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Legislative Weekly 4/11/19


April 11th, 2019

Currently in the Education Committee:

  • S. 164 - A miscellaneous Education Bill -  At this point there are two main parts to S. 164. The first part addresses the closure of Vermont Independent Colleges, instituting new requirements for notification when a college loses its accreditation or when they decide to go out of business. There are also some requirements for colleges to establish teach-out agreements with other schools in the event of closure as well as making arrangements for continued access to student records. Underlying these conversations is the history of Burlington College, where records were abandoned and had to be taken over by the State. The second element of S. 164 addresses sexual assault and sexual harm on college campuses. We heard testimony about the prevalence of sexual assault at colleges and universities in Vermont. One significant piece of this bill would require that admissions offices give some indication of sexual assault allegations and judgments against a student if they move to another school. There is clear evidence that those who commit sexual assault once are more likely to do so again. This bill would require a form of notification from one college to another when a student who had been disciplined for sexual assault is transferring to that new institution.

 Outside of the Education Committee: here’s a summary of the paid family leave bill that passed last week.

  • H. 107 - An act relating to paid family leave -  This bill proposes to create a Paid Family Leave Insurance Program within the Departments of Labor and Taxes that will be funded by contributions from employers and employees. The bill also proposes to amend Vermont’s existing Parental and Family Leave Act to make it applicable to additional employers and to clarify certain provisions.           Last week we had extensive floor debate on this bill, along with several recommendations of amendment. Some context on this bill: the legislature passed a similar piece of legislation last year that was vetoed by Governor Scott. Subsequently, the Governor introduced his own version of paid family leave, which would be a voluntary program but would include all VT and NH state employees. H. 107, by comparison, is mandatory and is limited to just VT. The bill would institute a payroll tax, with half paid by the employee and half by the employer. Any Vermont worker would then be eligible for paid leave of up to 12 weeks per year, as long as they had worked in at least 6 of the last 12 months and had earned a minimum of $11,200.  I was happy to vote for this bill, since I believe it establishes a valuable insurance program for Vermont workers. This bill will make it easier to start a family in Vermont, and it will provide help to Vermonters working for multiple employers. The benefit will aggregate based on any and all employment, which is particularly valuable in a state where it is common to work multiple and/or seasonal jobs. H. 107 will now go to the Senate for review and possible amendment.