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
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
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.Read more
On Thursday, the House Government Operations Committee returned to work on S.32, which would establish a ranked-choice voting (RCV) system for presidential primary elections. Katherine Schad (Chief Administrative Officer, Burlington City) joined the Committee. Chairman McCarthy asks her to comment specifically about operating an RCV system with multiple precincts.Read more
The House Government Operations Committee returned to S.42 on Thursday. Katie Green (Deputy Chief Investment Officer, Vermont Pension Investment Commission). She shared that the Vermont Pension Investment Commission (VPIC) established an Environmental, Social, and Governmental (ESG) committee. Green noted that climate change is a "significant threat," adding that it's "not just fossil fuel" but also automobile industry, land use, and water quality. She was adamant that VPIC was accountable and transparent, which is why they created the ESG committee to report up to the commission.Read more
Chairman McCarthy introduced Senator Brock to the House Government Operations Committee on Tuesday, saying that he “loves this bill” as it solves a problem, does not cost much to start up, or to continuing operating, and does not raise taxes. It “actually gives something back to Vermonters,” he claimed. He continued that often they “pass things, we’re the first in the nation to do it. And then we pay the price because we don’t know how to do it,” he quipped.
NOTE: Perhaps this thinking could be applied to other areas.Read more
Christina Sivret introduced herself to the House Government Operations Committee on Tuesday. She talked about the Vermont Ethics Commission and the service they provide. The majority of their current responsibilities relate to training and providing advice; they have ability to receive complaints but not to investigate them. However, they do oversee that State Code of Ethics.
The concept, she explained, is that the State Code of Ethics should apply to all state employees. She discussed the fact that if there can be additional codes of ethics within a state department that may be more stringent than the statewide code.Read more
Bill McKibben from Third Act joined the House Government Operations Committee on Wednesday to discuss S.42. He noted divestment started here in Vermont years ago. Third Act was founded by McKibben, who wrote the "original book" about global warming. In LA Times and companies knew, all the way back in the 1980s, about the impact of fossil fuels and "lied about what fossil fuels can do to the environment," he claimed.Read more
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.Read more