State House Report April 23

Senate Overrides Veto of Toxic Regulation Bill

In a 22-8 vote on Thursday, the Vermont Senate overrode Gov. Scott’s veto of S.203, an act relating to toxic substances and hazardous materials.

The Vermont House is expected to also attempt a veto override later this week. Approval from two-thirds of the chamber is needed to override.

VBSR has long supported stronger regulations to protect consumers and children from toxic chemicals in products. We are proud to have members such as Seventh Generation, who have been leaders in advocating for better rules to protect consumers from harm.

Read the statement released by Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe about the override vote.

Your House member needs to hear from you that the business community supports protecting children from toxic chemicals in commercial products. Call or email your state representative todayand tell them to support the veto override of S.103. 

Vermont House Committees Consider $15 Minimum Wage Bill

S.40, the bill increasing Vermont’s minimum wage each year until it becomes $15 an hour in 2024, is currently under review in three House committees – Appropriations; Human Services; and General, Housing, and Military Affairs. Each committee is considering the impact of the increases on everything from household wages to state and federal benefits.

The bill passed the Senate earlier this year in a 20-10 vote and the House has just a few weeks left in the legislative session to decide whether to advance the bill and send it to Gov. Scott for his signature.

VBSR supports S.40 because it is a fair compromise that boosts the paychecks of working Vermonters while also considering the economic realities facing small and independent businesses and the significant contributions they make in terms of wages and benefits. S.40, as passed by the Senate, will:
  • Move Vermont to a livable wage faster than current law; the current timeline does not adequately make up for wage gains lost over the last several decades.
  • Maximizes the projected economic gains and minimizes any projected job disruptions.
  • Recognizes the economic realities facing small businesses in Vermont and the financial burden placed on businesses that pay for employee health care.
  • Addresses the benefit cliff so that Vermonters are left financially ahead with wages increases and not behind due to lost benefits or services.
  • Has the political traction and the public support to be approved by the Vermont Legislature and perhaps signed into law by Gov. Scott.

Senate Approves Equal Pay and Gender Free Bathroom Bills

The Vermont Senate unanimously approved two employment-related bills last week that are supported by VBSR.

H.294, an act relating to inquiries about an applicant’s salary history

This bill aims to reduce instances of wage disparity based on gender or race. This legislation, which has already passed the House, prohibits employers from asking job applicants about the salary at previous jobs.

Numerous studies have shown that inquiring about salary history can compound and repeat previous wage gaps related to gender or race. Many VBSR members told us that they recognize how this practice can perpetuate the pay gap and have ceased using it in their hiring practices.

The bill does not restrict an employer from asking about salary expectations for a position. VBSR was proud to support a tri-partisan bill aimed at ending the pay gap.

H.333, An act relating to identification of gender-free restrooms in public buildings and places of public accommodation

This legislation would require all single-user bathrooms to be open to people of all genders in places falling under the categorization of public building or public accommodation – such as retail stores, restaurants, and workplaces.

VBSR believes this bill will increase the availability of safe bathrooms for transgender and gender non-conforming Vermonters and those who visit or work in the state. For many businesses, this change will simply involve changing a sign.

The Senate-passed versions of both bills differ slightly from the House-passed bills and will return to that chamber for review and possibly a final vote before going to Gov. Scott for his signature.

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.

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.