Legislative Update from AIAVT's Public Policy Committee

by John Alden, AIA; Public Policy Committee Chair

The Public Policy Committee (PPC) is now several months along in its new relationship with our AIAVT lobbyist, DRM.  We are delighted to report how helpful this new relationship has been already!  Our prime contact, Andrew Brewer, and his team have been outstanding in sifting through the multitude of bills that start each legislative session and keeping us informed on which bills are moving and how fast.  With DRM’s guidance, we are able to focus on our priorities, gear up for opportunities to testify, and most importantly, know when to be in contact with legislators to best achieve our goals.

Bills were introduced at the beginning of the legislative session in both the Senate and House based on recommendations from the study committee report. In the House, Rep. Scott Campbell  (a member of the RBES study Committee) introduced H.792, which includes many of the provisions AIAVT supports, and H.793 which simply creates a study committee to examine  strategies for Vermont to adopt a statewide residential building code.

However, the legislation that will advance came from the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. S.253 was introduced with bare bones language to build upon. AIAVT members Bob Duncan and Sandy Vitzthum both testified before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy last week to support S. 253 and offer input on the bill, which was voted out of that committee. Once voted on by the Senate, it will make its way over to the House where we will work with legislators to further refine it to reflect the report produced by the Building Energy Codes Legislative Study Committee, of which Bob and Sandy were members. 

Note that we have been able to leverage our relationship with the Vermont Builders and Remodelers Association (VBRA) where appropriate to increase the impact of our statements. The below documents were approved by the Public Policy Committee, and the AIAVT Executive Committee. 

  • Letter to LCAR requesting a halt or postponement of pending July 1,2024 effective date until substantive improvements to flaws identified last year are fixed. All AIAVT members should read this as it outlines concerns with the new RBES rules that will take effect if nothing happens.  
  • Position Statement on statutory reform for Building Energy Codes (RBES/CBES). This is directly relevant to the two legislative bills currently under consideration on this topic, S.253 and H.792.   

Bills we continue to track and will take appropriate action when the time comes:

  • Act 250: several bills are out there waiting for input and revision.  These were among the most hotly contested bills last year with many groups vying to provide input. We expect more of the same this year based on the wide variety of proposed changes.
  • School Construction Aid:  Following David Epstein’s participation on the summer study committee, there are a handful of suggested items for follow up.  Unfortunately, the sheer cost of most programs may keep this from going very far.  We will keep you updated in future newsletters.
  • Affordable Housing: At the beginning of the legislative session all eyes were on the state’s housing crisis. Reports from summer study committees had laid out recommendations to further reform local zoning practices and the state's land use regulations. Although there are many factors that have contributed to the condition of the state’s housing stock, there was near universal recognition that Act 250 modernization was a key ingredient in encouraging housing development. 

AIAVT Members can now see exactly which bills our Public Policy Committee is tracking by checking the “List of Bills AIAVT is Currently Tracking”. This link now lives on our Public Policy Resources page

Overall, we are grateful to the entire AIAVT membership for contributing the resources and support enabling us to work with a Lobbyist to truly be an advocacy organization. There are major changes affecting our profession being discussed daily by our representatives in Montpelier. It is important that we use our collective voice. It feels great to have a guide on our way to the microphone.  Thank you from the PPC.

AIAVT’s members are encouraged to make a contribution to our “One Billable Hour Campaign” to help support the ongoing work of our PPC and the invaluable assistance provided by DRM. Please make a donation here. If you would like to join the Public Policy Committee, please email info@ aiavt.org.