State lawmakers advance Burlington charter changes for a carbon tax on heating systems, ‘just cause’ for evictions

Michael Bielawski/TNR

CARBON TAX: The House Government Operations Committee on Tuesday voted to allow proposed Burlington charter changes including a carbon tax on heating fuels.

On Tuesday afternoon the House Government Operations Committee voted to advance Burlington charter changes to allow for a carbon tax on certain home heating systems, and to require ‘just cause’ by landlords to carry out evictions.

Both initiatives were passed as separate pieces of legislation, each by votes of 8-to-3 along party lines.

The extra cost that is being added to heating systems is being called an “alternative compliance payment,” though critics see it as a carbon tax.

Rep. Mark Higley, R-Orleans-Lamoille, was among the three Republicans to vote against measures.

“What they are proposing is any new or remodeled construction of commercial or residential buildings needs to use a non-fossil fuel heating system, and if they don’t then there’s a proposal to assess a fee around the fuel-burning unit based on its carbon output,” he told True North Reports on Wednesday.

On the other charter change initiative, Burlington voters supported the ‘just cause’ evictions measure last year by 63% during Town Meeting Day 2021. The language is now a standalone bill, H.708, although it had been a part of H.448 originally. Its language states that the bill is “to authorize the City Council to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the eviction of residential tenants without just cause.”

Just cause, according to the bill’s text, is a tenant’s material breach of a written rental agreement,  a tenant’s violation of state statutes regulating tenant obligations in residential rental agreements,   or nonpayment of rent. It continues that criminal behavior, property damage, or other dangerous behaviors can also be considered “just cause” for eviction.

The city would be required to set standards regarding what counts for a ‘just cause’ for an eviction. The City Council is currently dominated by liberal Democrats and Progressives — and no conservatives.

There are a number of scenarios written into the bill which would exempt a rental unit from these new standards, including in-unit rentals such as an in-law apartment, any unit that requires safety upgrades, or a unit that is expected for a family of the owner member to move in.

There’s also an initial one-year probation period that allows for a landlord to initiate an eviction without a just cause as defined in the bill. Critics of the measure argue that this component will discourage landlords and tenants from ever wanting to agree to more than a 1-year lease at a time.

“I have a hunch that there are no longer going to be more than one-year leases because all the subsequent years in when the just cause would start,” Rep. Samantha LeFebvre, R-Orange, told True North on Wednesday. She is one of the three Republicans in the committee to vote against the bill.

She said that based on her experiences as a landlord, the bill will ultimately create more problems for landlords and tenants alike.

“You’re creating something that’s just specific to Burlington, so when it goes wrong people are going to be existing and not continuing to have their properties in Burlington, so they are going to go elsewhere and Burlington residents are going to suffer even more,” she said.

She offered the scenario of a tenant that is involved in any number of potential rental disputes and whereas currently these situations can be handled between the two initial disputing parties, with this law in place the state is now involved and the landlord may have to contact other tenants to testify against the problematic tenant, creating more upsetting scenarios.

“The nature of what they are trying to do may be nurturing to a tenant, but it’s only going to create more hardship,” she said.

The House is expected to vote on the bill Thursday.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR
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7 thoughts on “State lawmakers advance Burlington charter changes for a carbon tax on heating systems, ‘just cause’ for evictions

  1. I would think that as a result of this legislation, landlords, especially large landlords will spent a significant sum on lawyers and legal fees. Guess what? This additional cost will be borne by the renter. The “unknown” consequences were very likely know to the Burlington City Council, but this
    group of petulant children decided they wanted their way, regardless of the consequence- and that these councillors would not be affected by their actions. All very nicely done, following socialist doctrine.
    While the public may think of the owners of rental units as slum-lords and horrible capitalists ravaging the poor for profit, these landlords are not getting rich. In fact a large percentage of profit goes to compliance, taxes and regulation.

  2. The “wise” gurus on the GWSA Committee, have ordained higher and higher taxes, fees and surcharges on fossil fuels, so already-struggling, over-taxed, over-regulated Vermonters will be forced to croak.

    All that is done to please Efficiency-Vermont-approved heat pump installers, and Canadian GMP, so it can make more profit for Canadian/French stockholders by selling more electricity as VERMONT ELECTRIFIES, to save the world.

    GWSA folks say: Instead of fossil, use heat pumps.

    BUT THEY DO NOT PROVIDE ENOUGH HEAT AT 20F OR LESS, PLUS THEY ARE UNECONOMICAL

    HEAT PUMPS ARE MONEY LOSERS IN MY VERMONT HOUSE, AS THEY ARE IN ALMOST ALL NEW ENGLAND HOUSES
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/heat-pumps-are-money-losers-in-my-vermont-house-as-they-are-in

    I installed three heat pumps by Mitsubishi, rated 24,000 Btu/h at 47F, Model MXZ-2C24NAHZ2, each with 2 heads, each with remote control; 2 in the living room, 1 in the kitchen, and 1 in each of 3 bedrooms.
    The HPs have DC variable-speed, motor-driven compressors and fans, which improves the efficiency of low-temperature operation.
    The HPs last about 15 years. Turnkey capital cost was $24,000
    http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/vermont-co2-reduction-of-HPs-is-based-on-misrepresentations

    My Well-Sealed, Well-Insulated House

    The HPs are used for heating and cooling my 35-y-old, 3,600 sq ft, well-sealed/well-insulated house, except the basement, which has a near-steady temperature throughout the year, because it has 2” of blueboard, R-10, on the outside of the concrete foundation and under the basement slab, which has saved me many thousands of space heating dollars over the 35 years.

    I do not operate my HPs at 15F or below, because HPs would become increasingly less efficient with decreasing temperatures.
    The HP operating cost per hour would become greater than of my efficient propane furnace. See table 3

    High Electricity Prices

    Vermont forcing, with subsidies and/or GWSA mandates, the build-outs of expensive RE electricity systems, such as wind, solar, batteries, etc., would be counter-productive, because it would:

    1) Increase already-high electric rates and
    2) Worsen the already-poor economics of HPs (and of EVs)!!
    https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/high-costs-of-wind-solar-and-battery-systems

    PART 1

    Energy Cost Reduction is Minimal

    – HP electricity consumption was from my electric bills
    – Vermont electricity prices, including taxes, fees and surcharges, are about 20 c/kWh.
    – My HPs provide space heat to 2,300 sq ft, about the same area as an average Vermont house
    – Two small propane heaters (electricity not required) provide space heat to my 1,300 sq ft basement
    – I operate my HPs at temperatures of 15F and greater; less $/h than propane
    – I operate my traditional propane system at temperatures of 15F and less; less $/h than HP

    – My average HP coefficient of performance, COP, was 2.64
    – My HPs required 2,489 kWh to replace 35% of my fuel.
    – My HPs would require 8,997 kWh, to replace 100% of my fuel.

    – The average Vermont house COP is about 3.34
    – The average Vermont house requires 2,085 kWh to replace 27.6% of its fuel, per VT-DPS/CADMUS survey. See URL

  3. This gaggle of fools promoting this agenda, just wait until the limited rental properties
    rent goes through the ceiling, because of this boondoggle of a charter change.

    Agenda driven nonsense, not only costing the property owners it will also cost the renter
    progressives never think anything they do completely, they always jump and never look
    first !!

    Let’s eliminate an oil-burning furnace here in VT, while China is building 13 new coal plants
    now that’s saving the world……………. Fools in charge, pretty pathetic !!

    Wake up Vermont, there is a “cancer ” in VT, it legislators…………………..

    • The only remedy is to show up en masse at the polls and vote the myopic know-nothing, heartless nincompoops out in November.

      This has nothing to do with global warming.
      This is exercise of raw, centralized command/ control of Vermonters
      This is pure un-American coercion of Vermonters.
      This is no different than what the British did during tea party times.

  4. ” The City Council is currently dominated by liberal Democrats and Progressives” – Justifying evictions for holding the wrong political convictions?

  5. Some have owned rental units, been careful to screen applicants, and have had harmonious relations,
    .and financial stability!

    When will “screening”- investigating applicants for a rental be outlawed?
    Every applicant must be accepted, regardless,
    lest the Owner discriminates against poor references

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