TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 1999
At ten o'clock minutes in the forenoon the Speaker called the House to order.
Devotional exercises were conducted by Reverend Kenneth Fritjofson of the Orange Alliance Church.
Pledge of Allegiance
Page Anneka Werner-Gavrin of Bristol led the House in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Message from the Senate
A message was received from the Senate by Mr. Marshall, its Assistant Secretary, as follows:
I am directed to inform the House that the Senate has on its part adopted a joint resolution of the following title:
J.R.S. 49. Joint resolution honoring the delegation of distinguished Honduran leaders that is visiting Vermont under the auspices of the Vermont-Honduras partners of the Americas exchange program and the Vermont Rotary Clubs, and the extraordinary humanitarian response of these organizations to the devastation in Honduras that resulted from Hurricane Mitch.
In the adoption of which the concurrence of the House is requested.
Message from the Senate
A message was received from the Senate by Mr. Marshall, its Assistant Secretary, as follows:
I am directed to inform the House that the Senate has considered bills originating in the House of the following titles:
H. 60. An act relating to reimbursement for job-related losses.
H. 233. An act relating to the city of South Burlington charter.
H. 550. An act relating to changing the name of the town of Sherburne to the town of Killington.
And has passed the same in concurrence.
Joint Resolution Adopted in Concurrence
The Speaker placed before the House a joint resolution, entitled
Joint resolution honoring the delegation of distinguished Honduran leaders that is visiting Vermont under the auspices of the Vermont-Honduras Partners of the Americas exchange program and the Vermont Rotary Clubs; and the extraordinary humanitarian response of these organizations to the devastation in Honduras that resulted from Hurricane Mitch;
By Senator Shumlin,
Whereas, the fostering of democracy and inter-American cooperation through mutually beneficial and rewarding agricultural, cultural, economic, educational, governmental and medical exchanges between the people of the United States and our hemispheric neighbors to the south was President Kennedy's dream when, in 1961, he launched the "Alliance for Progress" (the Alliance) which in turn was based on President Franklin Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy", and
Whereas, the success of the Alliance on a national level inspired Governor Phil Hoff and a dedicated group of Vermonters to establish a parallel program, "Vermont-Honduras Partners of the Americas" (the Partners), that, since 1966, through a one-state-to-one-nation relationship between the people of Vermont and the people of the Central American nation of Honduras, has far exceeded the original goals and expectations of the Alliance, and
Whereas, the Partners has successfully developed close and cooperative relationships between Vermonters and Hondurans, including artists, dentists, doctors, farmers, educators, musicians, public officials and students by mobilizing resources at the community level and drawing on the personal involvement of private citizens to participate in mutually beneficial self-help projects, and
Whereas, a stellar example of a Partners' exchange that reflects the organization's fundamental belief that people can work together to facilitate cross-cultural understanding is the visiting delegation of distinguished Honduran leaders that is comprised of Mayor Hermino Garcia of the city of Lepaera, Mayor Antonio Henriquez of the city of Tomala, Mayor Ricardo Leopoldo Hernandez of the city of Erandique, Mayor Aura Escalante of the city of Mapaluca, Congressman Juan Orlando Hernandez, a member of the Honduran Parliament from the city of Lempira, and Gustavo Perez, a member of the board of directors of a regional hospital, and
Whereas, its visit to the Vermont State House symbolizes the delegation's mission to observe the governing process in our state, the manner in which public policy is devised and implemented, and, in particular, the fundamental role of citizen government, be it in the General Assembly, at Town Meeting, on locally-elected legislative bodies and, most importantly, in the daily lives of Vermonters, and
Whereas, the delegation's members intend to record their observations so that when they return to Honduras they can continue to strengthen their nation's young and still-evolving democratic political institutions, and
Whereas, the greatest challenge for the Partners has been the devastation that Hurricane Mitch left in the wake of its severe battering of the Honduran countryside and urban areas, and
Whereas, in response to this unparalleled disaster in Honduran history that resulted in 7,000 deaths, 2,000,000 Hondurans (more than one-third of the population) being left homeless, and a severe battering of the nation's infrastructure and natural resources, the Partners have raised nearly $100,000.00, all of which has been donated directly to Hondurans in need of medical and other assistance, and
Whereas, following in the Partners' footsteps, Vermont's Rotary Clubs, as part of their long tradition of "service above self," and under the direction of Rotary District Governor Richard Bielefield, have adopted all of the Rotary Clubs in Honduras and have begun a major fundraising effort to finance community rebuilding projects as part of a long-term commitment to the people of Honduras, and
Whereas, symbolizing Vermonters' continuing concern for the Honduran people who are struggling to recover from a natural disaster of a previously unimagined magnitude, a group of students and faculty from the University of Vermont is preparing to embark on a journey to the most remote area of Honduras to build homes for families whose meager financial resources prevent them from building adequate housing, now therefore be it
RESOLVED BY THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
That the General Assembly is honored to welcome to the State House and its legislative chambers the distinguished delegation of Honduran leaders who are visiting Vermont to observe our unique democratic institutions and the process that so closely involves Vermonters in the governance of their state, and be it further
RESOLVED: That Vermont-Honduras Partners and the Vermont Rotary Clubs are congratulated for their continuing commitment to aid the hurricane-ravaged Honduran people and to foster inter-American exchanges between our peoples, and be it further
RESOLVED: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Vermont-Honduras Partners of the Americas, to Richard Bielefield, and to the members of the distinguished delegation of Honduran leaders that is visiting the State House.
Which was read and adopted in concurrence.
Joint Resolution Referred to Committee
Joint resolution relating to the death sentence and new trial request in Pennsylvania of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Offered by: Representatives Zuckerman of Burlington, Cross of Winooski, Darrow of Newfane, Deen of Westminster, Jordan of Middlesex, Kehler of Pomfret, Kitzmiller of Montpelier, Krasnow of Charlotte, Marron of Stowe, Moore of Rutland City, Nuovo of Middlebury, Osman of Plainfield, Partridge of Windham, Wheeler of Burlington and Woodward of Johnson
Whereas, Mumia Abu-Jamal is currently on death row in Pennsylvania in a case which has brought international attention to the serious possibility that the state of Pennsylvania may be killing a man who is innocent of the charges against him, and
Whereas, six former Philadelphia prosecutors have sworn in court documents that no accused could receive a fair trial in the court of Judge Albert Sabo, the judge in this case, and
Whereas, the jury was impaneled only after 11 qualified African-Americans were removed by peremptory challenges from the prosecution, a practice that was recently revealed as having been taught to prosecutors in a special training video tape, and
Whereas, the defense attorney testified that he did not interview a single witness in preparation for the 1982 trial and he informed the court in advance that he was not prepared, and
Whereas, Abu-Jamal was denied the constitutional right to act as his own
Whereas, neither a ballistics expert nor a pathologist was hired by the defense because of insufficient funds, and
Whereas, the prosecutor used the fact that 12 years earlier Abu-Jamal had been a member of the Black Panther Party as an argument for imposing the death penalty, a practice later condemned as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in another case, and
Whereas, no police officer claimed to have heard this alleged confession until two months after it allegedly occurred, and only after Abu-Jamal filed police brutality charges, and
Whereas, the attending physician at the hospital where Abu-Jamal was initially kept denies that Abu-Jamal said anything, and
Whereas, the jury never heard the written findings of the medical examiner which contradicted other prosecution testimony by stating "shot with .44 cal." (while Abu-Jamal's gun was .38 caliber), and
Whereas, the police never tested Abu-Jamal's gun to see if it had been recently fired, never tested Abu-Jamal's hands to see if he had fired a gun, have never shown Abu-Jamal's gun to be the fatal weapon, and have lost a bullet fragment removed by the medical examiner, and
Whereas, the jury never heard from a key eyewitness, William Singletary, who saw the whole incident and has testified that Abu-Jamal was not the shooter, and who claims to have been intimidated by police when he initially reported this, subsequently fleeing the city, and
Whereas, the key witnesses, Veronica Jones, Cynthia White, and Robert Chobert, testified for the prosecution, but the latter two were given special exemptions from criminal prosecutions for other charges, and Jones, who has since recanted her original testimony, was immediately arrested in the courtroom on other charges as soon as her testimony in support of Abu-Jamal had been articulated, and
Whereas, the city and county of San Francisco, as well as the city of Santa Cruz have passed resolutions in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal's effort for justice, now therefore be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:
That the General Assembly request of the governor of the State of Pennsylvania to grant Mumia Abu-Jamal a stay of execution, and that Mumia Abu-Jamal's request for a new and fair trial be granted, and be it further
Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Ridge, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor, Mark S. Schweiker, Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore, Robert C. Jubelirer , and Pennsylvania House Speaker, Matthew J. Ryan and to Mumia Abu-Jamal in the Pennsylvania State Prison.
Which was read and, in the Speaker's discretion, treated as a bill and referred to the Committee on Government Operations.
Committee Bills Introduced
House committee bills of the following titles were severally read the first time and, under the rule, placed on the Calendar for notice tomorrow.
Rep. Helm of Castleton, for the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources, introduced a bill, entitled
An act relating to prohibiting submission of a final proposed rule to amend the water quality standards before July, 2000;
Rep. Sullivan of Burlington, for the committee on Natural Resources and Energy, introduced a bill, entitled
An act relating to the regulation of mercury-added products.
House Bill Introduced
Reps. Atkins of Winooski, Cross of Winooski, Blanchard of Essex, Flaherty of South Burlington, Gretkowski of Burlington, Howrigan of Fairfield and Vinton of Colchester introduced a bill, entitled
An act relating to city of Winooski charter;
Which was read the first time and referred to the Committee on Local Government.
Bill Referred to Committee on Appropriations
House bill, entitled
An act relating to Vermont honor scholarships;
Appearing on the Calendar, carrying an appropriation, under rule 35a, was referred to the Committee on Appropriations.
Committee of Conference Appointed
Pursuant to the request of the Senate for a Committee of Conference on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on Senate bill, entitled
An act relating to motor vehicle dealers;
The Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:
Rep. Wisell of Bristol
Rep. McNamara of Burlington
Rep. Clark of St. Johnsbury
Bill Amended; Third Reading Ordered
Rep. Marron of Stowe, for the committee on Education, to which had been referred House bill, entitled
An act relating to an endowment trust fund to provide financial aid to Vermont postsecondary students and institutions;
Reported in favor of its passage when amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
Sec. 1. 16 V.S.A. chapter 89 is redesignated to read:
CHAPTER 89. *[
POST-SECONDARY]* POSTSECONDARY REVIEW *[ ENTITY]* AND FUNDING
Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. § 2883 is added to read:
§ 2883. VERMONT HIGHER EDUCATION ENDOWMENT TRUST FUND
(a) A Vermont higher education endowment trust fund is established to be comprised of the following:
(1) Appropriations made by the general assembly.
(2) Funds raised by the estate tax levied under chapter 190 of Title 32 which, on January 1, are more than 125 percent in excess of the amount projected by the emergency board in the annual forecast made the previous July pursuant to section 305a of Title 32.
(3) Contributions from private sources.
(b) The state treasurer may invest monies in the fund.
(c) In August of each year, the state treasurer shall withdraw five percent of the assets which were in the fund on the previous July 30, and shall divide the amount equally among the University of Vermont, the Vermont state colleges and the Vermont student assistance corporation. The University of Vermont and the Vermont state colleges shall use the funds to provide nonloan financial aid to Vermont students attending their institutions; the Vermont student assistance corporation shall use the funds to provide nonloan financial aid to Vermont students attending a Vermont postsecondary institution.
(d) In August of each year, the commission on higher education may authorize the state treasurer to make an amount equal to up to two percent of the assets which were in the fund on the previous July 30 available to Vermont public institutions. The funds may be used only for the purpose of creating or increasing a permanent endowment. A public institution may withdraw funds upon receipt of private donations which are double the amount withdrawn and upon a finding by the council that the project will be used to create or increase a permanent endowment.
(e) Annually, the state treasurer shall report to the commission on higher education on the investments made with fund monies.
(f) All balances in the fund at the end of any fiscal year shall be carried forward and remain a part of the fund. Interest accruing from the fund which is not withdrawn pursuant to this subsection shall remain in the fund.
Sec. 3. 16 V.S.A. § 2884 is added to read:
§ 2884. COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION
(a) A commission on higher education is created for the purpose of:
(1) developing and, when necessary, refining Vermont's goals for higher education,
(2) developing and, when necessary, updating a multiyear plan to meet Vermont's higher education needs,
(3) annually recommending to the governor a level of state financial support for higher education which best uses state resources to meet the goals developed by the commission,
(4) reviewing expenditures made from the higher education endowment trust fund, evaluating the impact of the expenditures made, and making recommendations to the general assembly for further expenditures from the fund.
(b) The commission shall consist of 14 members as follows:
(1) The president of the University of Vermont or a designee;
(2) The president of the Vermont student assistance corporation;
(3) The chancellor of the Vermont state colleges;
(4) A sitting president of a Vermont state college, appointed by the chancellor in consultation with the governor;
(5) The president of the association of Vermont independent colleges and one sitting president of an independent college, selected by the association in consultation with the governor;
(6) A representative of the Vermont low income advocacy council;
(7) Two members at large appointed by the governor;
(8) Four legislative members, who shall be entitled to per diem expenses from the legislative appropriation, as follows:
(A) Two members from the house appointed by the speaker of the house;
(B) Two members of the senate appointed by the committee on committees;
(9) The secretary of administration who shall be the chair.
(c) The executive, legislative and higher education staff shall provide support to the commission as appropriate to accomplish its tasks.
(d) The cost of the commission, including any costs for per diem and expenses for at-large members and the representative of the low income advocacy council, shall be equally apportioned among the following: the administration, the University of Vermont, Vermont state colleges, the Vermont student assistance corporation and the association of independent colleges.
Sec. 4. APPROPRIATION
In fiscal year 1999, the amount of $10 million is appropriated from the general fund into the Vermont higher education endowment trust fund created under 16 V.S.A. § 2883.
Sec. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect on passage.
Rep. Brooks of Montpelier, 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:
First: In Sec. 2, 16 V.S.A. § 2883(a)(2) by striking the subdivision in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subdivision (2) to read:
(2) In any year in which a general fund surplus exists and that the general fund stabilization reserve is funded to its statutory level, funds raised by the estate tax levied under chapter 190 of Title 32 which are more than 125 percent in excess of the amount projected by the emergency board in the July annual forecast made pursuant to section 305a of Title 32.
Second: By striking Sections 4 and 5 in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Section 4 to read as follows:
Sec. 4. EFFECTIVE DATES
(a) This act shall take effect on July 1, 1999.
(b) Fiscal year 2000 shall be the first year in which funds raised by the estate tax are eligible for payment to the Vermont Higher Education Endowment Trust Fund pursuant to subdivision 2883(a)(2) of Title 16.
The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up and read the second time and the report of the committees on Education and Appropriations was agreed to
Pending the question, Shall the bill be amended, as recommended by the committee on committee on Education, as amended? Rep. Mazur of Burlington moved to amend the recommendation of amendment offered by the committee on Education, as amended, as follows:
First: In Sec. 3, 16 V.S.A. § 2884(a)(1) following the words "higher education" by inserting before the comma the words "and performance indicators that comport with the following goals:
(A) Higher education institutions work to ensure that programs and services are affordable and accessible to all Vermonters.
(B) Higher education institutions support collaboration with K-12 schools, technical centers, other educational institutions, the private sector, and government agencies in order to develop a program important to the state and able to preserve Vermont's quality of life and environment.
(C) Higher education institutions invest in technology, infrastructure, programs and staff in order to increase enrollment in programs that support state and student goals for citizenship, economic development, employment opportunities, research missions and healthy communities.
(D) Higher education institutions work efficiently to contain costs, encourage private funding to support the budget and commit to continuous assessment of programs and services in order to ensure that they are of high quality as reflected in their graduates and enrolled students."
Second: In Sec. 3, 16 V.S.A. § 2884, following subsection (a) by inserting a new subsection (b) to read:
(b) The Higher Education task force shall consider input from the local
business community, regional economic community directors, low income advocacy council and the Department of Employment Training in determining which performance indicators best illustrate the goals listed in subdivision (a)(1) of this title.
And by relettering the subsections of 16 V.S.A. § 2884 following the new subsection (b) to be alphabetically correct.
Third: In Sec. 3, in the newly relettered 16 V.S.A. § 2884(c)(7) following the word "governor" and before the semicolon by inserting the words ", one to represent business interests and one to represent school board members"
Which was disagreed to on a Division vote. Yeas, 39. nays, 56.
Pending the question, Shall the House amend the bill as recommended by the committee on Education, as amended? Reps. Marron of Stowe and Vincent of Waterbury, moved to amend the recommendation of amendment offered by the committee on Education, as amended, as follows:
In Sec. 2, 16 V.S.A. §2883(c) at the end of the first sentence before the period the following:
, except that a withdrawal which would bring the fund balance below the initial appropriation made in fiscal year 2000 shall be made only with the approval of the joint fiscal committee.
Which was agreed to.
Pending the question, Shall the House amend the bill as recommended by the committee on Education, as amended? Rep. Poirier of Barre City, moved to amend the recommendation of amendment offered by the committee on Education, as amended, as follows:
By inserting a new Sec. 4 to read:
Sec. 4. FEDERAL FAMILY EDUCATION LOAN PROGRAM; PARTICIPATION BY STUDENTS ENROLLED IN VERMONT PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS; STUDY
The commission on higher education shall review the results of the conversion by Castleton state college to allow students the option to borrow from the Federal Family Education Loan Program administered by the Vermont student assistance corporation. On or before February 1, 2000, the commission shall report its findings to the general assembly.
And by renumbering the remaining Section to be numerically correct
Which was agreed to.
Thereupon, the recommendation of amendment offered by the committee on Education, as amended, was agreed to and third reading ordered.
Action on Bill Postponed
House bill, entitled
An act relating to telecommunication fraud;
Having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up and pending third reading of the bill, on motion of Rep. Nitka of Ludlow, action on the bill was postponed until April 22, 1999.
Third Reading; Bill Passed and
Messaged to the Senate Forthwith
House bill, entitled
An act relating to water commissioners;
Was taken up, read the third time and passed.
On motion of Rep. Tracy of Burlington, the rules were suspended and the bill was ordered messaged to the Senate forthwith.
Bill Read Second Time; Third Reading Ordered
House bill entitled
An act relating to allowing the use of snowmobiles on the Waterbury Reservoir;
Having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up, read the second time and third reading ordered.
Bill Amended; Third Reading Ordered
Rep. Baker of West Rutland, for the Committee on Local Government, to which had been referred House bill, entitled
An act relating to city of Barre charter;
Reported in favor of its passage when amended as follows:
On page 2, by striking lines 12 through 14 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
No money shall be paid except on warrant, by the treasurer, or a designated deputy, and authorized by the city council.
The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up, read the second time, report of the Committee on Local Government agreed to and third reading ordered.
Favorable Report; Third Reading Ordered
Rep. Cleland of Northfield, for the Committee on Agriculture, to which had been referred House bill, entitled
An act relating to designating the state pie and the state fruit;
Reported in favor of its passage. The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up and read the second time.
Pending the question, Shall the bill be read the third time? Rep. Corren of Burlington, moved to amend the bill as follows:
In Sec. 1, §512, by striking the word "apple" and inserting in lieu thereof the word cow
Which was disagreed to and third reading of the bill ordered.
Favorable Report; Third Reading Ordered
Rep. Kinsey of Craftsbury, for the Committee on Appropriations, to which had been referred House bill, entitled
An act relating to miscellaneous adjustments to the state, teachers and municipal retirement systems;
Reported in favor of its passage. The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up, read the second time and third reading ordered.
Joint Resolutions Adopted
Joint resolutions of the following titles were severally taken up and adopted on the part of the House;
Joint resolution commending Barry M. Costello upon his selection as an Admiral in the United States Navy;
Joint resolution urging congress to reverse the United States Department of Agriculture's proposed revisions to the federal milk pricing system and requesting Congress to direct the department to adopt instead the Option 1A revisions to the pricing system .
At eleven o'clock and forty minutes in the forenoon, on motion of Rep. Fyfe of Newport City, the House adjourned until tomorrow at nine o'clock and thirty minutes in the forenoon.