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Week 3 Legislative Update

01/29/2019 2:27 PM | Denis Bourbeau

Statehouse Activities of Interest

OPR Registration

The Office of Professional Regulation is still working on their draft. We are going to meet with Chris Curtis this week to remind him of our concerns about more requirements being added to this bill.

This Wednesday, the Senate Economic Development Committee will hear from Lauren Hibbert and Gabe Gilman, of OPR on “Home Improvement Contracting”. We will coordinate with them in advance to see if they are hoping to make the case for a committee bill with broad buy in after making sure they have made the case for light regulation. 

Act 250 

Jim Bradley will be meeting with Chris Cochran from the Agency of Commerce on Tuesday to review the Administration’s priorities in the Act 250 Report. 

Minimum Wage Bill 

S.23  proposes to increase the minimum wage so that it reaches $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2024.

This bill is being considered in Senate Economic, Housing and General Affairs. A similar bill was vetoed by the Governor last year. S.23 will most likely move easily through both Chambers towards passage. The Governor will have to struggle to pick up some Democrats to support another veto. 

Paid Family Leave 

The legislative leaders’ counter to the Governor’s opt-in proposal that we detailed in last weeks’ update increases the benefits they were looking to offer last year. This proposal is a mandatory .93% payroll tax (to be split between employer and employee) and will offer 100% of wage coverage for up to 12 weeks per year. We anticipate that members of your organization will want to testify on this issue. 

Standard Contracts and Waivers 

S.18 proposes to create a rebuttable presumption that certain contractual terms are substantively unconscionable when included in certain standard-form contracts. 

This bill could affect you if your business requires anyone to sign a waiver of liability. This is of particular concern to the outdoor industry, but we wanted HBRANV to be aware of it.  

Budget Address 

The Governor delivered his Budget Address on Thursday. The text of the speech can be found here.

Budget Address subjects that are of particular interest to Home Builders and Remodelers: 

Labor Force 

“Our biggest threat is our declining labor force. As our working-age population continues to decline, we simply need more people helping to pay the bills.

Together, we have an opportunity to change this, with polices that better prepare students for a career, keep more of our kids after graduation, provide training for Vermonters so they can get a good job and attract new workers and new families to join our communities.”

Act 250

“We can enhance our high environmental standards and breathe new life into our downtowns and village centers. Specifically, let’s give communities the opportunity to raise the bar when it comes to planning and environmental protection. And when they meet these new standards, let’s reward them and encourage growth by exempting them from Act 250.”

Water

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that the 20-year, $2 billion project ahead of us is as much a major infrastructure program as it is essential environmental policy.

That’s why my budget fully funds the Clean Water Board’s recommendation. This includes about $15 million for the State’s Clean Water Fund, over $12 million in capital funds and $1 million in transportation dollars. Combined with over $19 million in federal funds, all told, this budget dedicates nearly $48 million to clean water projects.”

Affordable Housing

“Eliminate land gains tax to unlock older housing stock to renovation and re-development.

Next, let’s make sure these updated properties are efficient. Eighty percent of our housing stock is at least 40 years old, and nearly half of that is 80 years old. We know the cost to heat these older homes can push them out of reach for some. So, my budget includes $1 million to restore these units if weatherization is part of the project.   and increasing the Downtown and Historic tax credit to $2.6 million.”

Gov Paid Family Leave

“First, we can launch more quickly, more affordably and more reliably than if the State had to create the program from scratch. Second, it ensures we aren’t placing the burden of startup costs, or the risk of underfunding and insolvency, on taxpayers.  And third, we’re not mandating another cost on our employers and employees for an expense they may not be able to afford.

I understand your concerns that a voluntary approach might not have a big enough pool to sustain a program. That’s why our proposal places all eligible state employees from both states into the plan, creating a large and diverse pool overnight. And my budget includes funding to offer this coverage to our state employees if we move forward.”

Workforce and Moving to VT

“This year, my budget includes a total of $2.5 million to identify those most likely to consider moving to Vermont, tell them our story and make it easier for them to get here. It includes funding for relocation support to really sell Vermont by helping those who want to move here find a great job, housing and a community they’re drawn to, in the regions and job sectors that need them most.”


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