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Legislative Update May 19th, 2019

05/23/2019 1:54 PM | Denis Bourbeau

Note: All of the details regarding these bills are subject to change. Nothing is final until the legislature adjourns, which should be next week.

Contractor Registry Bill – S.163 (Page 2941)

Bill Status – This bill just passed out of Ways and Means with their proposed amendment on a vote of 6-5 and should be on the House floor for a vote early next week. Given that the legislative session is most likely down to a couple more days it doesn’t look like this bill will pass this year. If there are any snags in other bills, extending adjournment by a few extra days, we could still get this over the finish line. If not, it will be up for action when the next session convenes in January.

Bill Description - The major changes made in Ways and Means include:

·         $50.00 instead of $75.00 for individual fees every two years.

·         Trigger for a required contract was changed to $5,000.00 instead of $2,500.00. Trigger for registration stays at $2,500.00.

·         OPR can begin taking registrations on December 1, 2019. The registration term will begin April 1, 2020. Pushes back the date for "unauthorized practice" (ie. the date when penalties begin for operating without being registered) by a year to April 1, 2021 which allows more time to get the word out.

·         New language that provides more definition to “residential construction work.”.  

Strict Liability/Medical Monitoring Bill – S.37 (Page 3046)

Bill Status - The bill is on the Senate Calendar and we will be monitoring this closely. The Senate could vote to concur with the changes the House made, or they could call for a Committee of Conference. Calling for this committee would take more time so again, facing the last week of the session, it would appear that their wisest move would be to concur with the House.

Bill Description - The bill proposes to establish a private right of action for medical monitoring damages incurred due to exposure to a toxic substance. It would affect companies with 10 or more employees. There is also language added by the Governor’s administration that narrows the scope of the strict liability section that was passed by the Senate.

The House Judiciary Committee took our concerns seriously and added language to this bill that would mitigate contractor liability.

Paid Family Leave – H.107

Bill Status – The House and Senate are working behind the scenes to try to come to consensus. Influential Senate leaders voted are opposed to this bill. Jane Kitchel (Democrat- Caledonia, Chair of Senate Appropriations) has publicly stated that she believes we need to make sure there is enough money for needed existing programs and would rather put any extra resources into minimum wage increases. There are also enough votes against this new program to successfully sustain the Governor’s veto should he take that step.

Bill Description - As the bill stands now (there will be changes made prior to passage):

Funding:

·  0.2% payroll tax split evenly employer / employee

Benefit:

·  12 weeks for a new child

·  6 weeks to care for a family member

Salary Example: $1000 / week salary

·  Portion of salary at or below 55% of VT avg weekly salary = $477.38

·  Portion of salary above 55% of VT avg weekly salary = $258.27

·  Total benefit = $735.65

Note in timing / rollout:

·      if the Commissioner is able to identify an insurance carrier that can provide the required benefits in a more cost-effective manner than would be possible if benefits were provided by the State, the Commissioner shall enter into a contract with that insurance carrier to administer the Program and provide the benefits required by this act beginning in October of 2020; and

·      if the Commissioner is unable to identify a suitable insurance carrier, the Program shall be administered by the Department of Labor in coordination with the Departments of Financial Regulation and of Taxes, and benefits shall become available beginning in July of 2021.

Employee Misclassification – S.108

Bill Status – S.108 is in a Committee of Conference and the House and Senate conferees will be meeting on Tuesday.  

Bill Description - This bill would permit the Attorney General to enforce complaints of employee misclassification under the workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance laws. The Department of Labor currently does this work, and this would allow a dual process which is a concern for employers. The House Commerce Committee worked to address concerns raised by Home Builders and Remodelers Association along with other associations. They made changes to the language clarifying that the Department of Labor would only refer cases to the Attorney General’s Office in specific cases of repeat or large number of misclassifiers.

Hydrofluorocarbon Ban – S.30 (Page 2, 4(A) and (B))

Bill Status – Jim Bradley and Byron Gokey testified as to the positive attributes of the replacement products but the problem in the timeframe for banning sale of HFC insulation products (1/1/20). Through a number of machinations, we were able to get the date pushed back to 1/1/21. We garnered support from the advocates pushing for the original dates and feel that, should there be a problem in procuring the needed material next year we can revisit this effective date again.

Bill Description - This bill originally proposed to regulate the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and includes a section that proposes to ban rigid polyurethane applications and spray foam, flexible polyurethane, integral skin polyurethane, flexible polyurethane foam, polystyrene extruded sheet, polyolefin, phenolic insulation board and bunstock.

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