We have come to the end of the third week in the 2020 Legislative Session. The end of this past week was quite busy on the floor. The House passed two impactful bills.
On Thursday, we passed H.107 – Paid Family Leave on a vote of 89-58. This bill would create a trust account to provide family leave time for employees to take time off to care for a sick family member or bonding time with a new child. I agree with the concept with the bill, but do not agree with how the program imposes a $31 million mandatory payroll tax on employees to create the system. 40,000 Vermonters will not be eligible for the program due to income levels or being self-employed among others. I would have been in favor of this bill had it been a voluntary program that allowed anyone to opt-in or out based on their own choice. The $31 million price tag was not tenable to me as everyone who pays in cannot access the program and the payroll tax level may need to be altered to reflect the actual utilization of the program. This bill now heads to the Governor for his signature into law, go into law without his signature or a possible veto.
On Friday, the House passed S.23 – an act relating to increasing the minimum wage on a vote of 93-54. By 2025, the minimum wage would be increased to $13.46/hr vs. $12.30 based on current law. Currently, the minimum wage increases by the CPI inflation rate. S.23 would call for an accelerated increase of 7.2% and 6.8% in 2021 and 2022 respectively then continue at the CPI rate. I could not support this bill to impose more pressure on smaller businesses. I feel the tight labor market in Vermont can drive desired wages instead of the Government to require businesses to pay at this level. There are also many programs available to residents to obtain valuable credentials and certificates to increase their ability to earn a higher wage. This bill now heads to the Senate for a vote.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns I would be happy to listen. Feel free to reach me by email at CMattos@leg.state.vt.us or by cell at (802) 922-2059.