A Proven Track Record
Through our advocacy, the Vermont Chamber is effecting positive change for member businesses, for Vermont’s economy, and for our state’s overall quality of life.
The Vermont Chamber works with lawmakers and leaders at the state and federal levels to advocate on behalf of our members and businesses across the state. In 2021, significant Vermont Chamber legislative priorities advanced that will help businesses recover from the pandemic. Find them collected below.
Government Affairs Director
2021 WinEconomic Relief
Vermont Chamber advocacy secured more than $300 million in economic relief for Vermont businesses, including through a substantial business relief package and subsequent $176 million in state relief for emergency grants and economic recovery assistance. In November and December of 2020, the Vermont Chamber helped secure an additional $75 million for business relief and $11.5 million more for recovery grants.
2021 WinTaxing PPP Loans Prevented
At the insistence of the Vermont Chamber, the Legislature agreed to exclude 2021 Paycheck Protection Program recipients from tax liability. The Vermont Chamber and other business organizations tirelessly advocated to prevent the Legislature from taxing 2021 PPP loans. Businesses that were impacted by the pandemic and accessed PPP will now avoid a significant tax bill.
2021 WinInvesting in Child Care
A recently issued report by the U.S. Chamber showed that, of states examined, losses averaged $1 billion annually in economic activity due to breakdowns in child care. Even before the pandemic, three out of five of Vermont’s youngest children didn’t have access to child care they needed. The Vermont Chamber continues to advocate for investment in child care and celebrated a recent child care bill that will increase access in Vermont.
2021 WinUnemployment Insurance Rate Increase Reduced
The Vermont Chamber pushed the Legislature to prevent significant unemployment insurance contribution rate increases for employers forced to furlough employees because of Covid-19. We also helped secure changes to remove 2020, an anomaly year, from consideration when the Department of Labor computes unemployment insurance tax rate schedules. Unemployment insurance tax rates increase when employers lay off workers, penalizing them for that action. However, the pandemic layoffs were due to government restrictions, forcing this recalibration of the formula.
2021 WinNew Montreal Office
A new Business Attraction Investment Program will generate foreign direct investment prospects for Vermont in aerospace, biotechnology and renewable energy and provide Vermont with statewide representation in Québec. The initiative will increase foreign direct investment with Canada and promote cross-border trade and tourism when the border reopens. We helped secure funding for this initiative to strengthen our ties with Québec, promote tourism as we emerge from the pandemic, and attract Canadian companies interested in establishing a footprint in Vermont for contracting opportunities.
2021 WinBroadband Expansion
There is a connectivity shortfall impacting 70,000 Vermont households that do not have access to federally defined broadband. Covid-19 related restrictions and closures have demonstrated that broadband access is now essential for economic development. The Vermont Chamber continues to advocate for broadband expansion and celebrated $150 million recently allocated toward this goal.
2021 WinIncreased Housing Investment
Vermont produced several thousand homes every year from the 1960s through the 1990s. By 2019, new residential building permits had dropped to 2,080. Aging housing stock, tight supply, and rising prices near employment centers have forced people to make difficult choices about where to live. The Vermont Chamber is advocating to increase new or retrofitted housing units in Vermont while also focusing on creating more housing options for low- and middle-income Vermonters. $190 million was allocated for housing in the recent legislative session.
2021 WinMillions in Tourism Marketing Money Secured
The Vermont Chamber helped secure a $1.4 million boost for tourism marketing promotion and $600,000 for a regional stimulus program within the Department of Tourism and Marketing. The tourism promotion funds will be used to promote Vermont’s travel, recreation, culinary, arts, culture, agritourism and heritage experiences to attract visitors and stimulate visitor spending with local attractions and businesses throughout the state.
2021 WinAttracting New Workers
Legislation was codified and funded with $650,000 to continue the remote worker and worker relocation programs that were successful prior to the pandemic. Qualifying new employees may receive up to $7,500 in relocation expense reimbursement if they become a resident of certain areas in Vermont. The Vermont Chamber recognizes the value of attracting new families to live and work in Vermont and fully supported these programs to improve and expand our statewide workforce.
Current pandemic-allowed alcohol-to-go provisions will remain in place until July 2023 for licensees. This extension was a legislative priority identified by the Vermont Chamber and our partner organization, Vermont Independent Restaurants.
2021 WinHarmful Cloud Tax Prevented
The Vermont Chamber helped businesses avoid a harmful cloud tax. The tax would have cost Vermont’s technology industry at least $14 million annually by fiscal year 2025 and would have damaged the state’s current tech-friendly reputation, while also disincentivizing the recruitment of remote workers. This tax proposal had the potential to negate much of the economic benefit that will be achieved through state investments in broadband infrastructure.
2021 WinMassive Health Care Savings
Legislation passed that takes advantage of a change in federal health care policy and will result in millions of savings in health care costs for small businesses. Estimates suggest this could result in as much as $17 million in savings. The action is the result of the Legislature and administration responding quickly to a federal change and the Vermont Chamber’s advocacy, which urged them to act to take advantage of these savings in the next health plan year.