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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Governance Structure of Career and Technical Education

A joint meeting between multiple legislative committees was held on Wednesday to review a report on the funding and governance structure of Career and Technical Education (CTE) in Vermont.

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Vitale v. Vermont

The House and Senate Education Committees met jointly on Tuesday for a presentation from Legislative Counsel on the Vitale v. Vermont Supreme court case. Chairman Campion introduced the topic by noting that the decision came out in March and because the Senate Education Committee is likely to take up the independent schools’ bill soon, he thought it was prudent to get a briefing on this case.

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VEGI Changes (H.10) - April 4, 2023

Chairmen Marcotte shared on Tuesday in the House Ways & Means Committee that the impetus for the H.10 was that “others” saw what has been described as “mission creep” with some Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) awards that did not fit within the statutory requirements. There was concern that they were moving away from the mission to increase employment. Testimony from Tom Kavet (the state economist) and the Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) indicated they were using VEGI as an “employment retention program” and that would be a policy shift that the Legislature did not authorize.

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EITC and Child Tax Credit Updates

On Tuesday, Chairwoman Kornheiser asked Legislative Counsel to walk the House Ways & Means Committee through the draft language making changes to the two tax credit programs.

Legislative Counsel explained that the draft language which would amend the EITC and Child Tax Credit has lots of moving parts; part-time and full-time residents would both eligible. The Child Tax Credit was described as a “refundable credit” against Vermont income tax liability. Taxpayers receive $1000 per qualifying child five years old or younger. The payments will change, under this bill, from a lump sum payment (at filing) to a quarterly payment system that the tax department will create. This is similar to how the tax credits for individual health insurance plans work today.

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Legislative Update: April 2, 2023

This week we saw three major initiatives clear key votes on the House and Senate floors. The major housing bill this session, S.100, cleared the Senate floor on Tuesday, as did the bill divesting state pension funds from fossil fuel investments (S.42). In the House, the bill (H.483) tightening admissions and other requirements on independent schools that publicly tuitioned students choose to attend passed on a voice vote after passionate speeches from both sides.

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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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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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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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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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