By Guy Page
The Vermont House yesterday referred a contractor registry bill to the Appropriations Committee and gave preliminary approval to statewide broadband spending and Dr. Dynasaur healthcare for illegal immigrants.
Excerpted and edited from the Tuesday, January 23 House Journal:
Bills received from the Senate:
- S. 1, extending the baseload renewable power portfolio requirement for the 20 MW Ryegate biomass plant.
- S. 15, known as “correcting defective ballots,” creates a system of universal mailed ballots for all elections.
- S. 16, creation of the Task Force on School Exclusionary Discipline Reform to reduce suspensions and expulsions, especially for black students.
- S. 115, changes in education laws, including a study group to expand the role of state libraries; cultural liaisons between schools and ethnic communities; updating school wellness programs; free menstrual products in majority of gender-neutral and female bathrooms grades 5-12.
- S. 20, restrictions on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other chemicals of concern in consumer products.
- S. 30, prohibiting possession of firearms within hospital buildings.
- S. 47, motor vehicle manufacturers, dealers, and warranty or service facilities.
Bills introduced into the House:
- H. 436, by Ways and Means, miscellaneous changes to Vermont’s tax laws.
- H. 437, by Ways and Means, property transfer tax surcharge on value of home above $1 million, to subsidize purchase of manufactured homes.
- H. 438, by Corrections and Institutions, $127 million for capital construction and State bonding. Big ticket items include $3.1 million for Cherry St. Burlington parking garage repairs; $2.8 million to replace doors in Springfield prison; $1 million for Waterbury complex roof, historic core.
- H. 439, appropriations for the support of government. This 186-page document outlines 2022 spending.
Bill referred to House Appropriations:
H. 157, registration of construction contractors. The introduction of the bill explains it would “create a framework for registering construction contractors to reduce both fraud and carbon emissions: “Wide dissemination of information on codes, standards, and trainings is vital to improving construction techniques throughout the State’s construction industry. Since building thermal conditioning represents over one-quarter of the State’s greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy performance is a key strategy for meeting the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act.”
Research shows that registration is defacto licensing and will likely lead to higher constructions costs, builder and Lowell Rep. Mark Higley told Vermont Daily last week. There is research that shows regulating or licensing some professions, leads to fewer service providers, which increases overall costs to the consumers. Harvard Business Review published a recent article complete with sources.”
Bills given final approval by the House:
H. 313, miscellaneous amendments to alcoholic beverage laws
H. 431, requires prompt reporting and investigation of energy utility accidents, exempts utility cybersecurity from the Public Records Act, gives power storage facilities a development, regulatory, and interconnection status similar to power generation or transmission facilities; and gives the Town of Vernon another member on the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel.
Bills given preliminary approval and scheduled for final approval:
- H. 360, accelerated community broadband deployment, passed on a role call vote with just just one dissent.
Rep. Coffey of Guilford explained her vote: “Without high-speed internet, rural economies wither, young people seek better opportunity elsewhere, and many older Vermonters become more isolated and left behind. We are at a historic moment to bridge the urban-rural divide and bring rural Vermont up to 21st century speed. I enthusiastically vote yes.”
Rep. Morris of Springfield – the lone no vote – explained: “I truly support the underlying intent of this bill to bring high-speed broadband service to our remote areas for connecting all Vermonters to the world. However, by excluding the private Internet Service Provider companies, that arguably have installed much of the existing infrastructure and eliminating them from the benefit of this bill, all Vermonters will not be served. We want all our remote learners and business employees to have adequate broadband service, private business is needed to make this happen.”
- H. 430, expanding eligibility for Dr. Dynasaur to all income-eligible children and pregnant individuals regardless of immigration status, including $1.4 million in one-time funds for:
(1) grants or reimbursements, or both, to health care providers for delivering health care services during fiscal year 2022 to children and pregnant individuals who are undocumented immigrants;
(2) grants to Vermont organizations that work with members of Vermont’s undocumented immigrant community or with members of the health care provider community to provide outreach and information regarding opportunities for children and pregnant individuals in Vermont who are undocumented immigrants to access health care services at low or no cost in fiscal year 2022 and thereafter.
- H. 433, the Transportation Program and miscellaneous changes to laws related to transportation.