2022 Legislative Session
Clean Heat Carbon Tax with Check-Back (H.715). Passed 23-7 on April 28, 2022. The Senate’s H.715 allocates $1.2 million to the Vermont’s Public Utilities Commission to design the Clean Heat Standard (CHS) program and study its economic/environmental impact, before “checking back” with the Legislature for approval. If heating fuel sellers do not create enough “clean heat credits” themselves through weatherization and green appliance installations, they must purchase credits generated by others to stay in business (with the cost of those credits being passed along to consumers – a de facto carbon tax on home heating). Those voting YES believe the CHS is essential to achieve Vermont’s GWSA greenhouse gas reduction mandates. Those voting NO believe the CHS would lead to extreme hardship for the 200,000+ fossil fuel heating Vermont households and numerous small businesses supplying and relying on fossil heating fuels. The technology to replace fossil fuel heating systems is not currently scalable to satisfy the GWSA, due to labor and supply restraints.
Ingalls - NOOverride Gov Pension Veto (S.286). Passed 30-0 (20 needed to override) on April 1, 2022. S.286 would reduce Vermont’s $3 billion deficit in the state’s public employee and teacher retirement funds, with the stated goal of making the pensions 90% funded. Vermont would add $267 million of one-time funding to the teacher/employee pensions and healthcare benefits. Vermont also agrees to annually allocate $30 million for pensions beginning in F2024. This makes no changes to the benefits of current retirees, but does obligate current/future employees and teachers to pay a higher portion of their current income into the plan. Some voting YES believe that S.286 will significantly lessen the problem. Others voting YES wished to do more, but supported S.286 because it was better than nothing. While not one senator voted NO, the crisis remains: this plan reduces unfunded liabilities by just 10%. The governor’s forecast predicts that retirees expenses will grow 20% over the next 4 years, versus a predicted state revenue increase of 1-3%.
Ingalls - YESImpose Registration with Fee for Rental Housing (S.210). Passed in the State Senate on February 10, 2022 by a vote of 20-9. S.210 would create: 1) a statewide registry of rental properties 2) a program for financing rental housing and 3) a program with financial incentives for homeownership. Those voting YES believe S.210 will increase the safety, quantity and affordability of Vermont’s rental housing market. A statewide registry would allow legislators to know where rental housing is located, allowing for more efficient use of ARPA dollars. Those voting NO were against the rental registry portion of the bill. They believe increasing housing regulations will reduce Vermont’s housing supply, raise rent on properties, shrink Vermont’s tourism industry, give landlords extra paperwork, expand state bureaucracy, and intrude on privacy. This is the first step toward state control of rental property.
Ingalls - NOOverride Gov Veto of Gun Restrictions (S.30). Passed 21-9 (20 needed to override) on March 11, 2022. S.30 makes it a crime to intentionally carry a gun into a hospital, lengthens the “default proceed” period for firearms background checks from 3 to 30 days, and obligates healthcare providers to report patient “threats” to law enforcement. Those voting YES believe this will protect victims of domestic abuse, hospital workers and patients undergoing treatment. Those voting NO are against the limitation of firearm rights, enshrined in the US and Vermont constitutions. This bill will not deter anyone with evil intent. Banning firearms from “sensitive places” creates soft targets and would set a precedent that could be expanded to include anywhere people gather.
Ingalls - NOGun Restrictions with Shorter Waiting Period (S.4). Passed 23-7 on March 11, 2022. S.4 contains the same provisions as S.30, above, with a waiting period to receive firearms shortened from 30 to 7 days. A few of those voting YES had voted “no” on S.30, because they believed a 7-day waiting period was more reasonable than 30 days. Those voting NO have the same objections as to S.30 above.
Ingalls - NOLimit Speech by Broadening 'Threat' Definition (S.265). Passed in the State Senate on February 17, 2021, by a vote of 28-2. S.265 condones legal punishment of citizens who “threaten” public officials, relying on a broadened definition of a ‘threat.’ Those voting YES believe that the increased levels of conflict between citizens, school board members and other public officials across the country warrants increased protections for elected officials from threats of violence. Those voting NO believe S.265 infringes on the constitutional rights to free speech and to petition government for change. S.265 could potentially result in citizens being punished for political criticism (rather than clear threats) of certain groups, which is clearly protected speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
Ingalls - NO2022 State Budget (H.740). H.740 is the ‘big budget bill,’ spending a record $8.3 billion (assisted by one-time federal ARPA dollars), a sizable portion of total funding that the Legislature passed in 2022. Some highlights: $138 million for workforce and economic development, $96 million for extending broadband internet, $50 million for housing, $35 million for Vermont’s public colleges and $7 million for childcare. Some voting YES believe H.740 will markedly improve the lives of Vermonters. Others voting YES did so reluctantly, believing that too much of the money funded ongoing programs and too little funded transformational change. Those voting NO believed that not enough structural improvements were allocated with the money. They were concerned that state tax dollars will need to replace federal ARPA dollars in coming years.
Ingalls - YESApprove 5% Increase in State Budget (H.679). Passed in the State Senate on February 3, 2022 by a vote of 24-6. H.679 would increase Vermont's annual general budget to $367 million, a 5% increase from 2021. Those voting YES believe that the bill will provide necessary funding for important government programs. Those voting NO may support programs such as those for housing improvement (VHIP), but worry some of the federal ARPA money would be taken away from “tangible infrastructure projects” and into government services and programs that don’t provide lasting benefits.
Ingalls - NOExpand De Facto Bottle Tax & Redeem Program (H.175). Passed 17-13 on May 11, 2022. H.175 would raise more revenue by expanding Vermont’s bottle redemption program to include a $0.05 deposit to purchase bottled water and sports drinks, among other non-carbonated beverages. Unclaimed bottle deposits are predicted to increase by $1.5 million, split between the Clean Water Fund and a Producer Responsibility Organization. Those voting YES argued that expanding the types of bottles for a deposit would result in more recycling, and fewer bottles along Vermont roadsides. Those voting NO argued that H.175 is a regressive tax on those who pay a higher share of their income on disposable containers. It would create an enormously complex process and do little to improve the number of bottles that are recycled, as testified by Vermont’s Waste Districts. The amount of CO2 emissions saved from expanding the bottle tax program could be exceeded by individuals driving to drop off their bottles.
Ingalls - NOEstablish Racial “Truth” Commission with $748,000 (H.96). Passed 22-7 on May 3, 2022. H.96 would create the Vermont Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A group of 45 bureaucrats would spend 3 years archiving systemic discrimination in Vermont and identify ways to dismantle state policies that have contributed to it. Those voting YES believe the Commission will unearth nuances about the past impact of racism, discrimination and eugenics in Vermont laws and offer ways to make them less discriminatory. Those voting NO believe the Truth Commission amounts to a bureaucratic “colossus,” of several dozen individuals unaccountable to the public. The Commission could grow from temporary status to a permanent institution. This money is better spent on the childcare crisis or schools.
Ingalls - NOExplore Police Misconduct (S.254). Passed 19-11 on March 24, 2022. S.254 would study removing police officers’ qualified immunity, which currently makes police personally immune from legal damages for most actions taken while on duty. It also authorizes data storage of pending allegations against police officers. Those voting YES believe Vermont police have too much legal leniency to act poorly against Vermonters. Those voting NO believe this sends the police a message that they are not trusted which, coupled with added personal financial and criminal liability, makes police recruitment and retention more difficult. They argued that providing allegations of police officers, is fundamentally at odds with ‘innocent until proven guilty.'
Ingalls - NOOverride Gov Veto of 15-17 Yr. Old Voting & Holding Office (H.361). Failed 15-12 (18 to override) on March 31, 2022. H.361 changes Brattleboro’s charter to allow 16-17 years olds (and 15 years olds if they will turn 16 by election day) to vote in municipal elections and serve on town boards, such as the select board. Those voting YES believe this will help get young people more involved in the political process and establish the habit of voting. Some of those voting NO believe that children are not ready to vote or mature enough to hold positions of authority and responsibility over critical municipal decisions, such as property taxes. Others voting NO may have supported Brattleboro children's right to vote, but were concerned that children would have to sign contracts to serve in government, which is illegal for those under 18 to do.
Ingalls - NOBan Gag Clauses Against Local Pharmacies, Give UVM Drug Monopoly (H.353). Passed 24-4 on May 9, 2022. To lower drug prices and protect local pharmacies, H.353 would prohibit Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM’s) from entering contracts for must-sell drug brands with local pharmacies. Vermont’s bureaucracy would also gain access to some PBM financial information, to judge the fairness of drug prices. Concurrently, health insurers would be prohibited from choosing cheaper mail-order pharmacies to fulfill specialty high-cost drug prescriptions. Those voting YES believe giving Vermont’s government more oversight of the prescription drug market will lower consumer prices, and direct more pharmaceutical money to local pharmacies rather than PBM’s. Some voting YES believe that UVM’s mail-order pharmacy is the only one responsible enough to ship specialty drugs by mail. Those voting NO worried that forcing private insurers to purchase drugs at UVM’s Burlington pharmacy could push up drug prices for insurers, who will raise their health insurances rates, erasing any gains from the other parts of the bill.
Ingalls - YESStudy Overdose Prevention Sites for Opioid Users (H.728). Passed 22-7 on May 3, 2022. H.728 would study overdose prevention sites (OPS), which provide clean needles to opioid users, in order to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths. Carrying needles distributed from a “needle exchange program” would be declassified as a crime. The Legislature asks the Department of Health to draft an actionable plan for setting up more OPS across Vermont. Those voting YES expressed optimism that the study of overdose prevention sites would reveal areas of Vermont where the potential to save lives and lower overall rates of crime and drug use. Those voting NO were concerned that adoption of OPS would make the jobs of police more difficult by making OPS needles easy to mistake for illegal needles. Providing free, safe needles may make it less likely that drug users will quit.
Ingalls - NO
2021 Legislative Session
Override Governor’s Vetoes of Montpelier, Winooski Noncitizen Voting (H.177, H.227). Passed 20-10 both times on May 7, 2021. To override Governor Scott’s vetoes of H.177 and H.227, which amended the charters of the cities of Montpelier and Winooski to allow non-citizens who are legally in the United States and full-time residents of each city to vote in city elections. Those voting YES assert that non-citizens pay taxes, have children in the schools, and are active participants in the community, therefore they deserve the right to vote on issues that affect them. Those voting NO assert that voting is a right and responsibility tied to citizenship under the Vermont Constitution. Giving this privilege to non-citizens unfairly undermines the votes of actual citizens.