Roll Call: House adds bureaucracy to Act 250 development process

Editor’s note: Roll Call is published by the Ethan Allen Institute.

H.492, an act relating to the structure of the Natural Resources Board, passed in the State House of Representatives on March 22, 2022, by a vote of 92-49.

The purpose of this vote was to create a more specialized and professional board for overseeing Act 250 permits, which permits construction in specially designated areas that legislators and bureaucrats see as optimal for development.

Since 2004, Vermont’s Act 250 project criteria has been guided 9 volunteer District Environmental Commissions with support from District Environmental Coordinators.

The new Act 250 board would be made up of 1 full-time chair and 4 part-time members, who would serve 5 years terms. These 5 individuals by another committee, made up of 7 individuals in charge of nominating individuals to serve on the Act 250 commission. New bureaucratic salaries would are projected to grow the size of Vermont’s budget/government by $384,000 in F2023 and $614,000 in F2024 and in future years. Greater funding from the General Fund budget and/or Act 250 increases would be on the table.

Analysis: Those voting YES argued the changes in Act 250 will fast-track development in downtowns, lessen forest fragmentation, mitigate climate change, and funnel climate-related migration into legislator approved areas.

Those voting NO agree that the Act 250 process needs to be changed, but argued that H.492 does not offer the changes necessary for encouraging economic development. Adding bureaucratic positions will slow down the approval process, rather than speed it up. Businesses don’t find Vermont an attractive place to setup, because the current Act 250 process requires substantial financial resources, time and is ultimately unpredictable in granting construction permissions.

Opponents note that the board didn’t hear from any business that had actually gone though the Act 250 permitting process, only lawyers representing those businesses. Furthermore, the Natural Resources Board has a heavy workload, with over 500 permits in 2021, and is ready to spend $1 billion of ARPA federal funding. Restructuring the board could drastically delay permits in the pipeline and ARPA funding. A clear Act 250 framework for forestry businesses, recreational trails, farming is needed.

As Recorded in the House Journal, Tuesday, March 22, 2022: “…Shall the bill be amended as recommended by the Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife, as amended?, Rep. McCoy of Poultney demanded the Yeas and Nays, which demand was sustained by the Constitutional number. The Clerk proceeded to call the roll and the question, Shall the bill be amended as recommended by the Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife, as amended?, was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 92. Nays, 49” (Read the Journal, p. 764-787).

Watch the floor debate on YouTube.

HOW THEY VOTED

Sally Achey (R – Middletown Springs) – ABSENT
Janet Ancel (D – Calais) – YES
Peter Anthony (D – Barre City) – YES
Norman Arrison (D – Weathersfield) – YES
Sarita Austin (D – Colchester) – YES
John Bartholomew (D – Hartland) – YES
Scott Beck (R – St. Johnsbury) – YES
Matthew Birong (D – Vergennes) – YES
Alyssa Black (D – Essex) – YES
Tiffany Bluemle (D – Burlington) – ABSENT
Thomas Bock (D – Chester) – YES
Seth Bongartz (D – Manchester) – YES
Michelle Bos-Lun (D – Westminster) – YES
Erin Brady (D – Williston) – YES
Patrick Brennan (R – Colchester) – NO
Timothy Briglin (D – Thetford) – YES
Jana Brown (D – Richmond) – YES
Nelson Brownell (D – Pownal) – YES
Jessica Brumsted (D – Shelburne) – YES
Thomas Burditt (R – West Rutland) – NO
Mollie Burke (P/D – Brattleboro) – YES
Elizabeth Burrows (P/D – West Windsor) – YES
Scott Campbell (D – St. Johnsbury) – YES
Bill Canfield (R – Fair Haven) – NO
Seth Chase (D – Colchester) – YES
Kevin “Coach” Christie (D – Hartford) – YES
Brian Cina (P/D – Burlington) – YES
Sara Coffey (D – Guilford) – YES
Selene Colburn (P/D – Burlington) – YES
Hal Colston (D – Winooski) – YES
Peter Conlon (D – Cornwall) – YES
Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D – Bradford) – YES
Timothy Corcoran (D – Bennington) – YES
Mari Cordes (D/P – Lincoln) – YES
Lawrence Cupoli (R – Rutland City) – NO
Lynn Dickinson (R – St. Albans Town) – NO
Karen Dolan (D – Essex) – YES
Kari Dolan (D – Waitsfield) – YES
Anne Donahue (R – Northfield) – NO
Kate Donnally (D – Hyde Park) – YES
David Durfee (D – Shaftsbury) – YES
Caleb Elder (D – Starksboro) – ABSENT
Alice Emmons (D – Springfield) – YES
Peter Fagan (R – Rutland City) – NO
Martha Feltus (R – Lyndon) – NO
John Gannon (D – Wilmington) – YES
Rey Garofano (D – Essex) – YES
Leslie Goldman (D – Bellows Falls) – YES
Kenneth Goslant (R – Northfield) – NO
Maxine Grad (D – Moretown) – YES
Rodney Graham (R – Williamstown) – NO
James Gregoire (R – Fairfield) – NO
Lisa Hango (R – Berkshire) – NO
James Harrison (R – Chittenden) – NO
Robert Helm (R – Fair Haven) – NO
Mark Higley (R – Lowell) – NO
Robert Hooper (D – Burlington) – YES
Mary Hooper (D – Montpelier) – YES
Philip Hooper (D – Randolph) – YES
Lori Houghton (D – Essex) – YES
Mary Howard (D – Rutland) – YES
Kathleen James (D – Manchester) – YES
Stephanie Jerome (D – Brandon) – YES
Kimberly Jessup (D – Middlesex) – YES
John Kascenska (R – Burke) – NO
John Killacky (D – S. Burlington) – YES
Charles Kimbell (D – Woodstock) – YES
Warren Kitzmiller (D – Montpelier) – YES
Emilie Kornheiser (D – Brattleboro) – YES
Jill Krowinski (D – Burlington) – PRESIDING
Larry Labor (R – Morgan) – NO
Robert LaClair (R – Barre) – NO
Martin LaLonde (D – S. Burlington) – YES
Diane Lanpher (D – Vergennes) – YES
Wayne LaRoche (R – Franklin) – NO
Paul Lefebvre (R – Newark) – YES
Samantha Lefebvre (R – Orange) – NO
Felisha Leffler (R – Enosburgh) – ABSENT
William Lippert (D – Hinesburg) – YES
Emily Long (D – Newfane) – YES
Michael Marcotte (R – Coventry) – NO
Marcia Martel (R – Waterford) – NO
James Masland (D – Thetford) – YES
Christopher Mattos (R – Milton) – NO
Michael McCarthy (D – St. Albans City) – YES
Curtis McCormack (D – Burlington) – YES
Patricia McCoy (R – Poultney) – NO
James McCullough (D – Williston) – YES
Francis McFaun (R – Barre Town) – NO
Leland Morgan (R – Milton) – NO
Michael Morgan (R – Milton) – NO
Kristi Morris (D – Springfield) – YES
Mary Morrissey (R – Bennington) – NO
Michael Mrowicki (D – Putney) – YES
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (D – Burlington) – NO
Barbara Murphy (I – Fairfax) – NO
Logan Nicoll (D – Ludlow) – YES
Michael Nigro (D – Bennington) – YES
Robert Norris (R – Sheldon) – NO
Terry Norris (I – Shoreham) – NO
William Notte (D – Rutland) – YES
Daniel Noyes (D – Wolcott) – YES
John O’Brien (D – Tunbridge) – YES
Carol Ode (D – Burlington) – YES
“Woody” Page (R – Newport City) – NO
Kelly Pajala (I – Londonderry) – YES
John Palasik (R – Milton) – ABSENT
Joseph Parsons (R – Newbury) – NO
Carolyn Partridge (D – Windham) – YES
Avram Patt (D – Worcester) – ABSENT
Henry Pearl (D – Danville) – NO
Arthur Peterson (R – Clarendon) – NO
Ann Pugh (D – S. Burlington) – YES
Barbara Rachelson (D/P – Burlington) – YES
Lucy Rogers (D – Waterville) – YES
Carl Rosenquist (R – Georgia) – NO
Larry Satcowitz (D – Randolph) – YES
Robin Scheu (D – Middlebury) – YES
Heidi Scheuermann (R – Stowe) – NO
Charles “Butch” Shaw (R – Pittsford) – NO
Amy Sheldon (D – Middlebury) – YES
Laura Sibilia (I – Dover) – YES
Katherine Sims (D – Craftsbury) – YES
Taylor Small (P/D – Winooski) – NO
Brian Smith (R – Derby) – NO
Harvey Smith (R – New Haven) – NO
Trevor Squirrell (D – Underhill) – YES
Gabrielle Stebbins (D – Burlington) – YES
Thomas Stevens (D – Waterbury) – YES
Vicki Strong (R – Albany) – NO
Linda Joy Sullivan (D – Dorset) – ABSENT
Heather Suprenant (D – Barnard) – ABSENT
Curt Taylor (D – Colchester) – YES
Thomas Terenzini (R – Rutland Town) – NO
George Till (D – Jericho) – YES
Tristan Toleno (D – Brattleboro) – YES
Casey Toof (R – St. Albans Town) – NO
Maida Townsend (D – S. Burlington) – YES
Joseph “Chip” Troiano (D – Stannard) – YES
Tanya Vyhovsky (P/D – Essex) – NO
Matt Walker (R – Swanton) – NO
Tommy Walz (D – Barre City) – YES
Kathryn Webb (D – Shelburne) – YES
Kirk White (P/D – Bethel) – YES
Rebecca White (D – Hartford) – YES
Dane Whitman (D – Bennington) – YES
Terri Lynn Williams (R – Granby) – NO
Theresa Wood (D – Waterbury) – YES
David Yacovone (D – Morristown) – YES
Michael Yantachka (D – Charlotte) – YES

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Niklas Bildhauer
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2 thoughts on “Roll Call: House adds bureaucracy to Act 250 development process

  1. I really appreciate Roll Call. Thank you True North Reports and Ethan Allen Institute. It is good to see that almost all of the Franklin County Representatives correctly represent my views. I appreciate their votes even though they are in the minority.

  2. The last thing Vermont needs is another bureaucracy, staffed by unelected bureaucrats, who can make up rules for the rest of us, and will never go away…

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