Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Legislation Passed by 2014 VT General Assembly

The 2014 general assembly of Vermont legislators ended on Saturday May 10. Besides the passage of the GMO bill and the ban on the hand use of cellphones while driving, other actions included:
• A new tax on employees who play low wages and whose workers qualify for subsidized health care.

• A 13% tax increase on cigarettes, as well as higher taxes on smokeless tobacco.

• Increased property tax Residential Rate:.98¢ per $100 of assessed value. Non-residential property owners will pay $1.515 per $100 of assessed value.

• An economic development bill that includes $4.5 million discretionary fund-it’s to be used by the governor to lure or retain major employers.

• More than $8 million in new money to improve treatment options for opiate addicts.

• A deal to shore up funding for the underfunded retiree teacher health plan, which is expected to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in avoided interest payments in coming decades.

• Childcare providers can unionize

• Approved an increase in the state’s minimum wage from $8.73 to $10.50 an hour by 2018. The wage would increase to $9.15 on Jan. 1, 2015, to $9.60 in 2016, to $10 in 2017 and to $10.50 in 2018.

• The Department of Taxes will publish the names, addresses and amounts of unpaid taxes for the 100 individuals and 100 businesses with the greatest unresolved tax liabilities.

• Early childhood education bill that requires school districts to pay for at least 10 hours of pre-school a week to children between ages three and five years beginning In the 2015-2016 school year. Districts can meet the requirement with their own pre-school or a qualified private program. Both must have a four star rating from the state or three stars with a plan to achieve four stars within two years.

• Revised and approved a Vermont Strong Scholar program and created a Vermont Strong Internship program. Under the scholarship program, students would get a tuition break if they are graduates of any Vermont higher education institution and they take jobs in specific Vermont employment sectors that Agency of Commerce and Community Development determines annually. The benefit would be the reimbursement, through loan forgiveness, of a year of tuition paid over five years.

• Single-use household battery manufacturers that sell or manufacture their products in the state of Vermont will be required to plan, implement, and manage a statewide battery collection program by 2016

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