Legislative Update – Week 18
As you can probably tell from the action alerts this week, there was a lot of important activity on our priority environmental bills at the State House!
Here are a few brief highlights:
- The House voted in strong support of new, dedicated clean water funding
- The House voted in strong support of a bill to reduce single-use plastics
- A key House committee voted to advance legislation to help Vermonters impacted by toxic contamination
Check out more details below on what’s happening on climate action, clean water, toxic chemical reforms, and more!
CLEAN WATER: #CleanWaterVT
The bill creates a new regional distribution model to get clean water funding on the ground across the state. It also raises an estimated $7.7 million in new revenue for the Clean Water Fund. We appreciate the key committees’ hard work, and are encouraged to see a new, dedicated funding source put forward. Though this amount falls short of what we’ll need over the longer-term, it’s a positive step forward in building up the Clean Water Fund.
Now the bill heads back to the Senate, where the differences between the House and Senate versions will need to be hashed out.
The Senate continues its work on a bill that would invest several million additional dollars into weatherizing more Vermonters’ homes in the short-term, while requiring analysis by the Public Utility Commission that would look at a longer-term approach to expanding this type of work.
We will be pushing to secure robust new funding for low- and moderate-income weatherization programs this year. Additionally, the Senate version of the budget passed this week, and includes $2 million in funding that includes an electric vehicle incentive program, among several others. These are modest but positive steps forward in investing in Vermonters to help them transition to cleaner and more efficient energy solutions.
Learn more about what’s happening on energy and climate change with our LIVE Climate Dispatch from the State House, posted every Friday of the legislative session. Click here to view this week’s Dispatch, and sign up to receive the video in your inbox by clicking here.
The Legislature worked hard this week on several priority bills to better protect Vermonters from toxic chemicals. Legislation that aims to better protect children from toxic chemicals (S.55) appears poised to pass out of the House Human Services Committee soon, and would then head to the House floor. This bill passed the Legislature last year but was vetoed by Governor Scott, and we fell just four votes shy of overriding the veto. We will be working hard to get a strong bill over the finish line this year.
The House Judiciary Committee is likely to pass out legislation (S.37) today that helps Vermonters harmed by toxic contamination. The bill will head to the House floor next week, after a strong 10-0 (with one person absent) vote in committee. The committee made significant concessions to industry groups, including stripping out the provisions of the bill that would have held polluters strictly liable for the harm they cause. However, the bill still includes valuable provisions that will allow Vermonters harmed by toxic pollution to recover the costs of medical testing before they develop a disease. We continue advocating to ensure the bill tips the scales toward helping Vermonters rather than corporate polluters.
Legislation that requires testing for lead in drinking water in Vermont schools and childcare facilities (S.40) passed the House on a strong 138-3 vote. The House and Senate have created a conference committee to resolve the differences between their versions of the bill. We continue pushing to ensure this important bill is enacted as quickly as possible, in a manner that best protects our children from exposure to lead-contaminated water.
The Senate approved legislation (S.49) addressing cancer-causing PFAS chemicals, and sent it to the Governor’s desk for his signature. He’s indicated he will likely sign the bill. This bill requires the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources to develop drinking water and surface water standards for PFAS chemicals, to ensure our water is healthy and safe. PFAS is the class of toxic chemicals that were discovered in Vermont drinking water wells, and pose significant threats to public health and the environment.
ACT 250: #Act250
The House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee did a little work on Act 250 modernization this week. While the Committee has been kept very busy with other priority bills, Committee members continued exploring ways to ensure progress on these important topics continues over the summer and fall, so we can be ready for action next year.
With the countdown on to the end of the session, we are pushing hard to ensure our environmental priorities make it over the finish line before adjournment. To win on these issues, lawmakers need to be hearing from constituents like you about the issues you care about.
This week, we’ve seen first-hand that your calls and emails truly impacted how your lawmakers view these important issues. Keep it up! It really makes a difference when you take a moment to call or email. Click here to find your legislators.
Stay tuned for on-going legislative updates, and more opportunities for you to make your voice heard.