Legislative Update 4/11/24

It’s a light update this week, but mostly positive news.

Last Thursday, we spent a cozy day at the State House during the snow storm. Despite minor delays from periodic electricity and internet outages, CGVT testified again on H. 121, the data privacy bill, and sat in on Senate Government Operations’ walk through of H. 702, the grant reform/government accountability bill.

Read on for updates on the bills we are following that continue to advance this session:

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

State Grant Reform: H. 702, An act relating to legislative operations and government accountability

Update by CGVT Intern, Rachel Cunningham

Last Thursday (4/4/24), bill H. 702, An act relating to legislative operations and government accountability (which now includes the state grant working group from H. 140), was introduced to the Senate committee of Government Operations. Watch the recording here.

The first piece of this bill creates a Joint Government Oversight and Accountability Committee. Committee members support the idea of Government accountability and found this working group to be a great way of measuring government success and think it’s a good tool to see if resources that are being awarded are being effective. Senator Clarkson found this important because she thinks “this bill could be potentially very useful for us in tracking legislation and doing longitudinal studies on effects of the policies we enact; and really being able to dive into the measurables and see how we are doing.” 

This walkthrough of the bill included the working the group language from the previous H. 140 grant reform bill that we were championing (see section was 6A and 6B of the bill). This working group would be used to assess systems and processes for government grants and contracts that nonprofits are awarded. Through this working group, the hope is for a better system to be put in place for streamlining these agreements and to provide more data around government grants. The hope is that after collecting data, the working group will be able to make suggestions for improvements including ensuring payments and agreements can be processed on time. The committee expressed some concerns about the size of the working group on state grant processes but noted that testimony for this bill will be scheduled soon and that Common Good Vermont will be invited.

P.S. The bill was not on their schedule this week so your support is needed! Encourage the Senate Government Operations Committee to take up and advance H. 702 this session. Email Chair Ruth Hardy to express your support.

H. 121, An act relating to enhancing consumer privacy

On Thursday 4/4, Common Good Vermont testified again on H. 121, this time in the Senate Economic Development Committee (read / watch). We reiterated our concerns around the applicability threshold, private right of action, and ensuring covered nonprofits are supported in coming into compliance. Similar concerns have been brought to the committee by the business community.

On 4/10, the Committee walked through an amended draft of the bill aiming to strike a balance between business concerns and consumer protections. Changes in this draft address many of our concerns, including:

  • Higher applicability threshold: In this draft, the bill would only apply to entities that control/process the personal data of 25,000+ consumers (up from 6,500+) OR control/process the personal data of 15,000+ consumers (up from 3,250+) and derive 50% (up from 20%) of their gross revenue from the sale of data. This means more organizations (like small nonprofits) that control/process consumer data would be exempt from compliance.
  • Private Right of Action (PRA) changes:
    • Delays PRA until 7/1/26
    • Lengthens “cure period” to 120 days (from 60)
    • Adds that PRA can only be brought against entities that derive 50%+ of their gross revenue from the sale of data.
  • Data Privacy Enforcement Oversight Board: New to this draft, the Oversight Board would “provide advice and counsel to the Attorney General in carrying out the Attorney General’s responsibilities to determine and provide cure periods.”

We appreciate that the Committee’s balanced approach and responsiveness to widely shared concerns.

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

On 4/5, the Senate Economic Development Committee walked through H. 704, a bill that would require employers to disclose compensation ranges in job advertisements (but exempts employers with <5 employees). Common Good Vermont sent a letter to the committee expressing our support for this bill as they will be picking it up again this Friday.

As a reminder, salary ranges are now required for all submissions to our Jobs Board.

S. 96, An act relating to privatization contracts

Last week, House Government Operations walked through S. 96. As passed by the Senate, this bill would require the Joint Fiscal Office, the State Auditor and the Office of the Attorney General to assess and report on the fiscal and operational impact of changes to privatization contracts. It still is unclear the extent to which this bill would impact contracts awarded to or which could be awarded to nonprofits. The committee noted that they may want to better understand state job classification and clarity around if this bill would improve state staffing challenges or if high vacancy rates mean that there isn’t a problem with privatization.

The bill was not on their agenda this week.