Legislative Update 2/2/22

Workforce and economic development initiatives continue to rise to the top of the agenda for lawmakers this session. Recent discussions around housing, minimum wage, childcare, employment and tax breaks convey the wide range of approaches being considered to address the mounting pressures on Vermont families, businesses and organizations. Here are a few specific pieces of this evolving puzzle to be aware of:

  • Senate Appropriation’s proposal of amendment to the Budget Adjustment Act is expected to hit the Senate Floor on Thursday.
  • House Ways and Means is expected to vote out H. 510, which would create a refundable child tax credit for Vermont families with incomes under $200K, today.
  • Senate Economic Development is looking at several employment related bills: S. 52 would raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by 2025; S. 65, the Paid Family Leave bill; and S. 221, which would raise UI benefits by $25/week. On the other side, House General is looking at two bills related to employment and discrimination – H. 320 (which was voted out with an amendment last week) and H. 329.
  • Both Senate Economic Development and House Commerce are considering economic development proposals – more information below. Among these is S. 202, an act relating to supporting creative sector businesses and cultural organizations, which Senate Economic Development will be picking up this Friday at 10 am.
  • Housing continues to be a hot topic, intersecting with workforce and economic development. Learn more about the problem and proposed solutions with VBSR at their upcoming Town Hall on the Intersection of Housing and Workforce Development on February 10 at 10 am.

Unemployment Insurance

Common Good Vermont continues to seek input on proposed unemployment insurance legislation from:

  • self-insured (reimbursable) nonprofits; and,
  • nonprofits with three or fewer employees.

If your organization falls into one of these categories, please read on for more information and be in touch!

Public hearings will be held on Tuesday, February 8, 2022 at 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. and Wednesday, February 9, 2022 at 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. via Zoom. Sign up by 5 p.m. on Monday, February 7, 2022 testify. More information and sign up links below:

Omnibus Economic Development Bill

The Senate Economic Development Committee has drafted language (not yet posted for the public) for the Omnibus Economic Development Bill that has been referenced over the past few weeks, in hope of getting it out by Town Meeting Day. Proposals on the table, which draw on the Governor’s proposals, currently include moving remaining funds from the undersubscribed Bridge Recovery Grant Program to the Capital Investment Program, a PPP-like VEDA loan program, and additional investments in the New and Remote Worker Incentive Program. That said, Sen. Sirotkin did mention in committee that other ideas for economic development could be added to the bill, saying “that’s an open invitation.”

We know that many nonprofits are still experiencing pandemic-related financial challenges, many of which are unique to our sector. We also know that nonprofits have struggled to access relief funds through current and existing programs due to burdensome application processes, eligibility guidelines that are tailored to for-profit businesses, or a lack of outreach/technical assistance.

ACTION: If your organization has taken a financial hit from COVID-19 and is in need of relief, or if you have ideas about how economic recovery programs could be better designed to meet the needs of nonprofits, please share your thoughts by emailing [email protected]. You can also email Sen. Sirotkin directly, and if you don’t mind, please CC/BCC [email protected].