Legislative Update - May 7, 2023

As the 2023 legislative session is winding down, legislators are rushing to give themselves a pay raise and a new benefits package. The effort would bring Vermont legislative pay closer to the $31,775 median for legislators across the country. We reported on this when the bill passed the Senate, at the time it looked like the bill would likely wait until next year, but the House is posturing to move aggressively on it.

Other topics this week:

  • The independent school bill might be stalled in the Senate.
  • Senate Education Chair rakes the public school lobby over the coals for lack of focus on kids.
  • Senate passes the annual property tax bill.
  • The Housing bill winds its way through multiple House committees.



Quote of the Week:

“The public education advocates, [H.483] is the biggest and most important bill for them. This, given all the issues we have in this state, I’m disappointed. Frankly, really disappointed.”


Brian Campion
Chair, Senate Education Committee

Vote for Vermont: Senator Russ Ingalls

Senator Russ Ingalls from Essex County joined Pat to discuss his families history in Vermont, stretching back 400 years, and his work in the Vermont Senate.

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Pat McDonald
CFV President

Weekly Message:


A Trip Down Memory Lane: For 20 years before coming to Vermont, I worked for a company whose headquarters were in Basle, Switzerland. At the time, companies (including mine) were talking about the success of the Swiss technical training schools and apprenticeship model. Part of my job back then was to work on visas for our international employees and technical students who wanted to come to the U.S. When I came to Vermont and started to work for State Government, I talked a lot about my experiences in Switzerland – hoping to stir up a little interest in the Swiss approach to workforce development.

This Legislative session our Legislature is finally focused on apprenticeship programs such as this to build up our workforce. I dug in, and here is what I found out: This "dual-track" approach (combining the theory and practical skills) forms the backbone of today’s apprenticeship scheme in Switzerland, a route taken by two thirds of those who leave traditional schools. The system, which has been dubbed the ‘gold standard” in international vocational training is also a reason why there is low youth unemployment in the country. Others, particularly in Europe, have followed suit to great success.

When I was Deputy Commissioner of Education ‘back in the day’, I used to bring in executives from different companies involved in the trades to meet with educators. They would tell the educators all they needed were students who understood the basics (reading, writing and arithmetic) and they would hire and train them. But at the time a degree far outweighed the importance of a job and technical skills. And so here we are – and after 20 years the Swiss model is still considered the ‘gold standard’ and we are just now coming around to their approach.





What you need to know:

  • Chair of Senate Education takes the public school lobby to task.
  • Property tax bill clears Senate on a voice vote with no debate.

Oversight of Independent Schools (H.483) - Tuesday

On Tuesday, Chairman Campion brought up H.483 for the Senate Education Committee to see where members are at with the bill. He noted that the provisions related to discrimination were addressed in the 2200 rule series and “seemed to be working effectively.” He added that people had been asking about the moratorium on new schools receiving approval status. He thought it might make sense to move forward on that piece and then “assess” next year “how many [schools] are in the queue.”

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2024 Property Taxes (H.492)

The Senate Finance Committee reconvened on Wednesday to review their changes to H.492, which sets the annual property tax rate calculation. The draft changes would decrease the income yield to $17,537 and the property value yield to $15,443. It’s worth noting that decreasing the yield will increase local tax rates. The non-homestead property tax rate would be increased from $1.388 to $1.391.

Read more


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Economic Development

What you need to know:

  • Major housing bill seemingly on-track.
  • Discussions or Act 250 overhaul still forbidden.
  • Extra hurdles added to appeals process for affordable housing projects.

Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Monday

On Monday, the House Environment & Energy Committee took up S.100, which is the main housing bill this session. The Committee was reviewing Draft 4.3 of the bill with Legislative Counsel. A number of provisions in the bill would override local zoning regulations that some consider discriminatory and may discourage growth.

Key Points:

  • Clarification added around multi-unit dwelling requirements.
  • Parking requirements still contentious.
  • Housing Navigator program added.
Read more

Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Tuesday

After lunch on Tuesday, the House Environment & Energy Committee continued their work on S.100. They now had a Draft 5.1 from Legislative Counsel to review.

The new draft of the bill includes a section signaling the possibility of a major policy shift. The new language would call for the Natural Resources Board to work with the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies to develop a framework for delegating the Administration of Act 250 permits to municipalities. The Committee expressed interest in asking for consultation with an “environmental organization,” state agencies (presumably the Agency of Natural Resources), and possible public hearings.

Read more

Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Wednesday

Wednesday afternoon, the House Environment & Energy Committee returned to hear from Josh Hanford (Commissioner, Department of Housing & Community Development) on a draft amendment related to the appeals process in Act 250 that allows 10 unrelated persons to petition for an appeal. The language that he was proposing, and that the VNRC and others had agreed to, would prevent such a group from appealing if some component of the project included affordable housing. The previous language that the Committee had passed would allow any “aggrieved” person to appeal except for affordable housing projects.

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Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - Thursday

On Thursday morning, the House Environment & Energy Committee returned to review their committee amendment to the bill. The changes included the recommended amendment by Commissioner Hanford from the previous day. The amendment also included the language requested by Green Mountain Power, as well as a study on the distribution of utility projects, where they were occurring, and what permits were required. Finally, the amendment would change the 5-5-5 rule to a 10-5-5 framework.

Read more

Rewriting Apprenticeship Statutes

Jay Ramsey from the Department of Labor joined the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday to catch them up to speed on Vermont's apprenticeship landscape. He shared that Apprenticeships are a proven workforce solution. A registered apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce and individuals can obtain paid work experience, receive progressive wage increases, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential

Read more

Workforce and Economic Development (H.484)

In preparation to receive H.484 back from the Senate, the House Commerce Committee began digging into the differences between their version of the bill and the Senate's version on Tuesday.

Read more





Good Government

What you need to know:

  • Legislators appear to be rushing a pay increase ahead of adjournment.

Legislative Compensation (S.39)


The House Government Operations Committee took up the legislative compensation bill, S.39, on Tuesday, reviewing the Senate version of the bill.

Josalyn Williams (Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures) joined the Committee to provide testimony on legislative compensation across the country. Legislative salaries range from $0 to nearly $120k annually. The median pay is around $31,775 per year. However, for part-time legislatures, this number drops to $13,111 in annual compensation.

Key Points:

  • Committee attempting to vote the bill out ASAP.
  • Adjournment compensation would have to be claimed, not automatic in the latest draft.
  • Concerns exist about "fast-tracking" the bill and prioritizing this spending over other things.
Read more






Health Care

What you need to know:

  • Changes to the Department overseeing Medicaid clear Senate and return to House.

Department of Vermont Health Access (H.206)

H.206 was reviewed in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on April 27 by Chairwoman Lyons and Legal Counsel (see previous reports on this bill here). It was determined favorable after making changes in the Blueprint for Health regarding how much insurers and Vermont Medicaid should increase the amount paid per-person to medical homes for providing the additional resources necessary for delivery of comprehensive primary care services to Vermonters.

Read more




Things to watch for next week:

Housing Bill (S.100) - House Ways & Means (Monday)

Clean Heat Standard Veto Override (S.5) - Senate Floor (Monday)

FY2024 Property Tax Rates (H.492) - Senate Finance (Monday)

Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - House Floor (Mon) & Senate Natural Resources (Mon)

Establishing VT Saves (S.135) - House Floor (Monday)

Changes to Property Valuation and Reappraisals (H.480) - Senate Finance (Tuesday)



We reviewed over 24 hours of legislative testimony to bring you this report, please consider supporting our work.


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