Legislators Zoom back into action

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Legislators Zoom back into action

Sat, 01/08/2022 - 5:23pm -- tim
Week 1 - January 7, 2022


The Vermont General Assembly convened for the 2022 legislative session on Tuesday, January 4. Legislators are starting the session working from their homes and offices, as has been the case since the COVID-19 pandemic swept Vermont in March 2020. Lawmakers had hoped to return in-person for the 2022 session, but the surging Omicron variant caused legislators to approve a two-week remote start to the year. 
While interim legislative committees held in-person hearings in the statehouse in the fall and early winter of 2021, the full legislature has not convened in-person for almost two years. Lawmakers are growing increasingly frustrated with the constraints of remote legislating, and there appears to be a strong desire on the part of many lawmakers to return in-person. This is counterbalanced by safety concerns, and with the post-New Year Omicron surge escalating it is unclear if the legislature will convene in-person after the first two weeks. 
The policy committees spent the bulk of the first week reviewing legislation from 2021 and receiving updates on implementation from the Phil Scott Administration and other stakeholders. The policy committees in the House received a request from the House Committee on Appropriations to provide their spending priorities for the FY2022 budget adjustment act (BAA) by Tuesday, January 11. 
The House Committee on Appropriations received a revised BAA proposal on Tuesday from the the Department of Finance and Management, which augments the BAA proposal the Scott administration released a few weeks ago. The revised BAA proposal includes increases for COVID-19 response and cyber-security, among other things. The House Committee on Appropriations has a goal of passing the FY2022 BAA by Thursday, January 13. The goal is to have the BAA on its way to the Senate by the time the House Committee on Appropriations receives the governor’s FY2023 budget proposal. Governor Scott is scheduled to give his budget address on Tuesday, January 18. 
The FY2022 BAA includes:

  • $25 million for the Agency of Human Services’ COVID-19 response
  • $15 million for healthcare worker retention incentives
  • $3.3 million for state cybersecurity 
  • $17 million to pay down transportation infrastructure bond debt
  • More than $70 million in additional support for housing initiatives 


The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy and the House Committee on Energy and Technology both began to dig into the recently released Climate Action Plan and Draft Comprehensive Energy Plan. The timing of those documents, compounded by the large influx of federal dollars has led to what feels like significant momentum for transformative investments in climate change response. Three priority initiatives identified by leaders of each committee for potential action in 2022 are:

  • Weatherization At Scale - expands efforts to weatherize homes and businesses.
  • Clean Heat Standard - a performance standard that would be applied to all major suppliers of heating fuels in Vermont with the purpose of driving the market toward greater adoption of low-carbon fuels.
  • 100 Percent Renewable Energy Standard - increases the current requirement that Vermont’s electric distribution utilities get 75 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2032. 


The Senate Committee on Health and Welfare and the House Committee on Health Care held a joint meeting on Wednesday to hear testimony about extending the temporary measures enacted in the spring of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Those measures, which address a variety of issues such as insurance coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment and flexibility in licensing health care providers, are currently slated to expire at the end of March. The proposal is to extend them through March 2023.


On Tuesday, the Vermont Attorney General’s Office (AGO) submitted its anticipated recommendations to the legislature on various data privacy provisions. The AGO is proposing a set of privacy recommendations that includes comprehensive privacy protection, biometric privacy protection and an expansion of the data broker law. It’s unclear whether the committees of jurisdiction, which also deal with critical workforce issues, will have the bandwidth to take these measures up this session.


Leonine Public Affairs' Government Affairs Team
Clare Buckley Nick Sherman Chuck Storrow Dylan Zwicky Maggie Lenz



Source: Leonine Public Affairs, Montpelier, Legislative Report Week 1. January 7, 2022. leoninepublicaffairs.com.

Through a special arrangement with Leonine, Vermont Business Magazine republishes Leonine's legislative report on vermontbiz.com