Legislative Update: Impacts of ACA Repeal, Early Childhood Day, Permitting + Federal Updates

Health Care

MSA-VT released a report from Health Care for America Now that details the impact of dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on individuals, small businesses and Vermont’s economy. A Cost Too High: The Financial Harm of the Republican Plan to Eliminate Health Care is evidence that proposals to repeal the ACA put Vermonters’ health and economic security at risk.


Child Care

March 15 is Early Childhood Day at the Legislature. This full day of advocacy also includes a Rally for Kids hosted by Let’s Grow Kids at 1 p.m. on the front steps of the state house. We would love to have you join - please let us know if you will be there.

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Main Street Alliance of Vermont and Rights and Democracy Release Report Detailing the High Cost of ACA Repeal for Vermont

BURLINGTON, VT – Main Street Alliance of Vermont (MSA-VT) and Rights and Democracy (RAD) announce the release of a new Health Care for America Now (HCAN) report that details the impact of dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on individuals, small businesses and Vermont’s economy. A Cost Too High: The Financial Harm of the Republican Plan to Eliminate Health Care is evidence that proposals to repeal the ACA put Vermonters’ health and economic security at risk.

In Vermont, 35,000 people depend on the ACA for their health care. Repeal takes away coverage from these people and does away with provisions that protect patients with pre-existing conditions from being denied or charged more for coverage. Repeal could also end coverage for young adults who elect to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26 and eliminate no-cost preventive care for people of all ages.

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Legislative Update: Family Leave, Housing, Minimum Wage

Family and Medical Leave Insurance

H.196, a bill that would create statewide family and medical leave insurance program, was assigned to the House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs and presented to the committee by lead sponsor Representative Matt Trieber (D-Bellows Falls). The bill has tri-partisan support and more than 50 cosponsors. To learn more about this bill, check out our web page on VT FaMLI.


Housing

Legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to support affordable housing in Vermont. The bills propose a $2 per night surcharge on hotel, motel and AirBnB stays, which will finance the ‘Workforce and Supportive Housing Fund.’ The fund will be managed by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. This proposal will give Vermonters better access to housing through rental assistance and housing related services.


Minimum Wage

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Legislative Update: Family Leave Bill Filed, Minimum Wage Hearings

Family and Medical Leave Insurance

Representatives Matt Trieber (D-Bellows Falls), Sam Young (D-Glover), and Sarah Copeland Hanzas filed a bill for introduction that would create a statewide family and medical leave insurance program for all working Vermonters. The bill has tripartisan support and more than 40 cosponsors. The proposal would give Vermonters up to 12 weeks of paid, job-protected leave to welcome a new child or care for a seriously ill loved one or themselves.

MSA-VT member Carrie Simmons, Owner of New Ground Creative in Brattleboro, spoke about the support this program would provide to Vermont small businesses in attracting and retaining employees.


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Legislative Update: Gov's Budget Address, Family Leave Insurance + Federal Updates

Governor's Budget Address

On Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott used his state budget address to pledge an increase in early care and education by $9.6 million, including $7.5 million to the Child Care Financial Assistance Program. This focus on affordable child care is encouraging, although the proposed financing sources, which include a reduction to teachers’ health insurance benefits, are coming under fire in the legislature.

The Governor also proposed a $35 million housing bond, in partnership with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board "to expand housing across the full spectrum – from homeless populations to home ownership for middle-income families."  

Click here to read the full transcript.


 

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Legislative Update: Minimum Wage, Remote Sales Tax, MSA-VT Report

Minimum Wage

On Wednesday, a bill was introduced to raise the minimum wage to $15 over 5 years. House Leadership identified this as a priority, and urged the Governor to consider raising the state’s minimum wage as a way to address the gap between Vermonters earnings and the cost of living in the state. The current minimum wage is $10 an hour and will increase to $10.50 in 2018. After that, the minimum wage is indexed to inflation. Representative Curt McCormack (D-Burlington) is the lead sponsor of the new bill, which would raise the wage incrementally, reaching $15 by 2022.


 

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Legislative Update: Retirement Security, Protect Our Health Care, Independent Contractors & Child Care

Retirement Security

The Public Retirement Study Committee released its report on the feasibility of establishing a publicly administered retirement program for Vermonters who do not have access to a retirement plan through their employer. 

The study committee's recommendations would direct the treasurer's office to set up and administer a multiple employer plan (MEP) that would be made available to small employers who do not currently offer retirement plans to their employees. Subsequent to implementing the MEP, the treasurer would also establish an online portal for employees who still do not have access to a retirement plan through their employer. This would allow them to access a plan independently. After 3 years, participation rates in the MEP will be reviewed and, if there is not significant participation, a committee will consider ways to increase participation rates.

Some members of the study committee thought more should be done to ensure higher participation rates at the outset of the program. The minority report can be found in the appendix. We expect bills to be introduced in both the House and Senate.

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Legislative Update: Family Leave Study Released, Child Care Bill Submitted

Paid Family and Medical Leave

On Thursday, the Vermont Commission on Women released the Vermont Paid Family and Medical Leave Feasibility Study. The results are encouraging and will help move our work with the VT FaMLI Campaign forward.

As a small business state, Vermont has to compete with larger states and cities that have more opportunities for higher wage work. A statewide family and medical leave insurance program will give Vermont small businesses the competitive edge they need they need to attract young, talented employees, which will bring new families to the state and help build a stronger Vermont economy.

MSA-VT State Director, Lindsay, was interviewed by Peter Hirschfeld about the results of the study. Check out the story on VPR.

Sign the petition to join MSA-VT’s Family and Medical Leave Business Coalition, or email Ashley.

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2017 Legislative Session Begins

Today is the first day of the 2017-18 Legislative Session! We are looking forward to working with you on our 2017 Legislative Agenda.

MSA-VT’s 2017 State Policy Platform

  • Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • Retirement Security
  • Health Care Reform
  • Child Care
  • Housing
  • Minimum Wage

Learn more about our positions here.

 

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In wake of Trump’s promise to repeal ACA and cut Medicaid dollars, MSA-VT small business owners call for a health care system that works for all

Republicans in Congress and President-elect Trump have declared a plan to rush through legislation that would take away health care from more than 30 million people. If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed without a replacement, it is estimated that 35,000 Vermonters will lose their health insurance.

“Our current health care system isn’t perfect, but rather than focus on strengthening the coverage, the Republican plan would do just the opposite: it rolls back the most important protections,” said Jen Kimmich, co-owner of The Alchemist and chair of the Board of Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “The Republican plan returns us to the bad old days when small business owners paid more for less coverage, got charged twice as much in administrative costs as larger groups, and small businesses had no leverage and no real choices. Small businesses will be vulnerable to continued price gouging by health insurers, and retain no bargaining power, risk pooling, or benefits of economies of scale.”

Vermont has demonstrated, through the success of programs like Dr. Dynasaur and Catamount, that putting the health of families and individuals first has serious positive impacts on overall health of our communities and the strength of our state.

“We’ve done this by working together, across party lines, to do what is right,” said Kimmich.

In Vermont, nearly 13,300 people have enrolled in Medicaid since 2013. This increased coverage for lower-income adults is largely due to dollars made available through medicaid expansion. Trump and his Republican allies in Congress plan to eliminate Medicaid expansion that has made this coverage possible.

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