March 26, 2021
After amendments, the House passed H.159. The Vermont Chamber previously testified in support of the bill, which includes a broad package of economic development initiatives. Included in the bill are a $2.5 million boost for Tourism Marketing Promotion within the Department of Tourism and Marketing, enhancements to Vermont’s postsecondary career and technical education system, funding for a contractor to provide supports for the BIPOC business community, provisions that would consolidate and allocate additional resources for workforce recruitment programs, additional funds and changes to the Better Places Program within the Department of Housing and Community Development, and funds to support expansion of Vermont’s tech sector. The legislation requires approval in the Senate, where further changes are anticipated.  
The Senate again deferred a vote on S.10, which in its most current form would increase Vermont unemployment insurance (UI) benefits by an estimated $5.2 million in ongoing annual costs. In response to opposition from the Vermont Chamber and others in the business community, the Senate removed provisions that would have increased weekly UI benefits by 20 percent in addition to the federal $300 weekly benefit provided in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This is a positive development, as it mitigates concerns about creating UI benefits that would, in many instances, be more lucrative than the unemployed individual’s previous wages or salary. However, the legislation does not remove 2020 from the calculation of the UI Trust Fund balance size, which is of paramount importance to Vermont businesses because employers were not responsible for the circumstances that caused the high rate of furloughs in 2020. The full Senate is expected to vote on the legislation on Tuesday, March 30. The Vermont Chamber will continue to advocate for a result that does not impart unsustainable cost increases on employers. Please contact Charles Martin with questions or concerns.  
The House passed H.437 a revenue bill that would create a property transfer tax surcharge at the rate of one half of a percent on the value of property transferred over $1 million. The bill would also increase the annual amount available for the affordable housing tax credit, which would be dedicated to purchasing and restoring manufactured homes. Funds generated through the tax would support the expansion of the sales and use tax exemption for machinery, equipment, and ancillary processes deemed to be used as an integral or essential part of an integrated manufacturing operation. This would be a move away from taxation at consumption theory and direct use standard to an integrated plan that proposes to make tax exempt the ancillary processes that occur throughout the manufacturing process, from raw materials in the beginning to the final product and packaging. To qualify for exemption these processes must protect the quality of the product and be part of the integrated production operation.
The House passed H.439, which would make appropriations supporting government for the fiscal year 2022. Beyond providing mandatory spending to support routine government operations, the $7 billion bill advances one-time funds including $50 million for economic relief and $150 million for broadband buildout. Additionally, the legislation provides $77 million in new funding for higher education. The bill also makes a $100 million investment in state IT systems and new additional investments in child care. While the legislation does earmark American Rescue Plan Act dollars coming to the state, which total $2.7 billion for Vermont, the specifics of those spending plans are in many instances not finalized. 
The Vermont Chamber of Commerce is collecting resources for employers and businesses throughout Vermont, produced by the Chamber and externally. View this week's roundup to view steps employers can take to help communities reopen and recover, and the recording from this week's seminar in our Virtual Policy Series, featuring Representative Hal Colston and Senator Kesha Ram. To share helpful content for next week's resource roundup, send us an email.
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In business since 1912, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce is a private, not-for-profit business organization with 1,500 members employing 45,000 people and representing all sectors of the state's economy. Our mission is to create an economic climate conducive to business growth and the preservation of the Vermont quality of life. Copyright ©2018 The Vermont Chamber of Commerce. All Rights Reserved.

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