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Legislative Update April 15, 2019

04/17/2019 11:34 AM | Denis Bourbeau

Contractor Registry Bill

S.163 – This bill is now in the House General Housing and Military Affairs Committee. We spoke with the Chair of the committee and they may be taking it up for hearings this week but they haven’t posted a schedule yet. We will have Jim Bradley in to speak to the bill when it is up for action.

The Toxins Bill

S.37 - This strict liability and medical monitoring bill passed the Senate and is now in the House Judiciary Committee. The key concern for members of HBRA are for those businesses with 10 or more employees. In its current form, S.37 may put these businesses at risk for liability for personal injury and medical monitoring costs due to the release of chemicals, even if the work was performed following federal and state guidelines. Manufacturers are at greater risk and they have testified stating their concerns. We have met with a number of people representing the weatherization groups to alert them as the products they use would also be included in S.37.

We spoke to key committee members regarding HBRA’s concerns. At this point it looks like the committee is ready to split the bill, putting the strict liability sections aside and focusing their work on medical monitoring. With this change, the bill will only impact those who were negligent in the use of a chemical. We will continue to monitor the committee’s work as we still have serious concerns.

 

Workforce Development Bill

This Summary outlines the areas in this bill that are of interest to HBRA as there are proposed increases in funding and training for workforce development. Jon Guiffre, after testifying to Senate Economic Development, has drafted some input for a Construction/Trades Workforce Training working group that can be added to H.533. His key issues for this group would include:

  • 1.       Assistance in helping hire adults who are either under-qualified or unqualified who want to start or transition to a career in construction or the trades.
  • a.       This would allow employer to pay a wage appropriate with their skill level and then supplement it for a period of time until they got up to speed to cover the gap between what they are worth and what they need to live here, raise a family , make a reasonable contribution to a family income etc.
  • 2.       The group would consider the best way to support coursework and time while in the courses to get short term certifications, like the NAHB certified green professional.  
  • 3.       Evaluate a plan to enhance technical training for middle school and secondary education levels. 
  • 4.       Raise the significance pf our regional technical centers. Look to model the Minuteman Tech Program in Lexington, Mass.

Act 250

Here is a good Seven Days article that highlights the challenges in the committee of jurisdiction working on Act 250.

Paid Family Leave

H.107 The Senate Economic Development Committee is reviewing this bill now and everyone is aware that the Governor continues to have enough votes to prevail should he decide to veto H.107. The .55% payroll tax with no opt-out for employees who aren’t eligible or who don’t want the benefit are key areas of objection for many legislators.

Residential Building Energy Standards

Jim Bradley met with Rep. Scott Campbell on Friday to put together the first draft of a working group proposal to consider the best way to enforce RBES. While it is very late in the session to try to get this done we felt it is necessary to begin this work given the conversations in many committees. There is a lot of time being taken on weatherization considerations this year and many proposals include increasing residential building requirements and labeling. This work group is a responsible way to gather this energy into a place where ideas can be vetted and effective recommendations can be made.

Employee Misclassification

S.108 – This bill focuses on who will oversee review and enforcement of employee misclassification, Department of Labor, Department of Financial Regulation or the Attorney General’s Office. There is a lot of discussion about who is doing what right now and this will continue next week. There has been no discussion about changing the independent contractor definition.

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