“HOME” Bill Fractures Amid Senate Natural Resource Committee Amendments, Will Require Senators to Reaffirm Commitment to Issue

As expected, the Senate Natural Resources Committee amended essential solutions from S.100, altering major components of the bill that were thoughtfully crafted in the Senate Economic Development Committee to  address workforce housing needs by breaking down regulatory barriers. The HOME bill stands for “housing opportunities made for everyone” but the legislation no longer lives up to its name. Due to the changes made by the Senate Natural Resources Committee, the delicate coalition that supported the bill as passed by the Senate Economic Development Committee is no longer sound. This leaves questions on how, and if, Senators will step up next week to further amend the bill and act on what was voiced as the number one priority of the session by legislators. 

The version of the bill passed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee minimized the effect of a measure that would increase the Act 250 review process threshold from 10 units within five years in a five-mile radius to 25 units, by further fencing in where it can be applied and placing a sunset on the policy in 2026. A three-year sunset on a 5-year provision would be unworkable for developers. Amendments also instate duplicative wastewater permitting, a measure that wastes both time and money. Additionally, the committee added a measure that would reinstate the ability of individuals in a community to derail housing development in their communities. These measures mean the bill no longer rises to meet the need to create the more than 35,000-45,000 required units of housing by 2050, undercutting the work of the Senate Natural Resources Committee.