Welcome to the VSBA Legislative blog, your resource for regular updates on the activities at the State House related to education. VSBA will be monitoring legislation that affects school boards across the state throughout the session. Be sure to check out our public policy webpage at vtvsba.org/public-policy and be on the lookout for legislative alerts in your email with action items that we need help with during the legislative session.
The 2021 legislative session began on Wednesday, January 6th when legislators took their oaths, Governor Scott addressed the General Assembly and delivered his 3rd Inaugural Address, and committees began organizing. Leaders have prioritized COVID19 recovery during this legislative session, which will be held remotely at least through mid-March. The Senate Education Committee is made up of the following Senators: Campion, (Chair), Hooker, Perchlik, Lyons, Chittenden, and Terenzini. Here are the Senate Standing Committees. The Chair of the House Education Committee will remain as Representative Kate Webb. Returning committee members include Representatives Cupoli, Conlon, Austin, Hooper, James, and Toof and new committee members include Representatives Arrison, Brady, Brown, and Williams. Here are the House Standing Committees. Three bills were referred to House Education last week: H.31: An act relating to extending merger benefits to school districts that were involuntarily merged under the State Board of Education’s Act 46 merger order H.32: An act relating to universal school breakfast and lunch for all public school students H.35: An act relating to eliminating eligible school construction costs from a school district’s excess spending The House Committee on Government Operations took up H.48: an act relating to authorizing alternative procedures for 2021 annual municipal meetings in response to COVID-19. This bill would allow municipal legislative bodies to vote to: 1. move the date of the 2021 annual meeting to a date later in 2021 and
2. require the clerk to mail out 2021 annual meeting early voter absentee Australian ballots to all active registered municipal voters to encourage absentee voting.
This bill also authorizes the Secretary of State to order or permit supplemental elections procedures related to these 2021 annual municipal meeting provisions. In any municipality that moves the date of the 2021 annual meeting, municipal officers shall serve until the annual meeting and until successors are chosen. It is the intent of the General Assembly that municipal officials, including boards of civil authority and municipal clerks, shall cooperate with and assist school districts and other incorporated districts with the administration of annual district meetings and budget votes. The House Committee on Government Operations voted out draft 1.1 of H.48, which is expected to move quickly through all phases and arrive on the Governor’s desk very early in the session. Two bills were released for introduction but have not yet been introduced to the House of Representatives: H.54: An act relating to adjusting the existing weighting factors, and adding new weighting factors, used to calculate equalized pupils H.55: An act relating to applying Vermont prevailing wages to school construction projects Lastly, the House Appropriations Committee heard an update from Joint Fiscal Office and the VT Commissioner of Finance and Management regarding the status of unspent federal relief funds and new federal relief funds. Regulations for use of funds are constantly changing and are expected to continue to change as the new President and Senate take office. The following documents were discussed: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund Tax Provisions in HR133 (1/4/2021) JFO Issue Brief on Econ Relief Stimulus Pkg HR133 (12/31/2020) Coronavirus Relief Fund Status You can watch the recording of this House Appropriations discussion on youtube at: https://youtu.be/UbKXg-pNeY4 Thank you and see you soon.