View the complete text of Act 59

ACT NO. 59
(H.542)

Fee Bill

This act adopts the first "consolidated fee bill" to be submitted annually by the Governor, as required by statute adopted in 1996.

The consolidated fee bill is intended to be a companion to the Governor’s annual budget request.

The 1996 statute requiring a fee bill follows a similar statute concerning special funds adopted in 1992. Both laws establish uniform state policy and practice aimed at better control by both the legislature and the executive branch of the revenues and expenditures concerned.

In practice, both laws are still in the process of being fine tuned. Accordingly, several sections of the fee act adopted this year change provisions of the fees and special funds statutes.

A. The fees statute.

  • The 1996 fees statute:
    1. Defines a fee.
    2. Establishes that only the legislature can create a fee.
    3. Provides for adjusting the amount of a fee.
    4. Requires an annual fee report and request by the Governor; these also entail a three year base line review of all existing fees.
    5. And provides for a fee bill, originating in the House Committee on Ways and Means.

  • Changes adopted by the 1997 fees act:
    1. Require adjustments to fee amounts be approved either by the legislature as a whole when it is in session, or by the Joint Fiscal Committee at other times, rather than by a state agency by rule as previously provided.
    2. Clarify charges for public records.
    3. Require miscellaneous charges to be handled in the same manner as adjustments in fee amounts.
    4. Provide for classifying as fees, various revenue types that function as fees in fact.

    B. The special funds statute.

  • The 1992 special funds statute:
    1. Defines a special fund.
    2. Provides for the systematic organization and management of these funds:
      • Identify the purpose and revenue source; carry forward balances; interest credited to general fund; requires annual appropriation of all expenditures.

  • Changes to the special funds statute adopted by the 1997 fees act:
    1. Simplify various provisions based on experience since 1992 using the law, and in light of the adoption of the fees statute last year.
    2. Remove several transitional provisions no longer relevant.

    C. Application of fees and special funds statutes to existing fees and funds.

    As a result of the administration’s base line review this year of one-third of all existing fees, the fee act adopts several amendments which merely bring existing statutes in line with the new fees and special funds policies.

    In addition, the act does away with several sunsets of fees and special funds, since the statutes concerned are now intended to be reviewed as part of the annual fee bill.

    D. Specific fees and related authorizations.

      The act creates several new fees and adjusts several previous fee amounts, as well as brings the statutes concerned in line with the new fees and special funds policies. These provisions concern the following subjects:

    1. Adult education degrees and teachers licenses.
    2. Agency of Natural Resources hydroelectric escrow fund.
    3. Banking and insurance regulation.
    4. Document filing with Secretary of State.
    5. Fingerprinting.
    6. Fire prevention and building code compliance.
    7. Fish and wildlife licenses, and use of credit cards.
    8. Health care provider tax.
    9. Historic sites admissions.
    10. Newborn screening program.
    11. Nursing home assessment funds.
    12. Professional regulation.
    13. Property tax appeals.
    14. Property appraiser per diem.
    15. Rabies control program.
    16. Recording a complaint to foreclose a mortgage.
    17. Surplus library and related materials.
    18. Transportation and motor vehicle regulation.
    19. Vital records searches; copies of birth, death or marriage certificates.
    20. Workers’ compensation administration.

    E. Other provisions of the Act:

    1. Creates an interim joint legislative committee to study several environmental and community development questions.

    2. Amends Sec. 5 of Act No. 15 of the Acts of 1997 regarding heavy cutting of timber, by:
      1. Requiring adoption of emergency rules by July 1, 1997.
      2. Elaborating on the public education already required in law.

    3. Adds Title 9, section 4082 regarding forestry and industrial equipment, by:
      1. Prohibiting a supplier of forestry or industrial heavy equipment from charging a fee to a dealer who sells outside a geographic area designated by the supplier.
      2. Sunsetting the provision in one year.

    4. Amends Title 31, section 629, regarding simulcasting of races, by:
      1. Expanding simulcasting beyond the Pownal racetrack to other licensed parties.
      2. Extending previous sunset two years.

    5. Appropriates general funds as follows:
      1. $125,000, for Barre Granite and Ethnic Culture Museum.
      2. $37,500, for Winooski East Riverfront Redevelopment Project, in Montpelier.

    Effective Date: June 6, 1997; with several individual sections taking effect on other dates.