2024 State Legislative Session Takeaways: Vermont

Written by Costa Costidis

The Vermont Legislature adjourned on May 10. Lawmakers introduced 1,206 bills during the two-year biennium, including 522 in 2024. By the end of the biennium, 248 bills were passed by both chambers.



Several bills impacting employers have been signed by Governor Phil Scott (R). HB 363, which was signed on April 25, adopts the CROWN Act to prohibit discrimination based on protected hair types and styles, including braids, cornrows, locs, and twists. The bill takes effect on July 1, 2024. With passage of this bill, Vermont became the 25t state to adopt the CROWN Act via legislation or executive order. On June 4, Scott signed another bill to require employers to disclose job compensation when posting advertisements relating to job openings. Finally, Scott allowed SB 102 to become law without signature on May 28. The bill prohibits employers from penalizing or threatening an employee due to failure to participate in a meeting that has the primary purpose of conveying an employer’s view on political matters. The bill includes any political affiliation, elections for political office, legislative proposals, and decisions to join or support labor organizations under the definition of political matters. Although he allowed the bill to become law, Scott acknowledged concerns with the bill. He ultimately allowed the bill to become law and urged the legislature to monitor future impacts. This bill takes effect July 1, 2024.



Another key issue during this session was prescription drug affordability, which primarily manifested through SB 98. Sponsored by Senator Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D), SB 98 requires the Green Mountain Care Board to create a framework and methodology for implementing a program to regulate the cost of prescription drugs for Vermont consumers and Vermont’s health care system. This measure requires the Green Mountain Care Board to consider the experiences and outcomes of states that have developed prescription drug affordability boards and provide a preliminary plan for implementing a program to regulate the cost of prescription drugs in Vermont along with any proposals for legislative action needed to implement the program by January 2025. This measure was heard over a dozen times in committee before receiving bipartisan support in committee and on both chambers’ floors. The bill was signed by Governor Scott. This measure does not establish a PDAB, but it does invite the Green Mountain Care Board, an independent board tasked with regulating major areas of Vermont’s health care system, to consider proposing such an action, which is why this measure received so much attention. Nearly a dozen states have formed PDABs with Minnesota being the most recent prior to Vermont. Several states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, have pending legislation to create PDABs. Stateside will follow developments over the coming months. For questions on this process, please contact Patrick McGarry at prm@stateside.com.

The legislature also aimed to curb prescription drug prices through PBM reform. An omnibus measure, HB 233, enacts various PBM reforms. It adds a licensure requirement, establishes standard practice towards insurers and pharmacies, bans spread pricing, and requires PBMs to apply third-party financial assistance and discounts toward any out-of-pocket limits for prescription drugs. These efforts aim to increase transparency, oversight, and regulations to ultimately lower prices for patients.


What’s Next

The legislature will return on June 17 for a veto session to consider the six bills vetoed by Scott during the 2024 session. Last year, the legislature, which contains a supermajority of Democrats, overrode more than half of the governor’s vetoes. Bills that may be considered include SB 18 and HB 289. SB 18 would ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products in Vermont, following the lead of Massachusetts. While the bill did not pass either chamber with veto-proof majorities, the bill’s sponsor has indicated she will attempt to secure votes before the veto session. HB 289 is an update to the Renewable Energy Standard. The bill requires the state to be at 100% renewable electricity by 2035. It also increases the amount of power that utilities must purchase from new renewables. Governor Scott issued a veto, stating that “factoring in all the other taxes, fees, and higher costs the Legislature has passed over the last two years, I simply cannot allow this bill to go into law.” Both the Senate Pro Tempore and House Speaker have stated they intend to override the veto.

Governor Scott will be on the ballot for a fifth two-year term in November. Scott, the presumptive nominee for the Republicans, will face either Esther Charlestin, the co-chair of the Vermont Commission on Women, or Peter Duval, a former Underhill selectman, as his Democratic competition. Election predictors have designated this race as solidly in favor of the incumbent.

For questions about the result of vetoed bills or developments in the Vermont legislature, please contact Constantine Costidis at cec@stateside.com.