Rep. Brian Savage

2020 Legislative Session (August - September)


Allocate $586,000 for GWSA (H.969). Passed 100-42 on September 11, 2020. After passing the GWSA, the House voted to fund the 22-person Climate Council and 3 support staff with $586,000 for 1 year. The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) mandates that Vermont meet strict carbon emission reduction targets, beginning with 26% below 2005 levels by 2025. The Climate Council is composed of 22 state government officials and citizen experts who will adopt a “Vermont Climate Action Plan.” This plan would offer guidance to the Agency of Natural Resources, which would be empowered to create and implement new rules for achieving the emission targets. If any citizen (or special interest group) believes the Agency is not adopting rules quickly enough to meet the mandates, they may take the state to court, with the taxpayers potentially responsible for the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees. No cost analysis was made of what the impact of meeting these new mandates might be, nor any disclosure of what rules might be in the “action plan.” Watch the floor debate on YouTube.

Savage - NO

Override Gov Veto of GWSA (H.688). Passed 103-47 on September 17, 2020. Rather than spending $586,000 for funding 1 year, this bill allocates $900,000 for maintaining the Climate Council and supplying 3 support staff for 2 fiscal years. Watch the floor debate on YouTube.

Savage - NO

New Deadly Force Standards for Police (S.119). Passed 106-37 on September 22, 2020. Narrows the current justifiable homicide statute so that an officer would only be “guiltless” for homicide if they are “promot(ing) and protect(ing) the health, safety, and welfare of the public.” Officers must consider language barriers, medical conditions and other factors before deciding to use force. For officers not under an “imminent threat,” choke holds would no longer be permissible for subduing a suspect. The overall criteria for force will be based on “a reasonable officer in the same situation.” Watch the floor debate on YouTube.

Savage - NO



2020 Legislative Session (January - June)


Pay Increase for Legislators (H.961, Donahue Division of Hooper Amendment). Passed 82-61 on June 25, 2020. Those voting YES supported tying legislators’ future cost of living increases to the rate of increase allocated to constitutional officers beginning in July 2021. The net result of this would be a modest, annual, automatic pay increase for legislators. Those voting NO argued that it was inappropriate for legislators to support a pay increase for themselves when a public health and economic crisis has left many of their constituents with lost income, and state revenue downgrades will likely require future cuts in government services. Watch the floor debate on YouTube.

Savage - NO


Prohibit “Ballot Harvesting” in the 2020 Election (S.348, Myers Amendment). Failed 50-95 on June 10, 2020. Ballot harvesting” is a controversial practice in which campaign operatives and/or activists collect ballots from voters that has resulted in improper influence over voters, fraudulent filling out of ballots, and destruction of ballots. The key language in the Myers amendment to prohibit ballot harvesting reads, “An early voter absentee ballot may be returned only by the voter; the justices of the peace who delivered the ballot, if applicable; or an authorized family member or caregiver acting in the voter’s behalf,” as well as defining criminal penalties if violated and mandates a civil investigation if there is reason to suspect this kind of fraud is occurring.” Watch the floor debate on YouTube.

Savage - YES


Legalize a Taxed and Regulated Marijuana Marketplace (S.54). Passed 90-54 on February 26, 2020. S.54 would create a regulatory framework for the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana, implement a 20% tax on sale of marijuana (a 14% excise tax plus the existing 6% sales tax), and establish a Cannabis Control Board responsible for regulation and licensing and establishes a license for current medical dispensaries to start selling marijuana in 2022. The bill directs the board to prioritize Vermont businesses owned by women and minorities as it considers license applications.

Savage - NO


Allow Time for Public Input on Act 250 Reform (H.926, Bock Motion). Failed 45-96 on February 28, 2020. Reforming Vermont’s 50 year old comprehensive land use law is immensely complicated and impacts many facets of business, recreational, and daily life. The Bock Motion came in response to an flurry of constituent questions and comments, and called for a one-business-day delay on the vote so that legislators have an opportunity to speak with and hear from constituents regarding proposed changes over the Town Meeting Day break.

Savage - YES


Override Veto of Minimum Wage Increase (S.23, Veto Override). Passed 100-49 (2/3 required to override) on February 25, 2020. S.23 would raise the state minimum hourly wage from the current mark $10.96 to $12.55 by 2022, with increases tied to inflation afterward. The Governor vetoed this bill because, “Fiscal analysis projects job losses, decreases to employee hours, and increased costs of goods and services, which will offset the intended positive benefits for workers; These harmful impacts will be felt more significantly in rural parts of the state, worsening economic inequity between counties; and there will be an overall negative impact on economic growth.”

Savage - NO


Global Warming Solutions Act (H.688). Passed 105-37 on February 26, 2020. The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) mandates that Vermont meet strict carbon emission reduction targets, beginning with 26% below 2005 levels by 2025. The bill would create a Climate Council, for paying $900,000 to 22 state government officials and citizen experts who will adopt a “Vermont Climate Action Plan.” This plan would offer guidance to the Agency of Natural Resources, which would be empowered to create and implement new rules for achieving the emission targets. If any citizen (or special interest group) believes the Agency is not adopting rules quickly enough to meet the mandates, they may take the state to court, with the taxpayers potentially responsible for the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees. No cost analysis was made of what the impact of meeting these new mandates might be, nor any disclosure of what rules might be in the “action plan.” The legislature is not required to vote on the plan or the rules before they are put into effect.

Savage - NO


Require Legislative Approval of GWSA Plans/Rules (H.688, Donahue Amendment). Failed 44-99 on February 20, 2020. The Donahue Amendment to the Global Warming Solutions Act would ensure legislative review and approval of any plans/rules proposed by the newly formed Climate Council and the Agency of Natural Resources before such plans/rules could be put into effect because it is the Legislature’s responsibility to serve as the final judge for any plan that will so materially affect the people of Vermont.

Savage - YES


Override Gubernatorial Veto of Paid Family Leave (H.107). Failed 99-51 (2/3 required to override) on February 5, 2020. The Paid Family Leave Bill would establish a new payroll tax on employees of 0.2% on income up to $137,000 (total $30 million annually) in order to fund a government-mandated insurance program allowing employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth of a child, or 8 weeks for family care. If the volume of people claiming the benefit exceeds the revenue raised at this tax rate, the tax rate will automatically increase to meet demand. Employees can elect to pay an additional 0.38% of their wages to obtain medical leave of 6 weeks maximum. While all Vermont employees would have their wages taxed, only employees who work at least 675 hours annually (13 hours a week) for a single employer would be eligible to receive the paid leave or to opt-in to the medical leave. The Governor vetoed H.107 stating, “My administration’s approach is voluntary for employers and employees. It can be accomplished more efficiently, affordably and quickly, without a $29 million payroll tax that Vermont workers simply should not be burdened with, and without putting the risk of underfunding on taxpayers.”

Savage - NO


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2019 Legislative Session



Mandatory Paid Family Leave/Payroll Tax (H.107). Passed 92-52 on April 5, 2019. This would put in place a government-mandated Paid Family Leave program paid for with a new payroll tax on income up to $132,900. The program would allow an employee to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth of a child, or 8 weeks for family or personal medical care. Employees would receive 90% of their weekly wages up to the “liveable wage” (currently calculated at $13.34/hr). Wages above that level would covered at 50% of the weekly wage. Wages above $132,900 would not be covered. A maximum cap on the benefit would be set at $1,334 per week. The payroll tax would be initially set at 0.55%, and the estimated total cost would $76 million annually to start.

Savage - NO


Double the Tax on Home Heating Fuels (H.439, Ways & Means Committee Amendment). Passed 81-60 on March 26, 2019. This would double the tax on the retail sale of heating oil, propane, kerosene, and other dyed diesel fuel delivered to a residence or business from $0.02 to $0.04 per gallon, and to impose a gross receipts tax of 1% on the retail sale of natural gas and 1.5% on the retail sale of coal. The estimated $4.6 million tax will be used to increase funding for the state’s low-income weatherization program.

Savage - NO


Increase State Minimum Wage Annually by 2.25x Inflation (S.23). Passed 90-53 on May 15, 2019. This would increase the state mandated minimum wage each year by 2.25x the rate of inflation. If inflation remains steady at 2%, the next hike would raise the minimum wage from $10.78 to $11.26 in 2020. Again, assuming steady inflation, the state minimum wage would reach $15/hour in 2027.

Savage - NO


Increase Capital Gains Tax/Reduces Estate Tax (H.541). In order to address the issue of wealthy taxpayers fleeing Vermont, this bill would increase the estate tax exclusion (raising the point where the tax kicks in) from $2.75 million to $4.25 million in January 2020, and to $5 million in January 2021, resulting in a substantial estate tax cut. However, in order to backfill the lost revenue anticipated from the estate tax cut, the bill would also decrease the exemption for capital gains from 40% to 30% and cap the exemption at $450,000. The former change positively impacts mostly wealthy citizens passing on assets to younger generations, the latter change negatively impacts mostly middle/working Vermonters who rely on a one-time, large dollar sale of a home or business to fund their retirement.

Savage - NO


Allow All School Districts to Delay Forced Mergers by One Year (H.39, Scheuermann Amendment). Failed 69-74 on February 6, 2019. February 6, 2019. This would provide all school districts facing forced mergers ordered by the State Board of Education the opportunity to extend the July 1, 2019 merger deadline currently in law to July 1, 2020.

Savage - YES


Mandate that Vermonters Purchase Health Insurance (H.524). Passed 92-44 on March 29, 2019. This would mandate that all Vermonters purchase health insurance, restoring at a state level the Obamacare federal mandate repealed by the Trump Administration. However, this state “mandate” comes with no penalty. Instead, the bill would create a database of state income tax filers who do not have health insurance, and commission bureaucrats to encourage these Vermonters to purchase insurance.

Savage - NO


Ban Plastic Bags, Styrofoam Food Containers, Straws, Etc. (S.113). Passed 120-24 on May 9, 2019. This would make it illegal for businesses to provide “single use” plastic bags to customers at the point of sale, or to provide polystyrene food or beverage containers, or to provide plastic straws except upon request, and to require businesses to charge at least 10¢ per paper bag (if not given away for free). It would create a “Single-Use Products Working Group” to study the effectiveness of these policies and make recommendations for future regulation.

Savage - NO


Raise Tobacco Use/Purchase Age from 18 to 21 (S.86). Passed 124-14 on April 23, 2019. This would raise the legal age to purchase and use tobacco and tobacco related products from 18 to 21 years of age.

Savage - YES


Allow Non-Citizen Voting in Montpelier (H.207). Passed 95-46 on April 18, 2019. This would change the charter of the City of Montpelier to allow non-citizens who are legally in the United States and full time residents of the city to vote in city elections, setting a precedent for other towns/cities around the state.

Savage - NO


Abolish Columbus Day/Create Indigenous Peoples’ Day (S.68). Passed 113-24 on April 16, 2019. This would abolish Columbus Day as a state holiday and replace it with “Indigenous People’s Day.”

Savage - YES


Propose Constitutional Amendment Guaranteeing Abortion from Conception to Birth (Proposition 5). Passed 106-38 on May 7, 2019. This would amend the Vermont Constitution to say that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” It would bar any legal restrictions on abortion from conception to the moment of birth.

Savage - NO



2018 Legislative Session



$5.9 Billion FY19 Budget (H.924). Passed 117-14 on May 12, 2018. The “Big Bill” budget for FY19 totaled $5,861,048,67, an increase of a little over 1% from the FY18 budget. General Fund spending shows a decline of 17.2%, from $1.6 billion to just under $1.3 billion, but this is only because the legislature eliminated the General Fund transfer to the education fund, replacing that money from other sources. The “apples to apples” growth in spending is 2.5%.

Savage - YES


House Passes $59 million Income Tax Increase/Property Tax Cut (H.911) Passed 85-54 on March 21, 2018. This was a two-part bill. The first part shifts some responsibility for funding Vermont’s pre-k-12 education system from the property tax to the income tax. The second part negates an unintended $30 million tax increase resulting from changes in the federal tax code. Part 1 includes a $59 million income tax increase, called a “surcharge,” eliminates the current General Fund transfer to the Education Fund, and dedicates 100% of the sales and use tax to the Education Fund. This allows for a cut in homestead property tax rates of 15 cents/$100 of assessed value. Part 2 lowers each of Vermont’s marginal tax rates for personal income taxes by at least 0.2%, expands the earned-income tax credit, and eliminates the tax on Social Security benefits for Vermonters with less than $55,000 in income. Those voting YES are in favor of reducing the reliance on the property tax for the purpose of funding pre-k-12 education spending, and shifting that burden to the income tax, which they believe better reflects ability to pay. Those voting NO note that H.911 does not address education spending, it merely shifts the costs without reducing or curbing the total tax burden. The income tax surcharge will give Vermont the third highest marginal income tax rate in the nation. The income tax is historically a volatile revenues source, and ill-suited for education funding. The shift to income taxes is unfair to renters who end up paying higher income taxes but get no property tax relief. This new funding scheme is unfair to 30,000 non-residents who chose to work in Vermont and will now be paying this new education tax with not compensating property tax decrease. H.911 leaves all the complexity of the current system in place (CLA, per pupil spending, income sensitivity etc.), and adds even more complexity by introducing new income tax surcharge. And, finally, object to the tactic of tying two unrelated ideas together in one bill, holding tax relief hostage to a shift to the income tax to pay for education.

Savage - NO


$16 Million Payroll Tax for Paid Family Leave (H.196) Passed 90-53 on May 11, 2018. H.196 would levy a 0.136% ($16.3 million) payroll tax on employees to pay for a state-mandated, government-run family leave insurance program. However, if the demand for the benefit exceeds the amount raised at this rate, the legislature will have to adjust the rate upward to raise enough revenue to cover the cost. Those voting YES supported the program, believing it will make Vermont more “family friendly” and appealing to young workers. Those voting NO see this as another burdensome “mandate from Montpelier” on businesses, that the tax rate has been set artificially low and will have to be raised, and that this bill levies a $16.3 million tax on all working Vermonters, even though only a fraction of them will have occasion or the ability to benefit from the program.

Savage - NO


$15 Minimum Wage (S.40). Passed 77-60 on May 18, 2018. S.40 would raise Vermont’s minimum wage from the current $10.50/hr. to $15/hr. by the year 2024.Those voting YES believe this will benefit low income workers and help to close the “income inequality” gap. Those voting NO believe that such a large and rapid increase in the cost of labor will harm Vermont businesses, the overall economy, as well as the workers the bill was meant to help due to cutbacks in hours, lost benefits, and/or lost jobs as employers struggle to maintain budgets. Additionally, a majority of Vermonters living in low income households, especially poor senior citizens, do not report wage income. While their incomes would be unaffected by the minimum wage increase, their cost of living would rise due to higher prices for goods and services due to the artificial wage increase being passed along to consumers.

Savage - NO


$6.4 Million Tax Package to Fund Lake Clean Up (S.260). Passed 92-48 on May 4, 2018. S.260 would raise $6.4 million in new revenue, primarily from a $4.55 million increase in the state rooms and meals tax (from 9% to 9.25%). The rest, $1.94 million, would come via the confiscation of revenue from unclaimed bottle/can deposits, which is currently the property of the beverage distributors and used by them to defray the costs of managing recycling programs. These taxes would not take effect until 2020, and only then if the legislature does not find another source of funding. Those voting YES believe higher taxes are necessary to fund water quality improvements. Those voting NO believe that water quality improvements should be funded with existing resources, not tax increases, that they should especially not be funded in a way that discourages tourism, such as increasing the rooms and meals tax, or in a way that punishes industries (tourism and beverage distribution) that do not contribute measurably to water pollution problem and, in the case of the unclaimed deposit money, actually help maintain a clean environment through recycling programs.

Savage - NO


Mandate That Vermonters Buy Health Insurance (H.696). Passed 118-16 on May 12, 2018. The primary objective of H.696 is to require individual Vermonters to purchase and maintain “minimum essential [health insurance] coverage” for themselves and any dependent or pay a penalty to the state beginning in the 2020 plan year. However, legislators do not know how this would work or how it would be enforced, so the bill also creates the “Individual Mandate Working Group” to figure it out. Those voting YES support forcing Vermonters to purchase health insurance as doing so will help keep overall insurance premiums lower. Those voting NO do not support a state mandate to purchase health insurance, assert that forcing citizens to purchase a product from a private company is government overreach, and note that the mandate will make Vermont less affordable for young people, who we are supposedly trying to attract.

Savage - NO


Legalization of Recreational Marijuana (H.511). Passed 81-63 on January 4, 2018. H.511 legalizes possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for use by people 21 and older and allows possession of four immature and two mature marijuana plants. Those voting YES support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Those voting NO do not support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

Savage - NO


Increase Fee on Telecommunication Bills (H.582). Passed 109-27 on February 16, 2018. S.582 increases the surcharge that appears on Vermonters’ telecommunications bills from 2 to 2.5 percent, which amounts an estimated $6.3 million fee increase. The raise would sunset in four years (2022). The money collected from this increase will be transferred to the Connectivity Fund, which distributes grants to internet service providers that expand networks in underserved areas. Those voting YES believe these additional funds are necessary to connect all Vermonters to the internet. Those voting NO believe that Vermonters cannot afford any more taxes/fees, note that the Connectivity Fund has a history of being raided for other purposes, and that there is no clear plan for how the money would be spent to achieve the stated objective.

Savage - NO


Give Taxpayer Funded Legal Counsel to Those Challenging Immigration Status (S.237). Passed on April 10, 2018, by a vote of 97-40. S.237 allows state-paid public defenders, including the Defender General, to provide legal help to immigrants on immigration issues in the federal court system. Those voting YES believe that immigrants and farm workers residing in Vermont should have access to taxpayer funded representation in federal court “in or with respect to a matter arising out of or relating to immigration status.” Those voting NO believe that giving Vermont’s Defender General more responsibilities without increased funding would put a strain on that government office. There is already a backlog of cases, and the Defender General would have to reallocate resources away from other vital government functions in order to provide this service. The federal court system already offers court-appointed legal counsel, and there is no reason for the state to duplicate this service.

Savage - NO



2017 Legislative Session



$5.82 Billion FY18 Budget (H.518). Passed 143-1 on March 30, 2017. H.518 set the total FY18 budget at a $5.82 billion, an overall 1% increase over FY17. State (non-Federal) spending would total $2.5 billion, an increase of about $20 million over FY17. The General Fund would grow by 1.8%. Those voting YES celebrated a budget that did not rely on new taxes or fee increases and grows in line with inflation. The one NO vote explained his vote, “Even though we haven’t increased [the budget], I think the budget needs to go on a diet.”

Savage - YES


Miscellaneous Tax Bill with No New Taxes or Fees (H.516). Passed 138-0 on March 30, 2017. The Miscellaneous Tax Bill for FY18 did not include any new taxes or fees. It does rely on approximately $5 million in new revenue from enhanced compliance with existing taxes. The bill passed unanimously.

Savage - YES


Create Statewide Teachers’ Healthcare Contract/$26 Million in Property Tax Savings (H.509, Beck Amendment). Failed 74-74 on May 3, 2017. The Beck Amendment represented Governor Scott’s proposal to create a statewide teachers’ contract for healthcare benefits, which could save property taxpayers an estimated $26,000,000. Those voting YES supported the proposal. Those voting NO opposed it. Speaker Johnson cast the deciding vote, killing the proposal.

Savage - YES


Mandate Employees Buy Family Leave Insurance Via New Payroll Tax (H.196). Passed 88-58 on March 3, 2017. H.196 levies a new payroll tax on Vermont employees to create a new “family leave” program that would be administered similarly to unemployment insurance. The language in the bill sets the payroll tax at 0.141% of one’s first $150,000 of income, but acknowledges that if revenue necessary to fund demand the program is not met by that rate, the rate will rise to meet demand. Those voting YES support the program. Those voting NO see it as another tax and administrative burden on Vermont businesses.

Savage - NO


Allow Warrantless Confiscation of Firearms In Cases of Alleged Domestic Abuse (H.422). Passed 78-60 on March 22, 2017. H.422 would allow law enforcement to confiscate firearms from a citizen arrested or cited for domestic assault, without a warrant and regardless of whether or not a firearm played a part in the allegation, for a period of up to five days. Those voting YES on this bill believe the measure is necessary to combat domestic abuse. Those voting NO see this as a violation of Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution (the right to defend one’s self), and the Second Amendment (the right to keep and bear arms), Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure), Fifth Amendment (due process), and Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection under the law) of the U.S. Constitution.

Savage - NO


Restrict Private Property/Development Rights (H.233). Passed 85-58 on May 4, 2017. The “Forest Fragmentation” bill makes it much more difficult for property owners to develop subdivide their land by creating a number of regulatory criteria that must be met in regard to preserving “forest blocks,” defined in part as “a contiguous area of forest in any stage of succession and not currently developed for non-forest use.” Those voting YES want to impose additional Act 250 regulation on rural forest land. Those voting NO believe rural forestland additional regulation of forestland is unwarranted, will discourage long term investment in forestland and in forestry, and is a violation of personal property rights.

Savage - NO


Mandate “Gender Neutral” Bathrooms (H.333). Passed 123-19 on April 21, 2017. H.333 would make it illegal for a restaurant, gas station, grocery store, etc. to offer customers the service of private men’s and women’s bathrooms, mandating that all single-occupancy bathrooms be open to all genders. Those voting YES believe this is necessary to make transgender citizens feel comfortable. Those voting NO believe this is a gross example of government overreach, and an unnecessary regulation interfering with Vermont businesses.

Savage - YES


Legalize Growing/Possessing Marijuana, Sets Stage for Retail Sales/Taxation (S.22). Passed 79-66 on May 10, 2017. S.22 was originally a fentanyl regulation bill repurposed to be a vehicle for passage of marijuana legalization. It would remove all criminal penalties for adults 21 or older who possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and allow growing up to two mature and two immature marijuana plants per household, and would go into effect in 2018. The bill also sets up a commission that will create a framework for taxing and regulating retail sales of marijuana. Those voting YES support legalization of marijuana; those voting NO oppose it.

Savage - NO


Bar State Law Enforcement from Gathering Information for a Federal Immigration Registry (S.79). Passed 110-24 on March 14, 2017. This bill was designed to “send a message” regarding President Trump’s policies on immigration, but without doing anything that might classify Vermont as “sanctuary state.” The registry the bill bars Vermont from providing information to does not actually exist. Those voting YES oppose the president’s immigration policies. Those voting NO see the bill as a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, but potentially puts federal funding for Vermont programs at risk.

Savage - NO


Pledge Support/Funds for Global/State Climate Change Agenda (H.R.15). Passed 105-31, June 21, 2017. Those voting YES on H.R.15 resolved that Vermont will continue to bear the costs and sacrifices of the global Paris Climate Agreement despite the U.S. withdrawal from the pact, and to affirm support for an aggressive statewide CO2 reduction program. Those voting NO recognized that this resolution, would require significantly higher taxes, economically crippling regulations, and that legislators were voting on this after no debate and no analysis of the potential economic impact.

Savage - NO



2016 Legislative Session



$5.77 Billion FY17 Budget (H.875). Passed 94-40 on March 24, 2016. Those voting YES on this bill approved a total $5.77 billion state budget for FY17. This represents a total increase of 2.7 percent over FY16 (not accounting for adjustments that will occur in the next legislative session.) The $1.47 billion general fund portion of the budget, however, increases by 4.8 percent, while revenue is projected to grow at just 2.2%. This budget also leaves an estimated $30 million hole for the FY18 budget. Those voting NO argued that continuing the trend of spending taxpayer dollars faster than revenue comes into the treasury is unsustainable and irresponsible.

Savage - NO


Adjust 2016 Budget Upward by $91.8 Million (H.611). Passed 90-54 on January 26, 2016. Those voting YES voted in favor of increasing spending for FY16 by a total of $91.8 million (raising the previously accepted state budget to $5.6 billion, a 2.5% increase over FY15), $12.3 million of which is represents increases in General Fund spending (raising total General Fund Spending to $1.48 billion, a 5% increase over FY15). Those voting NO opposed these spending increases on the grounds that the state cannot continue to spend money faster than revenue is coming in, and that continuing to do so is causing a structural deficit.

Savage - NO


$37 Million in New Miscellaneous Taxes (H.873) Passed 86-59 on March 23, 2016. Those voting YES approved $37 million worth of new taxes. These include stringent enforcement of the 9% rooms and meals tax on private, short term rentals such as those contracted through AirBnB, raising the assessment on employers who do not offer health insurance to their employees to $151.12 per employee for businesses with 19 or fewer employees, $210.00 for businesses with 20-99 employees, and $249.00 for businesses with over 100 or more employees. The bill also puts a 3.3 percent assessment on ambulance agencies’ annual net patient revenues for services. And increases by 0.25% the fuel gross receipts on heating oil, propane, kerosene, dyed diesel, natural gas and coal to 0.75%. And, a $2.4 million a year increase in the bank franchise tax. Those voting NO opposed these tax increases.

Savage - NO


$11 Million Motor Vehicle Fee Increases (H.877). Passed 104-40 on March 30, 2016. Those voting YES on this bill supported $11 million in new or higher motor vehicle related fees. Increased costs include: higher motor vehicle registration fees, higher transfer of ownership fees, higher fees for driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and non-driver ID cards, higher fees for vehicle inspections, an increase the annual motor vehicle emission (“clean air”) fee, and a higher cost for choosing a “vanity” license plate. There is also a new $80 fee for reinstating a suspended registration. Those voting NO opposed these fee increases.

Savage - NO


$7.9 Million Property Tax Increase (H.853). Passed 98-45 on March 30, 2016. The primary function of this bill is to set the property tax rates for FY17, as well as to take care of some miscellaneous educational items. Those voting YES supported what amounts to a 0.2¢ increase for residential property tax payers, and in total, a $7.9 million proper tax increase ($4 million coming from residential and $3.9 million from non-residential taxpayers). Those voting NO opposed the tax increase, noting that if the spending thresholds in Act 46 had been left in place Vermont homeowners would have experienced a cut in property taxes.

Savage - NO


$24 Million in Fee Hikes (H.872). Passed 98-46 on March 23, 2016. Those voting YES supported increasing the net fees paid in Vermont by $24 million – the highest increase on record. The 2015 fee increases, in comparison, amounted to $2.7 million. Those voting NO opposed not just the fee increases but the precedents set by raising fees to fund general revenue projects. The legal definition of a fee is that it is used to pay the costs of regulating or servicing the entity paying the fee, and no more.

Savage - NO


Mandate Paid Sick Leave (H.187). Passed 81-64 on February 3, 2016. Those voting YES supported a de facto tax on mostly small/micro businesses of $14.3 million dollars annually when fully implemented.” The bill would allow an employee to accrue “not less than one hour of earned sick time for every 52 hours worked,” with a maximum number of hours accrued set at 24 hours in a 12-month period from January 1, 2017 until December 31, 2018 and then a maximum of 40 hours in a 12-month period after December 31, 2018. Those voting NO opposed adding another burden to struggling Vermont businesses.

Savage - NO


92% Tax on E-Cigarettes (H.879). Passed 83-54 on March 30, 2016. Those voting YES supported putting a 92% on e-cigarettes and related products for a total tax increase of an estimated $500,000. Those voting NO opposed raising the tax, noting that e-cigarettes are not tobacco, but rather a tobacco substitute that many people use as a way to quit smoking.

Savage - NO


Strike $1.6 Million Telephone Tax Increase (H.870, Turner Amendment). Failed 48-97 on April 13, 2016. The Turner Amendment sought to strike a $1.6 million tax increase from the telecom bill. Those voting NO wanted to keep the tax increase in place, citing the need to pay for expanding broadband service. Those voting YES wanted to eliminate the tax increase, stating that the money could have and should have been found in the already passed general fund budget, and that Vermonters cannot afford any more taxes.

Savage - YES


Raise Smoking Age/$900,000 Tobacco Tax Increase (H.93). Passed 84-61on April 5, 2016. Those voting YES supported raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 over a three year period ending in 2019, and raising the tax on cigarettes by 39¢ (to a total of $3.47) and on other tobacco products by 32¢ — an estimated $900,000 tax increase. Those voting NO opposed the higher age limit and tax increase.

Savage - ABSENT


Block Legalization of Marijuana (H.858, Conquest Amendment). Passed 121-28), 2016, May 3, 2016. This amendment killed legislation that would have legalized, regulated and taxed marijuana in Vermont. Those voting YES on this amendment DID NOT support the legalization of marijuana. Those voting NO on this amendment DID support the legalization of marijuana.

Savage - YES



2015 Legislative Session



$16 Million Property Tax Increase, Mandates for School District Consolidation (H.361). Passed 88-55, April 1, 2015. Those voting YES on this bill approved a $16 million increase in school property taxes, setting the statewide homestead property tax rate at $0.98 (flat), and raising the nonresidential property tax rate to $1.525. The bill also placed mandates on school districts to consolidate into Pre-K- 12 districts of no fewer than 1100 students and put in place a complicated formula for capping school budgets, which could not be triggered until 2018. Those voting NO on H.361 saw this as a failure to answer the pleas of citizens for meaningful tax relief, while launching a serious assault on local control and the democratic process.

Savage - NO


$1.48 Billion General Fund Budget (4.8% Spending Increase) for FY16 (H.490). Passed 96-46, March 26, 2015. Those voting YES on H.490 approved a $1.48 billion general fund budget. This is a $68 million spending increase (4.8%) over the FY15 budget (adopted in 2014) and grows spending at 3 times the average rate of inflation (1.6% in 2014). Those voting NO did so on the grounds that increasing spending by 4.8% while revenue is only projected to grow at 2.4% is unsustainable and irresponsible. They also objected to using $24 million in one-time funds to achieve “balance,” and that this budget sets up a projected budget gap of $50-$70 million for FY17/FY18.

Savage - NO


$12 Million In New Taxes on Candy, Sweetened Beverages, Vending Machines & Tobacco (S.139, COMMITTEE OF WAYS & MEANS AMENDMENT). Passed 78-62, April 30, 2015. Those voting YES on this amendment supported extending Vermont’s 6% sales tax to candy (not containing flour) and sweetened beverages (not milk based), applying Vermont’s 9% rooms and meals tax to vending machine purchases, and increasing the tax on cigarettes by 33¢ over two years. The total tax increase on Vermonters amounts to roughly $12 million. Those voting NO opposed these tax increases.

Savage - ABSENT


$33.2 Million in Income Tax Increases (H.489). Passed 76-67, March 27, 2015. Analysis: Those voting YES on this bill approved a tax increase on Vermonters of $33.2 million, raised primarily from capping itemized deductions on the state income tax at $15,000 for individuals and $31,000 for couples, and disallowing deductions for state and local income taxes from the previous year. Some of those voting NO argued that Vermont has “a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” and that taxes are already too high in Vermont. Others voting NO believed H.489 did not raise enough revenue. (See H.489, O’Sullivan Amendment Roll Call to cross-reference.)

Savage - NO


Additional $12 Million Income Taxes (H.489). Failed 43-98, March 26, 2015. Those voting YES on this amendment supported: “Beginning in tax year 2015 and after, the rates assigned to the individual income tax brackets under 32 V.S.A. § 5822(a), from lowest to highest, shall be 3.55 percent, 6.8percent, 7.8 percent,9.5percent,and 9.55percent,” in the belief that the underlying bill did not raise enough revenue ($33.2 million) on its own. Those voting NO opposed this.

Savage - YES


Lake Clean Up With Existing Funds (No New Taxes) (H.35, DICKINSON AMENDMENT). Failed 40-100, April 1, 2015. The underlying bill, H.35, raised $8 million in new taxes for cleaning up Lake Champlain and Vermont’s other waterways. The Dickinson Amendment eliminated the need for new taxes by reallocating roughly $9 million of existing revenue for the same purpose. Those voting YES on the Dickinson Amendment believed that no new taxes were needed to fund the Lake Clean Up policies outlined in H.35, and that the financial obligations could be met by reallocating existing revenues from the property transfer tax. Those voting NO on the Dickinson Amendment supporting raising new taxes ($5.7 million from a 0.2 percent surcharge to the property transfer tax) and various fees ($2.3 million).

Savage - YES


46% Excise Tax on E-Cigarettes (H.40). (Passed 121-24, March 10, 2015. H.40 had many facets to it. It repealed the SPEED program and replaced it with a new RESET program, enabling Vermont utilities’ to continue to sell some Renewable Energy Credits. It also mandated that utilities have 75% of their electricity portfolio come from renewable sources by 2032. This, of course, is a mandate on customers to buy the more expensive renewables, and a requirement that more renewable electricity projects be built (25 megawatts per year). This many wind towers and solar facilities will have a negative impact on Vermont’s scenic landscape.

Savage - YES


46% Excise Tax on E-Cigarettes (H.187). Passed 76-66, April 22, 2015. Those voting YES approved an unfunded mandate, estimated to be a much as $14 million annually, requiring employers to provide at least three days of paid sick leave to employees. Those voting NO opposed this mandate, citing the fact that most Vermont businesses already provide such benefits voluntarily, and those that don’t can least afford to do so. This unfunded mandate represents another burden on Vermont employers, making Vermont a less competitive place to run a business.

Savage - NO


Ban on Teachers Strikes (H.76, LALONDE AMENDMENT) Failed 70-73, April 8, 2015). The LaLonde amendment would have banned both teachers’ ability to strike and school boards’ ability to impose contract terms. It would also have set up a task force to study less disruptive means of resolving contract disputes. Those voting YES favored banning teachers’ strikes and imposed contracts. Those voting NO supported teachers’ strikes.

Savage - YES


Prevent Green Mountain Care Board from Controlling Medicare Funding (S.139). Failed 54-85, April 30, 2015. In the 2014 election, the strategic plan enacted in Act 48 of 2011 became a major issue. This amendment would have removed all references to Medicare from Act 48, thus making it clear that the state’s promised single payer health care plan could not incorporate Medicare payments for Vermont seniors. Those voting YES wanted to keep the state’s hands off the Medicare payment stream. Those voting NO reaffirmed their support for having the Green Mountain Care Board gain control over Medicare payments under a single payer or “all payer” plan.

Savage - ABSENT


Same Day Voter Registration (S.29) Passed 87-54, May 11, 2015. Those voting YES on S.29 would allow an individual to register to vote and to vote on election day. Those voting NO believed this to be an invitation to voter fraud as there is not adequate opportunity for either the Town Clerk or other election monitors to verify that the persons registering to vote on election day are who they say they are, or are legal residents of where they claim to live. This also creates a logistical challenge for Town Clerks, who will have to both run the elections in their districts and, with this law, register new voters simultaneously.

Savage - NO


New Gun Control Regulations on Felons, Mentally Ill (S. 141) Passed 80-62, April 17, 2015. Those voting YES would make it a state crime for many convicted felons to possess firearms (already a crime under federal law). The bill also required the state report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System any time someone has been found by a court to be mentally ill and a danger to himself or others. Those voting NO believed this is a “solution in search of a problem.”

Savage - NO



2014 Legislative Session



5.5% STATE SPENDING INCREASE FOR 2015 (H. 885). Passed 91-46, March 27, 2014. Those voting YES on H.885 supported general fund spending for FY2015 of $1.438 billion. This represents a 5.5% increase ($88 million) over the original FY2014 budget of $1.362 billion as passed in 2013, and a 3.8% increase over the FY2014 budget as adjusted (upward) in 2014.The 5.5% spending increase is five times the current rate of inflation (1.1%), and nearly double Vermonters’ average rate of personal income growth (2.88% for 2013).

Savage - NO


$12.6 MILLION INCREASE TO 2014 SPENDING (H.655). Passed 110-33, January 24, 2014. The “Budget Adjustment Act,” is designed to “tweak” spending levels passed into law by the legislature in the previous year before in response to changes in fiscal conditions. Those voting YES on this 2014 Budget Adjustment, H.655, voted for a net increase of $12.63 million in new spending to the FY2014 General Fund budget bringing total FY2014 General Fund spending up to $1.37 billion.

Savage -


$56.2 MILLION PROPERTY TAX INCREASE (H. 889). Passed 89-51, April 4, 2014. Those voting YES on H.889 voted in favor of a $56.2 million property tax increase. Residential property tax rates rise 4¢ (4%) from 94¢ to 98¢ per $100 of assessed value. Nonresidential tax rates rise 7.5¢ (5%) from $1.44 to $1.515 per $100 of value.

Savage - NO


$1.2 MILLION MISCELLANEOUS TAX INCREASE (H. 884). Passed 103-42, March 27, 2014. The Miscellaneous Tax bill is an annual adjustment of tax provisions needed to match revenues with spending. Those voting YES on H.884 voted in favor of increasing the tax on tobacco snuff from $2.24 to $2.62, which is projected to raise $700,000, and to implement a 92% wholesale tax on electronic cigarettes, which was projected to raise $500,000.

Savage - NO


OVER $800,000 INCREASE IN MISCELANEOUS FEES (H.735). Passed 87-48, May 9, 2014. The “Fee Bill” sets the fees for business and professional licensing and a number of state services. This year’s bill was made controversial by a provision requiring $200 fee for storage of firearms confiscated by law enforcement following domestic disturbances. Those voting YES on H.735 supported over $800,000 in fee increases.

Savage - NO


INCREASE MINIMUM WAGE 16% TO $10.10 PER HOUR (H. 552) Passed 87-57, April 8, 2014. Those voting YES supported raising the minimum wage from $8.73 to $10.10 effective January 2015. This is a 16% increase and was estimated to cost Vermont businesses $30 million. State economist Tom Kavet testified that a rise in the minimum wage to $10 would result in the loss of 250 jobs or the equivalent in hours. Vermont already has the third highest minimum wage in the United States.

Savage - NO


MANDATORY SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION (H.883). Passed 76-60, April 30, 2014. Those voting YES on the bill supported the mandate, “This bill proposes to require…[that] as of July 1, 2020, supervisory unions shall cease to exist and current school districts shall be realigned into expanded prekindergarten–grade 12 school districts (Expanded Districts) that are responsible for the education of all resident students in prekindergarten–grade 12.” This would eliminate local school boards and erode local control over education. This bill would not reduce the cost of education, and would probably, in the short term, increase costs in order to pay for the transition.

Savage - YES


ALLOW CHILDCARE BUSINESSES TO UNIONIZE/COLLECTIVLEY BARGAIN FOR SUBSIDIES (S. 316) Passed 78-59, May 6, 2014. This bill would allow early childcare businesses to form a union to collectively bargain for taxpayer-funded subsidies. The legislature is essentially giving a union taxpayer money to lobby the legislature about something for which the legislature is already aware it is responsible, and forces hundreds of small business people in Vermont to pay “agency fees” (85% of union dues) to a union that they do not want to join.

Savage - NO


EXEMPT NON-UNIONIZED CHILDCARE WORKERS FROM PAYING “AGENCY FEES” TO A UNION (BOUCHARD AMENDMENT to S.316). Failed 53-86 on May 6, 2014. The underlying bill (S.316) allows early childcare businesses to form a union to collectively bargain with the state for subsidies. The Bouchard amendment would have exempted those early childcare providers who choose not to join a union from having to pay “agency fees” (85% of union dues) to that union.

Savage - YES


REPEAL AND REPLACE EDUCATION FINANCING SYSTEM (ACT 60/68) (Scheuermann Amendment to H. 889) Failed 49-83, April 3, 2014. The “Repeal & Replace amendment” proposed to repeal Vermont’s current education funding laws (Act 60/68) effective July 1, 2016 with a replacement to take effect for the 2016-2017 Academic Year. The Scheuermann Amendment comes in the wake of 37 Vermont towns voting down their school budgets. 43 towns lowered school spending, but, under the current financing system, still saw property taxes increase. Those voting NO voted to leave the status quo in place. Those voting YES voted for reform.

Savage - YES


IMPOSE STRICTER CENTRAL PLANNING FOR LAND DEVELOPMENT (H. 823). Passed 92-44, March 13, 2014. This bill was designed to funnel development into “approved, designated centers” (urban) and discourage development in other areas (rural) by making allowances for, and in some cases subsidies to, the former, and creating legal barriers to the latter. H.823 places strict regulations on the “conditions and criteria” for obtaining development permits. In the words of House Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Tony Klein, this bill turns Act 250 into a “living document.”

Savage - NO


REQUIRE “MAY CONTAIN GMO” LABEL ON SOME FOOD PRODUCTS (H. 112). Passed 114-30, April 23, 2014. The GMO labeling bill is popular with Vermonters because people quite logically want to know what is in the food they eat. Therefore, superficially this bill makes sense. However, there are two major concerns with H.112 in practice. 1) It opens Vermont taxpayers up to an estimated $1.5 to $8 million in legal liabilities if the law is challenged in court and the state loses – certain and likely scenarios respectively. 2) Given the number of exemptions to the labeling codified within the bill, it really doesn’t achieve the ostensible goal of enlightening consumers as to whether or not they are eating GMOs.

Savage - YES



2013 Legislative Session



4.7% STATE SPENDING INCREASE (H.530). Passed 91-49, March 29, 2013. Those members voting YES on the “Omnibus Appropriations Bill” voted to increase state spending by 4.7%. This is nearly 2 and a half times the rate of inflation.

Savage - NO


$50 MILLION PROPERTY TAX INCREASE (H.265). Passed 96-45, Feb. 19, 2013. Those who voted YES on this bill voted to increase the residential property tax rate by $.05 per $100.00 of assessed value, and $.06 on non-residential property to $.94 and $1.44 respectively. The total tax increase on Vermont property taxpayers as a result of this bill is estimated at over $50 million.

Savage - NO


$21.8 MILLION GAS TAX INCREASE (H.510). Passed 105-37, March 20, 2013. Legislators who voted YES on this bill supported a $21.8 million tax increase on gasoline – a roughly 7.5 cent per gallon increase by 2014. This represents the largest gas tax increase in Vermont history.

Savage - NO


$27 MILLION MISCELLANEOUS TAX INCREASE (H.528). Passed 85-55, March 27, 2013. Those members voting YES voted to expand the Vermont state sales tax (6%) to bottled water, clothing (including shoes) over $110, candy, soft drinks, and dietary supplements, and to increase the tax on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco by $0.50 (total: $3.12) and $0.88 (total: $3.12) respectively. They voted to increase the Rooms & Meals tax from 9% to 9.5% for 2014, and they voted to apply the Meals tax to food sold out of vending machines. They voted to cap all itemized tax deductions at 2.5 times standard deduction, eliminated Vermont’s 8.8% tax bracket, moving those earning $178,651 and more into the top 8.95% tax bracket, formerly reserved for those earning $388,351 and above. The total estimated cost to Vermont taxpayers: $27 million in 2014 and $32.3 million in 2015.

Savage - NO


STOP ‘RAIDS’ ON THE TRANSPORTATION FUND (Koch Amendment to H.510). Failed 49-88, March 21, 2013. Those voting YES on voted to assure that no transportation funds will be appropriated for the support of government other than for true transportation purposes. This would have reduced or negated the need for a gas tax increase.

Savage - YES


STATE OVERRIDES LOCAL CONTROL, MANDATES PRE-K (H.270). Passed 95-43, May 1, 2013. Those voting YES on H.270 voted to saddle Vermonters with an estimated $10 million cost/tax increase over the next five years, and to take away local control regarding the decision of whether or not to offer publicly funded pre-kindergarten. When the legislature established publicly funded pre-k in 2007, it did so with the assurance to communities that funding pre-k would remain voluntary. This bill reneges on that deal.

Savage - NO


FORCE NON-UNION WORKER TO PAY FEES TO UNIONS (S.14). Passed 85-43, April 26, 2013. Those voting YES on S.14 voted in favor of forcing non-union workers to pay a fee equal to 85% of the dues unionized workers pay to the union, effectively using government power to require citizens to make payments to a private organization that they want nothing to do with. S.14 affects roughly 2,600 education, state and municipal employees, mostly low-wage support staff who can least afford the payment.

Savage - NO


LIMIT CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS (S.82). Passed 96-49, May 8, 2013. Those voting YES on S.82 voted in favor of capping donations to independent political committees that do not coordinate with candidates or parties, despite Supreme Court precedents that are pretty clear that this constitutes a violation of the First Amendment. If the bill is challenged in court, which it likely will be, the state would most likely lose, leaving taxpayers on the hook for an estimated $5 million.

Savage - NO