Legislative Update, Week 19
It’s been a busy week at the State House, with some exciting progress on our priorities. The Legislature will be back next week, aiming to wrap up their business for the year.
Here are a few highlights:
- The House voted in strong support of a bill to help Vermonters impacted by toxic contamination to access medical monitoring
- The House voted in strong support of a bill to protect children from toxic chemicals
- The Senate passed a bill with new funding for low- and moderate-income weatherization programs
Check out more details below on what’s happening on climate action, clean water, toxic chemical reforms, and more!
The House took its final vote on a bill (S.37) that helps Vermonters harmed by toxic contamination. After a floor amendment to weaken the bill was defeated, the House secured an impressive 100-42 vote in support of the bill. See how your Representatives voted here. This bill brought out stiff opposition from corporate interests, so please consider taking a moment to send an email of thanks to your Representative(s) for supporting it. A quick note of appreciation can go a long way!Click here to find your legislators’ contact information.
The bill now heads back to the Senate, where we anticipate they will concur with the House changes. While the House made some notable concessions to industry lobbyists, the bill includes valuable provisions that will allow Vermonters harmed by toxic pollution to recover the costs of medical testing before they develop a disease. Further, a provision was added to hold chemical manufacturers liable for harm to air, land, and water, when the company knew or should have known its chemicals were harmful. We will be pushing Governor Scott to sign the bill this year.
Legislation that aims to better protect children from toxic chemicals (S.55) passed its initial vote with a strong 137-4 vote in the House. See how your Representatives voted here. 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 continue to push hard to ensure as strong a bill as possible gets over the finish line and into law this year.
Legislation that requires testing for lead in drinking water in Vermont schools and childcare facilities (S.40) got another step closer, with agreement on a proposal signed by a conference committee of House and Senate leaders. Next, the House and Senate will need to vote on the proposal, before it would head to the Governor.
Governor Scott signed into law a bill (S.49) addressing cancer-causing PFAS chemicals. 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.
CLEAN WATER: #CleanWaterVT
Work is underway to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the clean water funding bill (S.96). The policy portions of the bill are in good shape, but there is not yet agreement on a long-term funding source.
As a reminder, the bill creates a new regional distribution model to get clean water funding on the ground across the state. We appreciate the committees’ hard work, and were encouraged to see the House pass a new, dedicated funding source. The Senate is now working through some funding ideas, and will likely send a different proposal to the House soon for their consideration. With time running short, we’ll be pushing for agreement and enactment of a new, dedicated and sufficient long-term clean water funding bill.
The Senate passed a bill (H.63) that would invest several million additional dollars into weatherizing more low- and moderate-income 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. The bill was sent to the House, where we will be pushing for its enactment to help ensure funding that enables low- and moderate-income families to weatherize their homes this year and into the future.
Additionally, the budget is being debated by key House and Senate leaders. The current version includes at least $1.1 million in funding for electric vehicle incentives, which will be available to low- and moderate-income Vermonters. 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.
ACT 250: #Act250
The House Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife Committee has been busy with other priorities this week, but Committee members continue 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 asked you to call the State House several times, and we know your calls and emails made a difference. Thanks for your help, and keep it up! We’re almost there. Click here to find your legislators to ensure your priorities make it into law this year.
Stay tuned for ongoing legislative updates, and more opportunities for you to make your voice heard.