Gov. Peter Shumlin today signed into law legislation to protect Vermonters' hard-earned pensions against predatory lenders.
In addition, recognizing the skills, education level and value of Vermont's older workers, the Governor announced the release of a report from the Governor's Commission on Successful Aging and initial steps to implement some of its recommendations to expand and improve employment opportunities for those 55 and older, an important demographic contributing to the health of Vermont's economy.
The bill, S.223, the first of its kind to pass a state Legislature in the nation, requires that any person offering a loan that is secured by a pension be licensed with Vermont's Department of Financial Regulation, and be subject to the state's consumer protection laws.
"Predatory lending that targets people's retirement and pensions is a growing problem across the country," the Governor said. "This bill allows us to get ahead of the problem before Vermonters suffer and hopefully will be an inspiration to other states to stamp out this predatory practice. I thank the Legislature for its hard work on this bill."
The Governor and supporters of the legislation say that, given the unscrupulous business model of these companies, there is no realistic chance they will become licensed lenders in Vermont under the strictures of the new law, in essence shutting the door here on predatory pension lending practices. In addition, the strong unlicensed lender law will subject these companies to enforcement action if they continue to do business in Vermont without a license.
The Governor also unveiled the recommendations and report of the Governor's Commission on Successful Aging, which was re-established in 2011. In its report to the Governor, the Commission found that Vermont's 55+ population has one of the highest levels of educational attainment in the U.S., and research clearly documents the financial, social and health benefits associated with continued engagement in the labor force. Nationally, this segment of the population will grow to 36.6 percent in 2020, making it an increasingly important part of the workforce here and throughout the country.
"We know that Vermont has a low unemployment rate -- currently second lowest in the country -- with open jobs and an increasing number of Vermonters in the workforce," said Gov. Shumlin. "But sometimes we forget that our mature workers, not just those recently out of school or in the early years of their careers, contribute greatly to the overall success of our economy. Having the right training and job match programs for these stable, hard-working, and valuable mature workers is smart public policy, and I am very appreciative of the Commission's efforts to increase our focus on this segment of our workforce."
The report set forth a variety of recommendations intended to build upon the long-standing partnership between the Vermont Department of Labor and Vermont Associates for Training and Development. These efforts will promote a structure to connect mature workers to employers, identify and promote best practices regarding the recruitment and retention of mature workers, and enhance the engagement of older workers in the workforce.
The report suggested greater focus on developing training and services for mature workers and for employers on best practices for recruiting, training and retaining mature workers. In the near term, a program administered by the Vermont Department of Labor will match employer needs with the skills of mature workers. The Agency of Commerce and Community Development has also agreed to help promote to businesses the value of mature workers and to help implement an annual Employer Recognition Award for employers who embrace and implement mature worker best practices and policies. The Administration will review additional recommendations by the Commission and work to implement others in the coming months.
The report's recommendations can be viewed at
"Vermonters deserve a state that is a great place to live at all stages of life, and we must work hard to make sure this continues to hold true," said Greg Marchildon, Executive Director of AARP Vermont. "We appreciate the Legislature and the Shumlin Administration's focus on issues that both protect older Vermonters and promote their value in our economy."