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Week 6 Paid Family Leave, Act 250 and Contractor Registration Updates

02/17/2019 4:41 AM | Denis Bourbeau

Home Builders Contracting Registration Update

Jim Bradley and Byron Gokey, owner of Wallboard Supply Company testified to the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs on Friday. They addressed the committee’s omnibus housing bill as it relates to mandatory contractor registration. The language can be found beginning on the bottom of page 11.

Jim and Byron were well-received, and their suggestions will be addressed. Jim also highlighted concerns about the lack of state enforcement for Residential Building Energy Standards. The committee is interested in learning more about this issue.

Following this testimony, we all met with Chris Curtis, Chief for the Public Protection Division in the Attorney General's Office and Lauren Hibbert who is the Director of Office of Professional Regulations. They will request that the committee add language that would require another Sunrise Report before additional mandates are added to the new proposed registration.

We will continue to track this bill to make sure the committee doesn’t add more the registration requirements as was discussed a few weeks ago. There is no doubt that Jim and Byron did a great job of establishing HBRANV as partners and not adversaries in this work.

Act 250

Work continues in House Natural Resources but the committee hit a snag on Friday as the members shared their confusion regarding the proposed changes to Act 250 they have been discussing over the last few weeks. It is clear there is a lot more consideration of this bill before it is ready to be voted out of committee.

Their committee bill is a work in progress. Pages 1-3 encompasses the bill’s proposed intentions. Enhanced Designation language begins on page 54. We strongly recommend having some of your members, who have a strong passion for Act 250, review this bill and get back to us with their questions and comments. We think there will be opportunities next week to weigh in with concerns.

Paid Family Leave

The Paid Family Leave bill H.107 was voted out of House General Housing and Military Affairs Committee with only one dissenting vote. This bill now is in House Ways and Means where we anticipate there will be a deeper dive into the costs to run this proposed program.

We told the Committee Chair that we would like Home Builders to testify to this bill.

Other bills that may be a interest to HBRANV:

A Workforce Development Bill will be coming out next week from House Commerce and Economic Development. The committee wants to move money into specific adult skills development courses and would like testimony to support their bill. You will receive that language as soon as it’s available. If HBRANV is supportive we can schedule members to speak to the committee.

H.1

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.

S.23

This bill proposes to increase the minimum wage so that it reaches $15.00 per hour by January 1, 2024 and was voted out of Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs on a vote of 4-1 and will move on to Senate Finance.

Association Health Plans discussed in House Health Care

The House Health Care Committee considered the impact of association health plans       (AHP) on the health insurance market. AHPs are designed to allow small employers

and self-employed individuals to access health insurance plans. Changes to federal

law last year allowed the creation of AHPs in Vermont. 

MVP does not currently offer AHPs and, along with the Health Care Advocate has

raised concerns.  Blue Cross Blue Shield is offering AHPs through both the Vermont

Chamber of Commerce and Business Resource Services. There are already several

thousand people signed up for association health plans in the state. Chief Health

Care Advocate Mike Fisher said AHPs threaten Vermont’s health insurance

marketplace by splitting a larger risk pool into smaller pools and could drive up

prices on the Health Exchange. The health care advocate and MVP testified that

states have the authority to regulate AHPs, and they are suggesting Vermont

consider a look-through doctrine”. That would take away a major financial and

regulatory advantage of association health plans by not allowing small businesses

and individuals to be treated as larger groups in the insurance marketplace.

Advocates for AHPs said that they allow small businesses greater choice in plan

design and price. The potential ramifications of eliminating existing AHPs is “rate

shock” for these businesses and their employees as premiums would increase

significantly for the 2020 enrollment year.

The health care committee signaled that they would like to address the issue of

association health plans but as of yet there is not a bill related to this specific

proposal.

And some good news:

Workers’ Comp Rates decrease

https://vermontbiz.com/news/2019/february/11/workers%E2%80%99-comp-sees-third-straight-rate-decrease

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