This week saw positive progress on a number of fronts. After looking like it was unraveling last week, a new draft of S.171 (the ethics bill) on Friday showed positive developments. Workforce and economic development bills are also taking shape and are looking promising.Read more
Friends, earlier this week we issued our first action alert of the legislative session. Both VTDigger and VPR have picked up the story and highlighted the last-minute shredding of the ethics bill that we and others have spent two years working on.
We believe strongly that a Code of Ethics should apply equally to all three branches of state government. As envisioned a few short weeks ago, S.171 would have done that. However, the future of the bill is now uncertain as the legislative and judicial branches seek to exempt themselves or set up their own ethics policies and oversight.Read more
Friends, it was an eventful week. We issued our first action alert of the legislative session (see more below) and the Vermont House passed a tax credit that will put $1200 per child back into the pockets of Vermont families. We also saw a showdown between the Governor and the Senate over the infamous road rule (and other provisions) in Act 250.Read more
Over the past several years, Campaign for Vermont has worked with the legislature and the Ethics Commission to develop a Code of Ethics that would apply to all three branches of Government. As such, S.171 is currently being discussed in Senate Government Operations and is the product of several years of research and debate. But, lately the bill has hit a critical juncture in its development.Read more
Members of the Senate Government Operations Committee,
Thank you for your hard work and perseverance in working through S.171 this session. I know this bill is confusing in how it interrelates with existing rules, policies, and practices across different branches of government. It is not always easy to step back and see the broader picture of how these tie together.
I want to reiterate that Campaign for Vermont supports this legislation because it offers a universal set of expectations for public officials. We believe Vermonters deserve something that can be articulated simply and applied universally.Read more
Friends, this was a key week in the legislature. We are starting to see the separation between what bills will likely make it and others will not. Bills such as Act 250 reform (downtown housing developments) appear to have legs while project-based TIFs are struggling to move forward.
Campaign for Vermont is continuing to engage on ethics reform and we are moving to engage on workforce development as well. So many of these issues are intertwined - technical education, housing, workforce engagement. Vermont employers are struggling to find people to fill open positions. Housing has become the largest inhibitor of workforce growth (and thus economic growth), however because workforce participation is so low there is an opportunity to entice some Vermonters back into the workforce.
We hope you find the information we are providing useful and our advocacy meaningful, you can support our efforts by making a donation here.Read more
Friends, the legislature is in the process of digesting the Governors budget recommendations. The House has already ignored some of them, passing a budget adjustment act that spurned investments in housing and technical education. Other initiatives such as Act 250 reform and economic development grants seem to have support but need to start moving out of Committee in order to make the crossover deadline.Read more
Friends, what a week. Governor Scott, his administration, and the legislature dove headfirst this week into deciding how to spend a historic level of federal funds and state tax receipts. Also announced was a plan to return almost $100M to Vermont taxpayers through a combination of rebates and tax credits. Historic investments in pension reform, workforce development, housing, and climate change were also pitched.
The crazy part? There is actually agreement. Agreement on what needs to be done and what changes and investments we need to make in Vermont's future. As of today, nothing seems to be off the table. A truly optimistic moment.Read more
Friends, the legislature has wasted no time diving into big issues - housing, workforce development, pensions, and Act 250 just to name a few. We are encouraged by the level of focus the legislature is exhibiting but we are concerned about some of the comments made about Act 250. Strife between the natural resource and economic development committees continues without a clear end in sight. We will need to overcome these differences in order to address our housing shortage.
Also, we had the privilege of testifying on a bill that would create a statewide code of ethics this week. This bill is the next step in the work we started in 2017 to hold our public officials accountable. We hope the legislature will finally get this done so the state's Ethics Commission can move forward with providing certainty to the public around the conduct of our public officials regardless of their position in state government.Read more