Legislative Update - April 9, 2023

This week the pension divestment bill landed in the House Government Operations Committee. It turns out that one of the Committee members is on the Vermont Pension Investment Commission (VPIC), which was universally opposed to the bill as written due to its potential exposure for state employees and taxpayers. VPIC is very concerned that divestment mandates (as opposed to voluntary divestment) will lead to increasing the Actuarially Determined Employer Contribution (ADEC). This is the amount that the state is supposed to contribute annually towards the pension funds in order to meet our obligations to employees. We already had to increase this payment last year, in addition to making special payments to the funds, because of previous incorrect assumptions about the rate of return our investments would get.

Other topics this week:

  • House version of S.5 begins to take shape.
  • Senate begins reviewing independent school bill with school choice implications.
  • Advocates say volunteer trail maintenance is no longer sustainable.
  • House considers strengthening oversight of VEGI program.
  • Legislators get briefed on major CTE report.


Quote of the Week:

“For districts that don’t operate a school… the state is benefiting from tuitioning students out of this school desert... we seem to be pushing these guys really hard.”


David Weeks
Senator, Rutland District

CFV calls on the Environment & Energy Committee to tap the brakes on S.5 and the Clean Heat Standard until more analysis and safeguards are in place.



Vote for Vermont: Current Status of VT Republican Party

As part of our series talking to political party leaders, the Chairman of the VT Republican Party joins Pat and Ben to talk about what his party is doing to appeal to Vermonters and work to enact their policies in Montpelier.

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Pat McDonald
CFV President

Message of the Week:

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Erica Bornemann who is the Director of Vermont Emergency Management. We talked about the VT-ALERT system, which I had never heard of before. VT-ALERT is a free service offered by Vermont’s Department of Public Safety/Vermont Emergency Management. It provides you with information about local emergencies that affect you and your loved ones. Alerts are relevant and localized depending on the locations you select. It also provides reliable information from state, federal, and local first-responders about active situations. All you have to do is to sign up at VTALERT.GOV.

Part of our mission at Campaign for Vermont is sharing information with you to keep you informed….. and safe!  



Fiscal Sustainability

What you need to know:

  • Divestment bill lands in the House, meets with skepticism.
  • CFV sends letter to House Environment & Energy Committee on S.5.
  • State Treasurer presents budget for FY2024.

Divestment of State Pension Funds (S.42) - Friday

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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Clean Heat Standard (S.5)

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more


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What you need to know:

  • Independent schools bill lands in the Senate.
  • House and Senate exchange miscellaneous education bills.
  • Property tax bill reviewed by Senate.

Oversight Independent Schools (H.483)

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.

Read more

Miscellaneous Education Changes (S.133)

Senator Campion joined the House Education Committee on Friday to discuss S.133. He began with proficiency-based learning and explained they were trying to determine if the actually had a “handle on what was out there.” This is what led, indirectly, to the curriculum audit idea that is in the bill.

Read more

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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Property Taxes (H.492)

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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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.

Read more





Economic Development

What you need to know:

  • Volunteer trail maintenance no longer sustainable, Green Mountain Rec Fund pitched.
  • Legislators get briefed on major CTE report.
  • House digs into EITC and Child Tax Credit.
  • House trying to decide out to proceed on VEGI program.

Green Mountain Recreation Fund (H.131)

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.

Key Points:

  • Vermont has over 8,000 miles of public access trails.
  • The state is within a five-hour drive for more than 60M people.
  • Over 70% of the state’s trails rely on private landowners and volunteers to maintain them.
  • Vermont has seen a 400% growth in mountain bike trail usage since 2018.
  • Current growth rate is unsustainable for volunteers to keep up.
Read more

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.

Key Recommendations:

  • Additional funding needed to create accessibility for students whose CTE center is not co-located with their high school.
  • Funding system needed for CTE centers to address current facilities deficiencies and update program equipment.
  • Eliminate tuition-based funding and instead fund CTE out of the statewide Education Fund directly.
  • Align regional policies, including calendars and academic requirements.
  • Require that career exploration be offered to all middle school students.
Read more

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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VEGI Changes (H.10)

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.

Read more





Good Government

What you need to know:

  • Advocates stress need for e-voting options for military and disabled persons.

Changes to Election Laws (H.429)

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.

Read more






Things to watch for next week:

MARK-UP: Thermal Carbon-Pricing (S.5) - House Environment & Energy (Tuesday)

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

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

Renewable Energy Standard - Senate Natural Resources (Tuesday)

State and Municipal Regulatory Barriers for Fair Zoning and Housing Affordability (H.68) - House Environment & Energy (Tue/Wed)

Property Tax Bill (H.492) - Senate Finance (Tue)

Paid Family and Medical Leave (H.66) - Senate Economic Development (Wednesday)

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

Compensation and Benefits for Members of the Vermont General Assembly (S.39) - Senate Floor (Thursday)

Ranked Choice Voting (S.32) - House Government Operations (Thurs/Fri)

Future of the Vermont State Colleges - Senate Education (Friday)



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