Legislative Update 3/14/24

This is crossover week – all bills need to be voted out of committee by Friday to move forward this session (except “money bills” which have an extra week, until 3/22). While we are still waiting to see how things will shake out for most bills we are following, we’re doing our update today to share some exciting news.

H. 140, the State grant and contracting bill, has been voted out of committee! Recognizing that there is still work to do, we are celebrating this exciting milestone on the bill’s path to enactment and want to thank those who have helped us reach this point.

First, THANK YOU to the members of our nonprofit community who have come together, shared their stories, showed up for meetings, testified in committee, and stuck their necks out to advocate for desperately needed grant and contract reforms on behalf of the sector. We also want to express deep appreciation for our nonprofit champions who have been critical in advancing this legislation. Thank you to Chair McCarthy for hearing nonprofit concerns and taking up this issue, and to the House Government Operations Committee for their work on and unanimous support of the bill. And, last but not least, we want to thank fellow nonprofit leaders in the legislature who have brought this work forward, especially Representative Williams for introducing H. 140 and Representative Nugent for stewarding it through committee to the House floor. Onwards!

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Need to catch up on what’s happened so far?

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

Common Good Vermont is pleased to share that on Wednesday, the House Government Operations Committee voted H. 140 out unanimously – just in time for the crossover deadline! Assuming it passes the House after a brief stop in the Appropriations Committee (where it on the calendar for Friday), it will advance to the Senate.

On Tuesday, the Committee reviewed Draft 2.6 of H. 140. The new draft, largely unchanged from Draft 2.3, amends the make up of the Working Group on State Grant Processes as follows:

  1. Of the six nonprofit representatives, the new draft specifies that at least one representative be a certified public accountant and at least one representative be a certified financial planner.
    • We agree that the addition of financial experts will be of benefit to the working group, and appreciate the committee’s decision to have Common Good Vermont appoint these individuals. However, since there is a nonprofit accountant shortage and many organizations outsource CPA and accounting services, we are concerned that requiring two of the six nonprofit representatives to have these rare certifications would unnecessarily limit which organizations could be represented. When the Senate takes up the bill, we will recommend that the financial experts be either a nonprofit employee or consultant in addition to the six nonprofit representatives.
  2. Also added to the working are one representative of the Department of Finance and Management, appointed by the Governor; and one member, appointed by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

While there is still work to do, we want to express deep appreciation for our nonprofit champions who have been critical in advancing this legislation. First, thank you to Chair McCarthy (who recognized that “What this draft represents, is a huge give to the Agency of Administration,”) for understanding the urgent need for grant and contract reform and to the committee for their thoughtful work on this bill. We also want to thank Representative Williams for introducing H. 140 and Representative Nugent for stewarding it through committee to the House floor. Onwards!

Flood Recovery Action Alert

Our friends at VBSR are calling on Vermont nonprofits and businesses to take action for flood relief funds. The bill draft below, which recommends $40 million to go to business owners and non-profits impacted by flooding, is in danger of being dismissed by the legislature. 

It is critical that the leadership of the two Appropriations Committees and the House Commerce and Economic Development hear from you (You can also leave a message for them through the Sergeant of Arms: Dial 802-828-2228):

Senate Appropriations

House Appropriations

House Commerce and Economic Development 

The message: “Please back the FRAP- which provides financial aid for flood impacted nonprofits and businesses. [Personal message explaining why this bill is needed or how it will support your organization.]”

H. 704, An act relating to disclosure of compensation in job advertisements

In our last update, Common Good Vermont shared our comments to the House General Committee on H. 704 in support of the legislation that would require Vermont employers to disclose compensation ranges in job advertisements.

We were pleased to see the Committee continue its work on the bill and they are expected to vote on it this week in time for crossover.

This news is particularly timely as March 12th was Equal Pay Day, which highlights the persisting racial and gender pay gaps. According to the 2022 Vermont Nonprofit Wages & Benefits Report, there is a significant female leadership wage gap with survey data reported by participating nonprofits finding that Vermont female executive directors earn 73 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, and in Northern New England, BIPOC identifying executive directors make 88 cents on the dollar compared to those who identify as white. Pay transparency is a step towards narrowing that gap for women and BIPOC workers, and advancing equity for Vermont’s workforce.

H. 121, An act relating to enhancing consumer privacy

House Commerce continues to take testimony on H. 121 and reviewed a new draft on Wednesday. While there may be another round of markup before the committee votes, Draft 8.1 included at least one improvement from the previous draft. In our last update we shared that the definition of “consumer” was changed from “resident of the state” to “an individual who is in the state who is in the State at the time a controller or processor collects or processes the individual’s data” which would be difficult for organizations collecting data to determine. This has been reversed.

While we still have concerns and questions about this bill, we will provide more analysis and advocate as necessary once it reaches the Senate. In the meantime, if you have concerns about this bill, examples of how it will impact your organization, or changes to propose, please email [email protected].