Vermont dealers outline legislative priorities
The Vermont Retail Lumber Dealers Association (VRLDA) has announced its legislative priorities for 2018.
Key points include exempting materialmen from retainage and reducing regulatory burdens and mandates. The announcement came at the VRLDA’s annual Lobby Day at the Capitol Plaza in Montpelier, Vt.
“Our members provide materials to private and publicly funded building projects, including roads, bridges, hospitals, and other projects,” said Josh Druke, chair of VRLDA’s legislative committee. “Retainage is being used in a greater number of construction projects, placing more of a burden on independently-owned and operated building material dealers.”
Retainage represents a pre-approved amount of a contract that is withheld until the work is substantially complete in order to ensure that the contractor or subcontractor will satisfy its obligations to the project. “When lumber and building material dealers deliver a product, this represents the completion of our contract and as materialmen, we should be exempt from retainage,” Druke explained.
Small businesses face numerous challenges that they must deal with every day, including regulatory burdens. New regulations are forcing businesses to spend more time and money on compliance instead of being able to grow their businesses, hire more employees, and provide more for the local and state economy, the VRLDA said.
“Many of the new regulations have layers of reporting and compliance included in them, even though it often covers a benefit that these businesses already provide to recruit quality workers,” said Jeff Keller, director of legislative affairs at the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association. “While the benefit hasn’t changed, the amount of time and cost required to comply with that offering still increases. These factors need to be considered before the legislature enacts more laws that include extensive regulatory compliance.”
The VRLDA is also asking that legislators consider the impacts that repealing the small business exemption and expanding paid leave as well as an across the board increase to minimum wage would have on these small businesses.
“While most VRLDA members already pay their employees well above the minimum wage, a dramatic increase such as this would drive up costs across the board and discourage the hiring and training of new employees,” said Keller. “Any increase in the minimum wage should take into consideration the need for provisions for seasonal or temporary employees as well as include provisions for a youth and training wage to allow small businesses to hire new employees and train them without shouldering such a financial burden.”
Roughly 90% of Vermont employers have 20 or fewer employees and those employers are responsible for over 30% of private sector jobs and wages.
The VRLDA has 46 member locations and represents independent lumber and building material dealers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and other associated businesses in the state of Vermont. The lumber and building material industry creates more than 7,000 jobs in Vermont, directly employs over 1,300 Vermont residents, and collects over $12,000,000 in sales tax revenue for the state, according to the VRLDA.
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