VBSR 2019 Legislation Mid-session Update

VBSR Weekly Public Policy Update 3/11/19
The Vermont Legislature returns from Town Meeting break this week, signifying both the half-way point of the session and the approach of Crossover Week, a legislative deadline that nearly all bills with a chance of being sent to the Governor this year need to reach.

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility is proud to represent our members at the Vermont State House during the 2019 legislative session. Our goal is to pass laws and regulations that support triple-bottom line businesses in Vermont and foster an economy that supports our businesses, environment, and communities.

Here are some updates on bills that we are lobbying on or monitoring in the second half of this legislative session:

CLIMATE ACTION – There are a number of bills at play in the House and Senate this year that would reduce the state’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, including two new bills on carbon pricing (see the update below) and a budget request from VBSR and a number of other advocacy organizations to increase state funding for weather-proofing homes and creating an incentive program for electric vehicles and infrastructure.

LIVING WAGE – The House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee is expected to take up a Senate-passed minimum wage bill sometime in the next few weeks. The Senate bill increased the basic minimum wage each year until it reached $15 an hour in the year 2024. VBSR supports this approach because it gives a much-needed raise to working Vermont families on a timeline that is appropriate for our small business community.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT – The House Commerce Committee is expected to soon approve this year’s omnibus workforce development bill, which aims to train up Vermont workers for new industries and attract new workers to the state. The draft bill contains several provisions that VBSR supports, including a temporary tax credit for businesses that assist their employees in accessing child care.Read VBSR’s full 2019 legislative agenda.VBSR is always looking to connect our members with their elected officials in Montpelier and help them engage in campaigns that support their businesses. Please contact VBSR Public Policy Manager Daniel Barlow at danielb@vbsr.org to learn more.
New Climate Action Bills Introduced at State HouseClimate change is a threat to Vermont’s business community and way of life – and unfortunately the state is not on track to meet our climate obligations with our status quo approach. In fact, the state’s emissions are up 16% from levels 30 years ago.

H.462 – An Act Relating to Climate Change would require the state of Vermont to consider the carbon implications of it’s operations and require state officials to create plans to meet the state’s various carbon reduction goals.

H.463 – The Economy-Strengthening Strategic Energy Exchange (ESSEX) Actcreates a green electricity subsidy for all Vermonters that is funded through a slowly rising price on carbon pollution. This bill is similar to the ESSEX Plan released two years ago by VBSR and other organizations with some additional policy changes that boost the benefits for rural and low-income Vermonters.

H.477 – The Vermont Equity and Infrastructure Act invests $1.6 billion in the Vermont economy by investing in electric vehicles and infrastructure, weather-proofing homes and buildings, investing in rural public transportation, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and creating a special Rural Vermont Tax Credit. The bill pays for these programs through a 4 cent annual increase in taxes on imported fossil fuels. Download the H.477 fact sheet and watch the video below for more information!

Get to Know Your Legislators
If you don’t know who your state representatives or state senators are, now is the time to find out.

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VBSR is a statewide, nonprofit business association with a mission to foster a business ethic in Vermont that recognizes the opportunity and responsibility of the business community to set a high standard for protecting the natural, human, and economic environments of our citizens.