What We Are Watching

Vermont Legislation and Regulations Impacting Energy, Transportation and Economic Development

H.101 attempts to create a Regional Transportation Climate Initiative to increase the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel. It would also add a new fees on cars and trucks with combustion engines if they don’t meet the minimum MPG standards. The bill would also take $20 million from the fund that repairs Vermont's roads and bridges (the Transportation Fund) to spend on marketing EV’s to Vermonters. The legislation would also make bus service free.

H.56 gives the Vermont Public Utility Commission (PUC) would have jurisdiction over the construction and operation of utility model thermal energy networks. It would prohibit the PUC from approving permits to expand natural gas service territory.

S.59 bans oil and gas heat, hot water and and gas cooking appliances from being installed in any buildings owned or controlled by the state.

S.24 requires the Commissioner of Environmental Conservation to adopt rules to implement a Low Carbon Fuel Standard for motor fuels.

H.67 requires manufacturers of household products containing a hazardous substance participate in a stewardship organization and implement a plan to collect household products containing a hazardous substance free of charge to the public. The first draft included a costly and duplicative recycling program for propane tanks. Energy advocate Matt Cota was able to convince the committee to remove re-fillable tanks from the regulation.

H.79 would require an Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to provide consumers and independent repair providers the information, schematics, diagnostics, and repair manuals necessary to repair certain equipment. The initial draft does not apply to motor vehicle manufacturers.

H.73 prohibits Vermont from using California’s Clean Air Act waiver to set motor vehicle emission standards.

H.74 would change the State’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements to goals and repeal the Vermont Climate Council.

H.21 requires a utility to notify the owner of a rental property when service to the property has been disconnected even if the tenant is the ratepayer.  

H.47 requires all solar panel installers to have an approved recycling plan for the solar panels.

H.44 allows towns with a population of 2,400 or fewer residents to vote to establish a local option tax.

H.17 adds a definition for “motor vehicle” applicable to the subchapter on abandoned vehicles and increase both the time that a towing company has to complete paperwork for an abandoned motor vehicle certification and the towing rate reimbursed by the State to a towing operator for the towing of an abandoned motor vehicle from public property.

H.419 would add consumer protection measures for broadband service. The legislation attempts to promote a thriving broadband market in Vermont free of anticompetitive, unfair, deceptive, or misleading practices in order to protect the public and to encourage fair and honest competition.

H.453 proposes to establish as a matter of law that a retail sales transaction of a motor vehicle is final after three days, and to prohibit a motor vehicle dealer from selling a vehicle that was traded in as part of the sales transaction until after the transaction is final.

H.9 would exempt motor vehicles, except for buses, from the safety inspection for the first 40 months after manufacture in the case of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles; from all inspections for the first 40 months after manufacture in the case of zero-emission vehicles; and from the safety inspection for the first 30 months after manufacture in the case of other motor vehicles.

Did you know….. The Vermont DMV will collect an estimated $368M in taxes fees in FY2023

H.412 proposes to make the annual motor vehicle safety and emissions inspections biennial and form a study committee to investigate the effect that motor vehicle inspections have on Vermonters with low income, Vermonters who live in rural parts of the State, and Vermonters who are elders.

S.113 would  require gas stations and convenience stores that accept credit or debit card payments for the retail sale of gasoline to provide notice to the customer if they, or a third party, will place a hold on a credit or debit card payment that is for an amount larger than the actual retail gasoline purchase.

H.452 would propose to expand apprenticeships and other workforce opportunities in this State.

H.436 This bill proposes to give municipalities the authority to use home energy rating systems for compliance with the residential building energy standards. It would also allow the Department of Taxes to share data on the fuel tax with municipalities. It would also direct the Department of Motor Vehicles to share data with municipalities related to the tax on transportation fuels. The bill would also prohibit a renewable energy project from being denied a certificate of public good solely for aesthetic concerns.

H.119 proposes to, with limited exceptions, prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle equipped with an inadequate or modified muffler or exhaust system or with an amplification device. 

H.330 proposes to amend the formula for the reasonable allowance for use that is applicable when the manufacturer is required to accept return of a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) that is unable to be conformed to any express warranty under Vermont’s Lemon Law. It would also increase the mileage portion of the formula for the reasonable allowance for use, currently 100,000 miles, to align with the 150,000 miles durability requirement in the California Code of Regulations.

S.102 would expand employment protections and collective bargaining rights, ending “at will” employment.  It would require severance pay for employees at a rate of one hour of pay for every 12 and one-half hours worked during the employee’s first year of employment and an additional one hour for every 50 hours worked in subsequent years. It would also prevent “electronic monitoring” of employees, something routinely done to prevent crime.


Is the Registry for Me? You may have received notice about a requirement to register with the Office of Professional Regulation under Vermont’s Contractor Registry law. Registrations are due on April 1. Do you have to register? It depends on what you do and what licenses you or your employees hold. Click here to watch an overview of the law with the answers you are looking for.

Contract Clause Gives Pause S.9 would give the state auditor permission to open the books on any private business that has a contract with the state, including those selling fuel, equipment or vehicles. This includes the examination of records and accounts.

Watch Your Weight  Many Vermont towns require a permit for any truck in excess of 24,000 pounds. Fuel trucks can get an exemption for $5 (or $10 for an entire fleet) through an annual permit. These permits must be filed before March 31 every year in every town that requires them. If you don’t have a permit, you could be liable for thousands of dollars in fines. This has nothing to do with mud season. This is an annual permit required in certain towns. Go to vermontfuel.com/weight for more information.

Crisis Continued   While Vermonters continue to call it the #1 issue, the best effort to address the affordable housing crisis is stuck in neutral. The “build nothing nowhere” lobby has found a favorite trope to stymie regulatory reform: Local Control.  While S.100 passed out the Economic Development Committee with a 5-0 vote, its future is uncertain. The bill wants to make sure local zoning can’t block development where there is essential infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines. Opponents want to be able to “green line” areas of Vermont, to prevent affordable housing where there is grass and trees.

Can We Keep It?  Compared to our neighboring states, Vermont has limited economic development programs. The best one we have is now in danger. The Vermont Employment Growth Incentive  (VEGI) program will sunset at the end of year if the legislature doesn’t act. The Commerce Committee is considering extending the sunset while creating a task force and study to determine the best way the state can encourage businesses to relocate or expand in Vermont.

Time-Off   Lawmakers are considering the most generous paid family and medical leave program in the country.  If H.66 becomes law, employees would receive 12 weeks of leave at 90% wage replacement and no waiting period. It would implement a 0.55% payroll tax to pay for the program, $40 million of one-time funding, and $13 million every year to administer.

Taxing Questions Vermont policy makers are still grappling with how to make sure electric vehicle owners pay their fair share of the road tax. Lawmakers haven’t decided whether they should increase registration fees for EVs or whether to charge the tax at the charger. Or some combination of both. Doing nothing will result in Vermont losing nearly a million dollars per year in gas tax revenue as the amount of motor fuel sold in the state continues to decline. Check out the Vermont Motor Fuel Index here. The problem with charging at the charger is that most electric vehicle owners charge at home. A recent study by the Fuels Institute found that 70% to 80% of EV charging occurs at home OR at workplace parking lot. One way to make up the difference is a “Mileage Based User Fee.” Click here for details. This would add about $150 per year in registration fees for an all electric vehicle, depending on annual miles traveled. But then you would miss out on all of the EV drivers who are passing through Vermont or here on vacation. Matt Cota testified before the Senate Transportation Committee on the challenge of capturing the road tax on vehicles that don’t need liquid motor fuel. While there is no clear road map, lawmakers want to put a plan in place by 2025.

“Absolutely an Epidemic” Vehicle sellers, manufactures, law enforcement and insurance industry all agree, Vermont should make it more difficult for those who steal catalytic converters to sell their stolen goods. The thefts have increased by more than 1,215% since 2019. Testimony before the Senate Transportation Committee say that a catalytic converter can fetch about $850 at the scrap yard just for the few grams platinum, palladium and rhodium. The precious metals inside these exhaust systems are literally more valuable than gold. There are two efforts in the statehouse to crack down on these crimes.  H.390 proposes to limit the hours during which a person may transport a catalytic converter, while S.48 would limit the number of cats that can be sold for scrap and require those selling them to prove ownership.

Cleaning Up  The Petroleum Cleanup Fund Advisory Committee has finalized its annual report. The penny per gallon fee has been used to help remediate more than 4,000 properties in Vermont since it was created 35 years ago. While the fund has a healthy balance, actuarial studies find that the fund is “technically insolvent” since “projected liabilities exceeded assets of the fund.” The motor fuel account has significant risk due to a backlog of 550 open motor fuel UST sites, most of which are over 20 years old. Many of these sites also fall under a 2019 regulation called the “Groundwater Protection Rule.” Click here to see the list of those sites, check out details of the report, examine the fund balance, and review a complete list of PCF sites.

Tank Rules  The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is also preparing an update to the 2017 Aboveground Storage Tank Regulations. While primarily focused on heating oil tanks, the rule impacts all aboveground heating oil, diesel, kerosene and gasoline tanks that store less than 1320 gallons. (Anything larger is considered a bulk storage facility.) Some changes under consideration: Require existing tanks to meet new tank installation standards by 2030 and the creation of a “yellow tag” that would allow a fuel dealer to fill a non-compliant tank under certain conditions until the end of the heating season. There are also other legislative changes to the PCF program that are under consideration this year. H.229 would raise the cap on PCF payments on AST cleanups from $25,000 to $50,000 as well as lifting the initial cleanup costs by the owners or operators of lined combination tank systems from $15,000 to $25,000.

Pass the SALT The federal State and Local Taxes (SALT) deduction passed the Senate and is now in the House. S.45 creates a an elective pass-through entity tax that would help Vermont business owners save on their federal taxes.

Broadband in BAA The Budget Adjustment Act that was signed into law includes $30 million to leverage federal dollars and programs to reduce the overall cost of universal broadband access.

Pull Over   Click here to check out the latest report from the Vermont Commerical Vehicle Enforcement Division.

Click here to access Meadow Hill's Legislator Database.