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Every week, Vermont Public's politics team provides a succinct breakdown of some of the biggest issues at the Statehouse.

Capitol Recap: Here are the bills the Vermont Legislature is sending to Gov. Phil Scott

A man in a dark suit stands at a podium while speaking. A sign language interpreter stands next to him.
Zoe McDonald
Vermont Public
Gov. Phil Scott gives his budget address in Montpelier on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Vermont’s regular legislative session has wrapped up. In these final busy weeks, lawmakers have sent dozens of bills to Gov. Phil Scott’s desk for his signature. They range in subject matter from climate change mitigation to health insurance coverage and “forever chemicals.”

Scott has already made decisions on several bills this year. He vetoed a bill that would have banned the sale of flavored tobacco products in the state. He signed a bill declaring a new state mushroom (the bear’s head tooth mushroom) and another bill that expands health insurance coverage for breast cancer screenings.

Here are some of the other bills we’re watching as they head to the governor’s desk.

Climate and environment

S.259 - Climate superfund

This bill would require fossil fuel companies to compensate the state for climate change-related damage.

Modeled after the federal Superfund program, the policy would require companies like ExxonMobil Corporation and Shell to pay Vermont a share of what climate change has cost the state in recent decades. Vermont would use those payments to fund recovery from climate-fueled disasters and adaptation to the state’s already-changed climate.

If it becomes law, Vermont would be the first state in the country to enact this kind of legislation.

But Gov. Scott has signaled he will likely veto the bill over concerns about how much it would cost the state to take big oil companies to court — and how long it would take Vermont to recoup damages.

The bill's supporters say without it, Vermont taxpayers and communities are footing the bill for climate change — and that tab is only getting bigger.

Lawmakers have a strong shot at an override in June.

More from Vermont Edition: A deep dive on Vermont's climate superfund bill

S.213 - Flood Safety Act 

As Vermont is faced with more extreme rain due to climate change, lawmakers have sent a major flood safety bill to Gov. Scott’s desk. The Flood Safety Act would regulate new development in river corridors across Vermont.

The bill also bolsters protections for wetlands from development. And it calls for a study of ways to waive permit fees for low income Vermonters. The policy gives the state the power to regulate private dams and directs the Agency of Natural Resources to study the cost of maintaining the Green River Reservoir dam.

Gov. Scott is expected to veto the bill.

S.25 - PFAS ban 

This bill would restrict toxic so-called "forever chemicals" in a suite of commercial goods.

It would ban PFAS in clothing, makeup, menstrual products, diapers and nonstick frying pans starting in 2026. It also bans them in turf starting in 2028.

The Environmental Protection Agency has said virtually no level of exposure to them is safe.

The policy also includes a first-in-the-nation ban on phthalates, formaldehyde and mercury in menstrual products, and it also restricts the chemicals in makeup.

And, it calls on the Vermont Department of Health to study a potential limit on lead in cosmetics and period products.

It’s not yet clear whether the governor will sign the bill, but the Agency of Natural Resources signaled strong support for the policy in testimony.

H.706 - Neonicotinoid ban

This bill would ban the sale, use and distribution of neonicotinoid-coated soybean or cereal grain seeds in Vermont. It would also ban the application of neonicotinoid pesticides in other use cases.

The insecticides have been linked to pollinator decline. They are used widely on corn and soybean seeds nationwide and in Vermont. They’re also sprayed on apple trees and fruits and vegetables.

Ontario, Quebec and the European Union have already adopted bans on coated seeds, and New York state is in the process of phasing them out by 2029.

More from Vermont Public: Bill to ban pesticides toxic to bees takes a key step forward in the Vermont House

H.289 - Renewable Energy Standard

Under this bill, every utility in Vermont would have to source all of its power from renewable resources by 2035.

Additionally, the bill doubles the amount of power utilities must source from new in-state renewables by 2035, and creates a new requirement that they purchase power from new renewables in the New England region.

Utilities and almost all environmental groups in the state support the measure. Opponents in the Scott administration and at Vermonters for a Clean Environment say it’s been rushed. It’s likely Gov. Scott will veto the bill.

More from Vermont Public: After Senate approval, Vermont's biggest energy bill of the session heads to Gov. Scott

S.310 - Disaster recovery and resiliency

This bill could revamp the way Vermont responds to natural disasters. The legislation establishes a new mechanism to distribute state and federal funding for mitigation projects undertaken by municipalities.

Lawmakers say it will also improve the government’s response immediately after disasters.

Gov. Scott has indicated he supports the legislation.

Housing and development

H.687 - Act 250 reform

This bill would relax the reach of Act 250 — Vermont’s half-century-old land use review law — in existing development centers. It also lays the groundwork for extending Act 250’s protections over to-be-determined ecologically sensitive areas.

After last-minute deliberations, proponents said it strikes the right balance between protecting Vermont’s natural resources while also lowering barriers to more housing development.

Gov. Scott has criticized earlier versions of the bill.

More from Vermont Public: At the 11th hour, lawmakers strike compromise on Act 250 reform

Funding government and schools

H.887 - Property taxes

This legislation sets the property tax rates necessary to pay for school budgets and will see taxes climb by 13.8% on average, a lower tax increase than initially predicted.

Lawmakers are using just under $70 million in one-time money to help soften the blow to property taxpayers this year.

Lawmakers are using the tax bill to set the stage for much larger reforms in the coming years. It creates a Commission on the Future of Public Education, which will be required to release an interim report on cost containment ideas this December, ahead of the upcoming legislative session. A final set of recommendations for a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s education system is due the following year.

It’s likely Gov. Scott will veto the bill.

More from Vermont Public: Lawmakers pass property tax bill, whittling hike down to nearly 14%

H.883 - State budget

This bill sets the amount of money budgeted to support the functions of the Vermont government.

Lawmakers from the House and Senate have spent weeks ironing out details of the proposed budget. Among the most disputed sections was the future of the state’s emergency motel housing program.

As of Tuesday, lawmakers had come to a consensus that a room cap would kick in during warmer months and be lifted during the winter.


H.868 - Transportation bill, including electric vehicle fee

This bill includes, among other programs, a plan to enforce a short-term annual fee for electric vehicles.

Totally electric vehicles would pay an $89 annual fee beginning Jan. 1, 2025 and hybrids will be assessed $45. The fees would help finance an expansion of the state's charging system.

Supporters say owners of the EVs should contribute to the upkeep of the state's transportation system, since they don't pay a gas or diesel fuel tax.

Lawmakers said the annual fee would be a short-term solution until a more comprehensive system can be put into place.

Gov. Scott has signaled support for the EV fee.

Public safety

H.72 - Harm reduction

This bill would allocate funding to create a pilot overdose prevention center in Burlington and charge the Vermont Department of Health with organizing a study looking at the impacts of the program on overdoses in the state.

Overdose prevention centers are where individuals can use illegal drugs under medical supervision and with access to overdose-reversing medication.

Backers of the plan say it's an effective way to save lives. But Gov. Scott said he thinks the $1 million allocated to stand up the center should instead go toward expanding existing treatment programs. Gov. Scott said it’s likely he’ll veto the bill.

Lawmakers might have the numbers to override a veto, based on earlier vote tallies for the bill.

S.209 - Ghost guns

This bill would prohibit the possession of firearms and firearm frames or receivers without serial numbers.

Unserialized firearms, also known as ghost guns, are notoriously hard for law enforcement to trace.

The bill would require anyone who owns or puts together a gun without a serial number to take it to a licensed gun dealer. They can then conduct a background check and emboss a serial number on the gun.

H.614 - Timber theft

This bill would create steeper consequences for stealing timber in Vermont.

Lawmakers say loggers violating contracts or cutting trees without landowner permission has long been a problem in the state.

The bill increases fines and jail time for timber theft. And it would list the names of loggers who steal on the home improvement fraud registry. It also calls for a report on how the state can improve enforcement.

H.534 - Shoplifting

This legislation is intended to curtail shoplifting in Vermont.

Currently, if a person steals less than $900 worth of merchandise, the initial and any repeat offenses are considered misdemeanors. This bill makes a third offense a felony, with a significant fine and possible jail time, if the property stolen is valued between $250 and $900.

The bill also reduces penalties for first-time offenders who steal less than $250 of merchandise.

Health care

H.766 - Prior authorization reform

This bill eliminates prior authorization for the patients of primary care doctors. It would give primary health care providers more flexibility to order tests and procedures for their patients.

Backers of the reform legislation say insurance companies often use prior authorization as a way to delay services, which can harm patients.

Opponents argued the legislation could raise health care premiums and that the impact needs to be studied. Gov. Scott has expressed similar concerns.

S.114 - Psychedelic therapy advisory group

This bill would allow the state to study the possible mental health benefits of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs.

It would create a special therapy advisory working group to study the potential benefits. The group would also make recommendations for the potential adoption of a program where health providers could administer mushrooms in a therapeutic environment.

Government and workforce

H.606 - Professional licensure regardless of immigration status

This bill would allow people to become licensed in a number of professions, regardless of their immigration status. It covers more than 50 professions, including accountants, barbers, plumbers, opticians, realtors and nurses.

The bill also allows individuals to use other forms of federal identification if they don't have a Social Security number.

Lawmakers say the bill could help address workplace shortages in Vermont.

S.191 - Educational grants for New Americans

This legislation would expand educational opportunities for refugees and other New Americans.

Current law requires New Americans to reside in Vermont for at least a year before they become eligible for educational grants from the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. This bill would eliminate that residency requirement.

Legislative analysts say the proposal won’t have a measurable impact on the state budget.

More from Vermont Public: New Americans in Vermont could access education grants sooner under new legislation

H.644 - Access to foster care records

This bill would give adults who were formerly in the foster care system better access to their past records.

Specific records that are tied to abuse or neglect are currently off limits to adults who were in the foster care system as children, even though state agencies, law enforcement and attorneys can see them.

The Department for Children and Families supports the bill, but hopes to develop a program that offers support for the trauma that might come after reading through the records.

H. 612 - Cannabis reform

This legislation makes a key change in Vermont's medicinal cannabis program, which started roughly 20 years ago but changed significantly when the retail cannabis market launched in 2022.

The bill will allow qualifying retailers to also serve the medical market — which allows higher-dose products and carries different privacy requirements.

S.220 - Confidentiality of library materials

This legislation lowers the age for children to confidentially access materials in public libraries to 12 years old, down from 16. It's part of a bill intended to protect libraries from book banning.

More from Vermont Public: Lawmakers deliberate bill that would give young Vermonters confidential access to library materials

Signed by the governor

H.664 - State mushroom

This bill, which has already been signed by Gov. Scott, creates a new state mushroom: the Hericium americanum, or bear’s head tooth mushroom.

More from Vermont Public: A fungus among us: Students push for new Vermont state mushroom

H.621 - Insurance coverage for breast cancer screenings 

This legislation, signed by Gov. Scott late last month, requires insurers to cover mammograms and other breast imaging services.

H.469 - Advance directives

This bill, which Gov. Scott signed at the end of March, simplifies the process for filing advance directives in Vermont. It allows for electronic filing and remote witnesses.

Vetoed by the governor

S.18 - Flavored tobacco ban 

This bill would have banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, such as menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes. Gov. Scott vetoed the bill early last month, and lawmakers said they did not plan to attempt an override.

More from Vermont Public: Vermont’s flavored tobacco ban bill attracted surge in lobbying, ad spending before governor’s veto

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Zoe McDonald is a digital producer in Vermont Public’s newsroom. Previously, she served as the multimedia news producer for WBHM, central Alabama’s local public radio station. Before she discovered her love for public media, she created content for brands like Insider, Southern Living and Health. She graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi in 2017. Zoe enjoys reading, drinking tea, trying new recipes and hiking with her dog.
Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.
The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
Carly covers housing and infrastructure for Vermont Public and VTDigger and is a corps member with the national journalism nonprofit Report for America.
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