in the State House of Representatives
on March 22, 2022, by a vote of
Purpose: 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).
Vermont Joint Fiscal Office Note on H.492
EAI Blog: Two More Act 250 Horror Stories
Roll Call! Senate Resolves Against Governor’s Act 250 Reform Order (22-8), 2021
Roll Call! House Votes Against Constituent Input on Act 250 Reform Bill (45-93), 2020
Roll Call! House Restricts Private Property/Development Rights (85-58), 2017
How They Voted
(Click on your Rep’s name to send an email)
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – ABSENT
Paul Lefebvre (R – Newark) – YES