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Vermont Association of Realtors Advocacy Report - May 2023

Advocacy Report

S.100 Weakened, VAR Gains Concession

S.100 – Housing Opportunities for Everyone (HOME)

On Monday May 1, the House Environment and Energy Committee passed their strike all amendment of the first 25 sections of the bill and approved their portion of S.100.  These sections will be combined with the work of the House General and Housing Committee who approved several programs with financial impacts. Next up will be a review of the entire bill by the House Appropriations Committee, who will likely remove several programs based on the financial implications. Combined, the changes to S.100 will weaken the impact on housing we had hoped for.

VAR expects that this bill will move to the House floor during the week of May 1 for approval.  Once this occurs, there will be a Committee of Conference (three members from the House, three from the Senate) to reach consensus on the two different versions of the bill. The committee will likely reach agreement and send the final version of the bill to the Governor for signature.

VAR has identified several priorities that would encourage the development of housing in Vermont.  While our opinion is that the reforms in S.100 do not go far enough, we are pleased that several of our legislative priorities were addressed in this bill.

One of VAR’s priorities was the elimination or modification of the 10/5/5 definition in Act 250. The bill passed by the House Environment and Energy Committee expands this definition to 25/5/5 in Downtown Neighborhood Development Areas and Growth Center designations. VAR testified that this expansion would only apply to 34 distinct communities and should be expanded to the 138 towns with permanent zoning and sub-division bylaws. VAR and its coalitions were successful in advocating for the 25/5/5 expansion, which has been added to Village Center Designations that have permanent zoning and sub-division bylaws. 

Overall, S.100 will require municipalities to standardize their local zoning to encourage more housing, minor modification to Act 250 and funding for some financial programs to support rental and homeownership development.  


H.483 – An act relating to accountability and oversight of approved independent schools that are eligible to receive public tuition.

VAR has been following this bill and can report that the Education Department is instructed to not approve any new Independent Schools this year in the Senate Budget bill. While the Senate Education Committee is continuing to consider this bill, it seems destined to roll over to next year.


S.5 – The Affordable Heat Act

This highly debated bill authorizes the creation of a carbon marketplace to allow fuel providers to offset fossil fuel sales with improved weatherization and electric heat conversion. Our members have been vocal about the increased cost in heating should this bill pass. 

As a result of concerns over increased heating costs, the final version of this bill directs the Public Utility Commission to design a program in the next year and submit it for approval by the 2025 legislative session. This will allow the legislature to understand the parameters of the program as well as the cost.  The Governor has indicated that he will veto this bill. However, the legislature feels that they have the votes to override the veto on this issue.


Budget Bill

The Senate passed its $8.5 billion budget with significant changes to the House version of the bill. As a result, a Committee of Conference will have to work out the differences.  Both bodies have increased funding for Vermont State Colleges, human services, and childcare. The Senate did not include funding for paid family leave but did provide funding to match federal infrastructure grants. 

The administration has already expressed disapproval of the budget as passed out of the House and continues to express concern regarding the funding required to meet the expanded services proposed by the legislature. Once the Committee of Conference has settled on a final budget, the Governor will have to decide whether to approve the work of the legislature.


Peter Tucker
VAR Advocacy & Public Policy Director
(802) 229-0513

Advocacy Report courtesy of the Vermont Association of Realtors

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