Miscellaneous Education Changes (H.461) - March 31, 2023

On Friday afternoon, Representative Conlon (Chair, House Education Committee) provided the Senate Education Committee with an overview of their committee bill, H.461.

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Independent and Public Schools

On Friday, Emily Simmons (General Counsel, Agency of Education) gave the Senate Education Committee an overview of the statutory obligations surrounding public tuitioning for independent schools.

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Rental Housing Registry (H.276) - March 28-31, 2023

On Tuesday, the House General and Housing Committee did a walk through of H.276 with Legislative Counsel. The bill essentially requires landlords provide identifying information on the owner, landlord, property manager and other identifying information about the unit, location of the unit, and construction of the unit by March of next year.

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Clean Heat Standard (S.5) - March 31, 2023

The House Environment & Committee returned on Friday morning to hear from TJ Poor (Director of Planning, Department of Public Service). He was following up on a question from his last time in the Committee regarding the Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP). The CEP actually calls for a full evaluation of the Clean Heat Standard (CHS) in terms of cost, societal impact, and equity. This didn’t happen in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) process due to the tight timelines.

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Ethics Commission - March 31, 2023

Christina Sivret presentation for the Vermont Ethics Commission budget to Senate Appropriations on Friday. The total budget came up to $190K, which includes two half-time personnel, plus a contractor. The Committee asked Sivret a number of questions, but they were very receptive to the presentation. 

She was able to present all her hopes relative to enforcement of the Code of Ethics and candidate disclosure requirements now being proposed to be added to H.429. She also spoke about the required training and the support they offer public officials through advisory letters.

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Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - March 28-31, 2023

Anne Sosin (Interim Director, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition) spoke to the House General & Housing Committee on Thursday about Housing and Homelessness. She cast homelessness as a housing problem and a "policy choice," reiterating that they are "aligned" with other advocates supporting the S.100 housing bill.

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Department of Economic Development - March 31, 2023

Joan Goldstein (Commissioner, Department of Economic Development) joined the Senate Economic Development Committee on Friday, along with Abbie Sherman (Executive Director, Vermont Economic Progress Council).

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Universal Broadband Audit

On Friday, Doug Hoffer (State Auditor) shared a presentation with the Senate Finance Committee regarding universal broadband in Vermont. He wanted to examine some “risks” at this stage, after nearly twenty years of talking about this. Even with a “river of money” from the Federal government, he anticipates the Communication Union Districts (CUDs) are going to be asking for “a couple of hundred million dollars more.”

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Changes to Election Laws (H.429) - March 31, 2023

The Senate Government Operations Committee resumed testimony on H.429 on Friday with Betty Keller (Member, Vermont League of Women Voters) who promoted Ranked Choice Voting as a solution to the “sore loser” issue this bill was trying to address. The Vermont League of Women Voters (LWV-VT) opposes the first two sections of the bill, which deal with the “sore loser” candidates. The legislature should not be limiting choices in the general election, she argued.

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VOTE: Setting Property Tax Yield (H.492) - March 30, 2023

The House took up a bill, H.492, on the floor Thursday that sets the statewide yields which determines local property tax rates. The average rate would decrease in FY2024, but much of that decrease will be “masked” by the Common Level of Appraisal (the leveling mechanism to account for disparities between when towns last did an appraisal) and school district spending.

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