April 1, 2022
The House Commerce and Economic Development Committee hit the road this week to learn more about the programs they will take up in the Senate’s economic development bill, which is expected to make its way to the Committee late next week.
Two proposals have brought the prospect of a cloud tax as a new source of revenue back into legislative conversation. If passed into law, consumers and nearly all of Vermont’s businesses that use cloud-based services would see considerable cost increases. This additional financial burden becomes particularly daunting for many businesses still struggling to recover from the pandemic while navigating labor force shortages and supply chain disruptions.
The critical housing omnibus bill (S.226) was approved by the Senate after amending the contractor registry language in hopes of avoiding a gubernatorial veto. While the bill is being reviewed in the House, it has a long road ahead due to the House Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife Committee having jurisdiction over the sections related to Act 250 and permitting, while the House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over housing programs. 
In the February Economic Survey of Vermont businesses, rising health insurance costs was listed in the top three concerns for small businesses. Pressures on the health care system will likely result in higher premiums as the pandemic continues.
The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved the motion not to concur with the Senate Finance Committee’s amendment to S.53, including the stripped down corporate tax changes, impactful adjustments to the military pension tax exemption, and removal of the House supported cloud tax.
  • S.113 Chemical Regulation: The House Judiciary Committee and House Commerce Committee passed S.113. The bill does not address concerns raised by the Vermont Chamber regarding whether insurance can be written for manufacturers regarding medical monitoring claims for persons exposed to a proven toxic substance.
  • H.159 VEDA Forgivable Loans: The bill is making stops in the Senate money committees before a vote by the full Senate expected soon. The House Commerce and Economic Development Committee received an overview from VEDA of the forgivable loan program in its current form. The Vermont Chamber is connecting with Committee members to continue improving the program.
  • H.715 Clean Heat Standard: The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee began debate on the Clean Heat Standard, H.715, which would require the Public Utility Commission to design a credit trading system in which heating fuel sellers will have to pay others to reduce their customer's heating oil and propane consumption if they don’t do it themselves. VFDA’s Matt Cota and PGANE’s Leslie Anderson testified to ask the committee to make substantial changes to the bill including a “Check Back” amendment.
  • H.624 Creative Sector: The Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee took up this bill after it passed the House last week. The Vermont Chamber supports the goals in the bill but does not want to see funding meant to support businesses recovering from the pandemic siloed off for only the creative sector to utilize.
  • H.329 Discrimination: The House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee continued working on new language for the bill with a goal of attaching it to H.320 if the Senate sends that bill back to them with amendment. Absent this procedural maneuver, there is no path forward for the bill, which missed crossover.
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