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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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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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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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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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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Miscellaneous Education Changes (H.461) - April 5, 2023

The Senate Education Committee met on Wednesday to review H.461, which makes a number of changes to education laws.

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Green Mountain Recreation Fund (H.131) - April 5, 2023

On Wednesday the House Agriculture & Forestry Committee was introduced to H.131 by Representative Sims. She explained the forest economy learning journey legislators attended last year where they visited some recreational sites to highlight some of the rural economics of Vermont.

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Financial Literacy

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee took up financial literacy in high school education, which has been a hot topic this year. Jess DeCarolis (Student Pathways Director, Agency of Education) shared that the Agency of Education (AOE) could not support requiring a specific class as a graduation requirement, calling it “highly disruptive” and “incredibly destabilizing to the public education system.” Her remarks were directed at H.228, to which she submitted written testimony. Chairman Campion jumped in to say that they had not “invited her here to talk about H.228,” but rather they were interested in “what is happening currently around financial literacy.”

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