From the Vermont State House | 3.27.2020

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From the Governor and Administration

Last night, the Governor issued Gubernatorial Directive 5, which directs that schools for preK-12 students shall remain dismissed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, unless otherwise ordered by the Governor if the COVID-19 response should allow. Schools are required to have continuity of learning plans for remote learning implemented on or before Monday, April 13, 2020.

The Tax Department continues to assess and respond to measures related to COVID-19. As previously mentioned, many personal income tax filing dates have moved from April 15 to July 15. In addition, penalties and interest on rooms and meals and sales and use taxes will not be assessed.  The impact on municipal revenues, property taxes, and municipal obligations to the State remain less clear and will need to be addressed by the Administration and Legislature. The Tax Department has created a COVID-19 webpage with information for taxpayers. They have also created a FAQ page, with the ability to seek additional information from Tax.

Many questions have inundated the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) following the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Order. ACCD has updated its FAQ Guidance to Businesses to help determine their status as essential or exempt from the Order. They have also published a business sector-by-sector guidance for more information.

From the State House

The Governor is expected to sign into law H.742 today or tomorrow (for timing purposes he is waiting for the President to first sign the latest federal relief legislation). The bill contains several amendments COVID-19 response measures related to health care and unemployment insurance.

Meanwhile, legislative activity is ramping back up – remotely. Also passed this week were rules changes to authorize and allow legislative committees to meet and vote remotely, which has already started and is expected to become widespread.

Most committees are using Zoom for committee hearings and invited witnesses, while the “public” can watch the hearings livestreamed on YouTube links. They will eventually be voting remotely as well.

Initial legislative work will continue to be devoted to COVID-19 measures and must-pass money bills (e.g., a to-be-developed FY20 budget adjustment, transportation and capital budgets, and FY21 budget). Legislators may then turn their attention back to the bills left as of March 13. Vermont has no defined adjournment date, though early May was an initial target. Leadership, however, has suggested the session may extend in some form for several more months due to COVID-19 uncertainty.