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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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    Vermont Association of Realtors Advocacy Report - April 2023

    Advocacy Report

    S.100 Amendment Fails Without Significant Act 250 Revision

    S.100 – S.100 Housing Opportunities for Everyone (HOME)

    S.100 passed the Senate floor on Friday afternoon. VAR thanks the Realtor® members who responded to our call to action earlier in the week urging senators to support a floor amendment proposed by Senator Thomas Chittenden (Chittenden County) to extend the Act 250 waiver to 138 towns with permanent zoning and subdivision bylaws. Our call to action resulted in 376 emails to Senators on this issue. Of those, 200 of the messages included personalized stories from members.

    S.100, as passed out of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee, was a balance between municipal zoning standardization and statewide Act 250 reforms. As we have previously reported, the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee amended the bill, limited Act 250 revisions to downtowns, Neighborhood Development Areas, and growth centers in 34 communities. These revisions do not apply to 219 towns in Vermont. Ultimately, support for this amendment eroded without significant Act 250 revision. This concept has been pushed to another study to be reported in 2024.

    This leaves a housing bill that relies on statewide regulation of municipal zoning to allow for duplex’s anywhere, 5 units per acre where municipal water or wastewater is available, and eliminates appeals based on “character of the area.”

    S.100 now moves to the House where we expect to receive a positive reception in the General and Housing Committee. The debate on Act 250 reform will continue with the House Committee on Environment and Energy. This committee has historically opposed any changes to the development portion of Act 250. We expect the same approach with this bill. VAR will ask Realtor® members to reach out to the members of this committee once they take up the bill sometime in mid-April.


    H.276 – The Rental Registry Bill

    H.276 passed the House floor this week after a strike-all amendment by the House Ways and Means Committee moved this discussion to a summer study committee. As previously reported, the committee was concerned that there was no financial analysis of the costs of this program and the revenue impact. When this bill moves to the Senate, it will be assigned to the committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs. VAR will keep you posted on its progress.


    H.483 – Independent School Funding

    Members in St. Johnsbury and southern Vermont have expressed concern about H.483. Their concerns center around how the proposed legislation could negatively affect the good independent schools that provide service for towns generally without a high school. This bill has passed the House. It will now be taken up in the Senate by the Committee on Education.  


    H.480 – An Act Relating to Property Values and Reappraisal

    Most towns in Vermont have not gone through a reappraisal since 2014 or earlier. With the annual increases in market values, most towns have assessed values that are far less than current market values. This bill addresses the reappraisal process by providing authorization and funding to the department of taxes to develop a statewide statistical and full reappraisal process to assist municipalities and provide a more consistent schedule of reappraisal. This bill has passed the House and is headed for the Senate.


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

    Advocacy Report courtesy of the Vermont Association of Realtors


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      Legislative Update - March 2023

      Hickey & Foster Real Estate is a proud supporter of the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC). This organization is active on a local, state and national level with the goal of advancing public policies and candidates that build strong communities, protect property interests and promote a vibrant business environment. 

      Through RPAC and the state-lead Government Affairs Committee, which includes our own Steven Foster, Realtors are involved in helping shape the landscape of legislative policies in Vermont.

      Here is a breakdown of some of the proposed legislation that may affect your property:

      S100 - Omnibus Housing Bill

      • Changes to zoning bylaws that would allow for duplexes in any residential zone 
      • Changes to zoning bylaws that would require denser development in areas that are served by municipal sewer and water 
      • Changes to Act 250 including easing restrictions on development of 25 units or less  

      H276 - Rental Registry

      • Testimony given on the proposal to create a statewide registry of all rental properties

      S5 - Affordable Heat Act

      • Would require heating fuel providers to encourage improved winterization of homes 


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