Legislative Update 1/18/24

The Legislature has returned to the State House for the second half of the 2023-2024 biennium. Unsurprisingly, housing, flood recovery, public safety, and the opioid crisis have emerged as top priorities this session.

Common Good Vermont’s priorities are outlined in our 2024 Agenda. First and foremost, we will be focused on advancing state grant and contract reform, and are pleased that H. 140, An act relating to requirements for State-funded grants, and the vehicle for our proposed amendment, has been taken up by the House Committee on Government Operations and Military Affairs.

We will also be me monitoring flood recovery legislation to ensure nonprofit voices are part of the conversation, and that relief funds meet sector needs.

We invite nonprofits to join us on 1/25 in Montpelier for Nonprofit Legislative Day – please register here!

Stay informed! Tips for following legislative activity can be found HERE.

Nonprofit Legislation

Read on for more information about key pieces of nonprofit-related legislation we’re following. It’s still early, so stay tuned for updates and new additions.

H. 140, An act relating to requirements for State-funded grants

H. 140 would create simplified application and reporting forms for state grants and a “uniform formula and approval process for use in all State-funded grants for nonprofit corporations to use a higher indirect rate than the standard 10 percent de minimis rate.”

Last week, Common Good Vermont testified alongside other Vermont nonprofits in front of the House Committee on Government Operations and Military Affairs in support of H. 140. Additionally, Common Good Vermont and others urged the committee to amend the bill to create a working group to consider needed reforms to the state’s grant and contracting system to make it more viable, predictable, and efficient.

You can view draft language of the amendment we would like to see included here.

You can watch testimony below and find written testimony here:

This bill, and our proposed amendment, is an important step towards advancing grant and contract reform. Please reach out to [email protected] with any questions or to engage in this effort.

H. 723, An act relating to flood recovery

H. 723 is the omnibus flood recovery bill introduced by Central Vermont legislators, with a couple sections directly impacting nonprofits:

  • Section 4 proposes to replace the BEGAP flood recovery program with a new “Flood Recovery Assistance Program” (FRAP) that would cover losses beyond physical and structural damages including:
    • lost revenue of business
    • lost wages if employees of businesses
    • lost inventory and new supplies
    • damaged equipment
    • other administrative or operating expenses.
  • Section 7 would appropriate $2M to provide grants to “long term recovery groups” approved by FEMA.

While this bill has not yet been taken up where it sits in House Energy & Technology, House and Senate economic development committees have taken testimony on flood recovery from impacted communities and the administration.

We will be monitoring this and any other flood recovery legislation impacting nonprofits, with special attention to relief funding programs. If your organization was impacted by the flooding (directly or by supporting recovery efforts), we want to hear from you! What relief is still needed? What is the role of nonprofits in supporting community resiliency? Please email [email protected] with any questions or comments.

H. 583, An act relating to the Donor Intent Protection Act

H. 583 would “provide legal recourse to individual charitable donors when their giving restrictions are not followed by a recipient charitable organization according to an endowment agreement.”

Common Good Vermont is still evaluating this bill’s impact, but we fail to see the need and are concerned that it opens nonprofits up to costly litigation. Please email [email protected] with any feedback or concerns.

Data Privacy

The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development spent time reworking H. 121, An act relating to enhancing consumer privacy, between sessions. The new draft hasn’t been released yet, but based on committee discussion, it will draw on similar legislation from other states.

This bill has the potential to impacts nonprofits as many organizations rely on commercial companies to maintain data in secure environments at a level that they could not afford to maintain on their own. While Common Good Vermont supports robust privacy protections, we will advocate for nonprofits to be exempt from onerous, state-level privacy regulations, as nonprofits use data to advance their missions including assessing need, evaluating program quality and for donor engagement, not for commercial purposes.

We will be monitoring this bill and welcome your feedback.

Stay Engaged:

  1. Find out what’s happening, when:
    • Start by visiting the Legislature’s website. On the homepage you can find House and Senate schedules and announcements.
    • Find up to date information about special committees, joint assemblies, public hearings and more on the announcement page.
    • Committee agendas can be found here.
    • NOTE: Schedules are prone to change frequently and without notice – check back periodically (and hit refresh) if you are following a specific bill or issue.
  2. Gather information:
    • You can search and find bills here.
    • Committee meeting schedules can be found here. You can also visit committee pages to view past and current documents, testimony, and agendas. The livestream links are also listed on committee pages.
  3. While the Legislature is back in person this year, committee room occupancy is limited. Most floor time and committee meetings will continue to be livestreamed so you can stay informed without the commute. Watch live on YouTube:
  4. Participate
    • Public hearings will (usually) be posted here.
    • Find legislators’ contact information here.

More ways to stay engaged: