BY BUTCH SHAW
Returning to Montpelier after the Town Meeting break finds legislators gearing up for the “all hands on deck” portion of the legislative session. The pace of the action on the House floor has been very leisurely up to this point. Most of the action taken has been to make—with a few exceptions—corrections and additions to current state law. Now that “crossover” has passed for policy bills, the House and Senate action calendars are packed with bills to be acted on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The House is scheduled to debate 22 separate pieces of legislation while the Senate is scheduled to ponder 26 proposals. Going forward into the next week, the schedule will remain the same, resulting in marathon floor sessions.
The next legislative deadline is Friday, March 24, which is the crossover deadline for the “money bills,” which includes The Capital Bill, The Miscellaneous Tax Bill, The Transportation Bill, and finally The General Fund Budget Bill. It is interesting to note that only the House is subject to this crossover date, as the Constitution of the State of Vermont, in Chapter 2, Section 6, prescribes that “all revenue bills shall originate in the House of Representatives.” However, when a revenue bill is passed to the Senate, the “Senate may propose or concur with amendments” to the bill. It is interesting to note this provision in the Constitution was added in 1836 and made necessary because the Senate was not part of the original 1793 Constitution. The House of Representatives created the Senate in the 1836 amendments to The Vermont Constitution. It’s always fun when the House members to say to the Senators, “we created you, we can disband you!”
As a member of the House Committee on Transportation, I’ve spent much of my time since January 23 on the development of the FY24 Vermont Transportation Program. This year’s request from the Scott Administration included hundreds of pages of projects and programs supported by a request to spend $885 million on transportation-related functions of your state government. The committee combed through every request to understand where these funds were being spent. We listened to hours of testimony from over 85 witnesses including Vermont Agency of Transportation Representatives, members of the public, transportation advocates, and legislators. Some of the programs include $141 million in statewide paving, $50 million in statewide bridge construction and repairs, $45 million to operate the Department of Motor Vehicles, $95 million to support our town highway systems in the form of grants, class 2 and 3 highway support programs, and various municipal assistance programs to construct or repair town bridges and culverts. We approved $103 million to support Vermont’s public-transit programs including aviation, rail, and local public transit agencies.
Of special note, the committee has directed the administration to develop and start collecting a mileage-based user fee from all battery-electric vehicles registered in Vermont. The enabling language in the bill directs the Agency of Transportation to develop the plan and what the plan should include and the “how to” implement the plan. The Agency will report to the House and Senate Committees on Transportation on January 31, 2024 with recommendations for implementing the plan on July 1,2025. The committees will review the plan and present it to The General Assembly for approval.
The House committee voted out the “T-Bill” on Friday, March 17th on an 11-0-0 vote of approval. It should be noted that the committee reduced the administration’s $885 million request to $880 million and did so without eliminating programs!
I can be reached at any time by email at email@example.com, by phone 802-483-2398 or by mail at PO Box 197, Pittsford, VT 05763. I am always available to have a conversation concerning our Legislative District and your Vermont State Government.
Representative Butch Shaw
Vice Chair-House Committee on Transportation
Chair-Rutland County Legislative Delegation