Closing out Week 7 of the 2023
Legislative Session

The House Committee on General and Housing passed out H.66 Thursday, which would create the most generous paid family and medical leave program in the United States. Employees who have been employed with the same employer for a period of six months, during which time they averaged 20 hours a week, would be eligible. The bill provides employees with up to 12 weeks leave for their own health, maternity/parental, family care, safety, and bereavement (bereavement would be only two weeks), and provides a wage replacement of 100% up to the state’s average weekly wage of $1,135 per week. The program would be paid for by a 0.55% payroll tax split between the employer and the employee.  The Committee heard from the Office of the Treasurer that administering this program would double the size of their office, and they would need upwards of $100 million to stand up the program.

The House Health Care Committee continued its focus on suicide prevention with H.230 an act relating to implementing mechanisms to reduce suicide. The bill proposes a 72-hour waiting period for purchasing a firearm, requires safe storage of guns in homes, and expands the ability to petition for an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) to family or household members.

The Senate passed S.3 banning paramilitary training camps. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Baruth, D-Chittenden-Central said, “There haven’t been adequate levers for the state to intervene or prevent such a camp from forming. This bill gives the state the authority it needs to protect Vermonters from fringe actors looking to create civil disorder.”

After weeks of testimony, the Senate Natural Resources Committee advanced S.5 creating a Clean Heat Standard for the thermal heating sector on a 5-0 vote. The bill requires fossil fuel heating companies to acquire “clean heat credits.”  They could do so through incentivizing greenhouse gas emission-reducing actions such as weatherization, electrification through heat pumps, or fuel switching to their customers. The fuel companies could also buy clean heat credits to fulfill the obligation from organizations that deliver such clean heat activities.

Public hearing on the Governor’s Recommended Fiscal Year 2024 Budget on February 21 at 3:00 and February 28 at 5:30 in Room 11 or via zoom.
For more information regarding pre-registering or watching the hearing see here.

What to expect in Week 8
February 20 – February 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, & ForestryThe committee intends to vote on H.165, an act relating to school food programs and universal school meals.

Appropriationswill continue their work on the FY’24 Budget. Among the agencies and organizations that will be considered: VT Pension Investment Commission, Public Utility Commission, Agency of Transportation, Vermont Housing and Conversation Board, Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and the Department of Labor. The committee will also review the work that Senate Appropriations did on the FY’23 Budget Adjustment Act. Both Senate and House Appropriations with hold a public hearing on the FY’24 State Budget Bill on Tuesday afternoon.

Commerce and Economic Developmentwill review the open meeting law as it pertains to H.10, an act to amend the Vermont Employee Growth Incentive Program and continue with testimony. H.121, an act relating to enhancing consumer privacy, is on the agenda for this week along with H.217, an act relating to miscellaneous workers’ compensation amendments.  There will also be a new draft of the unemployment insurance bill, H.55 to review.

Corrections and Institutions will continue their work on the FY’24-FY’25 Capital Budget Proposal. They will also mark-up H.102, an act relating to Art in State Buildings Program and receive an update on the State House Expansion proposal.  

EducationThe committee continues to spend much of its time on their concerns regarding independent schools including consideration of H.258, a bill which would obliterate any public tuition to independent schools with the exception of the four historic academies.

Environment and Energywill hear more testimony on H.126, an act relating to community resilience and biodiversity protection that proposes goals of conserving 30 percent of the land of the State by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050. H.158, an act relating to the beverage container redemption system and requiring manufacturers and distributors is also on their schedule.

General and Housingwill begin consideration of H.276, an act relating to creating a rental housing registry and H.111, an act relating to workforce housing.

Government Operations and Military Affairswill discuss changes to law enforcement training and changes to election law.   

Health Carewill take up H.230, an act relating to implementing mechanisms to reduce suicide.          

Human Serviceswill continue work on H.171, an act relating to adult protective services.

Judiciarywill begin work on H.288, an act relating to the liability for the sale of alcoholic beverages. They will continue with H.41, an act relating to referral of domestic and sexual violence cases to community justice centers, and H.148, an act relating to raising the age of eligibility to marry. H.27, an act relating to coercive controlling behavior and abuse prevention orders will be discussed on Thursday. On Friday they will possibly vote on H.227, an act relating to the Vermont Uniform Power of Attorney Act.

Transportationwill continue their work with the Agency of Transportation to build this year’s transportation budget.

Ways & Meanswill review H.127, an act relating to sports wagering. This bill was voted out of the Government Operations Committee last Thursday. H.66, the paid family leave bill will be taken up on Wednesday and occupy much of the committee’s time.

Senate Committee Work

Agriculturewill continue with a committee bill relating to protection from nuisance suits for agriculture activities. They will also work on a committee bill relating to miscellaneous agriculture subjects.  

Appropriations – TBD

Economic Development, Housing and General Affairswill continue their work on the crucial omnibus housing bill. They will receive an introduction to S.19, an act relating to eliminating prohibitions and penalties on the purchase, use, and possession of tobacco products.

EducationThe committee will receive a report on PCB testing in schools and discuss the costs and potential revenue sources for universal school meals. They will continue hearings related to  S.56, an act relating to child care and early childhood education (aka The Childcare Bill) on Tuesday.

Financewill begin work on S.83, an act relating to the creation of a project-based tax increment financing program. On Wednesday they will hear about the alternative minimum tax and possibly vote on S.45, an act relative to pass-through entity income tax and credits. S.69, an act relating to a surcharge on nonprimary dwellings is up on Friday.

Government Operations After only a few hours of testimony the committee may vote on S.9, an act relating to the authority of the State Auditor to examine the books and records of state contractors. The committee will move on to S.75, an act relating to civilian oversight of law enforcement and S.17, an act relating to sheriff reforms. Ranked choice voting rounds out the This bill is a concern for many Vermont businesses. S.32, an act relating to ranked-choice voting for presidential primary elections rounds out the week.

Health and Welfarewill continue working on S.37, an act relating to access to legally protected health care activity and regulation of health care providers. They will also continue hearings on S.56, an act relating to child care and early childhood education. S.18, an act relating to banning flavored tobacco products and e-liquids will be taken up on Thursday. This bill is supported by most but the banning of menthol flavored tobacco products is not popular.

Institutionswill continue their work on the Capital Budget learning about the Capital Expenditure Cash Fund.

Judiciary will possibly vote out S.4, an act relating to reducing crimes of violence associated with juveniles and dangerous weapons. This week will include consideration of S.16, an act relating to repealing the exception for clergy to report child abuse and neglect, S.27, an act relating to reducing the imposition of cash bail, and S.72, an act relating to lifting the potency limits on concentrated cannabis products.

Natural ResourcesWith S.5, an act relating to affordably meeting the mandated greenhouse gas reductions for the thermal sector through electrification, decarbonization, efficiency and weatherization measures, behind them the committee will begin work on some other bills in their committee: S.81, an act relating to establishing the Chloride Contamination Reduction Program, S.82, an act relating to the development of a committee to study the impacts of PFAS in leachate from landfills and S.80, an act relating to miscellaneous environmental conservation subjects on the agenda. 

Transportationwill consider S.64, an act relating to miscellaneous changes related to vehicles, infrastructure and transportation planning. They will also consider a mileage based user fee program.

Related Practice Areas

Government Affairs