March 12, 2021
The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development voted unanimously to support a $1 million appropriation to the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. The vote followed testimony by Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear, Agency of Commerce and Community Development Economic Research Analyst Ken Jones, and Department of Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Heather Pelham. The tourism and hospitality sector serves as an economic anchor for the state of Vermont and was hardest hit by the pandemic. As Vermont imagines emerging from the pandemic, marketing Vermont as a destination and welcoming guests will be critically important. This additional funding will provide the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing much needed resources to market Vermont as a welcoming destination that is “open for business” in a crowded marketplace. 
The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs advanced legislation that would increase Vermont unemployment insurance (UI) benefits by an estimated $50 million because of provisions that raise weekly UI benefits and provide a dependency benefit. If implemented, the increases, coupled with an additional federal $300 weekly benefit provided in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will mean a large number of workers in Vermont will make significantly more on unemployment than if they return to work. The proposed changes in the legislation come at time when the health of the UI Trust Fund is in question and employers are struggling to identify workforce to support future safe reopenings. The Vermont Chamber will continue to work toward a solution that is sustainable to employers and does not exasperate the economic struggles employers impacted by the pandemic are currently grappling with. If you have questions or comments, please contact Vermont Chamber Government Affairs Director Charles Martin.
The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs advanced S.79 which includes a state rental housing registry. The registry is inclusive of rental housing and short-term rentals (STRs), acknowledging the overlap that may exist between the two types of units. Short-term rentals would be required to register annually and pay an annual fee of $35.00 per unit. Additionally, the bill contains provisions which acknowledge and provide a mechanism for coordination with municipalities that have existing rental registries. The Vermont Chamber has long supported establishing a registry for STRs to achieve greater regulatory equity with the traditional lodging industry. The pandemic has also served to highlight the importance of understanding where STRs are operating. For questions, contact Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear
Act 250 legislation recently introduced in identical forms in the House and Senate would, among other changes, reform the Natural Resources Board and provide certain municipal areas an exemption from Act 250 jurisdiction. If implemented, this change would help facilitate responsible development in municipal areas, which would contribute to the creation of additional affordable housing in Vermont. The Vermont Chamber continues to support the modernization of Act 250 in a manner that facilitates a more predictable and less costly permit process, while also ensuring Vermont’s natural resources are properly protected. These latest legislative proposals would help to achieve that goal. This most recent Act 250 legislation is currently under consideration. If you have questions or would like assistance with contacting legislators to offer support for the proposal, please contact Vermont Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Director Charles Martin
The House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs advanced H.313 which contains provisions to extend the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption. The inclusion of this provision was supported by Vermont Independent Restaurants. The Vermont Chamber and Vermont Independent Restaurants both identified this extension as a priority and advocated for the extension to allow for a wind-down period of this service licensees have provided, and that customers have come to expect. The proposed sunset of July 1, 2023 would provide for this period. For questions, please contact Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear
The Senate Committee on Health and Welfare voted 5-0 vote in favor of S.20, a bill that seeks to further restrict the use, manufacture, sale, and distribution of PFAS chemicals compounds and expand the list of prohibited chemicals. While there is a federal exemption for the use of firefighting foams containing PFAS chemicals for aircraft rescue, S.20 proposes a ban on a wide array of products, agents, and equipment. This will expose manufacturers to further supply chain disruption, uncertainty, and additional regulatory burdens and risks during a pandemic. The Vermont Chamber continues to believe chemical risks can vary greatly and related regulations should be developed based on credible, scientific evidence, and the quantifiable health risks a specific chemical may pose. The Vermont Chamber’s testimony supports a scientific approach and a federal solution that harmonizes regulatory standards.  
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 for information from the Vermont Department of Health about COVID-19 vaccines in Vermont and the recording from this week's seminar in our Virtual Policy Series, featuring Vermont Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint. 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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