Moore: A review of some of the major legislative issues this past session

By Bill Moore

The Vermont General Assembly officially ended the first half of the 2019-20 Biennial Session last week when Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe banged the gavel and announced the Senate adjourned. The House had already adjourned five days earlier on Friday, May 24.

The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce has been actively following the goings-on at the Legislature. We are a member of a coalition of pro-business, pro-growth organizations that have been voicing our concerns during the session. Collectively, we represented our constituencies’ positions on a number of bills that were in-play at the Legislature. So how did we do? The following is a review of some of the major issues with which we were involved during this past session.

Vote for Vermont/Pat McDonald

Bill Moore, president of Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce

The Central Vermont Chamber opposes S.23, which would increase the minimum wage. We believe that the market should increase wages. We also oppose the mandated paid leave bill, H.107. We believe that mandates such as this put increased burdens on businesses, many of whom offer their own version of paid leave. These measures were passed in different forms by both houses and are now in limbo until the assembly re-convenes in January. Legislation that is not passed or acted on does carry over to the second year of the biennium. S.23 and H.107 were caught up in a legislative chess match at the end of the session and neither reached final passage. Both will return in 2020.

A toned-down S.37, the so-called medical monitoring bill, passed in a version that the Chamber still opposes. We urge Gov. Phil Scott to veto the measure as it will put stringent requirements on a wide array of businesses and industries across Vermont and hamper economic development and commerce. Remedies in law already exist to allow for compensation to individuals exposed to toxic or hazardous materials.

The Chamber supported H.533, the workforce development bill. We believe that this legislation will help to enhance training opportunities necessary to fill the critical jobs that are available in businesses and industries across Vermont.

We opposed S.113, the bill banning single-use plastics. Included in the ban are single-use bags, single-use plastic straws (unless specifically requested by the consumer), single-use plastic stirrers, and expanded polystyrene food service products. We urge Gov. Scott to ban the measure because, among other reasons, some studies indicate that banning plastic shopping bags ends up increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

We opposed portions of H.541, “An Act Relating to Changes That Affect the Revenue of the State.” This year’s tax bill increased the capital gains tax, expanded the fuel tax of $.02 to include all fuel deliveries and made significant modifications to the property transfer tax, among other changes. The Chamber has a long-standing policy of opposing tax increases.

The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce firmly believes that the state’s position as one of the most heavily taxed states in the country is a detriment to our economy. Our high level of taxation creates a disadvantage in attracting new business to Vermont. Coupled with Vermont’s extremely high cost of energy and relative lack of broadband availability, we are at a distinct disadvantage when recruiting new businesses to our state or in helping existing businesses expand within the state.

We believe that reducing expenditures by thoroughly reviewing the cost-effectiveness of state programs and eliminating unnecessary programs and those that are not accomplishing their stated goals will result in reduced taxes and put the state in a better position for economic expansion. An expanding economy will help to attract new businesses to the state and result in higher paying jobs.

Bill Moore is president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

Images courtesy of Flickr/401kcalculator.org and Vote for Vermont/Pat McDonald
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6 thoughts on “Moore: A review of some of the major legislative issues this past session

  1. Thank you for representing working Vermonters as well as employers in urging responsible legislation.

  2. Re: “… reducing expenditures by …reviewing the cost-effectiveness of state programs and eliminating unnecessary programs and those that are not accomplishing their stated goals…”

    Speaking of ineffective programs, this has been the Chamber’s mantra for years and we still have an ineffective legislature and economy. What we don’t see is the reasoned logic behind the Chamber’s point of view.

    The State, for example, considers its programs economically ‘effective’ because they increase employment. If one reads the Bureau of Labor Statistics for Vermont, its clear that the largest segments of Vermont’s economy (by far) are Education, Health Services and Government. Forty percent of Vermont’s non-farm payrolls fall in these three government subsidized categories. Furthermore, the State claims that these programs are necessary to help the less fortunate among us, and any effort to ‘eliminate’ them demonstrates corporate greed and the failure of Capitalism.

    It’s over-simplified to say we need ‘an expanding economy…to attract new businesses to the state’. Vermont already has the highest per capita formation of non-profit businesses in the U.S.; structured, for the most part, to take advantage of tax-payer subsidized government programs. Are those not ‘new businesses’?

    I challenge Mr. Moore to begin identifying and explaining why market driven programs are more effective than State Programs. Explain the difference between Socialism (i.e. ‘crony capitalism’) and true ‘free market capitalism’. Explain what ‘new businesses’ are, and why they are more desirable than ‘new government programs’? Explain why ‘free markets’ are better suited to set wage rates and employment benefits than a State oligarchy elected by special interest groups and the dysfunctional voting majority they manipulate.

    The Central Vermont Chamber should open its BLOG to anyone (progressive or conservative) caring to comment on these issues in order to initiate an educated discussion of facts vs. emotional, mis-informed general opinion. It should use ‘Disqus’ or a similar commentary format to allow the detailed back-and-forth discussion that’s missing in our education system.

    And, speaking of education, The Chamber should emphasize the profound need for School Choice Vouchers to allow parents the opportunity to choose the best schools for their children – schools that include in their curriculum the tenants of our Constitutional Republic and the tangible benefits of the ‘free market economics’ they engender.

    Our legislature and their appointees are clearly uneducated in these matters. But so too are the voters who elect them. Don’t just ‘review’ legislation, educate the consumer.

  3. Bill’s right on about letting the market set wages. Try to get anything done from shoveling snow to getting the lawn mowed to putting out the summer furniture for $15/hour. Guess what, you’ll have to do it yourself. Around here the minimum rate is $20/hour, cash on the barrel head.

    • As John McClaughry, vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute, pointed out years ago.

      “Vermont ranks eighth in pretax wage equivalent of the welfare benefit package, at $42,350.”
      https://vtdigger.org/2013/08/19/mcclaughry-vermonts-welfare-cornucopia/

      Even back then, that was the equivalent of $21/hour a business had to pay in wages and benefits in order to compete the speical interest cronies manipulating our dysfunctional voting majority.

  4. Bill’s right on about letting the market set wages. Try to get anything done from shoveling snow to getting the lawn mowed to putting out the summer furniture for $15/hour. Guess what, you’ll have to do it yourself. Around here the minimum rate is $20/hour, cash on the barrel head. Why was this not published?

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