Legislative Update- January 16, 2023
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While the majority of pandemic restrictions have been lifted at the State House, the legislative session will continue to be accessible online:
|The second week at the Vermont legislature has come to a close. The state house building hallways were very quiet with few advocates visiting due to the subject nature. The week for legislators was chalk full of introductions to different agencies and non governmental organizations through the building but not much policy. AGC/VT and VIECAs lobbying team and only a few other groups were in the building all week and got a chance to get to know new legislators and stoke relationships with old friends.
The team is scheduled for two meetings this week with the first being at the House Committee on Commerce with Matt Musgrave and Rachael Townsend the new Workforce Director. The meeting can be viewed by CLICKING HERE at 9am on Tuesday, 1/17 and can also be viewed later on the YouTube legislator channel. The second meeting is with the House General and Housing Committee on Wednesday, 1/18 at 1pm by CLICKING HERE and like the other video can be seen at a later date.
Bills have begun to arrive but many more are to follow. The expectations are that 600 House bills and close to 300 Senate bills will be introduced. Most will only get introductions to committees but no further action.
The biggest "ticket" bill introduced so far is the resurrection of the Clean Heat Standard (CHS) which was successfully vetoed by Governor Scott last year. The new name "An act relating to affordably meeting the mandated greenhouse gas reductions for the thermal sector through electrification, decarbonization, efficiency, and weatherization measures" S.5 holds the same practices as the CHS but attempts to address financial disparities for the public. The bill which will likely impact homeowners with higher fuel costs is expected to pass quickly and with the supermajority in the legislature will likely override any veto Governor Scott is likely to attempt. The bill if passed would require fossil fuel dealers to reduce consumption of individual heating fuel users which is very unlikely due to our cold winter months. If the dealers can not reduce usage then they will be required to purchase credits to continue to distribute the fuel and the cost handed to home owners. If you have questions you should contact your Representative or Senator using the links to the left. Will this increase fuel bills on the vulnerable or be a reasonable solution to climate change? The lobbying team will be tracking this issue and participating to ensure Vermonters understand the impacts of the law and react to the bill with the guidance of our Government Affairs Committee.
There are bills introduced in the newly created House Natural Resources and Energy committee related to wetlands and river corridors (H.30 & H.29). The wetlands bill seeks to increase the acreage of known wetlands by requiring developers who impact delineated wetlands to create offsets at 2-1 ratio at either different points in the property or yet to be discussed opportunities. For developers this will be challenging due to increased usage of land and more work for contractors due to the requirement to build more wetland areas. The river corridor bill adds to the area around where rivers are/may be expected to move in the future due to rain or climate events but more information is being sought to confirm the overall impacts it may have on owned lands.
Another bill which was introduced on both sides of the assembly H.24 and S.9 would give the state Auditor the ability to examine all documents in a private firm contracting with the state. The documents are limited to only ones related to the specific contract with the state. Prior to hearing testimony from the auditors office or any other "pro" advocates the lobbying teams research revealed that there is no way that the data involved related to things like payrolls, acquisition, permitting and other costs withing the contract can become public due to an exemption for proprietary information within the public records act (not including Davis Bacon or Prevailing Wage). The lobbying team will continue to monitor and participate with this bill to ensure we are able to preserve private company information and the sealed bid process.
If you would like to participate with the Government Affairs Committee contact firstname.lastname@example.org.