’s patient choice at end of life laws which will be up for discussion this week. S.25, a bill to regulate PFAS contained in certain cosmetics, menstrual products, textiles and athletic turf fields will be considered on Friday.

Institutions – will be getting reports on the Capital Budget learning about the Capital Expenditure Cash Fund.

Judiciary – continued testimony related to S.6, an act relating to custodial interrogation of juveniles and S.4, an act relating to reducing crimes of violence associated with juveniles and dangerous weapons.

Natural Resources – continued work on S.5, an act relating to affordably meeting the mandated greenhouse gas reductions for the thermal sector through electrification, decarbonization, efficiency and weatherization measures. This is the Clean Heat Standard bill that was vetoed last year back with a much longer name.

Transportation – TBD

Related Practice Areas

Government Affairs