Municipal Ethics (H.875) - May 9, 2024

Chairman McCarthy brought the ethics bill, H.875 up for discussion on Thursday morning in the House Government Operations Committee.  He commented that the Senate’s proposal of amendment did most of what the Committee wanted and for the most part is an improvement of the bill as passed out of the House. McCarthy reviewed the changes in general and asked if the Committee was ready to vote on whether they concurred with the Senate’s amendment or not.  The vote to concur was 9-1-2.

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VOTE: Cooperative Education Services (H.630) - May 8, 2024

The bill, H.630, allowing for a new layer in the education delivery system called ‘boards of cooperative education services’ (BOCES) reached the Senate Floor on Wednesday. Senator Gulick presented the bill on behalf of the Education Committee. Senator Baruth spoke on behalf of the Appropriations Committee, focusing on the $1M expenditure from Education Fund for the Community Schools program. Senator Campion added that Molly Stark School in Bennington is a Community School. He described the wrap around service model they employ and approves of this as an expenditure from the Education Fund.

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Act 250 Overhaul (H.687) - May 7, 2024

Chairwoman Kornheiser opened the Tuesday House Ways & Means Committee meeting by sharing the Representative Demrow had a suggested amendment to the housing and Act 250 bill, H.687, which the Committee had some jurisdiction over.

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Workforce Development Governance (H.707) - May 7, 2024

Senator Alison Clarkson presented H.702, on behalf of the Senate Government Operations Committee, on the Senate floor Tuesday. She reported that the Committee supported the bill.

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CFV Takes Position on Municipal Ethics (H.875)

Campaign for Vermont has long supported government ethics reform in Vermont. We were the lead advocate in the passage of Act 79 in 2017, which created the Ethics Commission, and we supported the creation of a uniform state code of ethics in 2022. We recognize that applying a uniform code of ethics to municipalities that vary in size and complexity should not be taken lightly. There exist today a wide range of municipal ethics policies that guide the conduct of our local public officials and any complaints are ultimately referred back to the municipality for resolution. Some municipalities have a very strong process, with their own ethics policies and ethics commission, and others are non-existent. Vermonters deserve to have a baseline set of expectations around the conduct they can expect from their public officials – a statewide uniform code of ethics that applies to municipal officials affords this opportunity. 

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Municipal Ethics (H.875) - May 1, 2024

A strike all of H.875 was presented to the Senate Government Operations Committee on Wednesday, which reflected some of the agreed upon discussions and clarifications. Legislative Counsel reviewed the bill.  There were two significant changes:

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Building Energy Codes (S.253) - Overview

S.253 recognizes that home and business heating and cooling is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont and aims to reduce these emissions by increasing the energy efficiency of buildings. Currently, there is no designated state agency or office responsible for interpreting, administering, and enforcing the building energy codes. To address this, a Building Energy Code Working Group will be created to recommend strategies for increasing compliance with the energy standards and develop plans for a potential transition to a comprehensive program. The Working Group will submit annual reports with findings and recommendations for legislative action.

 

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Renewable Energy Standard (H.289) - May 3, 2024

The bill updating Vermont’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES), H.289, reached the Senate Floor on Friday. Senator Bray, on behalf of the Natural Resources Committee, recommended they concur with the House version of the bill. He called this an “incremental version” of the RES that they started in 2015 (a 2.0 as it were). He argued that times are changing, and needs are changing, this bill advances the timeline for reaching 100% renewable & in-state generation to 2030. There had been different stakeholders who do not agree (utilities and solar/wind developers) on how to do this. They formed a committee to look at this over the summer and came to an agreement. The result, he claimed, was H.289.

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Act 250 Overhaul (H.687) - May 3, 2024

This year’s “major” housing bill, H.687, reached the Senate Floor on Thursday for an informational session. Senator Ram Hinsdale stressed the need for additional housing and the replacement of the 5,000 housing units damaged by the recent flooding.

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Property Tax Yield Bill (H.887): April 30 - May 2, 2024

Chairwoman Cummings opened the Senate Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday by reminding Senators that “we now have about four days (possession of H.887)… to figure out how to actually save the public school system.” It was noted that 30 school budgets had been defeated, some now twice. Senator Chittenden added the South Burlington budget 3rd vote is next Tuesday.

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