Construction workers build new homes at the Hillside at O’Brien Farm development in South Burlington in June 2020. Gov. Phil Scott still opposes the inclusion of registries of home contractors and rental housing. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger
With just weeks left to go in the legislative session, a Vermont House committee started working Wednesday on two Senate bills aimed at making housing more affordable in Vermont.
One hurdle: Gov. Phil Scott has previously vetoed two provisions in the bills: a state registry of rental homes, and another registry of home contractors.
Rep. Thomas Stevens, D-Waterbury, chair of the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, told VTDigger he wants to produce bills that Scott would be likely to sign.
Last year, the governor vetoed a registry of rental housing, saying it would discourage Vermonters “from offering their homes, rooms, or summer cabins for rent, not as a primary business but as a means to supplement their income.”
Scott said then he would support a rental housing registry if it included only dwellings with more than two units and if those units were rented for more than 120 days a year. He also expressed concerns about transferring responsibility for health complaints from town health officials to the state Department of Fire Safety, with additional staffing costs he said he could not support.
Earlier this year, Scott vetoed a registry of home contractors, saying it would put small contractors at a disadvantage.
Last month, the Senate revived the contractor registry, including it in S.226, a bill that includes many provisions Scott supports. They include streamlining requirements for water and sewer permits, land-use rules that would encourage denser housing and accessory dwelling units at existing homes, and Scott’s proposal for grants to builders when it costs more to build a home than it appraises for.
The Senate bill also included $15 million in subsidies for middle-income home buyers.
Senators attempted to address Scott’s concerns about the contractor registry by applying it only to contracts of $10,000 or more.
But Scott is still demanding that the Legislature pass bills that do not contain either the contractor or the rental housing registry.
“The Governor believes that the Legislature should pass clean housing funding bills, without poison pills in them,” Scott’s spokesperson, Jason Maulucci, said in an email to VTDigger. “Much of this critical housing money could have already been out the door had they chosen to include it in Budget Adjustment instead of playing political negotiating games and attaching the money to new regulations.”
“The Governor’s position remains that the two new government registries are unnecessary and counterproductive,” Maulucci said. “…….