State House Report April 16th

House Considers Universal Primary Care Bill

The House Health Care Committee began hearings last week on S.53, the bill putting Vermont on the path to a Universal Primary Care system.

The committee is considering whether to progress the bill as passed by the Senate – which charges the Green Mountain Care Board to study how UPC would be implemented in Vermont – or restore the bill to the original version passed by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, which convened various stakeholders to report back to the Legislature on how to implement the system.

VBSR testified Thursday in support of returning to the original Senate committee version of the bill. Read VBSR’s testimony.

“VBSR urges the Vermont Legislature to continue the state on the path to building a sustainable and more effective health care system – one with more predictable costs and outcomes,” VBSR Public Policy Manager Daniel Barlow told the committee. “This should not just be seen as a moral imperative, but also an economic one. Vermont businesses cannot expand operations, increase wages, or hire new workers when out of control health care costs swallow their profits.”


VBSR Urges Senate Committee Action on Expanding Equal Pay

The Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee last Thursday voted 5-0 to advance H.294, a VBSR-supported bill that would prohibit employers from asking prospective employees about their salary history at previous jobs. The committee approved the legislation after VBSR testified in support of the bill.

H.294, which has already been approved by the Vermont House, aims to reduce pay inequality based on gender, race, and sexual orientation. An applicant’s salary history provides the employer with no useful information on a person’s skills or qualifications and basing a hiring or salary decision on that information can compound previous wage inequality.

“Men are statistically more likely to see their monetary value as higher than women and they are more likely to risk the potentially awkward negotiation conversation,” explained Markey Read, the founder of Career Networks, Inc. and chair of the VBSR Board. “This often results in hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost income for women over their professional lifetimes. With more and more women being the primary wage earner for families, this is a great disservice to everyone and puts more and more families under stress.”

Ask Your Senator to Support Decarbonization Studies in Budget

The Vermont Senate is considering allocating $120,000 to study several decarbonization proposals, including the VBSR-sponsored ESSEX Plan. But we need your help in getting this appropriation over the finish line – please consider contacting your state senator today and ask them to support leaving the funding in the budget as passed by the Vermont House.

Don’t know how to contact your state senator? This can help.

VBSR sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee this month requesting that legislators maintain funding for an important economic analysis of decarbonization policies in Vermont. Read the testimony to the Senate Committee.

Climate change is a complex problem and the Vermont Legislature needs good data to make the appropriate decisions to save our environment and our economy. That’s why VBSR believes funding an independent, non-partisan analysis of decarbonization proposals, including The ESSEX Plan, is essential. This study is an investment in building a stronger Vermont economy, boosted by moving off of imported fossil fuels and embracing the benefits of local clean energy.

VBSR asks the Vermont Senate to retain funding for decarbonization studies as outlined in Section C.110 of the budget. These are proposals that are recommended and supported by the Governor’s Climate Action Commission, the Mayors Coalition, the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s Climate Economy Action Team, and the Climate Solutions Caucus.

Read the ESSEX Plan, a proposal to lower Vermont’s green electricity rates through carbon pricing.

House Leader Proposes $2 Hotel Surcharge for Clean Water Bill

Rep. David Deen, the chairman of the House Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife Committee has proposed using a $2 fee on hotel room stays to help pay for clean water efforts in Vermont.

Deen added the financing option last week to S.260, a Senate-passed bill that forms a legislative committee to identify a sustainable source of funding for clean water projects in Vermont. Deen’s bill would automatically implement the hotel room tax if the Legislature does not pass another financing option in the next two years.

Last week, State Treasurer Beth Pearce told the committee that the time for studying financing options was over and that the state needed to act before pollution problems in Vermont lakes and rivers becomes worse – and more expensive. Pearce’s office issued a report on clean water financing options two years ago.

VBSR supports an economy based around clean water and we believe it is vital that the Vermont Legislature identify and approve a sustainable and fair financing plan to clean up and protect these important resources. The proposal to use a small per parcel fee to financing these projects – the Senate Natural Resources Committee has considered a $1 per month per parcel fee – is a fair approach.

Interested in VBSR Policy? Get involved today.

The voice of socially responsible businesses in public policy debates is now more important than ever.

Part of VBSR’s mission is to support socially responsible businesses and help them succeed. One way we can do that is energize the voice of SR businesses in Vermont and bring that perspective to policy debates at the Vermont State House.

Contact VBSR Public Policy Manager Daniel Barlow for more details on how to get involved with VBSR policy.