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Week 4 Legislative Update

02/05/2019 9:59 AM | Denis Bourbeau

 

Testimony on Home Improvement Contracting Registration

The Senate Economic Development Committee took testimony on Wednesday hearing from Gabe Gilman, General Counsel, Secretary of State's Office and Charity Clark from the AG’s Office.

Gabe Gilman opened by reviewing the Sunrise Report.  He stated that before this report opinions were merely ahead of the data. Now they have valid information to act upon. Big projects are taken to court. The majority of smaller offenses are between the $1,000 and $10,000 range. This is the problem the registry bill is looking to address. The committee asked about registration compliance and Gabe reported that OPR believes those contractors who are compliant with the law, “annoyed competitors”, will report those who are not. From OPR’s perspective, this registration is meant to combat repeat fraud. Gabe stressed that we are a small state with limited capacity, and this was as far as they wanted to take the registration.

Conversation moved on to certification which Gabe stressed was voluntary and he went on to explain that taking certifications away from businesses isn’t possible. There was conversation about “hitching” certifications to government certification by Senator Clarkson. Gabe discouraged this proposal. He spoke highly of the professionalism of the Home Builders and the committee concurred. They want you to testify soon.

Fees

Fee bill testimony will begin next week in the Ways and Means committee. Attached is a spreadsheet with proposed Administration fees. So far the contractor registry fees are not on it but the Secretary of State will likely submit those proposed fees later when there is more clarity on the contractor registry proposal.

Paid Family Leave

The House Committee on Housing, General and Military Affairs heard testimony about the paid family leave bill H.107 throughout the week. This bill proposes to create a Paid Family Leave Insurance Program within the Departments of Labor and Taxes that will be funded by contributions from employers and employees.  The bill also proposes to amend Vermont’s existing Parental and Family Leave Act to make it applicable to additional employers and to clarify certain provisions. The committee heard from many stakeholders (testimony) and will continue taking testimony, but this bill is a stated priority for House leadership.

In the meantime, the governor continues to pursue his voluntary paid family leave proposal and issued a Press Release stating that an RFI would be issued for the Dual Voluntary State Program. The RFI solicits responses and information from insurance carriers and financial professionals regarding rate development, benefit structure and pricing for state employees, employers and individuals. The RFI specifically requests pricing information regarding higher wage replacement for lower wage earners and progressively pricing individual premiums.

We are meeting on Tuesday with allied group leaders concerned about this bill to strategize possible improvements. We’ll be sharing them with you.

Act 250

Jim Bradley and Patrick O’Brian met with Chris Cochran from the Agency of Commerce on Tuesday to review the Administration’s priorities in the Act 250 Report. They are happy to get the support of Home Builders where you are all aligned. We are following actions as the develop on the House Natural Resource Chair, Amy Sheldon’s, Act 250 Bill.

We met with Diane Snelling, Chair of the Natural Resources Board, and she is very aware of your challenges. She offered to meet with any of you with specific problems. She understands that there can be challenges with the local district commissions.

Other Bills of Potential Concern

H.1

Proposes to prohibit agreements that prohibit individuals from competing with their former employers following the conclusion of their employment.  This bill is being considered in House Commerce. Please let us know if you have concerns and want to testify.

S.23

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

Please let us know if you want to testify on any of these bills.

Articles of Interest

Construction Employment Climbs in January

https://vtdigger.org/2019/01/30/burlington-planning-commission-approves-zoning-allow-burton-concert-venue/



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