State House Report, January 29th

House Natural Resources Committee Considers Carbon Pricing Study Bill

VBSR: Focus on economic development potential of combating climate change.

The House Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife Committee is considering a bill that would have the state study how a carbon pricing plan would work in Vermont.

The bill, which is still in draft form, would have the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office team up with an independent consultant to study how a Vermont carbon pricing plan would work, including the impact on the environment and economy.

Earlier in the week, the Vermont Mayor’s Coalition released a series of 2018 legislative recommendations, including studying The ESSEX Plan, a proposal that would use the revenue from a price on carbon pollution to reduce the green electricity rates for Vermonters and Vermont businesses. The ESSEX Plan was developed by several VBSR businesses last year.

VBSR Public Policy Manager Daniel Barlow testified in support of further study of carbon pricing in Vermont, saying that climate change threatens the very foundations of the state’s economy, from agriculture to winter sports. Additionally, all the independent studies that have considered carbon pricing in the state have predicted the creation of new jobs and growth in the state’s economy.

VBSR believes putting an appropriate price on carbon pollution and investing in clean and local energy can grow the economy because:

  • Vermont spends nearly $2 billion each year on fossil – money and jobs going right out of the state.
  • As a market mechanism, carbon pricing allows businesses to lead the way in the clean energy transition through innovation and enterprise. An appropriate price on carbon is an incentive for businesses to reduce fossil fuel use and become more innovative in business techniques.
  • Clean energy jobs are among the fastest growing sectors in – totaling 17,000 in Vermont.
  • More than 500 businesses have signed the Energy Independent Vermont pledge in support of a state-based price on carbon.

Read VBSR’s testimony on carbon pricing.

Register Today for VBSR’s 2018 Legislative Reception

Registration for VBSR’s
2018 Legislative Reception
is now open!

Come learn about issues affecting your business and community, and learn what VBSR is doing to further a business voice benefiting people, planet and profit.

Held just down the street from the Vermont State House in Montpelier, this event draws nearly 200 of the state’s most exciting business leaders, policy-makers, and state officials.   This event is free for VBSR members, legislators, and state officials, and $10 for non-members. If you are paying by credit card, please pay at the event.

Event Details:
When: February 15, 2018 5:00 pm
Location: Montpelier Room, Capitol Plaza, 100 State St., Montpelier

Cost To Attend:
Nonmembers – $10
VBSR Members – Free

VBSR’s 2018 Legislative Reception is sponsored by The Alchemist, Bluehouse Group, Green Mountain Power, National Life Group, Paul Frank + Collins, Rights & Democracy, Washington Electric Cooperative, and WrightJones PLC.

Register today!

Legislators Propose Harassment Bill Inspired by #MeToo

A tri-partisan group of lawmakers this week unveiled H.707, a bill that aims to crack down on abuse and harassment at the workplace, inspired partly by the wave of accusations that have emerged as part of the #MeToo movement.

The sponsors of H.707 say the bill is aimed at making it easier for victims to report harassment in the workplace. In particular, the bill would:

  • Bar employers from requiring as a condition of employment any non-disclosure agreements that restrict the reporting of sexual harassment;
  • Gives the Attorney General’s Office new authority to investigate complaints at businesses when an employee makes a complaint; and
  •  Requires businesses that have filed legal settlements to end harassment complaints to report those to the AG’s office.

The bill has dozens of sponsors from all three major political parties – Democrats, Republicans, and Progressives. VBSR joined lawmakers at the press conference in support of the bill last week and looks forward to working with legislators to get the proposal to the Governor’s desk this year.

ACTION ITEM: What has your business done to ensure that harassment is not tolerated at the workplace? Has your company made policy or HR changes to better allow victims to come forward? Share your thoughts with VBSR by contacting Dan Barlow!

Clean Water Economy Policies Gain Momentum in Montpelier

Clean water is vital to the Vermont economy and that’s why VBSR participated in the Vermont Clean Water Network’s progress meeting and panel discussion last Monday in Montpelier.

The conversation, moderated by VtDigger.org and taped by Vermont PBS, featured VBSR member Jen Kimmich, the co-founder of The Alchemist. Launched in 2016, the Vermont Clean Water Network represents 70 organizations across the state dedicated to creating a culture of clean water.

2018 Legislative Session Updates

Here are some of the headlines from the State House last week:

NET NEUTRALITY – The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill Friday that would prohibit the state of Vermont from contracting with any telecom company that did not adhere to net neutrality principles. The bill is in response to the FCC’s decision last year to end net neutrality protections created under the Obama administration. A similar bill has been introduced in the Vermont House.

BUDGET – Gov. Scott unveiled his new budget proposal Tuesday in a speech before the House and Senate. His proposal includes cutting school spending in Vermont by reducing school staff over the next five years – a proposal that is sure to be contentious with the Legislature, which is also advancing a bill that shifts school funding away from the property tax to sales and income taxes. (VPR)

MARIJUANA – Gov. Scott signed a bill allowing Vermonters to own and grow small amounts of recreational marijuana, the first time a state has made such a move via legislative action as opposed to ballot initiative. The Governor signed the bill in private on Monday, explaining that he still sees it as a divisive issue for Vermonters. (The Hill)

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.

Download VBSR’s 2018 legislative agenda.

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

OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS

February 15
VBSR’s Legislative Reception
(Montpelier)  
Registration now open!