Legislative Update - April 16, 2023

Two more major bills moved this week. In the House, the bill creating a carbon-pricing credit system advanced out of the Environment & Energy Committee with some relatively minor changes. However, it does provide some additional flexibility to the Public Utilities Commission to pause the credit program due to market conditions such as workforce shortages or supply chain issues. Additionally, the penalties on fuel dealers were reduced from 4x the credit amount to 2x.

The second major move was a bill passed by the Senate that would double legislative pay and create a new benefits package for legislators that includes health insurance and child care services. The goal is to make the legislature more attractive and accessible for working-class Vermonters, but it is still a historic increase in compensation for the State's citizen legislature.

Other topics this week:

  • Green Mountain Care Board explains their work within the regulatory landscape.
  • Senate begins digging into the property tax yield bill.
  • Major housing bill approved by House General & Housing Committee.
  • Senate gets background on bill regulating public tuition to Independent Schools.


Quote of the Week:

“There are too many unanswered questions and livelihoods are at stake.

Comments regarding the passage of S.5.


Paul Clifford
Representative, Rutland-4 District

NOW IS THE TIME! Write to your legislators asking them to STOP S.5 until concerns around equity and impact on low-income and rural Vermonters can be addressed.



Vote for Vermont: Being Vermont's Treasurer in Challenging Times

Mike Pieciak, Vermont's new State Treasurer, joins Pat and Ben to talk about navigating some of the state's financial turbulence coming out of Covid.

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Pat McDonald
CFV President

Message of the Week:

We know from testimony that CCV is one if not the most expensive community colleges in the United States, but no one is asking why. Instead the Governor is proposing to cut the tuition in half to bring it more in line with the national average. Legislators are considering the same. But, guess who pays for that? Perhaps we should find out what other community colleges around the country are doing. Maybe we should also be questioning if the Vermont State Colleges transition team is putting CCV on its ‘to do’ list to find out how to reduce the tuition cost without having to have the State foot the bill.

Yes, we have historically underfunded our public colleges and universities, but there are also two sides to the affordability coin: revenue AND spending.




Fiscal Sustainability

What you need to know:

  • Senate starts digging into property tax yield bill.
  • Clean Heat Standard moves out of the House Environment & Energy Committee

Property Tax Bill (H.492) - Tuesday

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.

Read more

Clean Heat Standard (S.5) - Wednesday

The Committee began marking up S.5 on Wednesday. Chairwoman Sheldon asked if cooking was included in the definition of thermal sector and therefore covered under the bill. Legislative Counsel confirmed that it was included and transitioning from gas to thermal induction stoves in restaurants qualifies for credits.

Key Points:

  • It came to light that S.5 was not intended to help low-income Vermonters replace aging heating sources.
  • Federal dollars are being used to "prime the market" for CHS.
  • Language around "ownership" of the clean heat credits clarified.
  • Limits placed on technologies that can be used to generate credits.
Read more

Clean Heat Standard (S.5) - Thursday

The Committee reconvened on Thursday to review Draft 3.1, which included their edits from the day before. This was the final day of debate before voting the bill out. Smith led off by asking if each gallon of fuel sold in the state was going to be monitored and wondered if it would be illegal for someone to go out of state to buy their fuel. Legislative Counsel clarified that it would not be illegal.

Key Points:

  • New LIHEAP provision added to provide financial incentive for fuel dealers to continue participating in the program.
  • Language added to study the "public health benefits" of the CHS.
  • Penalties reduced to 2x of the credit amount.
  • Additional flexibility added for PUC to pause implementation of the CHS.
  • Committee voted 8-3 in favor of the bill.
Read more


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What you need to know:

  • Senate starts testimony on independent schools bill.
  • Public School Administrators soften their position, slightly.

Oversight Independent Schools (H.483) - Wednesday

On Wednesday, Chairman Campion asked Legislative Counsel to share, with the Senate Education Committee, background on Act 49 and Act 173 and how they relate to independent schools. Act 49 was passed in 2017 and created a task force on independent schools. The task force was split and could not find a consensus; instead of offering a comprehensive report, each member issued their own recommendations around enrollment policy, if schools should be required to deliver special education and which categories should be required, and special education required reporting. The legislation also paused rulemaking until the legislature could act on these issues.

Key Points:

  • Committee is clearly concerned about unintentionally prohibiting parents from visiting schools prior to enrollment.
  • Director of the Compass School shared how the bill would hinder the work they are doing to provide equity to students.
  • The blind admissions process and tuition parity raised as significant issues.
  • Claim that small schools are more expensive by nature disputed.
Read more

Oversight Independent Schools (H.483) - Thursday

On Thursday, Sue Ceglowski (Executive Director, Vermont School Boards Association) who noted that she was testifying on behalf of the Education Equity Alliance, which consists of Vermont School Boards Association, Vermont NEA, Vermont Superintendents Association, and Vermont Principles Association. She claimed “Vermont is at a crossroads” following the U.S. Supreme Court’s new rules for states’ funding private schools. This puts Vermont in a difficult position as it seeks to comply with the Court's ruling, she noted, while “still upholding its own constitutional protections, democratic values and traditions.”

Read more





Economic Development

What you need to know:

  • Water quality finally taken up by the legislature.
  • Municipal planners offer comprehensive feedback on the legislature's housing bills.
  • House General & Housing Committee passes S.100.

Municipal Water Grants

The House Corrections and Institutions Committee took up water quality on Wednesday, hearing from Eric Blatt (Director of Engineering, Water Investment Division). Chairwoman Emmons noted that Appropriations usually includes 1:5 matching funds for the revolving loan fund as well as a state match for clean water and drinking water grants.

Read more

Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Wednesday

Alex Weinhagen (President, Vermont Planners Association) spoke to the House Environment & Energy Committee on Wednesday about housing and permit reform legislation. He gave an overview with his opinion on the housing crisis and explained that State and local government can and should take action in the areas over which they have control. The Vermont Planners Association (VPA) strongly supports modernizing municipal land use regulations, state permitting reform (e.g., wastewater, stormwater, building codes, and Act 250), as well as changes to expedite development review appeals processes. This final point is one of the main focuses of S.100.

Read more

Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Thursday

Susan Minter (Executive Director, Capstone Community Action) shared with the House General & Housing Committee on Thursday a report by the Community Action Team reiterating that housing was needed. Minter gave a very similar presentation to the one given in the Senate regarding S.100. The same risks were identified as in the Senate the same powerful stories that demonstrated the need for more housing. 

She reiterated, again, that there was no focus on Act 250 or business issues addressed in the bill. Even so, Minter supported the bill as it was.

Read more





Good Government

What you need to know:

  • Legislators vote for a 2x pay increase and a new benefits package.

Compensation for Legislators (S.39) - Thursday

The compensation and benefits bill for legislators, S.39, hit the Senate floor on Thursday. Senator White presented the bill on behalf of the Government Operations Committee and was followed by Senator Baruth for the Appropriations Committee.

Read more






Health Care

What you need to know:

  • Green Mountain Care Board members explain their work within the health care regulatory landscape.
  • Health Equity Advisory Commission asks for $1.6M budget.

Green Mountain Care Board Budget - Wednesday

Robin Lunge and Jessica Holmes, members of the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) presented the history and overview of the GMCB to the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. Holmes introduced herself stating that she is an economist and has been a member of the Board for eight years. She explained how the uniqueness of health care justifies the extensive government oversight through laws and regulations. In most markets, transactions involve only a buyer and seller, but in health care there is the presence of third parties, including insurers as well as the role of government.

Read more

Health Equity Advisory Commission

The Health Equity Advisory Commission (HEAC) presented to a joint Committee meeting of the House Health Care and Senate Health and Welfare on Wednesday. The agenda included an overview of the HEAC responsibilities, a summary of the HEAC’s 2023 Annual Report, budget and fiscal proposals, and final notes and reflections. The Commission members include thirty representatives from various entities in Vermont. Rev. Mark Hughes is the Chair and represents Vermont Racial Justice Alliance. He and Kristen Murphy (Executive Director, Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council) presented the annual report to the committee, which included government equity, programmatic approach/framework, community engagement, legal and administrative support, policies and programs, funding, grants and training, and continuing education.

Read more




Things to watch for next week:

VOTE: Thermal Carbon-Pricing (S.5) - House Floor (Wednesday)

Workforce Development (H.484) - Senate Economic Development (Tuesday)

Ranked Choice Voting (S.32) - House Government Operations (Tuesday)

Transformation Plan of the Vermont State Colleges - Senate Education (Tuesday)

Housing Opportunities Made for Everyone (S.100) - House Environment & Energy (Tue/Wed)

Renewable Energy Standard - Senate Natural Resources (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Divestment of State Pension Funds of Investments in the Fossil Fuel Industry - House Government Operations (Tue-Thurs)

 Outdoor Recreation (H. 467) - House Agriculture (Wednesday)

Accountability and Oversight of Independent Schools & Public Tuition (H.483) - Senate Education (Wed/Thurs)



We reviewed over 34 hours of legislative testimony to bring you this report, please consider supporting our work.


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*A previous version of this report inaccurately indicated that the House had undermined the Senate's check-back provision. The language in question was inserted by the Senate, not the House. However, the language is still concerning and CFV will continue to advocate for it's removal.

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