202 Commerce StreetWilliston, VT 05495
Home Builders Contracting Registration Update
We met with Chris Curtis from the Attorney Generals’ office who again told us that they were standing by the very limited registration bill. We found out on Friday afternoon that this new registration requirement will be added to an Omnibus Housing Bill being discussed this Wednesday, February 13th at 12:45. The committee may want some people from HBRANV in to testify at this time. We’ll confirm that and report back.
We spoke with Lauren Hibbert of the Office of Professional Regulation who told us there is interest in putting more requirements around certifications but they don’t want to do this and they barely have capacity to implement this basic new registration so we remain hopeful that the AG and OPR won’t support increasing oversight on the homebuilding industry beyond what we have all agreed to.
The House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife had a long second week of testimony on the Act 250 Committee Bill. The Administration testified several times advocating for Gov. Scott’s vision of Act 250 reform - “breathing new life” into our communities, without reducing planning and environmental protection, by eliminating criteria that are addressed in other State and Federal permits. They are also asking legislators to simplify the construction approval process for rural industrial parks, as well as downtowns and village centers as long as there were stricter community flood control and habitat protection regulations in place.
The Committee, led by Rep. Amy Sheldon, D-Addison, trended towards a somewhat different vision this week. The focus is on environmental protection and a need to confront the cumulative impacts of small-scale development, as well as addressing forest fragmentation and climate change. Prevalent were the themes of ‘jurisdiction’ and the desire to get away from viewing Act 250 on a project by project basis. Early in the week the phrase “tyranny of small decisions” was coined and oft repeated, alluding to the cumulative effect of decisions on critical natural resources.
There does seem to be some interest in how to incentivize greater regional and municipal planning by exempting projects located in designated centers. We will continue to closely monitor Act 250 proceedings in the coming weeks.
Paid Family Leave
The Paid Family Leave bill is being considered in the House General Housing and Military Affairs Committee. They are taking testimony, but by all accounts, they will be passing out their mandatory version of paid family leave and not supporting the Governor’s opt-in approach. At this point it appears this bill will provide for up to 12 weeks of 100% wage coverage every year for all employees. This will be supported with a .93% payroll tax split between employees and employers and there is currently a $150,000 salary cap.
Once this bill leaves this committee it will move on to Ways and Means and then Appropriations. We’ll be talking with those committees and you may want to testify.
Other bills that may be a concern to HBRANV:
Proposes to prohibit agreements that prohibit individuals from competing with their former employers following the conclusion of their employment. This bill is being considered in House Commerce.
This bill proposes to increase the minimum wage so that it reaches $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2024.
Please let us know if you want to testify on any of these bills.