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Legislative Update May 12th, 2019

05/16/2019 6:32 AM | Denis Bourbeau

Note: All of the details regarding these bills are subject to change. Nothing is final until the bang of the gavel at adjournment, which should be within the next 10 days – or so...

Contractor Registry Bill - S.163

This bill requires contractors to register with the Office of Professional Regulation prior to contracting with a homeowner to perform construction, remodeling, or home improvement work on a dwelling used primarily for residential purposes, in exchange for consideration of more than $2,500.00, including labor and materials.

Requirements to Register:

  • ·        Contractor must be in compliance with State laws respecting child support, taxes, judgment orders, and workers’ compensation.
  • ·        The contractor must have proof of professional liability insurance in the amount of $300,000.00 per claim and $1,000,000.00 in the aggregate.
  • ·        Contractor must execute a written contract with client prior commencing residential construction work.

Registration Cost (every two years):

  • ·        Individual: $75.00
  • ·        Business Organization: $250.00

Bill Status –S.163 passed the Senate and is in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee. It has two more stops, Ways and Means and Appropriations, and then requires approval by the full House before it moves back to the Senate to review the changes made by House Committees. The legislative session is drawing to a close so passage this year is uncertain.

Strict Liability/Medical Monitoring Bill – S.37

This bill, as passed the Senate, proposes to hold any person who releases a toxic substance strictly, jointly, and severally liable for any harm resulting from the release. The bill also proposes to establish a private right of action for medical monitoring damages incurred due to exposure to a toxic substance. It would affect companies with 10 or more employees.

Bill Status – S.37 was just voted out of House Judiciary on Friday. They removed the strict liability section that was of great concern but the Governor’s Administration proposed a new amendment pertaining to strict liability that would affect product manufacturers which was accepted. The committee considered concerns raised by Home Builders and added protective language for us. Large facilities would be affected in this new bill so the committee included a further definition of “Large Facility” where an activity within a Standard Industrial Classification code of 10 through 14, 20 through 39, 40 through 42, 44 through 46, or 49 is conducted or was conducted. This bill still has to go back to the Senate so there is no assurance this new definition will go into law. There is a lot more work to be done.

Paid Family Leave – H.107

As the bill stands now (there will be changes made prior to passage): 

Funding:

·  0.2% payroll tax split evenly employer / employee

Benefit:

·  12 weeks for a new child

·  6 weeks to care for a family member

Salary Example: $1000 / week salary

·  Portion of salary at or below 55% of VT avg weekly salary = $477.38

·  Portion of salary above 55% of VT avg weekly salary = $258.27

·  Total benefit = $735.65

Note in timing / rollout:

·      if the Commissioner is able to identify an insurance carrier that can provide the required benefits in a more cost-effective manner than would be possible if benefits were provided by the State, the Commissioner shall enter into a contract with that insurance carrier to administer the Program and provide the benefits required by this act beginning in October of 2020; and

·      if the Commissioner is unable to identify a suitable insurance carrier, the Program shall be administered by the Department of Labor in coordination with the Departments of Financial Regulation and of Taxes, and benefits shall become available beginning in July of 2021.

Bill Status – H.107 will most assuredly be headed for a conference committee between the House (passed their version with more liberal benefits and a 0.55% payroll tax) and this Senate version.

Employee Misclassification – S.108

This bill would permit the Attorney General to enforce complaints of employee misclassification under the workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance laws. The Department of Labor currently does this work, and this would allow a dual process which is a concern for employers.

Bill Status – S.108 passed the Senate and has also been approved by House Commerce. The Commerce Committee worked to address concerns raised by Home Builders and Remodelers Association along with other associations. They made changes to the language clarifying that the Department of Labor would only refer cases to the Attorney General’s Office in specific cases of repeat misclassifiers. This bill still needs to go back to the Senate and may have to go to a conference committee.

Residential Building Energy Labeling Working Group – H.63

In a last-minute move, language was added to an unrelated bill which would establish a Residential Building Energy Labeling Working Group. This group would meet and determine the best way to establish a statewide voluntary program for rating and labeling the energy performance of buildings to make energy use and costs visible for buyers, sellers, owners, lenders, appraisers, and real estate professionals.

Bill Status – H.63 has to be voted on by the entire Senate early next week, then will go to a House committee. We will try to get language in there for RBES enforcement to be added and will work to get Home Builders and Remodelers Association representation appointed to this group.

Hydrofluorocarbon Ban – S.30

This bill originally proposed to regulate the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This bill now includes a section that proposes to ban rigid polyurethane applications and spray foam, flexible polyurethane, integral skin polyurethane, flexible polyurethane foam, polystyrene extruded sheet, polyolefin, phenolic insulation board and bunstock.

Bill Status – This bill is in House Natural Resources and Byron Gokey will be testifying on Monday on behalf of AGC to raise concerns shared by HBRA. We have meetings set up this week with weatherization advocates and will also alert legislators as to the problems with this language.

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