Workforce Development

H.919 incorporates the recommendations of a 2017 summer working group to develop the workforce to meet the current and anticipated needs of employers and employees. The bill does many things:

·      Strengthens the role of the State Workforce Development Board – the board has 60 members, ½ of which must come from the private sector.

·      Extends the use of Career Pathways in workforce development, engaging students as early as 7th grade.

·      Establishes 4 pilot projects in Career Technical Education (CTE) settings to model a unified funding and governance structure to streamline and improve delivery of services.

·      Strengthens apprenticeship programs in the state, including the establishment of “returnships” to reengage workers who are currently not in the workforce.

·      Establishes a system that reviews and elevates the rigor of industry recognized credentials and certificates to create better value and relevance of them to both the recipient and employees.

·      Expand the role of the Department of Labor and the Commissioner to recruit workers, including from in-state post-secondary institutions, as well as train workers.

·      Authorize the use of Workforce Education Training (WET) Funds to assist small businesses recruit, relocate and retain workers.

·      Develop metrics to measure the relative success of these different efforts to guide decision making in the future.

Mental Health

The Legislature passed S.133, which looks at the Vermont’s entire mental health care system that has been struggling due to a lack of resources, inadequate staffing in community programs, insufficient community programs, and inadequate supply of housing since Tropical Storm Irene flooded the Vermont State Hospital in 2011. The most obvious symptom of this problem is that people in mental health crisis linger for days in hospital emergency rooms because of limited resources for crisis support, hospital diversion and inpatient care for children and adolescents in Vermont.

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Telecommunications Plan Update

The Vermont 10-year Telecommunications Plan is due for an update.  While telecommunications have improved overall in Vermont, there are still many Vermonters and businesses that still have substandard cell and broadband service. H.347 amends the statute to require that when the Department of Public Service updates the plan, it includes considerations on how telecommunications infrastructure or lack thereof affects health care and human services, public safety, and workforce development and training. The plan will be reported to the legislature in January, 2018. 

Forest Fragmentation

H. 233, a bill related to forest integrity, addresses forest fragmentation and better maintain intact, healthy forests. Our forests provide billions in revenue to the state, but as they become more fragmented, they lose their ability to maintain water quality, provide recreational opportunities, provide habitat for wildlife, and support our rural working landscape and forests large enough to support forestry.

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Alimony Reform Group Sees Progress with Legislation

For some who are lobbying for legislative changes, approval of a bill that creates a task force might not be much to cheer about. The Legislature has approved a bill, S.112, that temporarily imposes new alimony guidelines while creating an eight-member “spousal support and maintenance task force” that will take a close look at the state’s alimony law and how it might be changed.