We’re halfway through the 2023 Vermont State Legislative session. The Legislature calls this point “crossover,” since it’s the deadline for bills to cross over to the other chamber.
This has been an interesting year so far, with one third of our legislators new to the role – including some of the 38 RAD-endorsed candidates who won seats in the Legislature this past fall. This has meant that the session started with a need for more background and introduction testimony, but it has also meant that our State House is filled with new voices and a more diverse Legislature.
RAD has been working to advance bills that support housing, climate, economic, education, and food justice, as well as our vision for a fully participatory, inclusive and thriving democracy. From Lobby Day, to committee and council spaces, to calls and emails, all of your voices – RAD members, supporters, and leaders – have been critical in moving some of these bills forward in ways that best align with our vision and the needs of our communities.
Below, we’ve highlighted priority bills that we are excited to see moving, and ways that you can continue to support them in the coming days and weeks. Click on each bill title to expand or collapse the information about the bill. Check out this video as well to hear from some of our legislative champions about what they have been up to and what they are excited about.
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WHAT IS IT? S5 is the number one recommendation of the Vermont Climate Council and a crucial program to meet our state’s climate goals. The bill would create a system to transition off of polluting fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy sources. The system would use credits that increase in value depending on how much greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, and would prioritize low- and moderate-income Vermonters. Current language includes a focus on efforts that lower energy use and energy bills, including weatherization and heat pump installation.
WHERE IS IT? The full Senate has passed the Affordable Heat Act and the House Environment and Energy committee has taken up the bill.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Fossil fuel companies are spending tens of thousands of dollars on misleading ads to try to kill this needed bill. We need to let our State Representatives know that we support the Affordable Heat Act and a cleaner energy future in Vermont, and urge them to pass this bill with the strongest possible language to support equity, affordability, and solutions that do not create further harms.
You can get more involved in the work for a just transition and thriving climate future by emailing VT Environmental Justice Organizer Michael Weiss, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT IS IT? This bill creates a statewide rental registry and a homelessness response system analysis. The registry is a fundamental data tool to provide an accurate picture of the short- and long-term rental landscape in Vermont. With the housing crisis continuing to lead to dangerously low vacancy rates and rapidly rising rents, this registry is a key tool for Vermont to truly assess the housing needs of Vermonters and ensure that rentals are accessible and compliant.
WHERE IS IT? H276 is still going through the last steps in the House chamber, but is expected to pass this week and move next to the Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call or email your State Representative and make sure they vote for H276, the Rental Registry bill. You can also get more involved in RAD’s work to advance tenants’ rights and guarantee safe, stable, and affordable housing for all by emailing VT Housing Justice Organizer Tom Proctor at email@example.com.
WHAT IS IT? This bill, An act relating to expanding employment protections and collective bargaining rights, creates majority signup for public workers. This would enable a majority of workers to join a union without needing to go through an election. It also establishes the right to organize for farm and domestic workers, and ends the practice of mandatory captive audience meetings for union elections.
WHERE IS IT? The Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs committee has passed S102, and it will be on the floor for full Senate passage this week before heading to the House General and Housing Committee.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call or Email your Senator and ensure that this bill passes the Senate.
WHAT IS IT? No one should have to sacrifice their financial wellbeing to welcome a new child, care for a sick loved one, or recover one’s own health. H.66, a bill that sets up a system of paid leave for medical and family reasons for all Vermont workers, will make a huge difference for working families. The bill makes it so that workers can still receive 90% of their wages if they need to take parental leave or take care of a sick or elderly family member.
WHERE IS IT? This bill has passed the House of Representatives and now moves to Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Contact your State Senator and tell them to give a full hearing to H66. We need a system for both family and medical leave in Vermont.
WHAT IS IT? This bill builds on the work that was started last session, by making the current universal breakfast and lunch program for all students in Vermont permanent. During the pandemic, federal funding helped Vermont create a system of Universal School Meals and showed that it was an effective system that was much needed for Vermont’s children. By making that system permanent, H165 will ensure that no student has to worry about going hungry at school, and can just focus on their studies.
WHERE IS IT? H165 has passed the full House of Representatives and will move soon to the Senate Education Committee.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call or Email your Senator and ensure that this bill passes the Senate.
WHAT IS IT? This bill increases the supply of affordable housing in Vermont, promotes homeownership, and expands housing opportunities for Vermonters. It includes changes to zoning laws, the Act 250 process, and funding for home ownership assistance programs. S100 promotes multi-family housing, and invests in workforce development and supportive housing initiatives. It creates a statewide standard for allowing at least 5 units per acre, and allowing the construction of duplexes and quadplexes.
WHERE IS IT? S100 is finishing in Senate Appropriations before it goes to the Senate floor for a full vote. Once it passes the full Senate, it will go to the House General and Housing Committee.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call your Senator(s), let them know that we need more affordable housing in Vermont, and urge them to pass S100.
WHAT IS IT? The bill to approve Burlington’s Just Cause Eviction charter change has been reintroduced this session. The charter change, which was passed in March 2021 with a 64% vote, would allow the City Council to establish a Just Cause Eviction policy that would expand tenants’ rights, require landlords to have a legally justifiable cause for evicting a renter, and lead to more stability in our communities. It failed in the legislature by just one vote last session.
This bill will be joined by Just Cause Eviction charter change bills for the Town of Essex and the City of Winooski, which both passed charter changes on VT’s 2023 Town Meeting Day.
WHERE IS IT? This bill is currently in House Government Operations and Military Affairs.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Contact House Government Operations and Military Affairs Chair Mike McCarthy (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask him to add Burlington Just Cause Eviction to the committee calendar.
You can also get more involved in RAD’s Housing Justice work by emailing Statewide Housing Justice Organizer Tom Proctor at email@example.com.
WHAT IS IT? This bill creates needle and syringe disposal programs and prevention and treatment programs that include public education; allows for disbursement of Narcan and other life saving measures to people experiencing Substance Use Disorder, their families, and the wider community; expands hospital referral procedures; and creates a regional system for opioid use disorder treatment.
WHERE IS IT? H222 has passed the House on a vote of 138-1 and is now heading to the Senate Health and Welfare committee.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call your State Representative and urge them to pass this life saving legislation.
WHAT IS IT? This bill establishes a summer working group to provide guidance for how to implement ranked-choice voting in state and federal elections in 2026, implements ranked-choice voting for the 2028 presidential primary, and allows municipalities to adopt ranked-choice voting without a charter change.
WHERE IS IT? The bill has passed the Senate Government Operations committee with a unanimous tripartisan vote. After it is voted on by the full Senate, it will move to the House Committee on Government Operations and Military Affairs.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call your State Senator and urge them to vote yes on this bill. You can also start calling members of the House Government Operations and Military Affairs committee to voice your support.
WHAT IS IT? S39 updates benefits and compensation for General Assembly members for the first time in 20 years. It allows members to take part in the state employees health plan, and aligns their pay with that of the average Vermont wage of $1,210 a week during session.
WHERE IS IT? The bill passed Senate Government Operations on a unanimous tripartisan vote and will be in front of the full Senate before it goes to the House Government Operations and Military Affairs committee.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Call your State Senator and urge them to vote yes on this bill.