Legislative Update - May 14, 2023

The 2023 legislative session came to an end this week. While legislators are expected to return next month for a veto session, they passed a number of bills in the final days. These included the primary housing bill of the session and a major overhaul and investment in early childhood education. In a last-minute effort, legislators also invested in themselves, significantly increasing legislative pay and creating an entirely new benefits package.

The budget that emerged this week contained $8.5B in spending and included a new payroll tax that would be split between employers and employees (to fund the afore mentioned child care bill).

Other topics this week:

  • House rejects accountability measures and professional study for legislative pay increase.
  • Expansive Act 250 exemption for priority housing projects fails to gain support in House.
  • Property tax bill sails through legislature with 4% increase.
  • House overrides Governor's veto of Clean Heat Standard.
  • Sweeping elections bill stalls at finish line.
  • New restrictions on public tuition failed.




Quote of the Week:

“We don’t set our own pay, we set each other’s pay.”


Michael McCarthy
Chair, House Government Operations

Vote for Vermont: A True Entrepreneurial Spirit

Pat interviews the owners of A&R Market, a staple of downtown Barre, about their role in the community as a small business.

Watch Now


Pat McDonald
CFV President

Weekly Message:


One would be justified in sometimes wondering if this is a citizen legislature or not – have we lost the representative form of government? The Clean Heat Standard was vetoed by the Governor and then overridden in a vote by the House and Senate even though thousands of Vermonters wrote in to say "vote no!" Why is that? Does it really doesn’t matter what the people say?

We have heard a great deal about the value of heat pumps as a replacement for heating fuel. "Just put in a heat pump," they say and "heating fuel will be a thing of the past." Not so fast! I took the time to reached out to Carrier corporation – a major manufacturer of heat pumps. Their heat pump product manager told me that heat pumps don’t work under 20 degrees, at which time you need a dual heating system where the heat pump automatically switches over to fuel or resistance heat. What!?!

We have MANY days where the temperature goes below 20 degrees. So you essentially need two systems which need to be maintained and a system to control which one is running at any given time. Perhaps this technology will improve over time, but it is not yet ready for mass adoption. Also, one more food for thought. What the bill should have done was study alternatives before setting us on this path. There are other ways of reducing carbon and what we should really be looking at is the value proposition - finding the most cost-effective method of reducing carbon.





What you need to know:

  • Bill expanding Vermont's apprenticeship programs gets to finish line in final days.

Expanding Apprenticeships (H.452) - Overview

The bill expanding Vermont's Apprenticeship programs, H.452, passed both house and Senate in the final days of the legislative session and is on its way to the Governor for signature. It was an important bill for the Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL) and the Administration. This bill (which is 52 pages) puts current practice into statute to ensure compliance with the federal law.

Additionally, these changes needed in order to leverage federal grants, to modernize the system, to provide support for employees, to ensure the programs are doing what they say they are doing, and to give VDOL the authority to manage the programs.

Read more


We are a donor-supported organization. We couldn't bring you any of the reporting and analysis without Vermonters like you pitching in to help. Will you join us?




Economic Development

What you need to know:

  • Housing bill moves through the House in the final week.
  • A litany of amendments offered on S.100.
  • House declined to further expand exemptions for priority housing projects.
  • House voted to continue with new energy standards despite increased construction costs.

Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Monday

The session’s major Housing bill, S.100, arrived on the House Floor Monday. Speaker Krowinski announced they would only receive the committee reports and then adjourn for committees of jurisdiction to consider amendments before returning. No votes would be taken during this floor session.

Read more

Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Tuesday

No new arguments were presented on the House floor Tuesday; the bill primarily deals with municipal zoning reform and feigned to address Act 250 issues, shy of a few time-limited exemptions. It focused on large lot sizes, excess parking requirements, excess setbacks, and other local zoning requirements legislators felt inhibited housing growth.

Critics of the bill argued that municipal reform should be paired with rollbacks to Act 250, the state’s major land-use and environmental law. However, since the bill passed third reading in House with a voice vote, incremental progress will have to be settled for. Amendments were introduced to limit energy requirement that could drive up construction costs by tens of thousands of dollars, but it was disagreed to. Other amendments would have moved up some of the implementation dates, add reviews of current processes for inclusivity, and widen the priority housing project exemption in Act 250. They were met with varying levels of success.

After passage, the Senate Committees began reviewing the bill.

Read more


Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Wednesday

The Senate Economic Development Committee came back on Wednesday to review the House changes to S.100, which they did not yet possess, and the single House floor amendment that persisted with the bill (there were many other attempts to amend it).

Read more

Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Friday

The Senate Economic Development Committee finished reviewing changes to S.100 on Friday morning and brought the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. Funding was still pulled out and included in the budget. Currently it appears fairly significant (over $200M according to the Committee of Conference report) but the Governor is expected to veto the budget bill so things could change.

Read more







Good Government

What you need to know:

  • Legislature sends compensation package to the Governor.
  • Amendment to shorten legislative session fails.
  • Amendment to make expense reimbursement more transparent fails.
  • Amendment to study salary levels before setting them in statute fails.
  • Request to study independent commission on legislative compensation agreed to.
  • Sweeping election changes stalls at one yard line.

Legislative Compensation (S.39) - Monday

Two different House committees reviewed S.39 on Monday, passing the bill quickly to get it back to the floor in time for Friday adjournment. The bill encompasses significant increases in salaries for legislators, an entirely new benefits package, and more generous expense reimbursements. Proponents claim it will make legislative service more accessible to members of the public by moving compensation more in line with median wages across the state.

Read more

Changes to Boards and Commissions (H.125) - Tuesday

The Senate took up H.125 on the floor Wednesday, which deals with a number of different boards and commissions. Notably, the bill would repeal the Clean Energy Development Board and limit the authority of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority.

It also repeals the Government Accountability Committee and makes the Vermont Pension Investment Commission (VPIC)more independent from the State Treasurer.

Read more

Legislative Compensation (S.39) - Wednesday

A number of amendments were reviewed by the House Government Operations Committee and then reviewed on the House floor later in the day. These included attempts to reduce health care coverage to just during the legislative session, looking at creating an independent commission to oversee legislative compensation, study appropriate salaries instead of new salaries instead of setting them now, and shortening the legislative session to 12 week (typically around 19 now).

Read more

Legislative Compensation (S.39) - Thursday

The House Government Operations Committee reviewed another round of amendments to S.39 that would later be voted on by the House. These included technical corrections to language in the bill and accountable reimbursement of expenses instead of per diems.

Read more

Changes to Election Laws (H.429)

A bill changing numerous education provisions, H.429, generated a great deal of interest this session. Numerous people testified in both the House and Senate. On May 9th, a strike-all amendment from the Senate Government Operations Committee was considered. It incorporated provisions from S.32, which would create a Ranked-Choice Voting system for presidential primary elections.

Read more






Fiscal Sustainability

What you need to know:

  • Senate's version of the property tax bill adopted, setting up a 4% increase in property taxes

Property Taxes (H.492) - Monday

Representative Beck presented the bill on the floor Monday. Major changes from the Senate involved a slightly increased average tax increase and a reduction in the tax newly-created reserve to help buffer property taxes in FY2025. In the Senate version, this fund was reduced from $22M to $13M.

Read more

VETO OVERRIDE: Clean Heat Standard (S.5) - Thursday

The House took up S.5 on Thursday to override the Governor’s veto of the bill.

Read more




Things to watch for next:

Public Utility Commission rulemaking on the Clean Heat Standard

Summer Study Committee on legislative compensation

Legislative Veto Session on the Budget - June, 2023



Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Donate Volunteer Reduce Property Tax Burden


get updates