April 29, 2022
Governor Phil Scott dedicated his weekly press conference to the ongoing state workforce challenges with Mathew Barewicz, Director of Economic and Labor Market Information, citing data that captures how dire the economic outlook is for workforce participation. In recent years there has been a more than 10% decline in labor force participation in more than half of Vermont counties. Six counties have declined by over 15%.
The Governor’s proposed budget made his priorities clear: grow the workforce, improve affordability, and put federal dollars toward transformative long-term investments. Legislative leaders responded with a budget that makes clear their values, some of which align with the Governor’s and some of which do not. The Vermont Chamber has been engaging with the State Workforce Development Board’s Relocation and Recruitment Committee to work through the issues stifling growth, but to make progress toward the goal of reversing our population trends, the Legislature must show up as a partner and make intentional investments to grow the workforce. The alternative is stagnation and decline.
With an eye on the Legislature’s May 6 target adjournment date, the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee combined the workforce development bill with pieces of the economic development bill into a new vehicle, with some notable changes.
The housing bill, S.226, was back in the House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee, as they considered an amendment creating a community partnership for a neighborhood development program. The Vermont Chamber has advocated for regulatory and programmatic changes that would incentivize the development of housing for middle income earners to address the workforce shortage impacting businesses. New partnerships and programs that involve the business community can generate innovative solutions to stimulate development.
Amelia Semen, Government Affairs Specialist for the VT Chamber of Commerce, Hillary Burrows, President of Autumn Harp, and Tracy Dolan, Director of the State Refugee Office

Episode four features a discussion about the refugee workforce in Vermont.
VTIR Advocacy Week in D.C.
The Vermont Chamber of Commerce and our partner, Vermont Independent Restaurants, traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to attend the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference and advocate for Vermont restaurants with Vermont’s congressional delegation. Key issues included: ERTC Reinstatement Act to restore the program for Q4 of 2021; ERTC processing delays; replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund; and the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act as a tool to help alleviate the workforce shortage.
Tourism Caucus
The Vermont Chamber of Commerce provided a hospitality and tourism legislative update to the Tourism Caucus as the session draws to a close. The conversation focused on key items impacting the industry that passed and opportunities for the Caucus to engage as industry advocates on industry priorities such as the VEDA forgivable loan program and efforts to formalize and fund relocation marketing and local concierge service efforts. The Vermont Chamber is a resource for the business community. Please contact the Government Affairs team for more information on current legislation or policy issues impacting your industry.
Bill Updates
  • H.715 Clean Heat Standard: The Senate has added a “Check Back” provision to the Clean Heat Standard and given preliminary approval to the bill. Due to the check back amendment, a Clean Heat Standard will not be implemented unless the Legislature approves the program in 2024. Learn more from VFDA.
  • H.175 Bottle Bill: The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy passed the bill unanimously out of committee this week. As passed, the scope of the term “beverage” has expanded significantly to include all drinks other than milk, dairy products, plan-based beverages, formula, meal replacement drinks, nonalcoholic cider. A study will be completed to determine whether to include wine bottles in the future. Manufacturers and distributors will also be required to participate in a producer responsibility organization to implement a stewardship plan for the redemption and collection of beverage containers. Labeling requirements have also been changed. The bill will also need to be taken up by the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee.
  • S.269 Energy Savings Account Partnership Pilot Program Extension: The House Ways and Means Committee passed this legislation that would extend the pilot created in 2018 for participating companies to invest efficiency charge funds that would otherwise go to Efficiency Vermont directly into approved efficiency projects in the business. The original program ran into delays making the extension critical in understanding the potential benefits that could come from this model.
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