Property Tax Bill (H.492) - April 11, 2023

On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee took up H.492, which sets the property tax yield amounts that determine local property tax rates. Representative Kornheiser and Representative Beck from House Ways & Means joined the Committee to explain the bill.

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Legislative Update - April 9, 2023

This week the pension divestment bill landed in the House Government Operations Committee. It turns out that one of the Committee members is on the Vermont Pension Investment Commission (VPIC), which was universally opposed to the bill as written due to its potential exposure for state employees and taxpayers. VPIC is very concerned that divestment mandates (as opposed to voluntary divestment) will lead to increasing the Actuarially Determined Employer Contribution (ADEC). This is the amount that the state is supposed to contribute annually towards the pension funds in order to meet our obligations to employees. We already had to increase this payment last year, in addition to making special payments to the funds, because of previous incorrect assumptions about the rate of return our investments would get.

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Miscellaneous Education Changes (S.133) - April 7, 2023

Senator Campion joined the House Education Committee on Friday to discuss S.133. He began with proficiency-based learning and explained they were trying to determine if the actually had a “handle on what was out there.” This is what led, indirectly, to the curriculum audit idea that is in the bill.

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Divestment of State Pension Funds (S.42) - April 7, 2023

Senator Clarkson presented S.42 to the House Government Operations Committee on Friday. She introduced the bill by saying that, "many of us wanted to have happen a long time ago" and that it was a "win for everyone." The bill was the result of negotiations between Third Act, the Treasurer's Office, the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC), the Senate Government Operations Committee, and other experts.

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Changes to Election Laws (H.429) - April 7, 2023

The Senate Government Operations Committee took up H.429 on Friday. Harlan Smith was the first to speak. He has many family members in the military, including his son. He has also experienced that “certain members” of our community will, if they see you have not voted recently, push to have you deleted from the voter rolls.

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Oversight Independent Schools (H.483) - April 6-7, 2023

Chairman Campion asked Legislative Counsel to walk the Senate Education Committee through H.483 on Thursday at a high level. During the walk-through, Senator Hashim questioned why therapeutic schools were excluded from the bill. Legislative counsel noted that those schools were highly specialized and may not be able to meet the requirements in the bill. The intent of this bill is to address general education independent schools who receive public tuition.

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Clean Heat Standard (S.5) - April 7, 2023

The House Environment & Energy Committee returned to discussion of the Clean Heat Standard (CHS) in S.5 on Friday after taking testimony during the week largely from environmental advocates.

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Letter to House Environment & Energy Committee

Dear Representatives,

I am writing on behalf of Campaign for Vermont Prosperity, asking you to carefully weigh the value versus the potential harm that can be done by introducing a carbon pricing scheme on heating fuels. Every equity expert that has testified on S.5 has agreed that it will likely hurt low-income Vermonters, those on fixed incomes, rural Vermonters, and our historically marginalized. We share this belief. Carbon-pricing is a blunt instrument that is almost certain to do unintended harm to Vermont’s most vulnerable.

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Property Taxes (H.492) - April 6, 2023

Legislative Counsel walked through H.492 on Thursday with the Senate Finance Committee, noting the modest (3.84%) increase in expected tax bills on Vermonters. There was a debate about what the purpose the December letter from the Tax Commissioner was (this is a letter that estimates the state yield amount that is sent to the legislature and school districts at the end of each year). Chairwoman Cummings clarified that it was meant to be a tool for school boards and voters to understand the tax rate impacts of their school budgets. A new thing this year is that $22M was set aside in a reserve fund in case a property tax buy-down is needed next year.

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State Treasurer's FY24 Budget

The State Treasurer, Mike Pieciak, submitted his budget and comments on the treasurers office to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

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