Business & Economy

House Commerce abandons independent contractor bill

The House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development will not take any more testimony this year on the controversial bill regarding the definition of independent contractors.

The committee spent most of its committee time this year trying to work out disagreements between business lobbyists and labor unions on H.867. The committee made a last-ditch attempt to update the bill this week.

The original version of H.867 outlined six specific criteria that a worker must meet in order to be considered an independent contractor. Current Vermont law has three subjective requirements, and says independent contractors can’t perform the core work of a business.

After pushback from labor interests and House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, they wrote a version of the bill this week that would make a person’s work status dependent on a more subjective set of circumstances that are still different from current Vermont law.

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, said the latest attempt to revive the bill did not work. “It was clear that the majority of the committee did not support the totality of circumstances decision, and so the chair pulled the bill,” she said. “He’s not going to schedule any more testimony.”

Rep. Mike Marcotte, R-Coventry, said he has been in the Legislature for 12 years and worked on the definition of an independent contractor for most of that time. He said he was “disappointed” in the outcome but appreciated the committee’s hard work.

“I don’t think it’s quite reached the boiling point yet for people to get it done,” Marcotte said. “So eventually maybe it will, or maybe it’s just one of those things that you can’t ever get to.”

Ben Johnson, the president of the Vermont AFL-CIO, released a statement on the bill. He said the labor unions “worked closely” with the committee to make the bill balance labor interests and business interests and that work “will pay dividends in the future.”

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