2021 Legislative Session
Rep. Mulvaney-Stanak's Lead Sponsor Bills
An act to promote economic development, workforce revitalization and access to higher education. This act included a first-time investment in BIPOC business development. The final act was included in the Budget Bill (H.439, Act 74).
2021 Legislative Session
Summary of Key Legislation
The summaries below are intended to provide a high level overview of the legislation enacted. Each Act is linked to the bill summary page within the title and relevant study committees or taskforces working on further policy recommendations are also linked within the summary.
Economy & Infrastructure
Unemployment insurance has become law through Act 51, an act that also created an official Vermont worker incentive program and benefited technical education efforts. Under this law, unemployment insurance will increase and be protected from decreases. The legislature also created a research committee on unemployment insurance, which will be conducting its work in the coming months. The committee will not form until September, but meetings and materials related to its work will be posted on the Vermont General Assembly website found here.
This act creates the Vermont Community Broadband Board and eliminates barriers to constructing broadband networks and expansion. It does not, however, include any wage or employment benefit standards for workers involved in the build out work. Representative Mulvaney-Stanak sought to amend the bill to include these labor standard guarantees, including requiring jobs created through this state investment to pay either a livable wage or the prevailing wage (whichever is higher) and requiring employer-provided health insurance, but the amendment did not pass. It can be read here.
This act creates a taskforce to research, examine and create a set of recommendations to address the unfunded liability of the public employee pensions system by December 2, 2021. It also modifies the current pension oversight structure to form the Vermont Pension Investment Commission and modifies certain investment and oversight policy such as mandating an actuarial assessment of the health of the pension system every three years compared to every five years. The summer taskforce work and progress can be followed here.
This bill is a general transportation upgrades and improvements bill that makes several changes to public transportation, including establishing zero-fare public transport in FY2022 and fully electrifying all public transport. The bill also includes incentives for buying electric vehicles, including electric bicycles, and various transportation infrastructure updates across the state.
This act ensures health insurance coverage for low-income children and pregnant people, regardless of legal immigration status. This coverage will begin on July 1, 2022.
This act creates the Health Equity Advisory Board, with the goal of eradicating disparities of health care coverage in Vermont, particularly among BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ Vermonters.
This act covers a wide range of different subjects, but the focus of this summary is sections 19-20, which clarifies grace periods for major medical insurance policies and creates new grace periods for the payment of premiums on unsubsidized major medical insurance policies.
This act allows educators the ability to bargain health care premiums and out of pocket expenses based on the employee’s ability to afford those costs. A few years ago, health insurance moved from a local bargaining item to a statewide bargaining item. In the process, all educators were required to bargain as one group of employees regardless of their salary. This left lower waged paraeducators, cafeteria workers and custodians unable to bargain their insurance contribution rates to be in proportion to what they are paid compared to teachers. This Act fixes this inequitable aspect of the original law.
Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement
This act amends previous standards for use of force by law enforcement officers, and details statutes that prohibits certain law enforcement conduct. This is an act building off of Act 147 (2020) which tightened excessive force allowances used by police officers and began to address racial bias within law enforcement. Act 27 further refines the work started in Act 147, including modifying the allowed use of “chokeholds” within Act 147 to allow an officer to use a chokehold to “defend against imminent threat of death of serious bodily injury to the officer or to another person” and an officer must immediately stop once the imminent threat is no longer present.
This act makes some offenses automatically eligible for expungement after two years. It also directs the Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee to consider making most or all records eligible for expungement. Record expungement allows individuals to re-enter communities after their convictions without the burden of a criminal record preventing them from getting jobs, federal government aid, or other help getting back on their feet.
This act decriminalizes the possession of up to 224 milligrams of buprenorphine, a substance often used to treat opioid dependence by individuals who can’t afford prescribed treatments, and can prevent fatal overdoses. Legalizing therapeutic amounts of buprenorphine allows those experiencing substance use disorder to safely self-medicate without risk of arrest.
Equity & Safer Communities
This joint resolution acknowledged racism as a public health crisis in the state of Vermont.
This law prevents the use of a victim’s identity when constructing a defense case to argue provocation, diminished capacity, or self-defense.
This joint resolution deeply apologizes for the Vermont legislature’s significant role in the eugenics movement of the 20th century, acknowledging those who are still harmed by these actions today and committing to repair the harm done.
Education & Child Care
This act assesses the need for funds to support school districts through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to improve health and safety in schools across Vermont. It also offers grants to schools for the construction of renewable and efficient heating systems.
This act creates the Task Force on Equitable and Inclusive School Environments, which will work to limit suspensions and expulsions and compile data on school discipline in Vermont schools.
This act helps community schools create programs to ensure equitable access to education. It also creates the Task Force on Universal School Lunch.
This act works to increase access to early child care for all families through the creation of scholarships, adjustment or removal of copayments, and loan repayment assistance.
This law creates a task force to implement the Pupil Weighting Factors Report. Pupil weighting is a practice used to determine how much funding a school needs by counting some students that might require extra funding as more than one student. The task force created by Act 59 will work on implementing suggestions proposed by the report through a gradual approach in order to make sure that all students receive equitable access to education. This is a policy area where communities like Burlington and Winooski share common cause with rural communities in benefiting from a more equitable weighting system that accounts for the higher costs of educating students in poverty and multilingual students learning English. The work of the task force can be followed here.
This act requires the state to mail out ballots to all registered voters for general elections. It also allows for voters to repair defective ballots in order to ensure their votes will still be counted.