Legislative Update - April 25, 2016

Workplace Policy

On Thursday, the House voted to concur with Senate amendments to H. 261, the "Ban the Box" bill. It is now headed to the Governor's desk, where he is expected to sign it into law. The bill delays when employers are able to request criminal conviction history information from job applicants. Employers will not be permitted to ask the applicant on an initial application but can ask, if they choose, on subsequent applications or in an interview. The goal of this bill is to allow all Vermonters equal access to employment regardless of criminal history.

Several MSA-VT members testified and shared stories about why they supported this legislation. Big thank you to Sue Bette from Bluebird Barbecue, Jason Aprea from BBetter Inc, Matt Birong from 3 Squares Cafe, and Angela Earle-Gray from Chroma Technology. If you'd like to read their testimonies, click here.

Health Care

On Friday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations voted the FY 2017 Budget out of committee without appropriating funding for the study to expand Dr. Dynasaur. However, the study was added to Sec. 20 of H.812, which passed out of the Senate Committee on Health & Welfare and has been committed to Senate Appropriations. Financing the Dr. Dynasaur study is a modest first step toward addressing the health care affordability crisis in our state. We will continue to advocate for inclusion of this important analysis as the session draws to a close over the next couple weeks.

Education & Early Childhood

Stalled at the Start: Vermont’s Child Care Challenge

Get a first look at new information about the current supply of and need for child care in Vermont at this new series hosted by Let’s Grow Kids. Click here to register.

  • Wednesday, May 18 - The Sunset Ballroom, Comfort Suites South Burlington, 1712 Shelburne Road, South Burlington
  • Wednesday, May 25 - Marlboro College Graduate School, Room 2E, 28 Vernon St, Brattleboro

TIME (both events): 9 AM – 11 AM. Registration and breakfast begin at 8:30 AM

Tax Fairness & Economic Development

The Senate Committee on Finance is currently considering the Miscellaneous Economic Development Bill (H.868) which extends the sunset on the VEGI program for three years and requires a VEGI Policy Working Group to convene by Sept. 1, 2016 to review, and report to the legislature by Jan.15, 2017. It also removes the cap on the amount of loan funds that VEDA loan officers can disburse and instead allow VEDA’s board to set cap amounts. The proposal also adds one member from the legislature to the board.

The Senate Committee on Finance passed the Miscellaneous Tax Bill (H.873) out of committee on Friday. The amended bill removed the proposed increase to the Employer Health Care Assessment that passed the House. See a side-by-side overview of the full House and Senate versions of the bill here. This bill is expected to be sent to a conference committee for the House and Senate to work out a compromise.  

Other Issues

With the House’s vote last week, Vermont is poised to become the fourth state to pass Automatic Voter Registration! This legislation will modernize how we register to vote in Vermont and streamline the process by automatically registering eligible Vermonters when they apply for a driver’s license or driver's privilege card. MSA-VT worked with allied organizations and members of the Senate Committee on Government Operations to ensure the inclusion of important language to protect noncitizens who inadvertently become registered. The bill is headed to the governor’s desk. Check out this oped from Jaquelyn Rieke of Nutty Steph’s.

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