H522 Would Help Reduce Vermonters’ Transportation Energy Burdens and Meet Climate Commitments
Vermont Business Magazine H552, a proposal to address carbon emissions in the transportation sector, will be introduced in the Vermont House this week. The Transportation Innovation Act (TIA) is the work of several members of the House Transportation Committee. Sixty members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors, recognizing the critical need for Vermont to take a leadership role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Transportation Innovation Act proposes an ambitious suite of actions, incentives, and programs to help Vermont meet the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act. TIA parallels the pathways laid out in the Climate Action Plan. TIA also builds on successful programs and policies already in place such as electric vehicle incentive programs, plans for the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations, and innovations in transit and mobility options. These proposals will not only help cut our carbon emissions; they will also improve air quality, public health, and help reduce transportation costs for all Vermonters, especially those of low and moderate income.
The lead sponsors provide additional comments:
Representative Rebecca White of Hartford acted as a liaison in the formulation of the bill. She states: "Economic, environmental and equity considerations drive the introduction of this bill. Vermonters are ready for a transportation system that meets their needs and meets our Climate Action Plan's carbon emission reduction goals. The Transportation Innovation Act melds together the incoming Federal funding opportunities with the priorities of the Climate Action Plan to act as a catalyst for a new generation of transportation systems that benefit all Vermonters. This is a pivotal moment in our history. We look forward to working with the administration to realize the benefits proposed by this legislation.
Representative Mollie S. Burke of Brattleboro touts the bill’s investments in the Mileage Smart program that provides incentives for low-income people to purchase a used fuel-efficient vehicle. “Many rural residents need to drive long distances for work, school, and shopping. This program helps with transportation affordability while also providing an environmental and public health benefit.”
Representative Curt McCormack of Burlington writes that: "Passage of this bill will put Vermont in a leadership position. It will help to deploy electric car charging stations throughout the State. It will put more EVs on the road in our automobile fleet, along with electric public transit vehicles and school buses. It will create safe places on all of our roads in which to walk or ride a bicycle."
Representative Gabrielle Stebbins of Burlington echoes the bill’s advantages in reducing the transportation burden on rural Vermonters: "In a state as rural as Vermont, getting from here-to-there is not a choice, but a necessity - for health appointments, work, school and groceries. The Transportation Innovation Act is designed to help Vermonters spend less on gas while also reducing emissions. A win-win!"
Representative John Bartholomew of Hartland states: “An equitable transition to a carbon neutral future is critically important for Vermont and the nation. Given the huge impact of transportation on carbon emissions, this is one of the most important bills the legislature will take up this session as we strive to meet the reduction requirements set forth in the Global Warming Solutions Act.”
Statement of purpose of bill as introduced: This bill proposes to:
(1) define fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV);
(2) appropriate money for the Better Connections program, Better 20 Places program, Incentive Program for New PEVs, MileageSmart, emissions repair vouchers, Replace Your Ride, electric bicycle incentives, and the Mobility and Transportation Innovation Grant Program;
(3) establish and appropriate money for an expanded electric vehicle supply equipment grant program, a pedestrian safety pilot program, and a ZEV school bus and public transit grant program;
(4) provide zero-fare public transit in fiscal year 2023;
(5) require that a greater proportion of vehicles purchased for the State’s fleet be ZEVs;
(6) require certain employers to provide level 2 chargers;
(7) require certain employers to establish a transportation demand management (TDM) plan;
(8) create additional positions within the Agency of Transportation to staff matters related to transportation innovation;
(9) require that complete streets principles be followed in more instances;
(10) update the Act 250 criterion addressing transportation;
(11) make infrastructure improvements targeted at bicycle and pedestrian safety on most State highways and class 1 and 2 town highways;
(12) prohibit bicyclists from riding abreast in most instances;
(13) allow municipalities to seasonally install in-street pedestrian crossing signs in crosswalks;
(14) allow municipalities to lower certain speed limits on State highways;
(15) express the General Assembly’s intent that the Traffic Committee should not increase the speed limit on a State highway in response to a municipality’s request that the speed limit be lowered;
(16) require that the Agency of Transportation update prior feasibility studies on commuter rail in Vermont;
(17) commission a report on the use of transit authorities in the State;
(18) limit retail electricity providers to prorated Tier III renewable energy credits when a program overlaps with a State-created or -funded program; and
(19) implement a self-funded feebate program based on pleasure car efficiency.
Full text of the bill can be found at: https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2022/Docs/BILLS/H-0552/H-0552%20As%20Introduced.pdf
Source: 1.13.2022. Montpelier. Rep. Mollie S. Burke