Legislative Update – May 29, 2018

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May 29, 2018 No Comments ›› maxinegrad

Vermont State HouseThis week, the Legislature returns to Montpelier for the Special Session the Governor called. Last week the Governor vetoed the budget that passed the House on a vote of 117-14. He also vetoed the tax/education finance bill stating it would raise taxes. It is important to note that the Governor’s plan will raise taxes in 127 towns. Our district, plus Waterbury equals 6 of those 127 towns whose tax rates will go up under the Governor’s plan.

The Joint Fiscal Office has released an evaluation of the Governor’s 5 year proposal, which you can read here. I am very concerned about the use of one-time money, lack of cost containment, legal issues raised by Legislative Council, risk to our bond ratings, and enormous financial gaps that will be created over the next 5-plus years in the Governor’s plan. A strong economy depends upon sound, data based fiscal policy. Affordability relies on predictability, not speculation.

End of Session Highlights:

Agriculture Economic Development

Here in our district, our farmers and their partners are entrepreneurial leaders. The Legislature supported our farmers and businesses with groundbreaking legislation. In collaboration with our ever-changing agriculture sector, farmers and value-added producers have grown their businesses, both on and off farm. Our farmers have utilized their entrepreneurial skills to diversify their offerings, which can include providing storage, preparation, processing and/or sales of the products made by others, as well as “agri-tourism.” As this sector has grown, however, Vermont’s farmers are running up against inconsistencies in town zoning across the state, which makes it difficult for some farmers to set up farm-related businesses on site. The Legislature passed H.663, which makes it easier for farmers and municipalities to understand how a farm can grow their businesses. This consistency in zoning will allow farms across Vermont to stay viable.

S.85 – An Act Relating To Simplifying Government For Small Businesses

I repeatedly hear how complicated it is for businesses to navigate the state IT system. This bill aims to make it simpler for businesses to interact with state government by expanding the information on the Secretary of State website and links to relevant parts of other State websites (like DOL, ANR, Agriculture, Taxes). The goal is to have a project scope, design, budget and timeline by December of 2018 that will act as a roadmap for website enhancements and services for the next 10 years.

H.919 – An Act Relating To Workforce Development

This bill incorporates the recommendations of a 2017 summer working group to develop the workforce to meet the current and anticipated needs of employers and employees. The bill:

  • Strengthens the role of the State Workforce Development Board – the board has 60 members, ½ of which must come from the private sector.
  • Extends the use of Career Pathways in workforce development, engaging students as early as 7th grade.
  • Establishes 4 pilot projects in Career Technical Education (CTE) settings to model a unified funding and governance structure to streamline and improve delivery of services.
  • Strengthens apprenticeship programs in the state, including the establishment of “returnships” to reengage workers who are currently not in the workforce.
  • Establishes a system that reviews and elevates the rigor of industry recognized credentials and certificates to create better value and relevance of them to both the recipient and employees.
  • Expand the role of the Department of Labor and the Commissioner to recruit workers, including from in-state post-secondary institutions, as well as train workers.
  • Authorize the use of Workforce Education Training (WET) Funds to assist small businesses recruit, relocate and retain workers.
  • Develop metrics to measure the relative success of these different efforts to guide decision making in the future.


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