ILLUSIONS AND MIRRORS
This is typically the point in the legislative session when things change quickly. Today was supposed to be the day that morning committees shut down in the Senate which helps motivate legislators to compromise and move bills. While the morning committees will meet briefly next week, the notion of quick change is proving to be true again this year. Several tier-one policy bills that appeared to be stalled out ended up moving, like the tax and regulate bill, and some substantial changes to Vermont’s tax policies are being made very late in the process. More on those tax changes later in the newsletter.
In addition to the unexpected and fast-paced action, this week is also usually when the budget passes out of the Senate Appropriations committee. In most years, the budget passes the Senate Appropriations when there are two weeks left. It does appear that the session will adjourn by May 18 keeping the legislature on track to complete their work in the 18 week scheduled time frame.
Like last year, two issues that appear to be linked to one another may ultimately determine if the session adjourns on time. The minimum wage bill and the paid family leave bill are two priorities for the legislature but its not clear which is the top priority for each chamber. Governor Scott also weighed in and stated that he may be willing to reach a compromise on minimum wage. This could be a sign that there is deal between the governor, Senate and House to pass bills in some form that is acceptable to all of them. This would certainly continue the primary theme of this session which is to put the negativity of the previous biennium in the rearview mirror.