LCC is building partnerships and momentum needed to hit the ground running in Montpelier in January as we begin the second half of this legislative biennium. This coming session, our focus will be almost entirely on housing and public safety, as we believe these two issues represent the greatest impediments to our state’s economy and the greatest threats to the quality of life that historically distinguished Vermont.
In this update;
Save the Dates – Engage With Your Policymakers
All year, we hear members, policymakers, and legislators reference conversations they had at our signature advocacy events, continually cementing for us why we hold them. We’re happy to announce dates and opportunities to engage on issues that matter to you in the coming months.
Registration is Open! LCC Legislative Reception – Sponsored by AT&T
When: Wednesday, November 29th at 5:00 p.m.
What: This is our signature event where we break members into industry groups and rotate senators through each group in what we like to call “legislative speed dating.” It’s very insightful and fun, so don’t miss this opportunity.
Where: Delta Hotels by Marriott Burlington
Save the Dates! LCC Legislative Breakfast Series Sponsored by NEFCU
January Legislative Breakfast
When: Monday, January 22nd at 8:30 a.m.
What: We’re excited to partner with GlobalFoundries to kick off the new year with an opportunity to network and hear about the direction of the legislative session. We’ve extended the invite to the Governor for his longstanding tradition of addressing our members at this event. The first 50 to register will also get to tour the cutting-edge Fab at GlobalFoundries, which makes electronic components that make our modern world work. Email us if you want to be sure to be one of the 50!
Where: GlobalFoundries Fab 9
Registration Coming Soon!
March Legislative Breakfast
When: Monday, March 18th at 8:30 a.m.
What: We’re excited to partner with OnLogic to host our second breakfast at their new South Burlington headquarters, which will have only opened one month earlier!
Where: OnLogic’s new facility in South Burlington
Registration Coming Soon!
Not Building Housing is Not an Option; Policy Needs to Reflect that Reality!
S.100, passed last spring, will not accomplish everything we need, and the legislation stopped short of truly transformative change to Act 250. As four separate studies are underway, there is some reason to be cautiously optimistic. However, there is a nearly ubiquitous understanding that modernization of Act 250 in our urban areas has been held hostage by a consistent desire to add stricter regulation in the rural areas of the state.
What you need to be conveying to your legislators now is;
- We need bold changes in our land development policy this coming year to enable housing creation!
- A lack of housing is holding back everything Vermonters are doing to address the challenges our state faces.
- No matter what happens, our municipalities with strong planning and zoning that cover Act 250 criteria need to be released from jurisdiction,
- Changes to the urban areas do not need to be arbitrarily linked to changes in the rural areas because making development easier in urban areas means 1) more environmentally friendly development 2) disincentivizing development in fragile rural environments.
- We cannot wait another year for Act 250 relief in our downtowns!
Policy Makers Need to Rethink and Promote Public Safety
Our community’s public safety is at a boiling point. Burlington just had its 10th gunfire incident this past weekend, and the founder and publisher of our local, progressive-minded news weekly filed a special editorial about how conditions in the downtown have become untenable.
While many have denied there is an issue, effectively standing in the rain and yelling that it is not raining, others have shifted blame, and many try not to be involved in the conversation for fear of reprisal.
LCC has conducted a number of meetings on public safety, and we are working to develop some policy proposals in the coming session and a coalition to push them with us. We need to hear from you. Please share your experiences with safety here and/or email our team at [email protected]
What we’re willing to say, and maybe others might be dancing around, is that we are looking at a situation where we’ve made much-needed corrections from the ways of the past, however, we chartered the wrong course for the future trajectory. Our country, and certainly its law enforcement, was overdue for changes to our criminal justice system. It is clear to us that we’ve landed in a place in which we are preserving the autonomy of some committing crimes and not the safety or security of our community.
This past week’s gunfire incident was allegedly perpetrated by someone who “had 150 police interactions in Vermont since 2011, including multiple felony convictions and sex crimes,” and just weeks ago, a Judge in Grand Isle County sentenced someone to four years of probation after they were found guilty of distributing narcotics in the small towns of that county, and just this past week a man who had 17 interactions with law enforcement in under two weeks injured an officer and was released by a judge the following afternoon.
This a multifaceted issue, and we need bold action by policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels to;
- Build the housing that years of policy have suppressed,
- Create and fund pathways for mental health and substance misuse treatment, AND
- Hold those distributing narcotics or leveraging the understanding we have for those suffering from the above two challenges so they can commit crimes unabated.
California has started taking this seriously as they rolled out a new way to administer mandatory mental health and substance misuse treatment, yet as Mark Redmond put it best, “Vermont’s ideology prevents humane mental health care.”
What are your thoughts? Please send them to [email protected]
Voluntary or Mandated? Paid Leave is Coming to Vermont Either Way
One way or another, Vermont will see paid progress toward more employees receiving paid leave for medical and family events. The question everyone is asking ahead of the session is if it will be mandatory or voluntary. While the Vermont Legislature has been debating creating a mandatory paid family and medical leave program, Governor Scott launched on July 1st of this year Phase 1 of a voluntary paid family and medical leave program, potentially pre-empting any action by the legislature to mandate such a program. Phase 2 includes open enrollment for all Vermont businesses on July 1st, 2024, and the Administration is seeking to engage with employers who might be interested in extending this coverage to their employees at an affordable cost.
The Laundry List
- The legislative conversation will begin again in January on many pieces of legislation that didn’t make it across the finish line last legislative session. Read our session summary if you haven’t already.
- VDOL Looking for Feedback on the Unemployment Insurance Program They will be seeking feedback on the new UI system and user interface improvements as the new system is developed, as well as seeking input on Program structures and legal requirements. If you have suggestions or would like to participate in a listening session, please email [email protected]
- This past week, Speaker Jill Krowinski sent a letter to the climate council calling for a greater focus on climate resiliency, or adaptation to the effects of climate change, in the wake of our severe flooding this summer. Our state’s overarching climate framework, the Global Warming Solutions Act, was deliberately written without accommodating resiliency or adaptation. LCC brought this critique of the legislation, where it fell on deaf ears and was disregarded only to resurface after it was passed when members of the Climate Council were creating their plan; however, by then, it was too late.
- DestinationD BTV – November 15th – The Lake Champlain Chamber’s Hello Burlington division will host Destination BTV on November 15th at the Hilton Burlington, a travel summit focused on growing and leveraging our region’s visitor economy. In addition to keynote presentations on the Vermont Futures Project and the upcoming April 2024 eclipse, we’ll hear updates on regional transportation infrastructure as well as visitor economy news from around the Champlain Valley. Joins us! Register Here
- The Burlington Young Professionals Network is continuing its fall event series with Cocktails with Burlington City Councilors on Thursday, October 12, at Venetian Cocktail & Soda Lounge. Register Here
- It’s Chamber Membership Renewal Season! Invoices have been sent to your inbox, and physical copies should be in your mailbox! Reach out to [email protected] if you need help.
- The Fall Tax Symposium, hosted by the Vermont Department of Taxes, is scheduled for October 19, 2023. Remote attendees are welcome and unlimited. However, those who wish to receive Continuing Professional Education Credits must attend in-person. Register Here
- You now have until Sunday (10/8) to apply for Advance Champlain, an excellent opportunity for personal and professional growth. Don’t miss out on the chance to hone your leadership skills, network with leaders across different industries in Vermont, and take the next step in your leadership journey. Apply Here