Legislature Starts to Focus on June To-Do List before Breaking Until August

After starting to work on non-COVID related legislation a few weeks ago, the leaderships of the House and Senate appear to have worked out a plan for what bills they want to send to the Governor by the end of June, by which they plan on passing a short-term budget before breaking until mid-August, when they will return to work on a budget for the rest of the fiscal year.  In addition to the budget, the other critical legislation they are working on is the Legislature’s version of economic relieve programs using CARES funding following upon, but differing in potentially significant ways, from the proposals recently put forward by the Governor.

Beyond these significant, truly “must pass” bills, however, the leaderships also put forward a list of more substantive bills that they intend to complete in June.  For the most part, these non-COVID and less critical bills are not of significant concern to manufacturers and other employers.  However, the list does include S.237, which started as a housing bill but which is expected to be amended with several Act 250 reform provisions in the Senate before it is sent to the House.

In addition to the bills identified as June priorities, there are several other bills of interest that have passed one chamber or the other that are likely to be addressed when the Legislature returns in August, so they are not off the table for the year.  Moreover, interest groups might attempt to pressure leadership to take up these bills in June regardless.  Such bills include:

  • S.295, which would impose regulations and bans on PFAS, bisphenols, and phthalates across a number of products and packaging.
  • S.227, which would take steps toward imposing financial costs and regulations across broad categories of packaging and printed materials through extended producer responsibility programs (EPR), as well as expand Vermont’s existing battery EPR program among other provisions.
  • H.688, which would impose mandatory greenhouse gas reduction goals, set up an extra-legislative council to direct climate change planning and policies, and allow citizen enforcement suits against the state.
  • S.342, which would provide a presumption for workers’ compensation coverage for cases of COVID-19 across a range of employees and circumstances.

There has already been talk about potentially moving S.342 and H.688 in some form.  The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee intends to complete work on H.688 by the end of the month regardless of whether the House will be accepting any Senate changes and passing the bill in June.  The prospects for S.342 are more uncertain than the others, in that there is pressure to take up at least parts of it in the House in June on the one hand, and on the other hand it is unclear how much momentum it will still have if it waits until August.

We will be providing more details on the content and progress of the short-term budget and the COVID-19 relief bills early next week, as well as updates on the other bills listed above.  However, if you have any questions or concerns about any of these bills and related issues, do not hesitate to contact us at info@aivt.org.