The week following Town Meeting is known as crossover week, meaning all policy committees have one additional week to hear testimony on bills. All money committees, Ways & Means, Appropriations, and Transportation have until Friday, March 24th (an additional week) to hear testimony before bills are voted out of committee and are voted for on the floor.
Committee on General and Housing:
This past week the committee took a look at H.276 an act relating to the creation of a rental registry. The registry would mandate a registration fee of $35 per rental unit, both short term and long term rentals. The bill also established a working group to eliminate homelessness in the state of Vermont. The bill passed out of committee on a 9-2-1 vote. I voted against this bill because I am concerned that the fee will be placed back on renters, during the housing crisis. While the main objective of this bill is data collection of rental units in Vermont, I heard from many of you concerns of how the data will be used.
H.213 An act relating to creating a study committee on mobile homes and mobile home parks. The bill passed out of committee on a 11-0-1 vote. The committee realizes the importance of mobile homes and parks to help bring relief to the housing crunch.
Committee on Ways and Means:
In spite of the extra time, Ways and Means decided to move a number of bills along to the floor this past week.
H.165 , the Universal School Meals Bill is a measure to continue to allow free breakfast and free lunch to every Vermont student in grades preschool to grade 12. There are significant federal grants to pay for much of this program and it was approved by the committee and moved to the House floor.
H.66 is the Paid Family Leave bill, requiring employers to offer up to 12 weeks paid leave to employees. This was approved on a party line vote. When H.66 left the committee on General and Housing there was a placeholder of $20 Million for the reserve of the special fund. After being taken up by the committee on Ways and Means the reserve will require $112 in startup costs and will now be $117 Million in annual upkeep.
H.127 would legalize sports betting in Vermont, similar to what is allowed in neighboring states. This was approved.
H.471 , Technical and Administrative changes to Vermont Tax laws were also approved by the committee. This bill used to be called the Miscellaneous Tax bill, and is a group of updates and changes to various Vermont tax laws.
H.55, Committee Bill on property tax, reappraisals and reports was approved by the committee. This bill begins the process of removing municipalities from the property reappraisal process and requires instead that the Division of Property Valuation and Review within the Dept of Taxes conduct the full and statistical reappraisal for all municipalities in the state.
H. 158, the Act relating to the Beverage Container Redemption system, was approved by the committee. It expands the containers required to be part of the redemption system and makes other changes.
H. 270 is a bill dealing with medical cannabis. The bill ends the Cannabis control Board, increases the maximum THC content of packaged cannabis from 50 to 100 mg a patient may purchase, creates a new propagation license , and expands the qualifying medical conditions that would allow a patient to participate in the program and other changes. This was approved by the committee.
We look forward to another busy week this week!
Rep. Ashley Bartley and Rep. Carolyn Branagan