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Town Meeting Break
The Legislature is not in session this week so that legislators can attend their Town Meetings. They will return to the Statehouse the week of March 11th and then have a very busy next couple of weeks meeting their crossover deadlines. All remaining non‑money bills must be passed out of committee by the 15th. The “money” bills, including the tax bill, the fee bill and the budget bill are due by March 22nd.
The House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife continues to take testimony on Act 250. Their focus last week pertained to climate change sections of the Act 250 committee bill, hearing from several witnesses on energy, efficiency building standards, and weatherization.
The committee continues to debate the level of increased building code requirements, including RBES, weatherization, Passive Home standards, on-site v. off-site mitigation costs, carbon offsets and stretch codes.
Richard Faesy of the Energy Futures Group urged the committee to make sure Act 250 prioritizes renewable energy sources over fossil fuels, and to “set the bar high” for energy efficiency in his presentation.
Enrique Bueno of Vermont Passive House gave a presentation on implementing Passive House Building Standards to minimize the energy intensity and CO2 emissions in buildings. With seemingly obvious (according to his presentation) energy efficiency benefits without significant building costs, the committee asked why these standards were not more uniformly followed? Enrique cited a lack of codes requiring adoption of passive house building standards and necessary certifications and acknowledged a general resistance to change.
When the legislature returns from town meeting break the committee will continue discussing climate change and begin discussion of administration and appeals processes of Act 250. The Chair of House Natural, Rep. Amy Sheldon, (D)-Middlebury has expressed a desire to hear from builders on energy and efficiency standards. We’re working to schedule Home Builders for testimony.
Paid Family Leave
House Ways and Means heard from the Governor’s Administration on their alternative Family Leave proposal. The committee took interest as there are some concerns with the proposal that is moving through the House. Jim Bradley followed that testimony from the perspective of the Home Builders and Remodelers members. He talked about the challenges that businesses would face should skilled employees avail themselves of this benefit. This was the only time the committee formally heard of potential problems for some labor sectors. Jim talked about the cumulative effect of various bills in the building affecting this industry. H.107 will be taken up in the committee again after the legislative town meeting break.
Other Bills of Interest
The registration bill is still in one of two omnibus housing bills in Senate Economic Development. This topic hasn’t received recent attention. We will keep you updated.