Business & Economics Property Rights Statehouse

Housing Registry Veto Votes Postponed

Bills creating housing-related state registries are up against vetos by Gov. Phil Scott. Legislative voters may not have the votes they need to override. 

Senate Rental Registry – Last year, Gov. Scott vetoed S79, “an act relating to improving rental housing health and safety.” As the name suggests, the Senate claims the S79 would let the State seize the reins of out-of-control health and safety conditions in Vermont’s rental units. Opponents say the state’s efforts would 1) drive up costs and 2) drive small landlords out of the market. Both outcomes would make housing more scarce – a worse problem by far than municipal oversight of rentals, they say.

In response to the veto, Senate Economic Development Chair Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) on Feb. 1 asked the Senate to move veto consideration to March 22. This action paved the way for the Senate to fast-track S210, bearing a strong resemblance to veto-victim S79. Like its S79 predecessor, S210 passed 20-9 – too close for comfort for the ⅔ majority needed to override. Also like S210, it faces another gubernatorial veto if it passes the House. 

Construction Contractor Registry – Over in the House, Speaker Jill Krowinski is reportedly one vote shy of the 100 votes needed to override H157, the Construction Contractor Registry bill vetoed earlier this month by Gov. Scott. Veto consideration has been moved to April 20. 

H157 passed the house 82-45, hardly a veto-proof majority. 

Sponsored by weatherization advocate Rep. Scott Campbell (D-St. Johnsbury), H157 creates a state registry for all contractor jobs of $3,500 or more. Covered work includes virtually all currently unlicensed carpentry, plumbing, electrical, paving, roofing building, weatherization, wastewater, and all other interior or exterior contracting work. 

The bill requires paid registration, insurance of at least $300,000 coverage per job, and written contract offers for every job. It allocates funds for two state employee “advisors” to help the contractors comply with the law. 

The bill also creates a ‘voluntary’ contractor certification program because “wide dissemination of information on codes, standards, and training is vital to improving construction techniques throughout the State’s construction industry. Since building thermal conditioning represents over one-quarter of the State’s greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy performance is a key strategy for meeting the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act.”

After H157 was on the House Calendar for a veto discussion Tuesday and Wednesday, House General, Housing & Military Affairs Committee Chair Tom Stevens requested Wednesday for postponement until April 20. The House agreed – thus preventing a possible repeat disaster in the form of a failed override of another weatherization-related bill backed by Rep. Campbell. In 2019, a veto override of a heating fuel tax failed on the House floor, much to the consternation of the House majority in general and the Climate Caucus in particular. 

Guy Page

Subscribe to the Vermont Daily Chronicle

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.