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House Calendar

MONDAY, MARCH 13, 2000

69th DAY OF ADJOURNED SESSION

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Action Postponed Until Monday, March 13, 2000

H. 629

An act relating to special education services.

Rep. Osman of Plainfield, for the Committee on Education, recommends the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(a) The general assembly finds that:

(1) Special education costs are increasing more rapidly than general education costs. The rate of growth in these costs is unsustainable at the local and state level.

(2) The percentage of students found eligible for special education services is increasing.

(3) The blue ribbon commission on special education costs and the fiscal review panel identified the need to strengthen the educational support systems across the state, to improve the consistency of the delivery of special education throughout the state, to improve the recruitment, training and retention of special education teachers and administrators, and to improve the ability of all teachers and administrators to meet the educational needs of all students.

(4) Early prevention and intervention services targeted to children who are at risk of becoming special education eligible can reduce the number of students who will eventually need special education services.

(5) Early prevention and intervention services are often less expensive than special education services, and may only be necessary for a short time in order to enable a student to succeed in the general education environment.

(6) Many local school districts need more technical and legal assistance to help them control special education costs.

(7) In its work with school districts, the department of education should emphasize effective and efficient management of delivering special education services statewide.

(b) Therefore, it is the intent of the general assembly to contain increases in total special education spending in Vermont, and to avoid shifting additional costs to the local school districts, while continuing to deliver appropriate services that meet the needs of Vermont's students.

Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. § 2902(a) is amended to read:

(a) Within each school district's comprehensive system of educational services, each public school shall develop and maintain an educational support system for children who require additional assistance in order to succeed or be challenged in the general education environment. For each school it maintains, a school district board shall assign responsibility for developing and maintaining the educational support system to the superintendent pursuant to a contract entered into under section 267 of this title, or to the principal. The educational support system shall, at a minimum, include an educational support team and a range of support and remedial services, including instructional and behavioral interventions and accommodations.

Sec. 3. 16 V.S.A. § 2942 is amended to read:

§ 2942. DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

* * *

(2) "Special education" means, to the extent required by federal law, specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents or guardian, to meet the unique educational needs of a child with a disability, including classroom instruction, instruction in physical education, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions. The term includes "related services" as defined in federal law. Once the individualized education program team has determined appropriate goals and objectives based on the student's needs, cost to the school district may be a factor considered in choosing appropriate services, instruction or devices to provide to a child with a disability.

* * *

Sec. 4. COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION; PLAN TO CONTAIN

SPECIAL EDUCATION COSTS WHILE CONTINUING TO MEET

THE NEEDS OF ALL VERMONT STUDENTS

(a) During the next two school years, the commissioner of education and the state board of education shall develop and implement a plan which shall include the elements described in this section. The goals of the plan shall be to:

(1) reduce statewide increases in special education costs while continuing to meet the needs of all Vermont students;

(2) increase the capacity of general education, especially the educational support system, to meet the needs of more students outside special education;

(3) ensure that special education programs use cost-effective practices; and

(4) ensure that special education programs are being operated consistently and within state and federal requirements across the state.

(b) The commissioner shall increase the capacity of general education to meet the needs of more students outside special education by:

(1) using department resources to provide increased and improved training opportunities for general education teachers, special education teachers and administrators, on techniques for meeting the instructional needs of all students; and

(2) working with the state board of education, the general assembly, higher education, the education coalition, and school districts to develop recommendations to improve the preparation of general education teachers.

(c) The commissioner shall increase the capacity of the educational support system to meet the needs of more students outside special education by:

(1) focusing department resources and time on strengthening the educational support system in Vermont public schools, and working with superintendents, principals, teachers, school boards and other interested groups to seek and use federal and other funds to accomplish this purpose. The commissioner shall focus on strengthening the following components of each educational support system:

(A) kindergarten through fourth grade literacy;

(B) prevention and intervention for emotional and behavioral difficulties;

(C) other prevention and intervention components; and

(2) using the authority granted in 16 V.S.A. § 212(9), for at least school years 2001 and 2002, requiring that superintendents and principals report on the status of their educational support systems. The reports shall describe how they have used funds received, due to Medicaid reimbursement and to the weighting of average daily membership for students in poverty and for students for whom English is a second language, to support their educational support systems.

(d) The commissioner shall provide support for special education teachers and administrators, and help in using cost-effective practices by:

(1) working with higher education to increase the availability of qualified special education teachers and administrators by improving recruitment and retention of special education teachers and administrators, and developing training opportunities and incentives;

(2) providing school districts with increased legal support, information and training in order to help districts to avoid conflict and make cost-effective legal and procedural decisions;

(3) hiring staff or consultants, or both, who are experts in provision of special education services, including experts in particular disability areas, and making them available to provide technical assistance and training;

(4) providing guidance to school districts on reducing the rate of increase in special education costs to a sustainable level during the preparation of district special education service plans; and

(5) working with the University of Vermont to develop a data-based decision-making model for individualized education program teams to use, and training special educators and others who serve on individualized education program teams to use the data-based decision-making model.

(e) The commissioner shall ensure that special education programs are being operated consistently and in a cost-effective manner across the state by:

(1) studying the individualized education programs of most common disability areas, providing schools with data on the types and range of services provided statewide and associated costs;

(2) increasing departmental capacity to audit and monitor special education programs in Vermont public schools, and auditing every supervisory union and district by December 31, 2002. The commissioner shall provide school districts with more specific guidance regarding cost allocation to special education, and what documentation and data needs to be maintained to complete an audit;

(3) providing training to school district leaders who shall advise and train school staff on cost-effective practices in special education, and how to ensure that eligibility decisions and development of individualized education programs are more consistent across the state; and

(4) working with the state board of education to adopt rules which more clearly define eligibility criteria for special education, and to provide guidelines on the implementation of eligibility criteria which emphasize cost containment and consistent application of eligibility criteria. Following adoption of the rules, the commissioner shall provide training and materials to school district staff on the rule revisions and guidelines. The rule revisions and guidelines shall, at a minimum, address the adverse effect criterion and the following:

(A) Emotional disability.

(B) Learning disability.

(C) Developmental delay.

(D) Other health impairment.

(E) Attention deficit disorder.

(f) The commissioner and state board of education shall work with the general assembly, the education coalition and school districts to:

(1) develop recommendations regarding changes to the special education funding formula. On or before January 15, 2004, the commissioner shall recommend to the governor and the general assembly a fiscally sustainable formula for funding special education; and

(2) address additional areas that require attention in order to contain costs and strengthen the special education system, including the residential placement review process, third party billing for special education medical services and cost effectiveness of regional special education programs.

Sec. 5. COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION; REPORTS

(a) On or before January 15 in years 2001 and 2002, the commissioner shall report to the Senate and House committees on education concerning the progress made toward strengthening the educational support system in Vermont public schools and containing special education costs.

(1) In year 2001, the report shall include:

(A) an update on the activities carried out under the plan made pursuant to Sec. 4 of this act;

(B) an examination of the equity of the core staff rules regarding calculation of state aid for special education, including proposed changes that would make the rules more equitable, and actions that have been taken or contemplated to make the rules more equitable; and

(C) recommendations for additional steps to ensure that Vermont will achieve a sustainable level of growth in special education costs by fiscal year 2003.

(2) In year 2002, the report shall include:

(A) a final report on all applicable items in the year 2001 report;

(B) recommendations for statutory change that would enable further strengthening of the educational support system, including recommendations for funding the education support system separately from general and special education;

(C) a plan to increase consistency of delivery of special education statewide; and

(D) a plan for future actions that will continue to contain special education costs, and a projection of special education cost increases through fiscal year 2007.

(b) The commissioner of education shall monitor external factors, outside the control of the school district and the department of education, which affect the cost of providing special education services. Annually through the year 2007, on or before January 15, the commissioner shall report to the governor and the general assembly on external factors that have contributed to cost increases and quantify the amount of increase directly attributable to these factors.

Sec. 6. ASSISTANCE TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS WITH UNUSUAL

SPECIAL EDUCATION COSTS

(a) In fiscal years 2002 through 2004, the commissioner may use up to two percent of the funds appropriated for special education expenditures as that term is defined in subsection 2967(b) of Title 16 for the purpose of directly assisting school districts with special education expenditures of an unusual and unexpected nature. These funds shall not be used for exceptional circumstances which are funded under section 2963a of Title 16. A decision of the commissioner as to eligibility for assistance and amount of assistance received shall be final.

(b) In order to be eligible for assistance under this subsection, during at least two of the last four quarters of the prior fiscal year, a school district shall have submitted Medicaid bills for services reimbursement for at least 85 percent of its Medicaid eligible students who received medically-related special education services.

(c) The state board of education shall adopt rules necessary to establish standards and procedures for implementation of this section.

(d) Annually, on or before January 15, the commissioner shall report to the general assembly on the amount and use of funds expended under this subsection.

Sec. 7. TARGETS FOR INCREASES IN STATEWIDE TOTAL SPECIAL

EDUCATION EXPENDITURES

(a) The general assembly hereby establishes the following targets for limiting increases in statewide total education expenditures as that term is used in 16 V.S.A. § 2967(b):

(1) in fiscal year 2002, the average annual change in the actual nominal Vermont State Domestic Product for the preceding five years as published by the United States Department of Commerce, plus four percentage points.

(2) in fiscal year 2003, the average annual change in the actual nominal Vermont State Domestic Product for the preceding five years as published by the United States Department of Commerce, plus three percentage points.

(3) in fiscal year 2004, the average annual change in the actual nominal Vermont State Domestic Product for the preceding five years as published by the United States Department of Commerce, plus two percentage points.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 101 of Title 16, in fiscal years 2002 through 2004, the amount appropriated by the general assembly to provide state aid for special education shall be no more than the amount that would be appropriated if statewide total special education expenditures grew by the target amounts.

(c) If, in any fiscal year, the actual increase in special education costs is less than the target amount, an amount equal to the state share, if spending had increased at the target amount, shall be appropriated from the education fund to be paid for support of special education in accordance with subsection 2967(b) of Title 16.

Sec. 8. REPEAL

In order to enable the commissioner of education to use the tools provided in this act to strengthen the educational support system and reduce the rate of increase in special education costs to a sustainable level, and in order to give the general assembly time to assess the cost saving effects of the provisions of this act, implementation of the caps imposed in Sec. 120(a) of No. 71 of the Acts of 1998, relating to limits to state aid for special education, is repealed.

Sec. 9. COMMITTEE ON INTERAGENCY COORDINATION AND

FUNDING FOR PROVISION OF SPECIAL EDUCATION

SERVICES

There is hereby created a committee to be made up of three senators appointed by the committee on committees and three representatives appointed by the speaker to study interagency coordination and funding regarding special education. The committee shall:

(1) work with the secretary of the agency of human services, the commissioner of employment and training and the director of the adult basic education system to study how each agency should provide for and share in paying for special education services for eligible persons under 22 years of age, in school or out-of-school;

(2) examine whether the upper limit of age eligibility should be 21 or 22 years of age;

(3) examine the interagency agreement regarding coordination of special education services entered into pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(12) to determine if services are currently provided and paid for in the most appropriate and cost-effective way; and

(4) report its findings and recommendations to the general assembly by January 15, 2001.

And the committee further recommends that after passage, the title of the bill be amended to read: AN ACT RELATING TO CONTAINING SPECIAL EDUCATION COSTS WHILE CONTINUING TO MEET THE NEEDS OF ALL VERMONT STUDENTS

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

Rep. Heath of Westford, for the Committee on Appropriations, recommends the bill ought to pass when amended as recommended by the Committee on Education and when further amended as follows:

By striking Sec. 8 in its entirety.

(Committee vote: 6-1-4)

H. 711

An act relating to an independent performance audit of Vermont's Health Care System.

Rep. Poirier of Barre City, for the Committee on Health and Welfare, recommends the bill be amended as follows:

First: In Sec. 1, on page 1, by striking lines 14 through line 17 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(a) The General Assembly hereby directs that an independent performance audit be conducted of Vermont's health care system, with special emphasis on the cost to the people of the state of Vermont of maintaining the status quo of the various elements of the current system. A companion survey of Vermonters' values and priorities regarding health care shall be incorporated into the independent performance audit process to ensure public representation and acceptance of the resulting health. The audit shall include:

Second: In Sec. 1, on page 6, by striking line 16 through line 19 and inserting in lieu thereof:

(2) The health care audit oversight committee shall provide public oversight of the independent performance audit of Vermont's health care system. The committee's role is to administer the contract process and to facilitate cooperation by state agencies in assisting the contractor in its performance of the audit. The committee shall have all powers necessary to carry out the purposes of this section, including:

(Committee vote: 10-1-0)

Rep. Kehler of Pomfret, for the Committee on Appropriations, recommends the bill be amended as follows:

First: In Sec. 1, on page 1, by striking line 14 through line 17 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(a) The General Assembly hereby directs that an independent performance audit be conducted of Vermont's health care system, with special emphasis on the cost to the people of the state of Vermont of maintaining the status quo of the various elements of the current system. A companion survey of Vermonters' values and priorities regarding health care shall be incorporated into the independent performance audit process to ensure public representation and acceptance of the resulting health care system. The audit shall include:

Second: In Sec. 1, page 5, line 3, by adding after "health" and before "care" the words "and substance abuse"

Third: In Sec. 1, page 6, by striking subdivision (b)(1) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(b)(1) The health care audit oversight committee is created, consisting of seven members with knowledge and expertise in health care. The appointments shall be made on or before 30 days following passage of this act. The committee shall include the following:

(A) One member appointed by the speaker of the house.

(B) One member appointed by the president pro tem of the senate.

(C) One member appointed by the governor.

(D) One member shall be the Commissioner of Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Health Care Administration.

(E) One member appointed by the Vermont Hospital Association to represent the association.

(F) One member appointed by the Vermont Medical Society to represent the society.

(G) One member appointed by the Vermont Business Roundtable to represent the roundtable.

(Committee vote: 10-0-1)

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Mazur of South Burlington and Holmes of Bethel to H. 711

Moves that the bill be amended by adding a new Sec.1a to read:

Sec. 1a. 8 V.S.A. § 4088b is added to read:

§ 4088b. MANDATED HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS

(a) The commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration shall evaluate the medical efficacy and financial impact of any legislative bill or amendment to a bill proposing a new mandated health insurance benefit. The commissioner shall report to the committee with jurisdiction of the bill on the results of his or her evaluation on or before 30 days following introduction of the bill, or following public release or other disclosure of the amendment.

(b) The commissioner's evaluation required by subsection (a) of this section shall be an independent, actuarially-based review. In conducting the evaluation, the commissioner shall:

(1) review and summarize the relevant medical, actuarial and economic research;

(2) if the coverage required by the mandate is not generally included in individual and group policies and contracts, determine to what extent lack of coverage of the proposed benefit results in financial hardship;

(3) determine the demand for the proposed health care coverage from the public at large and in collective bargaining negotiations, and to what extent voluntary coverage of the proposed benefit is available;

(4) evaluate the medical efficacy of the health care proposed to be included as a mandated health insurance benefit, including:

(A) in the case of a legislative proposal to mandate coverage of a particular therapy, the results of at least one clinical trial demonstrating the medical consequences of that therapy compared to no therapy and to alternative therapies, and the results of any other relevant clinical research;

(B) in the case of a legislative proposal to mandate coverage of specific class of practitioner or medical specialty, the results of at least one professionally acceptable, controlled trial demonstrating the medical results achieved by the specific class of practitioners or medical specialty relative to those already covered, and the results of any other relevant clinical research; and

(5) evaluate the financial impact of the proposed mandated health insurance benefit, including an evaluation of:

(A) the extent to which coverage will increase or decrease the cost of treatment or service;

(B) the extent to which the same or similar mandates have affected charges, costs, utilization and payments in other states;

(C) the extent to which the coverage will increase the appropriate use of the treatment or service;

(D) the extent to which the mandated treatment or service will be a substitute for more expensive or less expensive treatments or services;

(E) the extent to which the coverage will increase or decrease the administrative expenses of third party payers and the premium and administrative expenses of policyholders;

(F) the financial impact of the mandated coverage on small employers, medium-sized employers and large employers; and

(G) the impact of the mandated coverage on the total cost of health care.

(c) The commissioner shall report to the general assembly on or before January 1 of the first year of each session of the general assembly with an evaluation, pursuant to the provisions of this section, of ten or more mandated health insurance benefits provided for under the law until all mandated health insurance benefits have been evaluated.

(d) As used in this section mandated health insurance benefit" means a law applicable to any health insurer including any mandated coverage for specific medical or health-related services, treatments, medications, or practices; any mandated coverage of services specific to health care practitioners; any mandate requiring an offering of specific services, treatments, practices, or an expansion of existing coverage; and any mandated reimbursement amount to specific health care practitioners.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Holmes of Bethel and Mazur of South Burlington to H. 711

Move to amend the bill by adding a new Sec. 1b to read:

Sec. 1b. 18 V.S.A. § 9414(i) is added to read:

(i) The commissioner, after consulting with the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Care Systems and the Vermont Medical Society shall study the feasibility of preparing and distributing an annual consumer satisfaction report card. The consumer satisfaction report card may contain an assessment of the quality of health care provider groups, health care facilities, and health care plans. The consumer satisfaction report card shall be designed to provide information on the cost effectiveness and quality of care delivered to patients by and through such of health care provider groups, health care facilities, and health care plans.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Bouricius of Burlington to H. 711

Moves the be amended as follows:

First: In Sec. 1, on page 2, by striking lines 1 through 2 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(2) an assessment of how each element of Vermont's health care system, and the system as a whole, performs relative to its cost, compared with the health care systems of other states and countries;

Second: In Sec. 1, on page 2, after the period on line 20, by inserting the following:

(F) The overhead and administrative cost and efficiency of private health insurance.

Third: In Sec. 1, on page 3, after line 8, by adding subdivision (E) to read:

(E) The overhead and administrative cost and efficiency of public health benefit plans.

Fourth: In Sec. 1, on page 5, line 20, by adding "global budgeting," after "utilization," and before the word "demographic"

H. 784

An act relating to act 250 jurisdiction, district commission chairs, review on the record, violations, and presumptions accorded to agency permits.

Rep. Sullivan of Burlington, for the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, respectfully report that they have considered the same and recommend that the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

* * * Act 250 Definition of Jurisdictional Term * * *

Sec. 1. 10 V.S.A. § 6001(19) is amended to read:

(19) "Subdivision" means a tract or tracts of land, owned or controlled by a person, which the person has partitioned or divided for the purpose of resale into 10 or more lots within a radius of five miles of any point on any lot, or within the jurisdictional area of the same district commission, within any continuous period of five years. In determining the number of lots, a lot shall be counted if any portion is within five miles or within the jurisdictional area of the same district commission. The word "subdivision" shall not include a lot or lots created for the purpose of conveyance to the state or to a qualified organization, as defined under section 6301a of this title, if the land to be transferred includes and will preserve a segment of the Long Trail. The word "subdivision" shall not include a lot or lots created for the purpose of conveyance to the state or to a "qualified holder" of "conservation rights and interest," as those terms are defined in section 821 of this title. "Subdivision" also means a tract of land, owned or controlled by a person, which is partitioned or divided by any person or persons for the purpose of resale, if there would result 15 or more lots, within any continuous period of five years. Notwithstanding the above, "subdivision" shall also mean a tract or tracts of land, owned or controlled by a person, which the person has partitioned or divided for the purposes of resale into six or more lots, within a continuous period of five years, in a municipality which does not have duly adopted zoning and subdivision regulations.

* * * Act 250 Penalties * * *

Sec. 2. 10 V.S.A. § 6003 is amended to read:

§ 6003. PENALTIES

A violation of any provision of this chapter or the rules promulgated hereunder is punishable by a fine of not more than $500.00 for each day of the violation or imprisonment for not more than two years, or both. A person who completely transfers ownership and control of property that is the subject of a permit under this chapter shall not be liable for later violations of that permit by another person.

* * * Permit Applicant in Violation of Other Permits * * *

Sec. 3. 10 V.S.A. § 6083 is amended to read:

§ 6083. APPLICATIONS

* * *

(d) *[The]* Except as otherwise provided under subsection (g) of this section, the board and commissions shall make all practical efforts to process permits in a prompt manner. The board shall establish time limits for permit processing as well as procedures and time periods within which to notify applicants whether an application is complete. The board shall report annually by February 15 to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy and government operations. The annual report shall assess the performance of the board and commissions in meeting the limits; identify areas which hinder effective performance; list fees collected for each permit; summarize changes made by the board to improve performance; describe staffing needs for the coming year; and certify that the revenue from the fees collected is at least equal to the costs associated with those positions.

* * *

(g) The board or a district commission may delay issuance of a permit or amendment or stay the effective date or processing of a permit or amendment if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the applicant is a person who is in substantial violation of the terms or conditions of any other permit issued under this chapter. For purposes of this subsection, the substantial violation sufficient to trigger delay may be by an individual or entity who has an affiliation with the applicant sufficient to make it the same "person" as that term is defined in section 6001 of this title.

* * * Public Information Meeting * * *

Sec. 4. 10 V.S.A. § 6084(c) is added to read:

(c) If 10 members of the public submit a written request to an applicant, asking for an informal public information meeting, and that request is submitted at least 15 days before the first prehearing conference or hearing (if there is no prehearing conference), an applicant shall schedule and convene such a meeting. At the public information meeting, the applicant or the applicant's representatives shall present an overview of the proposed development or subdivision to any interested members of the public. At the request of the applicant, the district coordinator shall determine whether or not this requirement has been previously met.

* * * Appeals by Adjoining Property Owners * * *

Sec. 5. 10 V.S.A. § 6085(c)(1) is amended to read:

(c)(1) Parties shall be those who have received notice, adjoining property owners who have requested a hearing, and such other persons as the board may allow by rule. For the purposes of appeal to the supreme court, only the applicant, the landowner if the applicant is not the landowner, a state agency, adjoining property owners who have obtained party status, the regional and municipal planning commissions and the municipalities required to receive notice shall be considered parties. An adjoining property owner may participate in hearings and present evidence only to the extent the proposed development or subdivision will have a direct effect on his or her property under section 6086(a)(1) through (a)(10) of this title.

* * * Construction Pending Appeal * * *

Sec. 6. 10 V.S.A. § 6085(g) is added to read:

(g) Until the 30-day period for appeals to the board has run, a person who is granted a permit by a district commission shall not conduct construction pursuant to that permit, or cause construction to be conducted, if that construction would create substantial or irreversible impacts to natural resources. If a permit issued by a district commission is appealed to the board, then until the board has issued a final permit, the permit recipient shall not conduct construction pursuant to that permit, or cause construction to be conducted, if that construction would create substantial or irreversible impacts to natural resources, unless those impacts are unrelated to matters that are subject to the appeal. This subsection shall not apply in the case of an application treated as a minor application.

* * * On the Record Review Option * * *

Sec. 7. 10 V.S.A. § 6085a is added to read:

§ 6085a. APPEALS ON THE RECORD FROM DISTRICT

ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSION DETERMINATIONS

(a) Within seven business days from the date a district commission completes its determinations with respect to all requests for party status that were filed at a prehearing conference, the applicant, or any other person accorded party status, may move that proceedings before the district commission be conducted in a manner that will create an adequate record of those proceedings, and that any appeal to the environmental board be conducted on that record. Such a motion shall be referred to as a motion for "recorded hearings" before the district commission. The district commission shall give parties an opportunity to comment in writing on whether the public interest would likely be served by the granting or refusing to grant such a motion, and shall grant the motion unless it clearly appears that the public interest would be adversely affected by recorded hearings. In considering the public interest, the commission may consider, among other matters, the cost to the state of recorded hearings, the efficiency of the application process, and whether recorded hearings will likely result in providing more complete information for the commission's consideration. The commission shall announce its determination publicly and in writing to all parties; the decision shall not be subject to appeal. If the commission grants the motion, it shall also grant all parties a reasonable time to prepare for recorded hearings.

(b) In situations where a motion for recorded hearings before the district commission has been granted, but prior to commencement of hearings in accordance with that decision, the district commission, on its own motion or on written request of no fewer than 10 members of the public, shall schedule and convene an informal public informational meeting, at which the applicant or the applicant's representatives, or both, shall present the proposal in detail to any interested members of the public. The district commission shall announce that the purpose of the informational meeting is to help prepare the public to participate fully in recorded hearings, and that the public informational meeting itself shall not be part of the record presented to the environmental board, in the event an appeal is taken to the board. Prior to the close of the informational meeting, the district commission shall entertain applications for party status.

(c) Where a motion for recorded hearings has been granted, the district commission shall take all steps necessary to facilitate the timely exchange of information between the parties. The district commission shall have authority to issue such orders as may be necessary to assure the parties a fair and reasonable ability to review the application and its implications with respect to the criteria established under section 6086 of this title, and to allow the applicant the same ability to review information developed by other parties. If the commission determines that any party has failed to provide significant and substantial information to other parties, the commission at any time prior to the close of the evidence may impose appropriate sanctions, including:

(1) recessing proceedings for a period of time sufficient to allow the parties to review and prepare to respond to the information in question;

(2) excluding all or a portion of the evidence in question;

(3) rescinding its granting of a motion for recorded proceedings.

(d) Recorded hearings before the district commission shall be conducted in a manner that assures that the procedural and evidentiary standards employed maintain the flexibility and informality which is characteristic of administrative proceedings. Those standards shall be construed with particular flexibility in allowing the introduction of evidence.

(e) In preparation for recorded hearings, the district commission shall secure a stenographic reporter at the expense of the party making the motion. In the event of an appeal to the environmental board, the reporter shall prepare and provide a verbatim, written transcript of the evidentiary proceedings before the commission. The original and ten copies of the transcript shall be provided to the board at the expense of the party who made the motion for a recorded hearing, who shall also provide a copy free of charge to any other party who requests a copy.

(f) Motions under this section for recorded hearings before the district commission may be granted no more than 12 times throughout the state, without further legislative authority, and no more than three motions for recorded hearings may be granted by the same district commission. Upon receipt of a request from a district commission for additional assistance in managing a recorded hearing, the board shall provide temporary additional resources. The board shall monitor the implementation of this section throughout the state, and shall provide interim reports on that implementation to the general assembly, by no later than January 15, 2001 and January 15, 2002. The chief coordinator shall work with the district coordinators, and shall present to the legislative committees on natural resources and energy a portion of the report which shall detail the range of projects for which there were recorded hearings, the districts where the recorded hearings took place, the outcomes of completed hearings, whether appeals were taken, and if so by what party. The report also shall address the following, both from the perspective of the board and from the perspective of the district commissions: the timeliness of the process, manageability of the process, any perceived effects on public participation, and any additional resource demands or resource efficiencies. The board shall provide the general assembly with a final report on implementation of this section, once the board has disposed of all appeals on the record, taken under this section, unless the appeals were disposed of in sufficient time to allow the board to combine the final report with one of the interim reports.

* * * Effect of Permits Issued by a Local Development Review Board * * *

Sec. 8. 10 V.S.A. § 6086(d) is amended to read:

(d)(1) The board may by rule allow the acceptance of a permit or permits or approval of any state agency with respect to (1) through (5) of subsection (a) or a permit or permits of a specified municipal government with respect to (1) through (7) and (9) and (10) of subsection (a), or a combination of such permits or approvals, in lieu of evidence by the applicant. *[The board shall accept determinations issued by a development review board under the provisions of 24 V.S.A. § 4449, with respect to local Act 250 review of municipal impacts.]* The acceptance of such approval, *[positive determinations,]* permit, or permits shall create a presumption that the application is not detrimental to the public health and welfare with respect to the specific requirement for which it is accepted. Such a rule may be revoked or amended pursuant to the procedures set forth in 3 V.S.A. chapter 25, the Vermont Administrative Procedure Act.

(2) The district commissions and the board shall accept determinations issued by a development review board under the provisions of 24 V.S.A. § 4449, with respect to local Act 250 review of municipal impacts. The acceptance of a positive determination under that section shall create a presumption, that may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence, that the application is not detrimental to the public health and welfare with respect to the specific requirement for which it is accepted. The acceptance of negative determinations issued by a development review board under the provisions of 24 V.S.A. § 4449, with respect to local Act 250 review of municipal impacts shall create a presumption, that may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence, that the application is detrimental to the public health and welfare with respect to the specific requirement for which it is accepted. Any determinations, positive or negative, under the provisions of 24 V.S.A. § 4449 shall create presumptions only to the extent that the impacts under the criteria are limited to the municipality issuing the decision. *[Such a rule may be revoked or amended pursuant to the procedures set forth in 3 V.S.A., chapter 25, the Vermont Administrative Procedure Act.]*

(3) The district commissions and the board shall not approve the acceptance of a permit or approval of such an agency or a permit of a municipal government unless it satisfies the appropriate requirements of subsection (a) of this section.

* * * On the Record Conforming Amendment * * *

Sec. 9. 10 V.S.A. § 6089 is amended to read:

§ 6089. APPEALS

(a)(1) An appeal from the district commission shall be to the board and shall be accompanied by a fee prescribed by section 6083a of this title.

(2) An appellant to the board, under this section, shall file with the notice of appeal a statement of the issues to be addressed in the appeal, a summary of the evidence that will be presented, and a preliminary list of witnesses who will testify on behalf of the appellant.

(3)(A) *[The]* Except in the case of appeals taken on the record under section 6085a of this title, the board shall hold a de novo hearing on all findings requested by any party that files an appeal or cross appeal, according to the rules of the board.

(B) In the case of appeals taken on the record, as provided under section 6085a of this title, the following shall apply:

(i) the board, in its sole discretion, may request that additional evidence be presented, and may receive and consider evidence offered beyond that which was presented before the district commission;

(ii) the board may review any area of law or fact which has been appealed, and may substitute its judgment for the judgment of the district commission without finding that the district commission erroneously applied the law.

* * *

* * * Planning Goals for Municipalities, Regions, and State Agencies * * *

Sec. 10. 24 V.S.A. § 4302(c) is added to read:

(c) In addition, this chapter shall be used to further the following specific goals:

* * *

(13) To identify positive and negative effects of cumulative growth, and limit the detrimental effects of that growth.

* * * Study * * *

Sec. 11. STUDY ON CONSISTENCY IN ENVIRONMENTAL

PERMITTING

(a) The agency of natural resources, in coordination with the environmental board, the water resources board, the department of labor and industry, the agency of transportation, and representatives of the federal government, shall establish a working group on consistency in the environmental permitting process. The working group shall report back to the General Assembly by January 15, 2003, regarding a review of state requirements for the regulation of land development, which review shall be designed to identify and evaluate opportunities for:

(1) Improving the consistency between state and federal land development permitting requirements.

(2) Improving the substantive and procedural consistency between the permitting requirements of Act 250 and those of other state land development permits.

(3) Omitting any unnecessary or redundant permitting requirements.

(4) Reducing the cost of compliance with permitting requirements.

(5) Simplifying and streamlining the process of obtaining state land development permits, while assuring appropriate and timely citizen participation.

(6) Assigning permit specialists to guide applicants for multiple state and federal environmental permits.

(7) Creating a glossary that provides definitions of crucial terms that may have different meanings in different state and federal environmental permits.

(b) The Agency shall submit a preliminary report, containing a work plan, by no later than January 15, 2001.

* * * Repeal of 800-foot Road Rule * * *

Sec. 12. REPEAL OF ADMINISTRATIVE RULE

Environmental Board Rule 2(A)(6) (the 800-foot road rule) is repealed. Subdivisions that were subject to jurisdiction under the 800 foot road rule when it was in effect shall remain under the jurisdiction of chapter 151 of Title 10.

Sec. 13. SUNSET

On July 1, 2002, 10 V.S.A. § 6085a shall be repealed and 10 V.S.A. § 6089 shall revert to the language it contained before enactment of this act, although proceedings pursuant to a motion for recorded hearings that is filed prior to that time shall continue under those sections, until hearings before the board are completed.

(Committee vote: 6-5-0)

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Suchmann of Chester and Darrow of Newfane to H. 784

Move the bill be amended by adding new sections to read:

Sec. 14. 24 V.S.A. § 2241 is amended to read:

§ 2241. DEFINITIONS

For the purposes of this subchapter:

* * *

(7) "Junkyard" means any place of outdoor storage or deposit *[which is maintained, operated or used in connection with a business]* for storing, keeping, processing, buying, or selling junk, or as a scrap metal processing facility. "Junkyard" also means any place of outdoor storage or deposit, whether or not in connection with a business which is maintained or used for storing or keeping four or more junk motor vehicles which are visible from any portion of a public highway. However, the term does not include a private garbage dump or a sanitary landfill which is in compliance with section 2202 of this title and the regulations of the secretary of human services. It does not mean a garage where wrecked or disabled motor vehicles are stored for less than 90 days for inspection or repairs. It does not mean any place of outdoor storage or deposit for storing, or keeping junk on property owned by a farmer as defined by 32 V.S.A. §3752 and used as part of the overall farm unit.

Sec. 15. 24 V.S.A. § 2242 is amended to read:

§ 2242. REQUIREMENT FOR OPERATION OR MAINTENANCE

A person shall not operate, establish or maintain a junkyard unless *[he]* the person:

(1) Holds a certificate of approval for the location of the junkyard; *[and]*

(2) Holds a license to operate, establish or maintain a junkyard*[.]*; and

(3) Certifies that all toxic fluids have been removed from any vehicles and properly disposed of or managed..

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Johnson of Canaan to H. 784

Moves to amend the proposal of amendment of the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy by striking Sec. 5 and renumbering the remaining sections and cross references to those sections, to be numerically correct

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Marron of Stowe, Flaherty of South Burlington, Metzger of Milton, Starr of Troy, Valsangiacomo of Barre City to H. 784

Move to amend the proposal of amendment in Sec. 8 § 6086(d), second sentence, (which starts "The acceptance of such") by inserting before the period, after the word "accepted" the following:

, and in the case of approvals and permits issued by the agency of natural resources, the presumption may only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Mazur of South Burlington, Buckland of Newport Town, Colvin of Bennington, Crawford of Burke, Dakin of Colchester, Flaherty of South Burlington, Follett of Springfield, Mullin of Rutland Town, Severance of Colchester, Sweetser of Essex, Willett of St. Albans City to H. 784

Move the bill be amended by adding a new section to read:

Sec. 11. 24 V.S.A. § 4450 is added to read:

§ 4450. ACT 250 EXEMPT DOWNTOWN DISTRICT

(a) A municipality may apply to the secretary of commerce and community development to have a specified downtown district designated as an Act 250 exempt downtown district. The application shall contain the following:

(1) A map delineating the proposed downtown.

(2) Evidence that the municipality has in effect permanent zoning and subdivision bylaws.

(3) Evidence that the municipality has adopted the municipal administrative procedures act (MAPA) established under chapter 36 of this title and has provided that it shall apply to all hearings under this chapter.

(b) On receipt of an application under this section, the secretary of commerce and community development shall review the application and shall designate the downtown as an Act 250 exempt downtown district upon determining all of the following:

(1) The municipality has a confirmed planning process and has adopted permanent zoning and subdivision bylaws.

(2) The delineated downtown is, in fact, a "downtown," as defined in section 2791 of this title or an emerging downtown. An "emerging downtown" exists when both of the following apply:

(A) The area is within a community, is served by public water and sewer, and is designated in the community's comprehensive plan, official map, and zoning bylaws as a central business district containing the characteristics of a traditional central business district as described in section 2791 of this title;

(B) The area contains or is part of a design control district established pursuant to subdivision 4407(6) of this title, with design criteria that will promote development with the characteristics of a traditional central business district and that are applicable to the construction of new structures, alteration of existing structures, and site development.

(3) The municipality has adopted the municipal administrative procedures act (MAPA) established under chapter 36 of this title and has provided that it shall apply to all hearings under this chapter.

(c) Upon the effective date of designation, all development, permitted or not, within the district shall be exempt from review under 10 V.S.A. chapter 151.

And by renumbering the remaining sections, and all cross references to those sections, to be numerically accurate.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Jordan of Middlesex to H. 784

Moves to amend the proposal of amendment by striking Secs. 7, 9, and 13, all of which relate to environmental board hearings being based upon the record developed below, and by renumbering the remaining sections to be numerically correct.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Helm of Castleton to H. 784

Moves that the bill be amended by adding a new section to read:

Sec. 3. 10 V.S.A. § 6081(m) is added to read:

(m) If a permit under this chapter is for a development that is located in an area of a municipality that is zoned for commercial uses, and the activities in question are authorized by the municipality, then a permit amendment under this chapter shall not be required for any of the following:

(1) painting building exteriors, regardless of the color or colors selected;

(2) landscaping changes that are comparable to landscaping required under the permit;

(3) parking improvements within the same footprint as parking requirements under the permit;

(4) use of snowmobiles, and all terrain vehicles, in places where usage is allowed and in a lawful manner.

And by renumbering the remaining sections and any cross references to those sections to be numerically correct.

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Metzger of Milton, Rusten of Halifax, Blanchard of Essex, Flaherty of South Burlington, Gretkowski of Burlington, Howrigan of Fairfield, Marron of Stowe, Pike of Mendon, Starr of Troy, Valsangiacomo of Barre City to H. 784

Move to amend the bill by adding a new section to read:

Sec. 7. 10 V.S.A. § 6085(h) is added to read:

(h) Any organization accorded or requesting party status, upon request of a party, shall provide the names and addresses of members of the organization that reside in the municipality in which the subdivision or development is proposed to be located.

And by renumbering the remaining sections, and all cross-references, to be numerically correct.

Third Reading

H. 620

An act relating to school district purchase of items through the state purchasing process.

Committee Bills for Second Reading

H. 844

An act relating to workers' compensation.

(Rep. Partridge of Windham will speak for the Committee on Commerce.)

H. 845

An act relating to standards for disclosures regarding the retail sale of electricity.

(Rep. Mazur of South Burlington will speak for the Committee on Commerce.)

H. 848

An act relating to zoning of registered or licensed family child care homes.

(Rep. Weiss of Northfield will speak for the Committee on Local Government.)

H. 849

An act relating to penalties, dairy sheep, nonpoint source water pollution and large farm operations.

(Rep. Smith of New Haven will speak for the Committee on Agriculture.)

Favorable with Amendment

H. 595

An act relating to motor vehicles.

Rep. Morrissey of Bennington, for the Committee on Transportation, recommends the bill be amended as follows:

In Sec. 1, page 1, by adding after line 12, a new subdivision, 23 V.S.A. § 4(34)(F), to read as follows:

(F) A school bus owned or leased by a private school may be a color other than national school bus yellow; however, it must meet the other identification and equipment requirements specified in section 1283 of this title.

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

H. 632

An act relating to work zone speed violations.

Rep. Wisell of Bristol, for the Committee on Transportation, recommends the bill be amended as follows:

First: By striking Sec. 3 and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 3 to read as follows:

Sec. 3. 23 V.S.A. § 2502(a)(7), (8) and (9) are amended to read:

(7) Three points assessed for § 1003 *[and]*, § 1004, § 1007 and 1081(b). State speed zones and local speed limits, more than 10 miles per hour over and in excess of speed limit;

(8) Five points assessed for § 1003 *[and]*, § 1004, § 1007 and 1081(b). State speed zones and local speed limits, more than 20 miles per hour over and in excess of speed limit;

(9) Eight points assessed for § 1003 *[and]*, § 1004, § 1007 and 1081(b). State speed zones and local speed limits, more than 30 miles per hour over and in excess of the speed limit.

Second: By adding a new Sec. 4 to read as follows:

Sec. 4. 23 V.S.A. § 2502(c) is added to read:

(c) Two additional points shall be assessed for any violation of subsection 1006a(d) (work site speed violations on state highway system) or 1010(b) (work site speed violations on town highways) of this title.

(Committee vote: 10-0-1)

H. 705

An act relating to particular proceedings of the public service board.

Rep. Larocque of Barnet, for the Committee on Commerce, recommends the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1. 30 V.S.A. § 21(a) is amended to read:

(a) The board or the department may allocate the portion of the expense incurred or authorized by it in retaining additional personnel for the particular proceedings authorized in section 20 of this title to the applicant or the public service company or companies involved in those proceedings. The board shall upon petition of an applicant or public service company to which costs are proposed to be allocated, review and determine, after opportunity for hearing, having due regard for the size and complexity of the project, the necessity and reasonableness of such costs, and may amend or revise such allocations. Prior to allocating costs, the board shall make a determination of the purpose and use of the funds to be raised hereunder, identify the recipient of the funds, provide for allocation of costs among companies to be assessed, indicate an estimated duration of the proceedings, and estimate the total costs to be imposed. With the approval of the board, such estimates may be revised as necessary. From time to time during the progress of the work of such additional personnel, the board or department shall render to the company detailed statements showing the amount of money expended or contracted for in the work of such personnel, which statements shall be paid by the applicant or the public service company into the state treasury at such time and in such manner as the board or department may reasonably direct.

Sec. 2. 30 V.S.A. § 107(c) and (e)(1) are amended to read:

(c) If any company acquires such a controlling interest without the prior approval of the public service board, the board may then, after due notice and opportunity for hearing,

(1) approve the acquisition; or

(2) modify any existing certificates or orders authorizing either or both companies to own or operate a public utility business under the provisions of this title; or

(3) revoke any such existing certificates or orders, or revoke any orders approving the articles of association of such companies; or

(4) declare the acquisition null and void, all as necessary to promote the public good.

(e) For the purposes of this section,

(1) "Controlling interest" means ten percent or more of the outstanding voting securities of a company; or such other interest as the public service board determines, upon notice and opportunity for hearing following its own investigation or a petition filed by the department of public service or other interested party, to constitute the means to direct or cause the direction of the management or policies of a company. The presumption that ten percent or more of the outstanding voting securities of a company constitutes a controlling interest may be rebutted by a company under procedures established by the board by rule.

Sec. 3. 30 V.S.A. § 210 is amended to read:

§ 210. ELECTRIC COMPANIES; INTERCONNECTION FACILITIES

The public service board shall have jurisdiction to order electric companies subject to its supervision to build or rebuild electric transmission lines in order to provide adequate interconnection between the transmission systems of the state. The board shall have power to exercise the jurisdiction herein conferred only after due notice to all interested parties and opportunity for hearing and after making findings based upon adequate evidence that the ordered construction:

(1) Is necessary in the interests of consumers of electrical energy;

(2) Is not detrimental to the interests of the investors of the company ordered to build or rebuild;

(3) Will serve the public good.

The board may allocate the cost of building or rebuilding between the companies whose facilities are to be interconnected providing that the findings herein referred to are made as to each company affected by such allocation.

Sec. 4. 30 V.S.A. § 212d(b) is amended to read:

(b) If, pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the department and a company are unable to negotiate the rates, charges, terms or other conditions of such contracts including the assurance of adequate reliability, either may petition the public service board to establish the rates, terms, charges, or conditions thereunder, or resolve any other related matter, as the board determines to be just and reasonable. The board shall establish rates or charges under this section to compensate or reimburse such company for all costs reasonably and necessarily incurred by it to provide such arrangements. The board shall *[commence]* offer an opportunity for commencing a hearing within 45 days of filing of the petition and shall make either a final decision or, if unable to do so, an interim decision within three months of filing of the petition. If, within three months of filing, the board is unable to reach a final decision on the petition, the board shall direct the company to provide to the department the necessary arrangements, including if necessary or appropriate, backup reliability, and access to facilities to allow the department to distribute the electric energy involved in its proposal on an interim basis under such interim terms and conditions as the board finds to be reasonable pending a final board decision on the petition. The board shall render a final decision on the petition within six months from the date it is filed.

Sec. 5. 30 V.S.A. § 218(a) is amended to read:

(a) When, *[upon]* after opportunity for hearing, the rates, tolls, charges or schedules are found unjust, unreasonable, insufficient or unjustly discriminatory, or are found to be preferential or otherwise in violation of a provision of this chapter, the board may order and substitute therefor such rates, tolls, charges or schedules, and make such changes in any regulations, measurements, practices or acts of such company relating to its service, and may make such order as will compel the furnishing of such adequate service as shall at such hearing be found by it to be just and reasonable. This section shall not be construed to require the same rates, tolls or charges from any company subject to supervision under this chapter for like service in different parts of the state, but the board in determining these questions shall investigate local conditions and its final findings and judgment shall take cognizance thereof.

Sec. 6. 30 V.S.A. § 218a(c) is amended to read:

(c) The public service board, after notice and opportunity for hearing, may approve the proposed contract, or a modified version thereof, if it is just and reasonable, giving due consideration to costs, quality of service and the interests of the deaf, hearing impaired and speech impaired community.

Sec. 7. 30 V.S.A. § 218c(b) is amended to read:

(b) Each regulated electric or gas company shall prepare and implement a least cost integrated plan for the provision of energy services to its Vermont customers. Proposed plans shall be submitted to the department of public service and the public service board. The board, after notice and opportunity for hearing, may approve a company's least cost integrated plan if it determines that the company's plan complies with the requirements of subdivision (a)(1) of this section.

Sec. 8. 30 V.S.A. § 225(a) is amended to read:

(a) Within a time to be fixed by the board, each company subject to the provisions of this chapter shall file with the department, with separate filings to the directors for regulated utility planning and public advocacy, schedules which shall be open to public inspection, showing all rates including joint rates for any service performed or any product furnished by it within the state, and as a part thereof shall file the rules and regulations that in any manner affect the tolls or rates charged or to be charged for any such service or product. Those schedules, or summaries of the schedules approved by the department, shall be published by the company in two newspapers with general circulation in the state within 15 days after such filing. A change shall not thereafter be made in any such schedules, including schedules of joint rates or in any such rules and regulations, except upon *[forty-five]* 45 days notice to the board and to the department of public service, and such notice to parties affected by such schedules as the board shall direct. The board shall consider the department's recommendation and take action pursuant to sections 226 and 227 of this title before the date on which the changed rate is to become effective. All such changes shall be plainly indicated upon existing schedules, or by filing new schedules in lieu thereof *[forty-five]* 45 days prior to the time the same are to take effect. Subject only to temporary increases, rates may not thereafter be raised without strictly complying with the notice and filing requirements set forth in this section. In no event may a company amend, supplement or alter an existing filing or substantially revise the proof in support of such filing in order to increase, decrease or substantiate a pending rate request, unless, upon opportunity for hearing, the company demonstrates that such a change in filing or proof is necessary for the purpose of providing adequate and efficient service. However, upon application of any company subject to the provisions of this chapter, and with the consent of the department of public service, the board may for good cause shown prescribe a shorter time within which such change may be made; but a change which in effect decreases such tolls or rates may be made upon five days' notice to the board and the department of public service and such notice to parties affected as the board shall direct.

Sec. 9. 30 V.S.A. § 226a(e) is amended to read:

(e) If at any time, after notice and opportunity for hearing, the board determines that changes in federal regulatory law, unforeseen and significant economic shifts, or changes in technology have created either extremely severe economic hardships for the company or a condition that is severely detrimental and contrary to the public good, the board shall order the department and the company to renegotiate relevant portions of a contract negotiated under this section, and any renegotiated provisions shall be subject to the board's approval under the procedures of subsection (c) of this section. If at any time the general assembly is concerned that such conditions exist, it may by joint resolution, direct the board to conduct a hearing and make a determination thereon. If the department and the company fail to reach a negotiated agreement within four months of receipt of an order to negotiate from the board, the board shall hold a hearing to determine the appropriate content of the relevant portions of the contract. In such proceedings, the public contract advocate shall represent the interests of the public and the state, and any interested party may intervene. The board shall complete its hearings and render its decision within four months from the date that the department and the company failed to agree under an order to negotiate. If the department and the company agree within 14 days of the board's decision to accept the board's determination of the appropriate content of the contract, the contract shall continue in effect as modified until its termination date. If the department or the company does not accept the board's determination, the contract shall terminate under the terms specified in subsection (f) of this section 30 days after the date of the board's decision.

Sec. 10. 30 V.S.A. § 231(b) is amended to read:

(b) A company subject to the general supervision of the public service board under section 203 of this title may not abandon or curtail any service subject to the jurisdiction of the board or abandon all or any part of its facilities if it would in doing so effect the abandonment, curtailment or impairment of the service, without first obtaining approval of the public service board, after notice and opportunity for hearing, and upon finding by the board that the abandonment or curtailment is consistent with the public interest; provided, however, this section shall not apply to disconnection of service pursuant to valid tariffs or to rules adopted under section 209(b) and (c) of this title.

Sec. 11. 30 V.S.A. § 506 is amended to read:

§ 506. RENEWAL

Certificates with a limited duration may be renewed during or at the end of the period, after *[a]* opportunity for hearing held according to the criteria for the granting of an original certificate in section 504 of this title and after the board has made the finding required by that section. As part of the renewal proceedings, the board shall hold a public hearing in each county served pursuant to the certificates which are the subject of the renewal proceedings.

Sec. 12. 30 V.S.A. § 509(a) is amended to read:

(a) For good cause, after *[a]* opportunity for hearing, the board may amend or revoke any certificate of public good awarded pursuant to *[sections]* section 503 or 504 of this title.

Sec. 13. 30 V.S.A. § 515(a) is amended to read:

(a) No person, corporation, partnership, or unincorporated association shall acquire ownership of greater than *[forty]* 40 percent of the voting securities in a company as defined in section 501(3) of this title subject to the supervision of the public service board without the approval of the board after due notice and opportunity for hearing and a finding on its part that such acquisition will not be contrary to the public good.

Sec. 14. 30 V.S.A. § 2816(a) is amended to read:

(a) Any person who violates any statute, rule, regulation or order of the public service board relating to safety standards or practices applicable to transportation of gas through gas pipeline facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the public service board is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000.00 for each violation for each day that the violation persists. However, the maximum civil penalty shall not exceed $500,000.00 for any related series of violations. The penalty may be imposed by the board after notice to the offending person of the alleged violations and opportunity for hearing.

Sec. 15. 30 V.S.A. § 7002 is amended to read:

§ 7002. PUBLIC UTILITY UNDERGROUND FACILITY DAMAGE

PREVENTION SYSTEM

Each company shall be a member of and participate in a public utility underground facility damage prevention system as designated by the board unless granted an exemption by the board after opportunity for hearing. The system shall operate during regular business hours throughout the year, except Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. The system shall receive notices of proposed excavation activities and transmit the notices to member companies whose facilities may be affected. The cost for operation of the system shall be apportioned equitably among member companies.

Sec. 16. REPORT

The department of public service shall provide, by December 1, 2002, a report on the effectiveness of various efforts by the Energy Efficiency Utility to provide access to capital for, and increased customer contribution by, customers installing energy efficiency measures in its programs. The report shall address financing strategies, performance contracting, the development of market-based services, and other strategies to facilitate and leverage customer investment. The report shall further address opportunities for improving access to capital and increasing the level of customer contribution, discussing in particular, the need for potential benefits of, and requirements for, capitalization of an energy efficiency revolving fund for commercial and industrial customers. The report shall address the potential for capitalizing such a revolving loan fund from a volumetric charge as authorized in 30 V.S.A § 209(d)(3) and (4). This report may be included in the report to be prepared by the department under paragraph 18 of the Memorandum of Understanding approved by and included in the Public Service Board's Order of September 30, 1999 in Docket No. 5980.

(Committee vote: 10-0-1)

Favorable

H. 675

An act relating to the organization of minor political parties.

Rep. Dominick of Starksboro, for the Committee on Local Government, recommends the bill ought to pass.

( Committee Vote: 6-0-2)

H. 730

An act relating to clubs and requirements for social events.

Rep. Stevens of Newbury, for the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, recommends the bill ought to pass.

( Committee Vote: 10-1-0)

H. 744

An act relating to permitting officers and directors of clubs to act as volunteer bartenders.

Rep. Palmer of Pownal, for the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, recommends the bill ought to pass.

( Committee Vote: 11-0-0)

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Marron of Stowe to H. 744

Moves to amend the bill by adding a Sec. 2 to read as follows:

Sec. 2. 7 V.S.A. § 2(10) is amended to read:

(10) "First class license": a license granted by the control commissioners permitting the licensee or seller of malt or vinous beverages to sell to the public for consumption only on the premises for which the license is granted. A first class licensee may serve to a customer no more than four glasses of malt beverages at one time and no more than five ounces per glass.

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Amendment

H. 540

An act relating to waiting period and holidays and payment of unemployment compensation benefits.

Rep. Anderson of Woodstock, for the Committee on Commerce, recommends the bill be amended as follows:

By striking Sec. 2 in its entirety.

The Committee further recommends that after passage the title of the bill be amended to read: AN ACT RELATING TO HOLIDAYS AND PAYMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BENEFITS

(Committee vote: 7-1-3)

H. 598

An act designating the Vermont State Song.

Rep. Flory of Pittsford, for the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, recommends the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1. FINDINGS

In 1998, the General Assembly adopted Joint House Resolution 102, directing the Vermont Arts Council to appoint a three-member panel to recommend a new state song to the General Assembly. The specially-appointed panel, pursuant to the resolution, conducted the selection process in a fair and impartial manner. A total of 107 entries was received. After a careful review, eight songs were selected as finalists, aired on the state's public radio and television networks, and posted on the Vermont Arts Council's World Wide Web site. All Vermonters were invited to participate in the review of the final eight selections. As a result of this public process, the winning song was "These Green Mountains," composed by Diane Martin and arranged by Rita Buglass. The public and representatives of for profit and not-for-profit organizations may perform or invite the performance of the song for any reason without receiving permission from the composer.

Sec. 2. 1 V.S.A. § 514 is added to read:

§ 514. STATE SONG

The state song shall be "These Green Mountains."

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

H. 609

An act relating to uniform electronic transactions.

Rep. Young of Orwell, for the Committee on Commerce, recommends the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1. 9 V.S.A. chapter 20 is added to read:

CHAPTER 20. UNIFORM ELECTRONIC TRANSACTIONS ACT

§ 200. SHORT TITLE

This chapter may be cited as the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.

§ 201. DEFINITIONS

For purposes of this chapter:

(1) "Agreement" means the bargain of the parties in fact, as found in their language or inferred from other circumstances and from rules, regulations, and procedures given the effect of agreements under laws otherwise applicable to a particular transaction.

(2) "Automated transaction" means a transaction conducted or performed, in whole or in part, by electronic means or electronic records, in which the acts or records of one or both parties are not reviewed by an individual in the ordinary course in forming a contract, performing under an existing contract, or fulfilling an obligation required by the transaction.

(3) "Computer program" means a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in an information processing system in order to bring about a certain result.

(4) "Contract" means the total legal obligation resulting from the parties' agreement as affected by this chapter and other applicable law.

(5) "Consumer transaction" means:

(A) any sale or lease, or the offer for sale or lease, to an individual for personal, residential or household purposes, or to a person in connection with the operation of a farm, of any goods, products or services by a seller who is regularly and principally engaged in a business of selling goods, products or services; and

(B) any solicitation of, or agreement to make, a charitable contribution within the meaning of 9 V.S.A., chapter 63, subchapter 2.

(6) "Electronic" means relating to technology having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic, or similar capabilities.

(7) "Electronic agent" means a computer program or an electronic or other automated means used independently to initiate an action or respond to electronic records or performances in whole or in part, without review or action by an individual.

(8) "Electronic record" means a record created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored by electronic means. In a consumer transaction, an electronic record does not include a voice communication or a record of a voice communication.

(9) "Electronic signature" means an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record, and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.

(10) "Governmental agency" means an executive, legislative, or judicial agency, department, board, commission, authority, institution, or instrumentality of the federal government or of a state or of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of a state.

(11) "Information" means data, text, images, sounds, codes, computer programs, software, databases, or the like.

(12) "Information processing system" means an electronic system for creating, generating, sending, receiving, storing, displaying, or processing information.

(13) "Person" means an individual, corporation, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, limited liability company, association, joint venture, governmental agency, public corporation, or any other legal or commercial entity.

(14) "Record" means information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form.

(15) "Security procedure" means a procedure employed for the purpose of verifying that an electronic signature, record, or performance is that of a specific person or for detecting changes or errors in the information in an electronic record. The term includes a procedure that requires the use of algorithms or other codes, identifying words or numbers, encryption, or callback or other acknowledgment procedures.

(16) "State" means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The term includes an Indian tribe or band, or Alaskan native village, which is recognized by federal law or formally acknowledged by a state.

(17) "Transaction" means an action or set of actions occurring between two or more persons relating to the conduct of business, commercial, or governmental affairs.

§ 202. SCOPE

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section, this chapter applies to electronic records and electronic signatures relating to a transaction.

(b) This chapter does not apply to a transaction to the extent it is governed by:

(1) A law governing the creation and execution of wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts;

(2) The Uniform Commercial Code, other than sections 1-107 and 1-206, Article 2, and Article 2A of Title 9A.

(c) This chapter applies to an electronic record or electronic signature otherwise excluded from the application of this chapter under subsection (b) of this section when used for a transaction subject to a law other than those specified in subsection (b).

(d) A transaction subject to this chapter is also subject to other applicable substantive law.

(e) If a Vermont statute or regulation requires that the following disclosures or notices be provided to a consumer subsequent to consummation of a consumer transaction, such disclosures or notices must be given in writing: notice of default, eviction, repossession, foreclosure, utility shutoff, insurance denials, insurance cancellations, health care denials or notice of right to appeal.

§ 203. PROSPECTIVE APPLICATION

This chapter applies to any electronic record or electronic signature created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored on or after the effective date of this chapter.

§ 204. USE OF ELECTRONIC RECORDS AND ELECTRONIC

SIGNATURES; VARIATION BY AGREEMENT

(a) This chapter does not require a record or signature to be created, generated, sent, communicated, received, stored, or otherwise processed or used by electronic means or in electronic form.

(b) This chapter applies only to transactions between parties, each of which has agreed to conduct transactions by electronic means. Whether the parties agree to conduct a transaction by electronic means is determined from the context and surrounding circumstances, including the parties' conduct. An agreement to conduct a consumer transaction by electronic means may not be contained in a standard form contract that is not an electronic record. An agreement in such a standard form contract may not be conditioned upon an agreement to conduct transactions by electronic means. An agreement to conduct a consumer transaction by electronic means may not be inferred solely from the fact that a party has used electronic means to pay an account or register a purchase or warranty. If a consumer transaction is solicited or negotiated by any voice communication by telephone, then the consumer's agreement to conduct the transaction by electronic means must be confirmed by an express acknowledgment transmitted by the consumer by electronic means. This subsection may not be varied by agreement.

(c) A party that agrees to conduct a transaction by electronic means may refuse to conduct other transactions by electronic means. This subsection may not be waived by agreement.

(d) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the effect of any of its provisions may be varied by agreement. The presence in certain provisions of this chapter of the words "unless otherwise agreed", or words of similar import, does not imply that the effect of other provisions may not be varied by agreement.

(e) Whether an electronic record or electronic signature has legal consequences is determined by this chapter and other applicable law.

(f) A consumer who makes an agreement to conduct a transaction electronically with a commercial party is entitled to a nonelectronic copy, on request and at no charge, of any agreement or agreements the consumer has entered into, as well as any notice or other document communicated to the consumer electronically. This subsection may not be varied by agreement.

(g) An agreement to conduct a transaction electronically is subject to a requirement of good faith and fair dealing with respect to both the inducement to agree and the implementation of the agreement.

(h) A consumer who makes an agreement to conduct a transaction electronically with a commercial party may at any time designate a different electronic address for the purpose of receiving electronic records.

§ 205. CONSTRUCTION AND APPLICATION

This chapter must be construed and applied:

(1) to facilitate electronic transactions consistent with other applicable law;

(2) to be consistent with reasonable practices concerning electronic transactions and with the continued expansion of those practices;

(3) to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law with respect to the subject of this chapter among states enacting it; and

(4) to ensure that consumers are adequately protected from unfair, deceptive and unconscionable acts and practices.

§ 206. LEGAL RECOGNITION OF ELECTRONIC RECORDS,

ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES, AND ELECTRONIC CONTRACTS

(a) A record or signature may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.

(b) A contract may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because an electronic record was used in its formation.

(c) If a law requires a record to be in writing, an electronic record satisfies the law.

(d) If a law requires a signature, an electronic signature satisfies the law.

§ 207. PROVISION OF INFORMATION IN WRITING; PRESENTATION

OF RECORDS

(a) If parties have agreed to conduct a transaction by electronic means and a law requires a person to provide, send, or deliver information in writing to another person, the requirement is satisfied if the information is provided, sent, or delivered, as the case may be, in an electronic record capable of retention by the recipient at the time of receipt. An electronic record is not capable of retention by the recipient if the sender or its information processing system inhibits the ability of the recipient to print or store the electronic record.

(b) If a law other than this chapter requires a record to be posted or displayed in a certain manner, to be sent, communicated, or transmitted by a specified method, or to contain information that is formatted in a certain manner, the following rules apply:

(1) The record must be posted or displayed in the manner specified in the other law.

(2) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (d)(2) of this section, the record must be sent, communicated, or transmitted by the method specified in the other law.

(3) The record must contain the information formatted in the manner specified in the other law.

(c) If a sender inhibits the ability of a recipient to store or print an electronic record, the electronic record is not enforceable against the recipient.

(d) The requirements of this section may not be varied by agreement, but:

(1) to the extent a law other than this chapter requires information to be provided, sent, or delivered in writing but permits that requirement to be varied by agreement, the requirement under subsection (a) of this section that the information be in the form of an electronic record capable of retention may also be varied by agreement; and

(2) a requirement under a law other than this chapter to send, communicate, or transmit a record by United States mail, may be varied by agreement to the extent permitted by the other law.

§ 208. ATTRIBUTION AND EFFECT OF ELECTRONIC RECORD AND

ELECTRONIC SIGNATURE

(a) An electronic record or electronic signature is attributable to a person if it was the act of the person. The act of the person may be shown in any manner, including a showing of the efficacy of any security procedure applied to determine the person to which the electronic record or electronic signature was attributable.

(b) The effect of an electronic record or electronic signature attributed to a person under subsection (a) of this section is determined from the context and surrounding circumstances at the time of its creation, execution, or adoption, including the parties' agreement, if any, and otherwise as provided by law.

§ 209. EFFECT OF CHANGE OR ERROR

If a change or error in an electronic record occurs in a transmission between parties to a transaction, the following rules apply:

(1) If the parties have agreed to use a security procedure to detect changes or errors and one party has conformed to the procedure, but the other party has not, and the nonconforming party would have detected the change or error had that party also conformed, the conforming party may avoid the effect of the changed or erroneous electronic record.

(2) In an automated transaction involving an individual, the individual may avoid the effect of an electronic record that resulted from an error made by the individual or on the part of the individual in dealing with the electronic agent of another person if, at the time the individual learns of the error, the individual:

(A) promptly notifies the other person of the error and that the individual did not intend to be bound by the electronic record received by the other person;

(B) takes reasonable steps, including steps that conform to the other person's reasonable instructions, to return to the other person or, if instructed by the other person, to destroy the consideration received, if any, as a result of the erroneous electronic record; and

(C) has not used or received any benefit or value from the consideration, if any, received from the other person.

(3) If neither subdivision (1) nor (2) of this section applies, the change or error has the effect provided by other law, including the law of mistake, and the parties' contract, if any.

(4) Subdivisions (2) and (3) of this section may not be varied by agreement.

§ 210. NOTARIZATION AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT

If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified, or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record.

§ 211. RETENTION OF ELECTRONIC RECORDS; ORIGINALS

(a) If a law requires that a record be retained, the requirement is satisfied by retaining an electronic record of the information in the record which:

(1) accurately reflects the information set forth in the record at the time and after it was first generated in its final form as an electronic record or otherwise; and

(2) remains accessible for later reference.

(b) A requirement to retain a record in accordance with subsection (a) of this section does not apply to any information, the sole purpose of which is to enable the record to be sent, communicated, or received.

(c) A person may satisfy subsection (a) of this section by using the services of another person if the requirements of that subsection are satisfied.

(d) If a law requires a record to be presented or retained in its original form, or provides consequences if the record is not presented or retained in its original form, that law is satisfied by an electronic record retained in accordance with subsection (a) of this section.

(e) If a law requires retention of a check, that requirement is satisfied by retention of an electronic record of the information on the front and back of the check in accordance with subsection (a) of this section.

(f) A record retained as an electronic record in accordance with subsection (a) of this section satisfies a law requiring a person to retain a record for evidentiary, audit, or like purposes, unless a law enacted after the effective date of this chapter specifically prohibits the use of an electronic record for the specified purpose.

(g) This section does not preclude a governmental agency of this state from specifying additional requirements for the retention of a record subject to the agency's jurisdiction.

§ 212. ADMISSIBILITY IN EVIDENCE

In a proceeding, evidence of a record or signature may not be excluded solely because it is in electronic form.

§ 213. AUTOMATED TRANSACTION

In an automated transaction, the following rules apply:

(1) A contract may be formed by the interaction of electronic agents of the parties, even if no individual was aware of or reviewed the electronic agents' actions or the resulting terms and agreements.

(2) A contract may be formed by the interaction of an electronic agent and an individual, acting on the individual's own behalf or for another person, including by an interaction in which the individual performs actions that the individual is free to refuse to perform and which the individual knows or has reason to know will cause the electronic agent to complete the transaction or performance.

(3) The terms of the contract are determined by the substantive law applicable to it.

§ 214. TIME AND PLACE OF SENDING AND RECEIPT

(a) Unless otherwise agreed between the sender and the recipient, an electronic record is sent when it:

(1) is addressed properly or otherwise directed properly to an information processing system that the recipient has designated or uses for the purpose of receiving electronic records or information of the type sent and from which the recipient is able to retrieve the electronic record;

(2) is in a form capable of being processed by that system; and

(3) enters an information processing system outside the control of the sender or of a person that sent the electronic record on behalf of the sender or enters a region of the information processing system designated or used by the recipient which is under the control of the recipient.

(b) Unless otherwise agreed between the sender and the recipient, an electronic record is received when it:

(1) it enters an information processing system that the recipient has designated or uses for the purpose of receiving electronic records or information of the type sent and from which the recipient is able to retrieve the electronic record; and

(2) it is in a form capable of being processed by that system.

(c) Subsection (b) of this section applies even if the place the information processing system is located is different from the place the electronic record is deemed to be received under subsection (d) of this section.

(d) Unless otherwise expressly provided in the electronic record or agreed between the sender and the recipient, an electronic record is deemed to be sent from the sender's place of business and to be received at the recipient's place of business. For purposes of this subsection, the following rules apply:

(1) If the sender or recipient has more than one place of business, the place of business of that person is the place having the closest relationship to the underlying transaction.

(2) If the transaction is a consumer transaction, or if the sender or the recipient does not have a place of business, the place of business is the sender's or recipient's residence having the closest relationship to the underlying transaction, as the case may be.

(e) An electronic record is received under subsection (b) of this section even if no individual is aware of its receipt.

(f) Receipt of an electronic acknowledgment from an information processing system described in subsection (b) of this section establishes that a record was received but, by itself, does not establish that the content sent corresponds to the content received.

(g) If a person is aware that an electronic record purportedly sent under subsection (a) of this section, or purportedly received under subsection (b) of this section, was not actually sent or received, the legal effect of the sending or receipt is determined by other applicable law. Except to the extent permitted by the other law, the requirements of this subsection may not be varied by agreement.

§ 215. TRANSFERABLE RECORDS

(a) In this section, "transferable record" means an electronic record that:

(1) would be a note under section 3-104 of Title 9A or a document under section 7-102 of Title 9A if the electronic record were in writing; and

(2) the issuer of the electronic record expressly has agreed is a transferable record.

(b) A person has control of a transferable record if a system employed for evidencing the transfer of interests in the transferable record reliably establishes that person as the person to which the transferable record was issued or transferred.

(c) A system satisfies subsection (b) of this section, and a person is deemed to have control of a transferable record, if the transferable record is created, stored, and assigned in such a manner that:

(1) a single authoritative copy of the transferable record exists which is unique, identifiable, and, except as otherwise provided in subdivisions (4), (5), and (6) of this subsection, unalterable;

(2) the authoritative copy identifies the person asserting control as:

(A) the person to which the transferable record was issued; or

(B) if the authoritative copy indicates that the transferable record has been transferred, the person to which the transferable record was most recently transferred;

(3) the authoritative copy is communicated to and maintained by the person asserting control or its designated custodian;

(4) copies or revisions that add or change an identified assignee of the authoritative copy can be made only with the consent of the person asserting control;

(5) each copy of the authoritative copy and any copy of a copy is readily identifiable as a copy that is not the authoritative copy; and

(6) any revision of the authoritative copy is readily identifiable as authorized or unauthorized.

(d) Except as otherwise agreed, a person having control of a transferable record is the holder, as defined in section 1-201(20) of Title 9A, of the transferable record and has the same rights and defenses as a holder of an equivalent record or writing under Title 9A, including, if the applicable statutory requirements under sections 3-302(a), 7-501, or 9-308 of Title 9A are satisfied, the rights and defenses of a holder in due course, a holder to which a negotiable document of title has been duly negotiated, or a purchaser, respectively. Delivery, possession, and indorsement are not required to obtain or exercise any of the rights under this subsection.

(e) Except as otherwise agreed, an obligor under a transferable record has the same rights and defenses as an equivalent obligor under equivalent records or writings under Title 9A.

(f) If requested by a person against which enforcement is sought, the person seeking to enforce the transferable record shall provide reasonable proof that the person is in control of the transferable record. Proof may include access to the authoritative copy of the transferable record and related business records sufficient to review the terms of the transferable record and to establish the identity of the person having control of the transferable record.

§ 216. APPLICABILITY

If a law other than this chapter requires that a notice of the right to cancel be provided or sent, an electronic record may not substitute for a writing under that other law unless, in addition to satisfying the requirements of that other law and this chapter, the notice of cancellation may be returned by electronic means. This section may not be varied by agreement.

Sec. 2. STUDY OF ELECTRONIC RECORDS AND STATE

GOVERNMENT

The agency of administration shall study the creation and retention of electronic records, the acceptance and distribution of electronic records, and the conversion of written records to electronic records by the state government. In conducting this study, the agency shall consult with representatives from the three branches and all of the agencies of state government in order to propose consistent standards and practices with regard to electronic records. The agency shall submit a report to the House Committee on Commerce and the Senate Committee on Finance by January 1, 2001, recommending an electronic record plan for state government, including any statutory revisions and any appropriations necessary for implementing the plan.

Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect January 1, 2001, except for Sec. 2, which shall be effective on passage.

Sec. 4. SAVINGS AND TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

This chapter applies to any electronic record or electronic signature created, generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored on or after the effective date of this chapter.

(Committee vote: 8-0-3)

H. 612

An act relating to residential housing standards.

Rep. Masland of Thetford, for the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, recommends the bill be amended by striking Secs. 2 and 3 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 2. 21 V.S.A. § 274(c) is added to read:

(c) Unless required by federal law, any single dwelling unit of two or more stories within a building consisting of four or more dwelling units is not required to have a vertical access within the dwelling unit, provided that five percent of the dwelling units, or one unit, whichever is greater, has an accessible entrance, and all the dwelling units meet or exceed the minimum standards required in section 286 of this title.

Sec. 3. 21 V.S.A. chapter 4 is redesignated as follows:

CHAPTER 4. ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS *[FOR PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND PARKING]*

Subchapter 1. Public Buildings and Parking

Sec. 4. 21 V.S.A. chapter 4, subchapter 2 is added to read:

Subchapter 2. Residential Building Standards

§ 286. ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS; RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION

(a) For the purposes of this subchapter, "residential construction" means new construction of one family or multifamily dwellings. "Residential construction" shall not include a single family dwelling built by the owner for the personal occupancy of the owner and the owner's family, nor the assembly or placement of residential construction that is prefabricated or manufactured out of state.

(b) Any residential construction shall be built to comply with all the following standards:

(1) At least one first floor exterior door that is at least 36 inches wide.

(2) First floor interior doors between rooms that are at least 34 inches wide or open doorways that are at least 32 inches wide with thresholds that are level, ramped or beveled.

(3) Interior hallways that are level and at least 36 inches wide.

(4) Environmental and utility controls and outlets that are located at heights that are in compliance with standards adopted by the Vermont access board.

(5) Bathroom walls that are reinforced to permit attachment of grab bars.

(c) A violation of this section shall neither affect marketability nor create a defect in title of the residential construction.

Sec. 5. DEPARTMENT OF AGING AND DISABILITIES; VISITABLE

HOUSING INFORMATION

(a) The commissioner of aging and disabilities, in consultation with the commissioners of labor and industry and housing and community affairs and representatives from the homebuilding industry, shall prepare a pamphlet that explains the construction standards and advantages of "visitable" housing, including zero-step entries and other accessibility features, to assist potential new home buyers make informed decisions. The pamphlets shall be completed no later than December 1, 2001. For the purposes of this section, "a visitable home" is a dwelling unit that is built, at a minimum, in accordance with the provisions in 21 V.S.A. § 286(b).

(b) The department shall work with interested parties, including home builders, lending institutions, real estate brokers and consumer groups to promote and facilitate timely distribution of the pamphlets to persons purchasing or contracting for residential construction. On or before March 15, 2002, the commissioner of aging and disabilities shall report to the general assembly on the success of the efforts to distribute the pamphlets to home buyers prior to construction.

(c) The department of aging and disabilities may award incentive funds, through a competitive process, to build a model home to demonstrate the feasibility of constructing a "visitable" home.

Sec. 6. EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on passage, except that Sec. 4 shall apply to residential construction begun after July 1, 2001.

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

H. 795

An act relating to motorboat navigation.

Rep. Neiman of Georgia, for the Committee on Transportation, recommends the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1. 23 V.S.A. § 3306(a) is amended to read:

(a) Every vessel shall carry and show the following lights when underway between sunset and sunrise; and all vessels shall conform to the lights and shapes specified by the federal Inland Navigation Rules as described in the United States Coast Guard's COMDTINST M16672.

(1) *[manually]* Manually propelled *[boats,]* vessels may display the lights prescribed for sailing vessels, or shall have ready at hand a lantern capable of showing a white light which shall be temporarily displayed in sufficient time to prevent a collision*[;]*.

(2) *[motorboats]* Motorboats less than *[26 feet]* 12 meters (39.4 feet) in length, a white light aft *[showing]* visible all around*[, visible]* for at least two miles, *[a light]* sidelights in the forepart of the *[boat]* vessel, lower than the white light aft, showing green to starboard and red to port, visible for at least one mile*[;]*.

(3) *[motorboats 26 feet or longer, a white light aft showing all around, visible for at least two miles, a white light in the forepart of the boat showing all around, a light boats in the forepart of the boat showing red to port and green to starboard, visible at least one mile;]*

*[(4) boats]* Vessels propelled by sail, a white stern-light light *[showing]* visible all around *[visible]* for at least two miles*[, and a white light in the forepart of the boat, lower than the white light aft, showing red to port and green to starboard;]*. During the day, vessels at anchor shall exhibit a ball shape in the bow. Vessels less than seven meters (23.0 feet) are not required to display anchor lights or day shapes unless anchored in or near a narrow channel, fairway or anchorage, or where other vessels normally navigate. Anchor lights are not required on vessels less than 20 meters (65.6 feet) anchored in special anchorage areas. *[(5)]*(4) *[any]* Any light or combination of lights approved by the Coast Guard for inland waters shall be considered legal for Vermont waters.

Sec. 2. 23 V.S.A. § 3308 is amended to read:

§ 3308. BOAT LIVERIES

The owner of a boat livery shall cause to be kept a record of the name and address of the person or persons hiring any vessel which is designed or permitted by him or her to be operated as a motorboat and the identification number and the date and time of rental. The record shall be preserved for at least six months. The owner shall require the operator to produce a certificate of boating education or proof that the operator was born prior to January 1, 1974.

Sec. 3. 23 V.S.A. § 3312a(c) is amended to read:

(c) Personal watercraft shall not be operated at any time during the hours between *[one-half hour after]* sunset and *[one-half hour before]* sunrise.

Sec. 4. 23 V.S.A. § 3313(b) is amended to read:

(b) If a collision, accident, or other casualty involving a vessel results in death or injury to a person requiring treatment beyond first aid or damage to property in excess of *[$100.00]* $500.00, the operator shall file with the commissioner of motor vehicles within 36 hours, a full description of the collision, accident, or other casualty, including such information as the commissioner may, by rule, require.

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

H. 847

An act relating to civil unions.

(Rep. Little of Shelburne will speak for the Committee on Judiciary.)

Rep. Deen of Westminster, for the Committee on Ways and Means, recommends the bill be amended as follows:

First: In Sec. 3, in section 1204(e)(14), after the word "municipality", by adding "other than estate taxes"

Second: By striking Secs. 20 through 23, and inserting new Secs. 20 through 23 to read:

Sec. 20. 32 V.S.A. § 3001 is amended to read:

§ 3001. *[PERSON CONSTRUED]* DEFINITIONS

(a) *[The word "person"]* "Person" as used in Parts 2, 4 and 5 of this subtitle shall include a partnership, association, corporation or limited liability company.

(b) "Party to a civil union" is defined for purposes of Title 32 as under subdivision 1201(4) of Title 15.

(c) "Laws of the United States", "federal tax laws" and other references to United States tax law (other than federal estate and gift tax law) shall mean United States tax law applied as if federal law recognized a civil union in the same manner as Vermont law.

Sec. 21. 32 V.S.A. § 5812 is added to read:

§ 5812. INCOME TAXATION OF PARTIES TO A CIVIL UNION

This chapter shall apply to parties to a civil union and surviving parties to a civil union as if federal income tax law recognized a civil union in the same manner as Vermont law.

Sec. 22. 32 V.S.A. § 7401(a) is amended to read:

(a) This chapter is intended to conform the Vermont *[inheritance]* estate tax laws with the estate and gift tax provisions of the United States Internal Revenue Code, except as otherwise expressly provided, in order to simplify the taxpayer's filing of returns, reduce the taxpayer's accounting burdens, and facilitate the collection and administration of these taxes. Because federal estate and gift tax law does not recognize a civil union in the same manner as Vermont law, and because a reduction in the Vermont estate tax liability for parties to a civil union based upon the federal marital deduction would not reduce the total estate tax liability, estates of parties to a civil union shall be subject to tax based on their actual federal estate tax liability and the federal credit for state death taxes, as provided under this chapter.

Sec. 23. 32 V.S.A. § 3802(11) is amended to read:

(11)(A) Real and personal property to the extent of $10,000.00 of appraisal value, except any part used for business or rental, occupied as the established residence of and owned in fee simple by a veteran of any war or a veteran who has received an American Expeditionary Medal, his or her spouse, widow, widower or child, or jointly by any combination of them, if one or more of them are receiving disability compensation for at least fifty percent disability, death compensation, dependence and indemnity compensation, or pension for disability paid through any military department or the veterans administration if, before May 1 of each year, there is filed with the listers:

*[(A)]*(i) a written application therefor; and *[(B)]*(ii) a written statement from the military department or the veterans administration showing that the compensation or pension is being paid. Only one exemption may be allowed on a property.

(B) The terms used in this *[subdivision]* subsection shall have the same definitions as in Title 38, U.S. Code § 101, except that:

(i) the definitions shall apply as if federal law recognized a civil union in the same manner as Vermont law;

(ii) such definitions shall not be construed to deny eligibility for exemption in the case where such exemption is based on retirement for disability and retirement pay is received from a federal agency other than the veterans administration*[,]* ; and

(iii) the age and marital status limits in section 101(4)(A) shall not apply.

An unremarried widow or widower of a previously qualified veteran shall be entitled to the exemption provided in this *[subdivision]* subsection whether or not he or she is receiving government compensation or pension. By majority vote of those present and voting at an annual or special meeting warned for the purpose, a town may increase the veterans' exemption under this subsection to up to $20,000.00 of appraisal value. Any increase in exemption shall take effect for the taxable year in which it was voted, and shall remain in effect for future taxable years until amended or repealed by a similar vote.

Third: In Sec. 26, on page 34, line 1, after the word "fee", by adding the following: "of $10.00"

Fourth: In Sec. 39, by striking subsections (b), (c) and (d) and adding new subsections (b) and (c) to read:

(b) Sec. 20 (tax definitions) and Sec. 21 (income taxation of parties to a civil union) of this act shall apply to taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2001.

(c) Sec. 23 of this act (veterans' property tax exemption) shall apply to grand lists for 2001 and after.

And by relettering subsection (e) as subsection (d)

And when so amended the bill ought to pass.

(Committee vote: 6-5-0)

Favorable

H. 749

An act relating to exempting municipally-owned trucks from weight limits.

Rep. Neiman of Georgia, for the Committee on Transportation, recommends the bill ought to pass.

( Committee Vote: 11-0-0)

Ordered to Lie

H. 677

An act relating to municipal review of public land uses and developments, and correctional facility health and safety

Pending Question: Shall the House amend the bill as recommended by the Committee on Local Government?

H. 729

An act relating to voter eligibility within conservation districts.

Pending Action: Shall the House amend the bill as recommended by the Committee on Local Government?

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Wednesday, March 22, 2000, Room 11, 7 - 9 PM, House Committee on Commerce - Emergency Medical Services

Thursday, March 23, 2000, Room 11, 7 - 10 PM, Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy - Air Quality - Vt. Agency of Natural Resources proposal to increase emissions through a federal waiver

MEETING NOTICE

The House Committee on Rules will meet Tuesday, March 14, 2000 at 4 PM in Room 10.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING ON V.I.T.

DATE: Monday, March 20, 2000

TIME: 7:00 P.M. - 9:30 P.M.

BILL #: (FY 2001 Appropriations Bill)

COMMITTEE: Senate Appropriations Committee

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing on Vermont Interactive Television. The purpose of the hearing is to give Vermont citizens throughout the State an opportunity to express their views about the State's fiscal year 2001 budget. Eleven (11) V.I.T. site locations will be used for the hearing: Bennington, Brattleboro, Canaan, Colchester, Middlebury, Newport, Randolph Center, Rutland, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury and Waterbury. For further information concerning studio site locations, contact Rebecca Buck in the Legislative Fiscal Office at 802/828-5969. Requests for captioning should be made to Ms. Buck at the Legislative Fiscal Office no later than 4:00 P.M. on Thursday, March 9.