In the News

Late last week, the Vermont House of Representatives passed S.105, a bill with which many have significant concerns (Page 1514 of House Journal).(link is external) Indeed, the breadth of the bill is exceptionally broad, and will have a significant impact on a number of industries and their ability to do business in Vermont. These include the technology industry, utilities, telecommunications, and many more. That said, the impact about which I am most concern is on our incredibly important, statewide, outdoor recreation industry.

As background, as passed, S.105 mandates a "rebuttable presumption" of anti-consumer intent in all instances in which there is any limitation of a claim in a contract; essentially, that the 5 items listed in the bill would be considered "substantively unconscionable" when included in a contract.

This may sound like gobbledygook to many, and has been dismissed by some in Montpelier as a change that really should be of no concern to our recreation industry.

But, it is important gobbledygook to understand, and the concerns of our recreation industry are very real.

What this change does is open up the door to a much wider array of legal claims - specifically very costly lawsuits, consumer fraud claims, and fines, in addition to the potential of costly increases in a business' liability insurance.

“Imagine the impact an increase in the cost of fuel, transportation, utilities, food and clothing, would have on the purchasing power of low-income Vermonters,” Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, told the House.

“Imagine the impact these increases will have on our small retail establishments already struggling to stay competitive with online retailers,” she said.

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, brought back to the floor a House Ways and Means committee proposal that would have cut property taxes in half and eliminated an income sensitivity program ...

"It ensures a modest amount of skin in the game so that spending decisions are made with additional thought," she said.  "This is our chance to do something meaningful and put a stamp on education finance changes that are meaningful while providing long-term property tax relief and sustainability."

“Women’s issues are economic issues. They are public safety issues. They are tax issues. They are education issues. They are health care issues. They run the gamut, and to put women all in one box diminishes the importance of all of the issues for women,” she (Scheuermann) said.

Scheuermann said the system doesn't serve taxpayers well.  "I don't understand the economics behind the yield, and I don't think the public understands what a yield is," she said.  "Taxpayers should understand what they are paying for and why, and understand the system itself, and that is clearly not the case."

For the third time, Stowe's only representative in the Vermont House is urging her colleagues to take a strong stand against conflicts of interest.