March 25, 2022
With more than a billion dollars of ARPA funding to be appropriated this year, the Legislature continues to find new ways to tax businesses as they struggle with ongoing pandemic impacts. Even as they work to provide a new grant program to support for businesses, they are appropriating $6 million less than promised last year. Please reach out to your legislators and help them understand the real-world situations in your businesses.
The Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee approved a new business support program that establishes a forgivable loan program allowing the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to issue loans up to the lesser of $200,000, six months of eligible fixed costs, or the amount of cumulative decline in adjusted net operating income during the COVID-19 public health emergency in 2020 and 2021. They appropriated $20 million for this program which is $6 million less than was promised last year.
H.730, a bill containing provisions to modernize Vermont’s liquor laws, has been passed by the House and will advance to the Senate. If enacted, both fortified wines and ready-to-drink spirit beverages would shift from the exclusive purview of the Department of Liquor and Lottery and would be permitted to be sold in the same retail streams as malt and vinous beverages.
The House Appropriation Committee finalized their version of the budget bill, which will be considered by the full House in the coming days. This budget makes significant changes to the Governor’s recommended priorities, setting the stage for an uphill battle.
The Vermont Chamber testified in the Senate Finance Committee on H.437, a bill that includes a proposal to expand the manufacturing tax exemption. The Vermont Chamber supports this change, as it will modernize Vermont’s tax law, enhance workforce recruitment, retention, and upskilling efforts, modernize facilities, and make Vermont competitive with the 33 other states that have similar exemptions in place.
  • H.703 Workforce Development: An updated fiscal note details the $41.9 million spending in the bill, which will be on the House floor for approval of amendment before advancing to the Senate. The bill contains investments in the CTE system, funding to retain healthcare workers, and incentives to attract new workers to move to Vermont.
  • H.492 Act 250 Governance: The House passed the proposal to move Act 250 appeals from the Environmental Court to the Natural Resources Board, replacing a well-defined legal process with a new board of review consisting of political appointees with limited legal training. Objections to the proposal raised on the House floor focused on the tight timeline to spend APRA dollars. With many housing and development projects that will likely need to go through the Act 250 process, some worry the disruption that a reconfiguration of Act 250 governance could cause would slow down the process of getting ARPA dollars spent. The bill now goes to the Senate.
  • S.113 Chemical Regulation: Following the Vermont Chamber’s testimony and recommendation on S.113, the House Judiciary Committee heard from the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) to address the Vermont Chamber’s concern as to whether or not insurance can be written or made available to manufacturers regarding medical monitoring claims for persons exposed to a proven toxic substance. DFR is neutral on the bill and did not provide the clarity needed, which will create uncertainty and put manufacturers at risk for additional costs and deter business recruitment.
  • S.269 Energy Savings Account: The House Energy and Technology Committee began taking testimony on S.269, a bill that would extend the Energy Savings Account Pilot Program for participating businesses. The original program had been impacted by a slow role out of programmatic guidelines and COVID-19 related delays. The pilot program is intended to see if greater energy savings can be found through large employers implementing their own efficiency projects with the funds their company would have otherwise paid into the Energy Efficiency charge. 
Amy Spear, VP of Tourism for the Vermont Chamber, and Chiuho Sampson, Chef/Owner of A Single Pebble

Episode two discusses the state of the Vermont restaurant industry following two years of operating during a pandemic. The conversation offers reflections on Restaurant Revitalization Fund replenishment, and the creation of the Vermont Independent Restaurants coalition.
In Case You Missed It
This Edition Sponsored By:
Want great exposure for your business? Sponsoring the weekly newsletter is an affordable and effective way to reach your target customers. Email Megan Bullard for pricing and more information.
Vermont Chamber of Commerce, 751 Granger Road Barre, VT 05641, 802-223-3443© 22018