House Calendar

THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2005

111th DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION


TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                               Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

Action Postponed Until Thursday, April 21, 2005

H. 299  Agency Fee for Teachers and Administrators..................................... 727

               Rep. Kilmartin Amendments............................................................ 727

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 243  Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Housing............................................ 728

               Rep. Brooks for General, Housing & Military Affairs

Third Reading

H. 524  Universal Health Care in Vermont...................................................... 729

               Rep. DePoy et al Amendment.......................................................... 729

                   PART I   Prescription for a Healthy Vermont............................... 729

                   PART II  Redevelopment Zones................................................. 748

                   PART III  Workers’ Compensation............................................ 753

                   PART IV  Mitigation; Loss of Prime Agricultural Soils................. 758

                   PART V  Taxation and Tax Credits............................................. 765

               Rep. Koch et al Amendment............................................................ 771

S. 52  Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards................................................. 789

               Reps Flory and Sunderland Amendments......................................... 789

Committee Bill for Second Reading

H. 527  Agricultural Water Quality................................................................. 790

               Rep. Johnson of South Hero for Agriculture

 

 

NOTICE CALENDAR

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 518  Capital Construction and State Bonding............................................. 790

CONSENT CALENDAR

(See Addendum to House and Senate Calendar)

H.C.R. 100  Congratulating St. Johnsbury Town Band................................... 809

H.C.R. 101  Honoring Gary Rosen................................................................ 809

H.C.R. 102  Congratulating Taylor Coppenrath............................................. 809

H.C.R. 103  Honoring UVM Basketball Coach............................................. 809

S.C.R. 29  Congratulating People’s Health and Wellness Clinic...................... 809

S.C.R. 30  Congratulating Dale Wells Northeast Kingdom Citizen.................. 809

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

     For Action Under Rule 52

     Third Reading

H. 299

     An act relating to an agency fee for teachers and administrators.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Kilmartin of Newport City to H. 299

     Moves that the bill be amended by striking Sec. 1 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 1981(7) is added to read:

(7)  “Agency fee” means a fee for representation in collective bargaining, not exceeding one-third of the amount of the teachers’ or the administrators’ organization dues, or that amount that the labor relations board determines as provided in this section, payable to the organization which is the exclusive bargaining agent for teachers or administrators in a bargaining unit, from individuals who are not members of the organization.  In the event that the collective bargaining organization can demonstrate, to the labor relations board, that the actual representation costs are greater than one-third of the dues, the collective bargaining organization can use the labor relations board decision to negotiate with the school board a higher agency fee, not to exceed the amount that the labor relations board has determined.  The labor relations board shall conduct a summary proceeding at which non-members of the bargaining unit shall be parties and have the right to contest the cost claims of the bargaining unit.  The decision of the labor relations board shall be final and without a right of appeal.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Kilmartin of Newport City to H. 299

     Moves that the bill be amended by adding a new Sec. 4 to read:

Sec. 4. 16  V.S.A. §2004a is added to read:

§2004a. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES; OBLIGATION OF                                                  REPRESENTATION

     A teachers’ organization or administrators’ organization is obligated to provide representation at the expense of the organization in a proceeding involving a personal complaint or personal grievance brought by a teacher or administrator, including arbitration or other “final step” set forth in the bargaining agreement when the teacher or administrator so demands, whether or not the teacher or administrator is a member of the respective teachers’ or administrators’ organization, provided the teacher or administrator has paid to the organization union dues, or any agency fee negotiated under this chapter.  A teachers’ or administrators’ organization may be relieved of the obligation of  representation imposed by this section if it seeks and obtains a determination of the Vermont labor relations board that the complaint or grievance is not well founded.

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 243

     An act relating to requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in housing.

     The Senate proposes to the House to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 2, 9 V.S.A. § 2883 by striking out subsection (a) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(a)  On and after July 1, 1994, the transferor The seller of a single-family dwelling, whether the transfer be by sale or exchange, shall certify to the buyer at the closing of the transaction that the dwelling is provided with one or more smoke detectors and one or more carbon monoxide detectors in accordance with this chapter.  This certification shall be signed and dated by the seller.

Second:  By adding a new Sec. 3 to read as follows:

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE; TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

(a)  This act shall take effect on July 1, 2005.

(b)  Compliance with Sec. 2 of this act:

(1)  Relating to buildings in which people sleep, shall take effect on October 1, 2005.

(2)  Relating to public commercial buildings in which people do not sleep, shall take effect on November 1, 2006.

Rep. Brooks of Montpelier, for the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, recommends that the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment with further amendment as follows:

In the Second proposal of amendment, in the new Sec. 3 (b)(2), by striking the word “commercial

 

Third Reading

H. 524

An act relating to universal access to health care in Vermont.

Amendment to be offered by Reps. DePoy of Rutland City, Allaire of Rutland City, Bartlett of Dover, Bostic of St. Johnsbury, Branagan of Georgia, Brennan of Colchester, Canfield of Fair Haven, Clark of St. Johnsbury, Clark of Vergennes, Donaghy of Poultney, Donahue of Northfield, Endres of Milton, Flory of Pittsford, Helm of Castleton, Houston of Ferrisburgh, Hube of Londonderry, Hudson of Lyndon, Johnson of Canaan, Kainen of Hartford, Kennedy of Chelsea, Kilmartin of Newport City, Koch of Barre Town, Komline of Dorset, Krawczyk of Bennington, Larocque of Barnet, Larrabee of Danville, LaVoie of Swanton, Livingston of Manchester, Marcotte of Coventry, Marron of Stowe, McAllister of Highgate, Metzger of Milton, Miller of Elmore, Morley of Barton, Morrissey of Bennington, Otterman of Topsham, Parent of St. Albans City, Peaslee of Guildhall, Schiavone of Shelburne, Shaw of Derby, Smith of New Haven, Sunderland of Rutland Town, Valliere of Barre City, Winters of Swanton, Winters of Williamstown, Wright of Burlington to H. 524

 

     Moves to amend the bill by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

* * * PART I.  PRESCRIPTION FOR A HEALTHY VERMONT * * *

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND PRINCIPLES FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM

     (a)  Findings.

          (1)  Vermont faces two significant challenges to our health care system: unsustainable health care inflation and a growing number of uninsured Vermonters.  These challenges are interrelated:  unsustainable health care inflation results in more uninsured Vermonters; and more uninsured Vermonters increase the cost of uncompensated care paid for by those who are insured.

          (2)  Health care spending in Vermont and the nation is increasing at an unsustainable rate, and per capita spending by Vermonters on health care has been increasing faster than per capita health care spending in the nation.

          (3)  Higher health care costs are likely to result in reduced private and public capacity to offer coverage, reduced employee participation rates, and greater numbers of uninsured. 

          (4)  Most of the uninsured are connected to the workforce, either as employees or as dependents of employees.  Workers in firms with fewer than 25 employees have the greatest difficulty gaining access to coverage.

          (5)  The largest group of uninsured Vermonters (about 43 percent) is potentially eligible for Medicaid, based on their household income, but have not enrolled in the Medicaid program.  For this group of uninsured Vermonters, care could be provided and paid for under the Medicaid program.

          (6)  Another group of uninsured Vermonters (about 23 percent) has household income over 300 percent of the federal poverty level.  These households most likely could afford to purchase health insurance.

          (7)  About 24 percent of uninsured Vermonters have household income between 150 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty level.  These Vermonters are ineligible for a Medicaid program and, because of their income, might have difficulty affording commercial health insurance coverage.

          (8)  Expansion of Medicaid eligibility or the creation of some other public health care coverage program is not a realistic solution to the challenges of health care inflation and the uninsured because:

               (A)  The Vermont Medicaid program is projected to have a deficit of $60 to 70 million in fiscal year 2006 if the design of the program remains the same.

               (B)  Medicaid expansion results in worse inflation for private sector premiums because of the “cost shift.”  Vermont’s Medicaid program pays hospitals and doctors at a low reimbursement level, and as a result, any unpaid costs are shifted to commercial insurance premiums and paid by businesses and individuals.

               (C)  Approximately 25 percent of Vermonters are enrolled in some form of Medicaid or other state-funded program.  Even as Vermont Medicaid programs have expanded, the percentage of Vermonters who are uninsured has grown.

          (9)  Increased regulation is not a panacea for the challenges facing Vermont’s health care system.  There is a legitimate role for reasonable regulation to contain health care costs, but Vermont already has one of the most comprehensive regulatory systems of any state in the nation, including a stringent certificate of need program, a rigorous annual process to review and restrain hospital budgets, and strict regulation of health insurance quality and premiums.

(b)  Principles for health care reform.  The goals of a health care reform plan for Vermont should be:

(1)  Universal access to affordable, equitable, and comprehensive health care for all Vermonters.

(2)  Consumer choice, with the patient and the patient’s health care provider at the center of decision-making.

(3)  A competitive and efficient private health insurance market.

(4)  Financial sustainability of public programs and private health insurance premiums.

(5)  A combination of short-term and long-term efforts, as part of a comprehensive, systematic plan to reduce costs, maintain and increase access, and improve health care quality and safety for all Vermonters.

* * * Premium Assistance Program * * *

Sec. 2.  8 V.S.A. § 4062d is added to read:

§ 4062d.  PREMIUM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

(a)  Beginning in January 2006, the secretary of human services shall establish the premium assistance program within the office of Vermont health access for the purpose of providing uninsured low and moderate income Vermonters with financial assistance to enroll in or purchase health care coverage.  Financial assistance shall be in the form of

(1)  a reduced premium obligation of an eligible individual; and

(2)  in the case of an approved high deductible plan, a reduced deductible payment obligation for the eligible individual.

(b)  Financial assistance to eligible individuals shall be as follows:

(1)  For eligible individuals with household income greater than 150 percent of the federal poverty level and equal to or less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level:

(A)  Premium assistance shall be a $65.00 discount from the monthly cost of participation in or purchase of an approved group or nongroup health benefit plan with single-person coverage; a $105.00 discount from the monthly cost of participation in or purchase of an approved group or nongroup health benefit plan with two-person coverage; and a $155.00 discount from the monthly cost of participation in or purchase of an approved group or nongroup health benefit plan with family coverage; provided that in no event shall the discount be greater than 60 percent of the eligible individual’s share of group plan coverage; and

(B)  Cost sharing assistance in connection with an approved high deductible health insurance plan shall be 60 percent of the individual’s deductible expenditures.

(2)  For eligible individuals with household income greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty level and equal to or less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level:

(A)  Premium assistance shall be a $45.00 discount from the monthly cost of participation in or purchase of an approved group or nongroup health benefit plan with single-person coverage; a $70.00 discount from the monthly cost of participation in or purchase of an approved group or nongroup health benefit plan with two-person coverage, and a $105.00 discount from the monthly cost of participation in or purchase of an approved group or nongroup health benefit plan with family coverage; provided that in no event shall the discount be greater than 40 percent of the eligible individual’s share of group plan coverage; and

(B)  Cost sharing assistance in connection with an approved high deductible health insurance plan shall be 40 percent of the individual’s deductible expenditures.

(3)  For eligible individuals with household income greater than 250 percent of the federal poverty level and equal to or less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level:

(A)  Premium assistance shall be a $25.00 discount from the monthly cost of participation in or purchase of an approved group or nongroup health benefit plan with single-person coverage; a $35.00 discount from the monthly cost of participation in or purchase of an approved group or nongroup health benefit plan with two-person coverage; and a $55.00 discount from the monthly cost of participation in or purchase of an approved group or nongroup health benefit plan with family coverage; provided that in no event shall the discount be greater than 20 percent of the eligible individual’s share of group plan coverage; and

(B)  Cost sharing assistance in connection with an approved high deductible health insurance plan shall be 20 percent of the individual’s deductible expenditures.

(c)  Annually on or before October 1 of each year, the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, after public hearing and an opportunity for comment by interested parties and the public, shall order the adjustment of the premium discount and cost sharing assistance amounts established in subsection (b) of this section to account for anticipated medical inflation for the next calendar year, as determined by the commissioner in his or her sole discretion.

(d)  The secretary shall adopt rules for the premium assistance program.  Such rules shall include:

(1)  Rules governing the operation of the premium assistance program by the nonprofit organization formed pursuant to section 4062e of this title;

(2)  The form and manner of an individual’s application for assistance authorized by this section;

(3)  Criteria for a group or nongroup health benefit plan to be approved for participation in the premium assistance program;

(4)  Standards and procedures for participating health insurers to be compensated for the premium discounts, cost sharing assistance, and other approved costs associated with the premium assistance program; and

(5)  Any other rules necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.

(e)  Any health insurer or self-insured plan may participate in the program.  The commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, may require one or more health insurance companies, hospital or medical services corporations, or health maintenance organizations covering at least 15,000 lives in this state to participate in the program if the commissioner determines that such designation is necessary to carry out the purposes of this section. 

(f)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Approved group or nongroup health benefit plan” means an insured or self-insured health benefit plan that satisfies the secretary’s criteria for participation in the premium assistance program.

(2)  “Approved high deductible health insurance plan” means a high deductible health benefit plan with deductible amounts no less than and no greater than the deductible amounts required of a high deductible health insurance plan under Section 223 of the Internal Revenue Code (health savings accounts).

(3)  “Eligible individual” means an individual who:

(A)  is a Vermont resident;

(B)  has applied for assistance on a form and in a manner prescribed by the secretary;

(C)  has not been enrolled in a health benefit plan during the 12 months prior to application, except that the rules adopted by the secretary shall include criteria for waiver of the waiting period provided for in this subdivision if the individual has lost health insurance coverage for reasons beyond the control of the individual; and

(D)  has household income greater than 150 percent of the federal poverty level, and less than or equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, and is not eligible for the Medicaid program, the state children’s health insurance program, or any other similar state-funded program of health care coverage.

(4)  “Secretary” means the secretary of the agency of human services.

(g)  The secretary may adopt the initial rules required or permitted by this section by emergency rule so as to permit the premium assistance program to begin on January 1, 2006.

(h) The secretary may apply to the federal government to include the program authorized by this section as a Medicaid program or a state children’s health program, if the secretary determines that it is cost-effective to do so.

* * * Nongroup Reinsurance Program * * *

Sec. 3.  8 V.S.A. § 4062e is added to read:

§ 4062e.  NONGROUP REINSURANCE PROGRAM

(a)  The commissioner shall establish the nongroup reinsurance program for the purpose of lowering the cost of, and thereby increasing access to, health care coverage in the nongroup health insurance market.

(b)  The nongroup reinsurance program shall include a reinsurance mechanism permitting nongroup carriers to transfer all or a portion of the expenses and risk associated with certain individuals, based on the actual or anticipated expenses of such individuals, in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner.  Such individuals shall remain enrolled policyholders, members, or subscribers of the carrier’s plan and shall be subject to the same terms and conditions of coverage, premiums, and cost sharing as any other policyholder, member, or subscriber. 

(c)  The commissioner may develop the nongroup reinsurance program in a manner that permits the program to be eligible for a federal grant to administer the plan, including a grant under the federal Trade Adjustment Act.

(d)  The commissioner may adopt rules for the nongroup reinsurance program relating to:

(1)  The creation of a private, nonprofit organization to operate the program, and the appointment of individuals to govern the organization.

(2)  Criteria governing the circumstances under which a nongroup carrier may transfer all or a portion of the expense and risk associated with individuals insured by the nongroup carrier to the reinsurance mechanism.

(3)  Eligibility criteria for providing financial support to nongroup carriers under the reinsurance mechanism, including nongroup carrier expenses eligible for financial support, standards and procedures for the treatment and management of chronic conditions, and any other eligibility criteria established by the commissioner.

(4)  Rules for operation of the reinsurance mechanism and the program.

(5)  Any other standards or procedures necessary or desirable to carry out the purposes of this section.

(e)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Nongroup carrier” means a health insurance company, a hospital or medical service corporation, or a health maintenance organization which is a nongroup carrier registered under section 4080b of this title.

(2)  “Program” means the nongroup reinsurance program established by this section.

(f)  The commissioner may adopt the initial rules required or permitted by this section by emergency rule so as to permit the nongroup reinsurance program to begin on January 1, 2006.

* * * Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit * * *

Sec. 4.  32 V.S.A. § 5830e is added to read:

§ 5830e.  TAX CREDITS; SMALL BUSINESS HEALTH INSURANCE

                 CREDIT

(a)  Beginning in taxable year 2006, an eligible employer shall be entitled to a refundable health insurance credit against the tax imposed by section 5822 or 5832 of this title in an amount equal to $600.00 per year per approved employee policy, or $50.00 per month per approved employee policy for policies in force for less than a full year.

(b)  Eligibility for the credit established by this section shall terminate following the fifth consecutive year after the credit is first claimed.

(c)  The credit authorized by this section shall be allocated on a pro rata basis among the members of a pass-through entity.

(d)  Annually on or before October 1 of each year, the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, after public hearing and an opportunity for comment by interested parties and the public, shall order the adjustment of the credit amount established in subsection (a) of this section to account for anticipated medical inflation for the next calendar year, as determined by the commissioner in his or her sole discretion.

(e)(1)  The commissioner of taxes shall adopt by rule standards and procedures necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.

(2)  The commissioner of taxes may adopt the initial rules required or permitted by this section by emergency rule so as to permit the standards and procedures necessary to carry out the purposes of this section to be adopted by January 1, 2006.

(f)  For purposes of this section:

(1)  “Approved employee policy” means an insured health benefit plan offered by a small group carrier registered under section 4080a of Title 8 providing single, two-person, or family coverage that:

(A)  covers eligible preventive care which meets the requirements of Section 223 of the Internal Revenue Code (health savings accounts), as amended, notwithstanding any deductible amount; and

(B)  has deductible amounts no greater than the deductible amounts required under a high deductible health insurance plan which meets the requirements of Section 223 of the Internal Revenue Code (health savings accounts), as amended.

(2)  “Eligible employer” means any employer, including private nonprofit organizations, which:

(A)  employed 25 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees, on average, for the three months preceding January 1 of the taxable year;

(B)  pays in the taxable year at least 50 percent of the cost of premiums for an approved employee policy, pro-rated for a part-time employee as a portion of the workweek of a full-time employee of the employer; and        

(C)  has been an employer at least 24 months and has not paid any portion of employee health insurance premium costs in the preceding 24 months; provided that the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration shall adopt small business affordability criteria to permit employers currently offering employee health insurance coverage to be considered an eligible employer, notwithstanding the provisions of this subdivision (C), if the commissioner of finance and management determines that funds are available for these purposes.

(3)  “Full-time-equivalent employee” means the sum of hours worked in one week by all employees of the employer, divided by 40.  For purposes of this calculation, no individual employee’s hours during the week in excess of 40 shall be included in the sum.

* * * The Health Insurance Access Trust Fund * * *

Sec. 5.  8 V.S.A. § 4062f is added to read:

§ 4062f.  HEALTH INSURANCE ACCESS TRUST FUND

(a)  Beginning with taxes paid in calendar year 2006, all of the revenues raised by the premium tax on health insurers, hospital and medical service corporations, and health maintenance organizations, and carriers for health insurance in any health benefit plan stop loss and excess coverage insurance imposed by subchapter 7 of chapter 211 of Title 32 shall be deposited into the health insurance access trust fund, a special fund to be administered by the commissioner for the sole purpose of providing financial and administrative support for the premium assistance program authorized by section 4062d of this title and the nongroup reinsurance program authorized by section 4062e of this title.  The fund shall be administered in accordance with subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned shall remain in the special fund.

(b)(1)  During each fiscal year, the commissioner shall allocate the funds in the health insurance access trust fund between the premium assistance program and the nongroup reinsurance program based on the commissioner’s consideration of:

     (A)  the stability of the nongroup health insurance market and the ability of individuals to purchase a nongroup health insurance policy; and

     (B)  participation rates in the premium assistance program established under section 4062d of this title.

(2)  The commissioner may transfer funds from the health insurance access trust fund in any fiscal year to support the small business tax credit authorized under 32 V.S.A. § 5830e to employers currently offering employee health insurance coverage if the commissioner determines that the remaining funds will be sufficient to support the premium assistance program authorized by section 4062e of this title, and to support the nongroup reinsurance program authorized by section 4062f of this title.

Sec. 6.  REVIEW OF HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUMS AND

             HOSPITAL BUDGETS

(a)  Between July 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008, in connection with any petition or other request for approval of premium rates pursuant to

8 V.S.A. § 4062 by a nonprofit hospital or medical service corporation or a health maintenance organization, the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration shall not approve premium rates that pass through to insureds’ expenses relating to the premium tax imposed by

32 V.S.A. §§ 8551 through 8556 unless the petitioner demonstrates, and the commissioner finds, that the petitioner has taken all reasonable steps necessary to reduce its aggregate expenses in an amount equal to the petitioner’s premium tax obligation, or that failure to approve will have a substantial adverse effect on the financial safety and soundness of the petitioner. In determining the reasonableness of the petitioner’s efforts, the commissioner shall evaluate:

(1)  the petitioner’s efforts to reduce its administrative expenses; and

(2)  the petitioner’s efforts to negotiate lower health care facility and provider charges reflecting less uncompensated care attributable to the uninsured.

(b)  Between July 1, 2005 and December 31, 2008, the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration shall not approve a hospital budget under subchapter 7 of chapter 221 of Title 18 unless the hospital demonstrates, and the commissioner finds, that the hospital has taken all reasonable steps necessary to reduce its aggregate expenses or that failure to approve will have a substantial adverse effect on the financial health of the hospital.  In determining the reasonableness of the hospital’s efforts, the commissioner shall evaluate:

(1)  the hospital’s efforts to reduce its administrative expenses; and

(2)  the hospital’s reduction in expenses reflecting less uncompensated care attributable to the uninsured.

* * * Healthy Choices Insurance Discount * * *

Sec. 7.  8 V.S.A. § 4080a(h) is amended to read:

(h)(1)  A registered small group carrier shall use a community rating method acceptable to the commissioner for determining premiums for small group plans.  Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the following risk classification factors are prohibited from use in rating small groups, employees or members of such groups, and dependents of such employees or members:

(A)  demographic rating, including age and gender rating;

(B)  geographic area rating;

(C)  industry rating;

(D)  medical underwriting and screening;

(E)  experience rating;

(F)  tier rating; or

(G)  durational rating.

(2)(A)  The commissioner shall, by rule, adopt standards and a process for permitting registered small group carriers to use one or more risk classifications in their community rating method, provided that the premium charged shall not deviate above or below the community rate filed by the carrier by more than 20 percent (20%), and provided further that the commissioner’s rules may not permit any medical underwriting and screening.

(B)  The commissioner’s rules may permit a carrier, including a hospital or medical service corporation, to establish premium discounts,  rebates, or otherwise modify applicable co-payments, deductibles, or other cost-sharing amounts in return for adherence by a member or subscriber to programs of health promotion and disease prevention, not inconsistent with federal regulations relating to bona fide wellness, approved by the commissioner.

(C)  The commissioner, in consultation with the commissioner of health, shall adopt by rule:

(i)  standards for approved health promotion and disease prevention programs, based on the best scientific, evidence-based medical practices; and

(ii)  standards and procedures for evaluating an individual’s adherence to programs of health promotion and disease prevention.

(3)  The commissioner may exempt from the requirements of this section an association as defined in section subdivision 4079(2) of this title which:

(A)  offers a small group plan to a member small employer which is community rated in accordance with the provisions of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection.  The plan may include risk classifications in accordance with subdivision (2) of this subsection;

(B)  offers a small group plan that guarantees acceptance of all persons within the association and their dependents; and

(C)  offers one or more of the common health care plans approved by the commissioner under subsection (e) of this section.

(4)  The commissioner may revoke or deny the exemption set forth in subdivision (3) of this subsection if the commissioner determines that:

(A)  because of the nature, size, or other characteristics of the association and its members, the employees or members are in need of the protections provided by this section; or

(B)  the association exemption has or would have a substantial adverse effect on the small group market.

Sec. 8.  8 V.S.A. § 4080b(h) is amended to read:

(h)(1)  A registered nongroup carrier shall use a community rating method acceptable to the commissioner for determining premiums for nongroup plans. Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the following risk classification factors are prohibited from use in rating individuals and their dependents:

(A)  demographic rating, including age and gender rating;

(B)  geographic area rating;

(C)  industry rating;

(D)  medical underwriting and screening;

(E)  experience rating;

(F)  tier rating; or

(G)  durational rating.

(2)(A)  The commissioner shall, by rule, adopt standards and a process for permitting registered nongroup carriers to use one or more risk classifications in their community rating method.  After July 1, 1993, provided that the premium charged shall not deviate above or below the community rate filed by the carrier by more than 40 percent (40%) for two years, and thereafter 20 percent (20%).  Such rules may not permit, and provided further that the commissioner’s rules may not permit any medical underwriting and screening and shall give due consideration to the need for affordability and accessibility of health insurance.

(B)  The commissioner’s rules may permit a carrier, including a hospital or medical service corporation, to establish premium discounts,  rebates, or otherwise modify applicable co-payments, deductibles or other cost sharing amounts in return for adherence to programs of health promotion and disease prevention, not inconsistent with federal regulations relating to bona fide wellness, approved by the commissioner.

(C)  The commissioner, in consultation with the commissioner of health, shall adopt by rule:

(i)  standards for approved health promotion and disease prevention programs, based on the best scientific, evidence-based medical practices; and

(ii)  standards and procedures for evaluating an individual’s adherence to programs of health promotion and disease prevention.

* * * Consumer Health Care Price and Quality Information * * *

Sec. 9.  18 V.S.A. § 9410(a) and (c) are amended to read:

(a)  The commissioner shall establish and maintain a unified health care data base to enable the commissioner to carry out the duties under this chapter and Title 8, including:

(1)  Determining the capacity and distribution of existing resources.

(2)  Identifying health care needs and informing health care policy.

(3)  Evaluating the effectiveness of intervention programs on improving patient outcomes.

(4)  Comparing costs between various treatment settings and approaches.

(5)  Providing information to consumers and purchasers of health care.

(A)  The program authorized by this section shall include a consumer health care price and quality information system to make available to consumers transparent health care price information, quality information, and such other information as the commissioner determines is necessary to empower individuals to make economically sound and medically appropriate decisions.

(B)  The commissioner shall convene a working group composed of the commissioner of health, health care consumers, health care providers and facilities, the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care, health insurers, and any other individual or group appointed by the commissioner to advise the commissioner on the development and implementation of the consumer health care price and quality information system.

(C)  The commissioner may require a health insurer covering at least 15,000 lives in this state to file with the commissioner a consumer health care price and quality information plan, in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner.  Approved plans may include the internet publication of the charges established by health care facilities and health care providers, and other providers of health care services and products, including but not limited to providers of pharmaceutical products and medical equipment, and the reimbursable amounts negotiated with health insurers and payable by the individual in connection with the individual’s deductible or other cost sharing obligations.

(D)  The commissioner shall adopt such rules as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this subdivision.  The commissioner’s rules may permit the gradual implementation of the consumer health care price and quality information system over time, beginning with health care price and quality information which the commissioner determines is most needed by consumers, or which the commissioner determines can be most practicably provided to the consumer in an understandable manner.

(c)  Health insurers, health care providers, health care facilities, and other providers of health care services or products, including but not limited to providers of pharmaceutical products and medical equipment, and governmental agencies shall file reports, data, schedules, statistics, or other information determined by the commissioner to be necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.  Such information may include:

(1)  health insurance claims and enrollment information used by health insurers;

(2)  information relating to hospitals filed under subchapter 7 of this chapter (hospital budget reviews); and

(3)  any other information relating to health care costs, prices, quality, utilization, or resources required to be filed by the commissioner.

* * * Conforming Amendments * * *

Sec. 10.  32 V.S.A. § 8551 is amended to read:

§ 8551.  IMPOSITION; RATE AND BASIS OF TAX

A domestic or foreign insurance company, association or, society, or a hospital or medical service corporation, a health maintenance organization, other than life, or a surety or guaranty company, doing business in this state, shall pay a tax to the state, which is hereby assessed at the rate of two percent per annum on the gross amount of premiums and assessments written on its business in this state, but not including premiums received for reinsurance.  A domestic or foreign life insurance company, doing business in this state, shall pay a tax to the state, which is hereby assessed at the rate of two percent per annum on the gross amount of premiums and assessments collected on its business in this state, but not including premiums received for reinsurance.

Sec. 11.  32 V.S.A. § 8552 is amended to read:

§ 8552.  RETURNS

A domestic insurance company, association or, society, or a hospital or medical service corporation, a health maintenance organization, other than life, or surety or guaranty company shall pay a tax to the state on the gross amount of premiums and assessments written and not taxed in other states and shall pay a tax to the state on the gross amount of premiums and assessments collected and not taxed in other states and shall include such business in its returns.  A domestic life insurance company shall pay a tax to the state on the gross amount of premiums and assessments collected and not taxed in other states and shall include such business in its returns.  The term "taxed in other states" means:

(1)(A)  A tax imposed by another state on premiums and paid directly by the company, association, society, surety, guaranty, or life insurance company to such other state under an insurance premiums tax of the same general kind as found in subchapter 7 of chapter 211 of this title; or

(B)  A corporate income or franchise tax in which the premiums taxed under paragraph subdivision (A) of this subdivision (1) are a factor in the computation thereof; or

(2)  A tax of the same general kind as found in section 5035 of Title 8, imposed by another state upon surplus lines premiums which is paid directly or indirectly to that state by agents or brokers of the Vermont domestic insurer which is not itself authorized to do business in that state.

Sec. 12.  32 V.S.A. § 8553 is amended to read:

§ 8553.  TIME OF PAYMENT

Such tax shall be based upon the business of such company, association or, society, hospital or medical service corporation, or a health maintenance organization during the year terminating with December 31 preceding.  It shall be paid quarterly on or before the last day of the second calendar month following the quarter ending the last day of March, June, September, and December of each calendar year and shall be computed either upon the business of such company, association or, society, hospital or medical service corporation, or a health maintenance organization during the quarter for which the payment is made, or upon an estimated basis predicated upon prior years business, upon forms to be prescribed by the commissioner of taxes.  Where the aggregate tax imposed upon a company, association, or, society, hospital or medical service corporation, or health maintenance organization is reasonably expected to be less than $500.00 for the calendar year it may be paid on an annual basis not later than the last day of February following the close of the year.  Such company, association or, society, hospital or medical service corporation, or health maintenance organization shall annually make a final reconciliation return on or before the last day of February in the manner provided in section 8123 of this title.

Sec. 13.  8 V.S.A. § 4518 is amended to read:

§ 4518.  TAX EXEMPTION

A hospital service corporation shall be exempt from all forms of taxation, except as provided under subchapter 7 of chapter 211 of Title 32.

Sec. 14.  8 V.S.A. § 4590 is amended to read:

§ 4590.  TAX EXEMPTION

A medical service corporation shall be exempt from all forms of taxation, except as provided under subchapter 7 of chapter 211 of Title 32.

Sec. 15.  8 V.S.A. § 4516 is amended to read:

§ 4516.  ANNUAL REPORT TO COMMISSIONER

Annually, on or before the fifteenth day of March, a hospital service corporation shall file with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration a statement sworn to by the president and treasurer of the corporation showing its condition on the thirty-first day of December.  The statement shall be in such form and contain such matters as the commissioner shall prescribe.  To qualify for the tax exemption set forth in section 4518 of this title, the statement shall include a certification that the hospital service corporation operates on a nonprofit basis for the purpose of providing an adequate hospital service plan to individuals of the state, both groups and nongroups, without discrimination based on age, gender, geographic area, industry, and medical history, except as allowed by subdivisions 4080a(h)(2)(B) and 4080b(h)(2)(B) of this title.

Sec. 16.  8 V.S.A. § 4588 is amended to read:

§ 4588.  ANNUAL REPORT TO COMMISSIONER

Annually, on or before March 15, a medical service corporation shall file with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration a statement sworn to by the president and treasurer of the corporation showing its condition on December 31, which shall be in such form and contain such matters as the commissioner shall prescribe.  To qualify for the tax exemption set forth in section 4590 of this title, the statement shall include a certification that the medical service corporation operates on a nonprofit basis for the purpose of providing an adequate medical service plan to individuals of the state, both groups and nongroups, without discrimination based on age, gender, geographic area, industry, and medical history, except as allowed by subdivisions 4080a(h)(2)(B) and 4080b(h)(2)(B) of this title.

 

* * * Access to Out-of-State Insurance * * *

Sec. 17.  8 V.S.A. chapter 107 subchapter 9 is added to read:

Subchapter 9.  Consumer Health Care Options, Improvement,

Choice, and Empowerment Act

§ 4100n.  DEFINITIONS

For the purposes of this subchapter:

(1)  “Commissioner” means the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration.

(2)  “Out-of-state insurer” means a company offering health insurance policies that is domiciled in another state of the United States.

§ 4100o.  OUT-OF-STATE INSURERS

An insurer may not offer a health insurance policy to a resident of the state of Vermont unless it is issued a “certification of insurer” by the commissioner.  The certification shall assure that the following qualifications have been met:

(1)  The out-of-state insurer holds a valid certificate of authority to market individual health insurance in the state of its domicile.

(2)  Any policy for individual health insurance offered for sale in Vermont by an out-of-state insurer domiciled in another state of the United States complies with the applicable individual health insurance laws in the state of its domicile, and the policy is actively marketed in that state.

(3)  The insurance policy offered to Vermont residents is currently being actively marketed in the state of the out-of-state insurer’s domicile.

(4)  The out-of-state insurer maintains minimum capital and surplus requirements and maintains reserves as required by the commissioner.

(5)  The out-of-state insurer meets the commissioner’s requirements of reporting plan information with respect to individual health plans offered for sale in Vermont and discloses to prospective enrollees how the health plans differ from individual health plans offered by domestic insurers in a format approved by the commissioner.  Health plan policies and applications for coverage must contain the following disclosure statement or a substantially similar statement:

“This policy is issued by an out-of-state insurer and is governed by the laws and regulations of the State of (out-of-state insurer’s state of domicile).  This policy may not be subject to all the insurance laws and rules of the State of Vermont, including coverage of certain health care services or benefits mandated by Vermont law.  Before purchasing this policy, you should carefully review the terms and conditions of coverage under this policy, including any exclusions or limitations of coverage.”

(6)  Grievance procedures.  The out-of-state insurer meets the requirements of the state of Vermont grievance procedures with respect to health plans offered for sale in this state.

(7)  Unfair (insurance) trade practices.  Vermont’s provisions apply to the out-of-state insurer.

(8)  Premium taxes.  The out-of-state insurer is subject to applicable premium taxes imposed on insurers marketing individual health insurance in Vermont.

(9)  The out-of-state insurer participates in an insurance insolvency guaranty association to which a Vermont insurer that markets individual health insurance is required to belong in accordance with this title.  An insurance producer may not act as an agent of an out-of-state insurer certified to market individual health insurance pursuant to this bill, unless the producer holds a valid producer license from the state domicile of the out-of-state insurer.

§ 4100p.  VERMONT INSURERS

Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, except as expressly provided, a domestic insurer may offer for sale in this state an individual health plan duly authorized for sale in another state by a parent or subsidiary of the domestic insurer if:

(1)  The parent or subsidiary of the Vermont insurer holds a valid certificate of authority to market individual health insurance in the state of its domicile.

(2)  Any policy, contract or certificate of individual health insurance offered for sale in this state by a Vermont insurer complies with the applicable individual health insurance laws in the state or country of domicile of the parent or subsidiary, and the policy is actively marketed in that state.

(3)  The Vermont insurer meets the requirements for reporting plan information with respect to individual health plans offered for sale in this state and discloses to prospective enrollees how the individual health plans of the parent or subsidiary differ from individual health plans offered by domestic insurers in a format approved by the commissioner within 90 days of the effective date of this section.  Health plan policies and applications for coverage must contain the following disclosure statement or a substantially similar statement:

“This policy is issued by a Vermont Insurer but is governed by the laws and rules of the State of (state of domicile of parent or subsidiary of domestic), which is the state of domicile of the parent or subsidiary of the domestic insurer or health maintenance organization.  This policy might not be subject to all the insurance laws and rules of the State of Vermont, including coverage of certain health care services or benefits mandated by Vermont law.  Before purchasing this policy, you should carefully review the terms and conditions of coverage under this policy, including any exclusions or limitations of coverage.”

(4)  The Vermont insurer meets the requirements for grievance procedures with respect to health plans offered for sale in this state.

* * * Appropriations * * *

Sec. 18.  APPROPRIATIONS; POSITIONS AUTHORIZED

The following sums are appropriated in fiscal year 2006 to the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration:

(1)  $3,000,000.00 from the health insurance access trust fund to carry out the purposes of the nongroup reinsurance program.

(2)  $4,500,000.00 from the health insurance access trust fund to be allocated to the secretary of human services to carry out the purposes of the premium assistance program.

(3)  $40,000.00 from the general fund and $60,000.00 from charges allocated to hospitals, nonprofit hospital and medical services corporations, health insurance companies and health maintenance organizations under 18 V.S.A. § 9415 to develop and adopt the initial rules of the nongroup reinsurance program and the consumer health care price and quality information system.

* * *  Effective Dates and Applicability * * *

Sec. 19. HEALTHY VERMONTERS;  EFFECTIVE DATES APPLICABILITY

(a)  Secs. 1 through 18 of this act shall take effect July 1, 2005 except that Secs.10 through 14 of this act shall take effect January 1, 2006 and shall apply to taxes paid by nonprofit hospital and medical service corporations and health maintenance organizations on premiums and assessments during calendar year 2006 and thereafter.

(b)  Sec. 17 shall apply to out-of-state insurers and Vermont insurers notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary in Title 8 of the Vermont Statutes or otherwise, except where it expressly so provides.

(c)  The commissioner’s requirements of reporting plan information under Sec. 17 with respect to individual health plans offered for sale in Vermont and disclosure to prospective enrollees on differences from individual health plans offered by domestic insurers shall be prepared and approved by the commissioner within 90 days of the effective date of this act.

 

* * * PART II.  REDEVELOPMENT ZONES * * *

Sec.20.  10 V.S.A. chapter 21A is added to read:

CHAPTER 21A.  REDEVELOPMENT ZONES

§ 511.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Redevelopment zone” means an area within a municipality designated to accommodate a significant amount of industrial activity, high technology, or other job-producing activity; it includes one or more industrial facilities that have been vacant or substantially underutilized for more than ten years; and it has at least 15,000 square feet or a minimum of five acres if the site includes an older structure for which there is no economically feasible future business or industrial use.

(2)  “Secretary” means the secretary of commerce and community development.

(3)  “Substantially underutilized” means a property or facility of which less than ten percent has been occupied for uses other than storage or warehousing for at least ten years and for which active and sustained marketing have produced no significant employment.

§ 512.  DESIGNATION OF REDEVELOPMENT ZONES

(a)  The secretary may approve an application from a municipality for designation of a municipal site as a redevelopment zone.  The application to participate in the redevelopment zone program shall include any restrictions or requirements on the type or size of businesses within the redevelopment zone, and any other information that the secretary requires to make a determination, accompanied by evidence from the municipality supporting the following:

(1)  The site is or is part of an existing industrial center, an extension of an existing center, or an industrial facility or industrial property.

(2)  The designation is consistent with the approved regional and municipal plans in accordance with section 2293 of Title 3 and is supported by the applicable regional development corporation and regional planning commissions.  

(b)  A redevelopment zone approved and designated by the secretary shall be in effect for ten years.  A municipality may apply for an extension of this period for no more than an additional ten years. 

(c)  A municipality may restrict access to the redevelopment zone to businesses that have applied to the secretary for eligibility to enter the redevelopment zone.

§ 513.  QUALIFYING BUSINESS

(a)  Any business that intends to locate or expand into a redevelopment zone may qualify for the benefits offered under section 289 of this title, provided the secretary determines the business complies with all the following:

(1)  It is in compliance with applicable local zoning and development criteria for locating in the redevelopment zone.

(2)  It is in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local regulations.

(3)  Within a year of approval, it will have employed at least ten new full‑time employees in positions that are not retail sales.  

(4)  Wages and benefits paid to all full-time employees meet or exceed the prevailing compensation level for that particular employment.

(5)  If locating within a limited local market, it will not have an unfair competitive advantage over other Vermont businesses in the same or similar line of business and in the same limited local market as a result of the benefits available under this chapter.

(b)  Any taxpayer that purchases and redevelops an industrial building in a redevelopment zone for sale or lease to a qualifying business may be eligible for the benefits in subsection 289(a) of this title directly related to the taxpayer’s business activities as a redeveloper, seller, or lessor within the redevelopment zone, provided the secretary determines that the taxpayer satisfies subdivisions (a)(1) and (2) of this section.  Any benefits received by a redeveloper related to the redevelopment, sale, or lease of improved space to a qualifying business within a redevelopment zone shall not also be separately available to a qualifying business that purchases or leases all or part of the facility improved by the redeveloper.

§ 514.  BENEFITS FOR BUSINESSES LOCATED IN REDEVELOPMENT

            ZONES

(a)  A qualified business located in a redevelopment zone is eligible for the following benefits:

(1)  A ten-year credit equal to the income tax that would otherwise be due under chapter 151 of Title 32, multiplied first by a fraction, the numerator of which is the total wages, salaries, and other personal service compensation paid during the taxable year to employees for services performed within the redevelopment zone, and the denominator of which is the total of those payments to employees within the state, and second by a fraction, the numerator of which is the average value of all real and tangible personal property within the redevelopment zone, and the denominator of which is the average value of such property within the state.

(2)  A ten-year exemption from the sales tax imposed under 32 V.S.A. § 9771 and the use tax imposed under 32 V.S.A. § 9773 for the building materials, machinery, equipment, or trade fixtures purchased for use in the redevelopment zone.

(3)  Consideration by the public service board of lower rates through economic development agreements for regulated utilities as allowable under 30 V.S.A. § 229.

(4)  A ten-year exemption from the education tax imposed under 32 V.S.A. § 5402 on the incremental education tax on the equalized nonresidential value of the redeveloped property.

(5)  Eligibility for the employment training program in section 531 of this title.

(6)  A workers’ compensation insurance rating transfer, only for an out‑of‑state business that has at least three years of experience and is relocating from a state that participates in the Workers’ Compensation Statistical Plan as developed and overseen by the National Council on Compensation Insurance.  Other businesses may apply to the National Council on Compensation Insurance for an experience rating at lower thresholds than may be available in Vermont.

(7)  Expedited processing of applications for state permits and other state approvals, with all applications being decided, where legally permissible, within 30 days of the receipt of a completed application.

(8)  Priority consideration by any state agency for eligibility for state or federal funding or other aid to industrial development based on a cost-benefit analysis.

(9)  Priority consideration for financing programs available through the Vermont economic development authority in chapter 12 of this title.

(10)  Technical support from the department of public safety for the rehabilitation of older and historic buildings, consistent with the department’s available resources.

(b)  Benefits shall not be available for any of the following:

(1)  Retail sales activities.

(2)  Activities relating to the calculation of benefit amounts or eligibility.

(3)  Relocating a business within Vermont to a redevelopment zone. 

(c)  Benefits under this section shall be available during the first tax year in which the qualified business has made expenditures in the designated redevelopment zone.  A taxpayer claiming an income tax benefit under this section shall submit a copy of the employer’s application to the secretary and the secretary’s written determination along with the first return on which a benefit is claimed.  Annually, beginning no later than 12 months after the secretary’s determination under section 288 of this title, a qualifying business shall submit a written report to the secretary verifying that the business continues to meet all requirements of subsection 288(a) of this title.

§ 515.  TERMINATION OF BENEFITS

Benefits granted to a business in a redevelopment zone may be terminated by the secretary upon determination that the business no longer is in compliance with the requirements of section 288 of this title.  A decision to terminate redevelopment benefits shall not be subject to chapter 25 of Title 3 and shall be final and not reviewable.

§ 516.  RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SECRETARY

The secretary shall:

(1)  Act as the ombudsman between state agencies, businesses, and municipalities under this chapter.

(2)  Maintain a list of all redevelopment zones and any local restrictions on each.

(3)  Develop and maintain an effective marketing program to inform businesses outside Vermont of the benefits of locating in Vermont and, specifically, in redevelopment zones.

(4)  Provide written notice to the municipality of the secretary’s decision to grant or deny a request for designation of a redevelopment zone.  This determination shall be made within 45 days of receipt of a completed application from a municipality.  The secretary shall state all the reasons for denying the request and the steps that must be taken to bring the municipality’s plan into conformance with the requirements of section 288 of this section.

(5)  No later than 45 days after receipt of a completed application from a business under section 287 of this title, including any additional information requested by the secretary to make a determination, the secretary shall issue a written decision to the business, and, if denied, the reasons for the denial.  A business denied eligibility may submit a new application at any time.

(6)  The secretary shall notify all providers of telecommunications services holding certificates of public good in the state of the establishment of redevelopment zones and encourage their participation in planning for the provision of sufficient telecommunications infrastructure to serve businesses operating in those zones.

§ 517.  PILOT PROJECT

(a)  The secretary may designate two pilot redevelopment zones on or before December 31, 2005, and grant the benefits under this program to businesses that locate in the two pilot zones.

(b)  The secretary, on or before January 15, 2007, and biennially thereafter, shall report to the general assembly on the progress of the two pilot redevelopment zones and the impact of this program on new economic development and the creation of new jobs.

Sec. 21.  24 V.S.A. § 4387(a) is amended to read:

(a)  All plans, including all prior amendments, shall expire every five years unless they are readopted according to the procedures in section 4385 of this title except for that part of a plan creating a redevelopment zone under chapter 21A of Title 10, which shall expire at the end of the term of the redevelopment zone.

Sec. 22.  24 V.S.A. § 4414(13) is added to read:

(13)  A redevelopment zone pursuant to chapter 21A of Title 10.

Sec. 23.  32 V.S.A. § 5404a(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Tax agreements and exemptions affecting the education property tax grand list.  A tax agreement or exemption shall affect the education property tax grand list of the municipality in which the property subject to the agreement is located if the agreement or exemption is:

* * *

(7)  approval of a qualified business pursuant to chapter 21A of Title 10, provided the agreement provides for substantial creation of new jobs and economic activity.

Sec. 24.  32 V.S.A. § 9741(48) is added to read:

(48)  Sales of building materials, machinery, equipment, or trade fixtures incorporated into a redevelopment zone designated pursuant to chapter 21A of Title 10.

Sec. 25.  REDEVELOPMENT ZONES; EFFECTIVE DATE

This section and Secs. 20 through 24 of this act shall take effect on passage.

 

* * * PART III.  WORKERS’ COMPENSATION * * *

Sec. 26.   21 V.S.A. § 618(a)(1) is amended to read:

(a)(1)  If a worker receives a personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment by an employer compensable injury subject to this chapter, the employer or the insurance carrier shall pay compensation in the amounts and to the person hereinafter specified.  For the purposes of this chapter, a compensable injury is an accidental injury, or an accidental injury to a prosthetic appliance, arising out of and in the course of employment requiring medical services or resulting in disability or death and for which the work conditions or events were the major contributing cause of the injury.   The compensation of a person who is under guardianship shall be paid to the person’s guardian.

* * * Fraud * * *

Sec. 27.  13 V.S.A. § 2024 is amended to read:

§ 2024.  WORKERS’ COMPENSATION FRAUD

Any person, including an employee, employer, medical case manager, health care provider, vocational rehabilitation provider, or workers’ compensation insurance carrier who, knowingly and with intent to defraud makes a false statement or representation for the purpose of obtaining, affecting, or denying any benefit or payment under the provisions of chapter 9 of Title 21, either for her herself or himself or for any other person, shall be fined not more than $100,000.00 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both and shall forfeit all benefits or payments obtained as a result of the false statement or representation and all or a portion of any right to compensation under the provisions of chapter 9 of Title 21 as determined by the commissioner and:

(1)  For fraud involving $10,000.00 or more, be fined not more than $100,000.00 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(2)  For fraud involving less than $10,000.00, be fined not more than $10,000.00 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

* * * Simplification of Compensation Rates * * *

Sec. 28.  21 V.S.A. § 642 is amended to read:

§ 642.  TEMPORARY TOTAL DISABILITY BENEFITS

Where the injury causes total disability for work, during such disability, but not including the first three days, the day of the accident to be counted as the first day, unless the employee received full wages for that day, the employer shall pay the injured employee a weekly compensation equal to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wages, but not more than the maximum nor less than the minimum weekly compensation, provided that the weekly compensation shall not be greater than 80 percent of the injured employee’s average weekly wage.  In addition, the injured employee, during the disability period shall receive $10.00 a week for each dependent child who is unmarried and under the age of 21 years, provided that weekly benefits under this section shall not exceed 80 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage, and provided that no other injured worker is receiving the same benefits on behalf of the dependent child or children.  However, in no event shall an employee’s total weekly wage replacement benefits, including any payments for a dependent child, exceed 90 80 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage prior to applying any applicable cost of living adjustment.  The amount allowed for dependent children shall be increased or decreased weekly to reflect the number of dependent children extant during the week of payment.  If the total disability continues after the third day for a period of seven consecutive calendar days or more, compensation shall be paid for the whole period of the total disability.  If the disability continues for a period of 14 continuous days, the employer shall utilize medical case management review and intervention, and the injured employee shall cooperate with this medical case management.

 

* * * Penalty for Late Payment * * *

Sec. 29.  21 V.S.A. § 650(e) is amended to read:

(e)  If weekly compensation benefits or weekly accrued benefits are not paid within 21 days after becoming due and payable pursuant to an order of the commissioner, or in cases in which the overdue benefit is not in dispute, ten percent of the overdue amount shall be added and paid to the employee, in addition to interest and any other penalties.  In the case of an initial claim, benefits are due and payable upon entering into an agreement pursuant to subsection 662(a) of this title, upon issuance of an order of the commissioner pursuant to subsection 662(b) of this title, or if the employer has not denied the claim within 21 days after the claim is filed.  Benefits are in dispute if the claimant has been provided actual written notice of the dispute within 21 days of the benefit being due and payable and the evidence reasonably supports the denial. Interest shall accrue and be paid on benefits that are found to be compensable during the period of nonpayment, in cases in which there is not an ongoing dispute, ten percent of the amount due shall be added and paid to the worker for each day over 30 days in which the benefits are not paid.

 

* * * Vocational Rehabilitation * * *

Sec. 30.  21 V.S.A. § 641(a) is amended to read:

(a)  When as a result of an injury covered by this chapter, an employee is unable to perform work for which the employee has previous training or experience, the employee shall be entitled to vocational rehabilitation services, including retraining and job placement, as may be reasonably necessary to restore the employee to suitable employment.  Vocational rehabilitation services shall be provided as follows:

(1)  The employer shall designate a vocational rehabilitation provider from a list provided by the commissioner to initially provide services.  Thereafter, the employee may select another vocational rehabilitation provider from a list provided by the commissioner upon giving the employer written notice of the employee’s reasons for dissatisfaction with the designated provider and the name and address of the provider selected by the employee.

(2)  The department shall provide an injured worker with a form that includes information and employee rights.  The form shall clearly and simply explain the worker’s rights, including the choice of provider, the right to challenge a determination, and reimbursement for related expenses.  The worker shall sign the form and return it to the department.

(3)  The commissioner shall adopt rules to assure that a worker who requests services or who has received more than 90 days of continuous temporary total disability benefits is timely and cost-effectively screened for benefits under this section.  An injured worker who is determined to be eligible for benefits shall have an appropriate initial vocational assessment and be offered appropriate vocational rehabilitation services.  The commissioner shall adopt rules to provide a mechanism for periodic review of injured workers who are initially found not to be ready or eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.

(4)  If services are not voluntarily offered and accepted by the employee, the commissioner, if necessary through informal hearing, may refer the employee to a qualified physician or appropriate facility for evaluation of the practicability of, need for, and kind of service, treatment, or training necessary and appropriate to render the employee fit for a remunerative occupation.  Upon receipt of findings and after affording the parties an opportunity to be heard, the commissioner may order that the services and treatment recommended, or such other rehabilitation treatment or service the commissioner may deem necessary be provided at the expense of the employer.  When vocational rehabilitation requires residence at or near a facility or institution, away from the employee’s customary residence, the reasonable cost of board, lodging, or travel, or both, shall be paid for by the employer.  In addition, the employer shall pay reasonable costs of books, tools, or other basic materials required in such rehabilitation process.  Refusal to accept vocational rehabilitation pursuant to an order of the commissioner may result in loss of compensation for each week of the refusal, if the commissioner so directs.

(5)  The commissioner may set by rule reasonable reimbursement rates for vocational rehabilitation benefits and services, provided reasonable choices and access to benefits and services are maintained.

The employer may voluntarily provide vocational rehabilitation services to the injured employee.  In the event these services are not voluntarily provided, the employee may present evidence establishing the employee’s inability to perform suitable work and the need for vocational rehabilitation services.  Upon receipt of this evidence, the employer shall either provide an entitlement assessment or present evidence supporting the denial of vocational rehabilitation services.  The employer shall designate a vocational rehabilitation provider from a list provided by the commissioner to provide services.  Thereafter, the employee may select another vocational rehabilitation provider from a list provided by the commissioner upon giving the employer written notice of the employee’s reasons for dissatisfaction with the designated provider and the name and address of the provider selected by the employee.  If these services are not voluntarily offered and accepted by the employee, the commissioner, if necessary through informal hearing, may refer the employee to a qualified physician or appropriate facility for evaluation of the practicability of, need for, and kind of service, treatment, or training necessary and appropriate to render the employee fit for a remunerative occupation.  Upon receipt of findings and after affording the parties an opportunity to be heard, the commissioner may order that the services and treatment recommended or such other rehabilitation treatment or service the commissioner may deem necessary be provided at the expense of the employer.  When vocational rehabilitation requires residence at or near a facility or institution, away from the employee’s customary residence, the reasonable cost of board, lodging, or travel, or a combination of these, shall be paid for by the employer.  In addition, the employer shall pay reasonable costs of books, tools, and other basic materials required in the rehabilitation process.  Refusal to accept vocational rehabilitation pursuant to an order of the commissioner shall result in loss of compensation for each week of the refusal, if the commissioner so directs.

* * * Compensability of Preexisting Injuries * * *

Sec. 31.  21 V.S.A. § 618(a) is amended to read:

(a)(1)  If a worker receives a personal injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment by an employer subject to this chapter, the employer or the insurance carrier shall pay compensation in the amounts and to the person hereinafter specified.  The compensation of a person who is under guardianship shall be paid to the person’s guardian.

* * *

(3)  If an otherwise compensable injury combines at any time with a  preexisting condition to cause or prolong disability or a need for treatment, the combined condition is compensable only so long as and to the extent that the otherwise compensable injury is the major contributing cause of the disability of the combined condition or the major contributing cause of the need for treatment of the combined injury.  For the purposes of this subdivision, “preexisting condition” means any injury, disease, congenital abnormality, personality disorder, or similar condition that contributes to disability or need for treatment, provided that:

(A)  Except for a claim in which arthritis is the preexisting condition, the worker has been diagnosed with that condition, or has obtained medical treatment for the symptoms of that condition regardless of diagnosis.

(B)  In a claim for an initial injury or omitted condition, the diagnosis or treatment precedes the initial injury.

(C)  In a claim for a new medical condition, the diagnosis or treatment precedes the onset of the new medical condition.

(D)  In a claim for a worsening condition, the diagnosis or treatment precedes the onset of the worsened condition.

(4)  A preexisting condition, except for preexisting mental conditions, may be compensable only if the work conditions or events constitute the major contributing cause of a pathological worsening of the preexisting condition.

(5)  A preexisting mental condition may be compensable only if work conditions or events constitute the major contributing cause of an actual worsening of the preexisting condition and not just of its symptoms.

(6)  Medical service claims for a preexisting condition are limited to treatment for the worsening of the preexisting condition and not for the entire condition.

 

* * * Duration of Temporary Total Disability * * *

Sec. 32.  21 V.S.A. § 643 is amended to read:

§ 643.  –PERIOD OF PAYMENTS; LIMITATION

Payments shall not continue after such disability ends.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, payments made pursuant to section 642 of this title shall not exceed two years.

 

* * * Cost-of-Living Adjustment for Permanent Total Disability * * *

Sec. 33.  21 V.S.A. § 650(d) is amended to read:

(d)  Compensation computed pursuant to this section for permanent total disability shall be adjusted annually on July 1, so that such compensation continues to bear the same percentage relationship to the average weekly wage in the state as computed under this chapter as it did at the time of injury.  Compensation for temporary total or temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability, or death shall not be adjusted annually.

Sec. 34.  WORKERS’ COMPENSATION; EFFECTIVE DATES.

     This section and Secs. 26 through 33 shall take effect July 1, 2005.

 

* * * PART IV. MITIGATION OF THE LOSS OF PRIME AGRICULTURAL SOILS * * *

Sec. 35.  10 V.S.A. § 6001 is amended to read:

§ 6001.  DEFINITIONS

When used in this chapter:

* * *

(8)  “Forest and secondary agricultural Productive forest soils” means  those soils which are not primary agricultural soils but which have a reasonable potential for commercial forestry or commercial agriculture, and which have not yet been developed.  In order to qualify as productive forest or secondary agricultural soils, the land containing such soils shall be characterized by of a size and location, relative to adjoining land uses, natural conditions condition, and ownership patterns so that those soils will be capable of supporting or contributing to present or potential a commercial forestry or commercial agriculture operationIf a tract of land includes other than forest or secondary agricultural soils only the forest or secondary agricultural soils shall be impacted by criteria relating specifically to such soils.  Land use on those soils may include commercial timber harvesting and specialized forest uses, such as maple sugar or Christmas tree production.

* * *

(15)  “Primary agricultural soils” means soils which have a potential for growing food and forage crops, are sufficiently well drained to allow sowing and harvesting with mechanized equipment, are well supplied with plant nutrients or highly responsive to the use of fertilizer, and have soil map units with the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics that have a potential for growing food, feed, and forage crops, have sufficient moisture and drainage, plant nutrients or responsiveness to fertilizers, few limitations for cultivation or limitations which may be easily overcome.  In order to qualify as primary agricultural soils, the, and an average slope of the land containing such soils does that does not exceed 15 percent, and such land is.  Present uses may be cropland, pasture, regenerating forests, forestland, or other agricultural or silvicultural uses.  However, the soils must be of a size and location, relative to adjoining land uses, so that those soils will be capable, following removal of any identified limitations, of supporting or contributing to an economic or commercial agricultural operation.  If a tract of land includes other than primary agricultural soils, only the primary agricultural soils shall be impacted by criteria relating specifically to such soils.  Unless contradicted by the qualifications stated in this subdivision, primary agricultural soils shall include important farmland soils map units with a rating of prime, statewide, or local importance as defined by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (N.R.C.S.) of the United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.).

Sec. 36.  10 V.S.A. § 6086(a)(9)(B) and (C) are amended to read:

(B)  Primary agricultural soils.  A permit will be granted for the development or subdivision of primary agricultural soils only when it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, either, the subdivision or development will not significantly reduce the agricultural potential of the primary agricultural soils; or,:

(i)  the applicant can realize a reasonable return on the fair market value of his land only by devoting the primary agricultural soils to uses which will significantly reduce their agricultural potential the development or subdivision will not significantly interfere with or jeopardize the continuation of agriculture or forestry on adjoining lands or reduce their agricultural or forestry potential; and

(ii)  there are no nonagricultural or secondary lands other than primary agricultural soils owned or controlled by the applicant which are reasonably suited to the purpose of the development or subdivision; and

(iii)  the subdivision or development has been planned to minimize the reduction of agricultural potential by providing for reasonable population densities, reasonable rates of growth, and the use of cluster planning and new community planning designed to economize on the cost of roads, utilities and land usage; and suitable mitigation will be provided for all primary agricultural soils impacted by the development or subdivision, in accordance with section 6093 of this title and rules adopted by the land use panel.

(iv)  the development or subdivision will not significantly interfere with or jeopardize the continuation of agriculture or forestry on adjoining lands or reduce their agricultural or forestry potential.

(C)  Forest and secondary agricultural Productive forest soils.  A permit will be granted for the development or subdivision of productive forest or secondary agricultural soils only when it is demonstrated by the applicant that, in addition to all other applicable criteria, either, the subdivision or development will not significantly reduce the potential of those soils for commercial forestry, including but not limited to specialized forest uses such as maple production or Christmas tree production, of those or adjacent primary agricultural soils for commercial agriculture; or:

(i)  the applicant can realize a reasonable return on the fair market value of his land only by devoting the forest or secondary agricultural soils to uses which will significantly reduce their forestry or agricultural potential the development or subdivision will not significantly interfere with or jeopardize the continuation of agriculture or forestry on adjoining lands or reduce their agricultural or forestry potential; and

(ii)  there are no nonforest or secondary agricultural lands other than productive forest soils owned or controlled by the applicant which are reasonably suited to the purpose of the development or subdivision; and

(iii)  the subdivision or development has been planned to minimize the reduction of forestry and agricultural potential by providing for reasonable population densities, reasonable rates of growth, and the use of cluster planning and new community planning designed to economize on the cost of roads, utilities and land usage the potential of those productive forest soils through innovative land use design resulting in compact development patterns, so that the remaining forest soils on the project tract may contribute to a commercial forestry operation

Sec. 37.  10 V.S.A. § 6093 is added to read:

§ 6093.  Agricultural SOILS mitigation

(a)  Mitigation for loss of primary agricultural soils. Suitable mitigation for the conversion of primary agricultural soils necessary to satisfy subdivision 6086(a)(9)(B)(iii) of this title shall depend on where the project tract is located. 

     (1) Project located in growth area.  A proposed development or subdivision may be located:

(A) in compact, concentrated areas of land development including residential uses, economic growth, or public investment or any combination of those uses designated in a municipal plan duly adopted and approved pursuant to sections 4385, 4382, and 4350 of Title 24, and designated in a regional plan under 24 V.S.A. § 4348a, and consistent with the goals of 24 V.S.A. § 4302.  Such areas may include a downtown development district, village center, or new town center development district duly designated pursuant to chapter 76A of Title 24; or, a business or industrial park designated in a duly adopted and approved municipal plan; or 

(B) in a town that does not have an approved municipal plan, if the town, under 24 V.S.A. § 4349, has adopted the regional plan provisions that identify one or more portions of the town as a growth area, and the project is located in such a growth area, and the area is characterized by a mixture of uses:

(i) that include retail, office, services and other commercial, civic, or residential uses, including affordable housing, recreational activities, and industrial uses in densely compact areas; and

(ii) that result in compact, concentrated areas of land development served by existing or planned infrastructure and capital investment, viable pedestrian circulation, and alternative transportation opportunities.

     (2)  Fee for project located in growth area.  If the project tract is located in one of the growth areas identified in subdivisions (a)(1)(A) or (B) of this section, the applicant shall deposit an offsite mitigation fee into the Vermont housing and conservation trust fund established under section 312 of this title for the purpose of preserving primary agricultural soils of equal or greater value with the highest priority given to preserving prime agricultural soils as defined by U.S.D.A. Any required offsite mitigation fee shall be derived by:

(A) determining the number of acres of primary agricultural soils impacted by the proposed development or subdivision; 

(B) multiplying the number of impacted acres of primary agricultural soils by a factor resulting in a 1:1 ratio; and

(C) multiplying the resulting product by a “price per acre” value, which shall be based on the amount that the secretary of agriculture, food, and markets has determined to be the recent, per-acre cost to acquire conservation easements for primary agricultural soils in the same geographic region as the proposed development or subdivision;  

(3)  Preservation of land for project located outside growth area.   If the project tract is not located in one of the growth areas identified in subdivisions (a)(1)(A) or (B) of this section, the applicant shall be required to provide suitable mitigation either on site or off site, whichever will best further the goal of preserving primary agricultural soils for present and future agricultural use, with special emphasis on preserving prime agricultural soils.  Preservation of primary agricultural soils shall be accomplished through innovative land use design resulting in compact development patterns which will maintain a sufficient acreage of primary agricultural soils on the project tract capable of supporting or contributing to an economic or commercial agricultural operation.  The number of acres of primary agricultural soils to be preserved shall be derived by:

(i) determining the number of acres of primary agricultural soils impacted by the proposed development or subdivision; and

(ii) multiplying the number of impacted acres of primary agricultural soils by a factor based on the quality of those primary agricultural soils, and other factors as the secretary of agriculture, foods and markets may deem relevant, including the soil’s location; accessibility; tract size; existing agricultural operations; water sources; drainage; slope; the presence of ledge or protected wetlands; and the infrastructure of the existing farm or municipality in which the soils are located; and the  N.R.C.S. rating system for Vermont soils.  This factor shall result in a ratio of no less than 2:1, but no more than 3:1, protected acres to acres of impacted primary agricultural soils. 

(b)  Mitigation flexibility.  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section and regardless of the location of the project tract, the district commission, in order to further the goal of preserving primary agricultural soils for present and future agricultural use, may approve suitable onsite or offsite mitigation, including the use of mitigation fees or preservation of primary agricultural soils on other lands owned or controlled by the applicant in the town or district where the project tract is located, in accordance with this section, or some combination of those measures, if that action is deemed consistent with the agricultural elements of local and regional plans, and the goals of section 4302 of Title 24. In appropriate circumstances, the secretary may recommend to the district commission and the district commission may require that specified primary agricultural soils be preserved, with special emphasis on preserving prime agricultural soils, notwithstanding the fact that they are located within a growth area.  However, all factors used to calculate suitable mitigation acreage or fees under this subdivision shall be determined by the location of the project tract.

(c)  Preliminary mitigation agreement. An applicant may enter into a preliminary mitigation agreement with the secretary of agriculture, food, and markets in accordance with this section which shall create a rebuttable presumption of compliance with respect to the requirements of providing suitable mitigation pursuant to subdivision 6086(a)(9)(B)(iii) of this title. The agreement may only address the identification of primary agricultural soils pursuant to subdivision 6001(a)(15) of this title and the provision of suitable mitigation pursuant to the calculations required by this section.  The district commission shall make all final determinations pursuant to subdivisions 6001(a)(15) and 6086(a)(9)(B) and section 6093 of this title.

(d)  Exemption from mitigation for affordable housing in growth areas.  Notwithstanding any other language in this chapter to the contrary, subdivision 6086(a)(9)(B)(iii) of this title shall not apply to a housing development located in one of the growth areas identified in subdivision (a)(1) of this section in which at least 50 percent of the units are affordable housing, as affordable housing is defined under subdivision 4303(1) of Title 24.  All affordable housing units shall be subject to housing subsidy covenants, as defined in 27 V.S.A. § 610 that preserve their affordability for a period of 99 years or longer.

(e)  Housing and conservation trust fund priorities.  Any funds collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the Vermont housing and conservation trust fund established under section 312 of this title and shall be administered by the Vermont housing and conservation board in a manner consistent with this section and the Vermont housing and conservation trust fund act.  Priorities for the use of these funds shall include the conservation of primary agricultural soils identified by the town where the proposed development or subdivision is located and may include primary agricultural soils that form or contribute to an effective buffer separating rural areas from more developed areas provided that such soils are capable of contributing to an economic or commercial agricultural operation.

(f)   Housing and conservation trust fund flexibility. If funds collected for offsite mitigation are not used by the Vermont housing and conservation board to purchase development rights and conservation restrictions on primary agricultural soils within the municipality in which the proposed development or subdivision is located, the funds collected for off-site mitigation may be used to purchase development rights and conservation restrictions on primary agricultural soils elsewhere in the geographic area or elsewhere in the state.  However, prior to committing off-site mitigation funds to purchase development rights and conservation restrictions on primary agricultural soils outside the municipality, the Vermont housing and conservation board shall give the municipality a reasonable time, meaning between 6 and 12 months from commencement of construction of improvements in the development or subdivision, to obtain a signed written contract to purchase development rights and conservation restrictions on primary agricultural between the owner and a  qualified holder, as defined in section 821 of this title, with the ability to monitor and enforce conservation  easements in perpetuity.

(g)  Protecting primary agricultural soils by permit conditions and conservation easements.  All primary agricultural soils preserved for commercial or economic agricultural use under subdivision (a)(3) of this section shall, at a minimum, be protected by permit conditions that are issued by the district commission. All primary agricultural soils preserved for commercial or economic agricultural use by the Vermont housing and conservation board pursuant to this section shall be protected by  permanent conservation easements (grant of development rights and conservation restrictions) conveyed to a qualified holder, as defined in section 821 of this title, with the ability to monitor and enforce easements in perpetuity.

Sec. 38.  RULES OF THE NATURAL RESOURCES BOARD

In accordance with 10 V.S.A. § 6025(b), the land use panel of the natural resources board shall adopt rules to implement the regulatory purposes of this act, in order to promote the development of land in a manner that maintains the historic Vermont settlement pattern of compact village and urban centers separated by rural countryside, while preserving primary agricultural soils, with special emphasis on preserving prime agricultural soils. 

 Sec. 39.  SOILS INVENTORY

(a)  The agency of agriculture, food and markets shall work with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Vermont Center for Geographic Information to develop a state soils inventory.  The soils inventory shall be produced in map form and shall include, in digitized form to the extent available, the location of primary agricultural soils in the state that remain undeveloped.  The agency shall present the inventory to the committees on agriculture and natural resources and energy of the general assembly by January 15, 2006, together with an analysis of options and recommendations with respect to how to treat the state’s remaining prime agricultural soils that are not developed, and how to give a higher priority to the conservation of those soils.  The recommendations shall be developed in consultation with the Vermont housing and conservation board and the regional planning commissions and shall address the means by which information developed in the survey shall be made available to regional and municipal planning commissions.

(b)  The state shall urge the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service to complete the soils mapping of Essex and Caledonia counties and to certify the soils mapping of Chittenden County.

Sec. 40.  AGRICULTURAL SOILS; EFFECTIVE DATES.

     This section and Secs 35 through 39 shall take effect July 1, 2005.

 

* * * PART V.   TAXATION AND TAX CREDITS ***

* * * Taxation of Corporate Income * * *

Sec. 41  CORPORATE INCOME TAX PHASE OUT

     (a) The rates of the tax on income of corporations set out in 32  V.S.A. §5832 shall be reduced by twenty percent for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2006; reduced by twenty-five percent for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2007; reduced by thirty-three percent for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2008; reduced by fifty percent for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2009; and reduced by one hundred percent for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2010. 

     (b) Subchapter 3 of chapter 151 of Title 32 (Taxation of Corporations) is repealed effective January 1, 2010.

* * * Payroll based Tax Credit * * *

Sec. 42.  32 V.S.A. § 5930y is added to read:

§ 5930y  PAYROLL BASED TAX CREDIT AGAINST WITHHOLDING

(a)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Application base number of jobs” means the total number of full‑time Vermont jobs, on an annualized basis, held by nonowners at the time of application, including employees that have been laid off or otherwise terminated within six months of the date of application.

(2)  “Application base payroll” means the total Vermont gross wages and salaries paid to full-time, nonowner employees on an annualized basis at the time of application, including employees who have been laid off or otherwise terminated within six months prior to the date of application.

(3)  “Award period” means the consecutive five years during which a business may add qualifying jobs and qualifying capital investments eligible for payroll‑based credits under this section.

(4)  “Base number of jobs” means the total number of full-time Vermont jobs held by nonowners on an annualized basis.

(5)  “Base payroll” means the total Vermont gross wages and salaries actually paid to full-time, nonowner employees.

(6)  “Credit percentage” means the percentage applied to qualifying payroll in order to calculate earned credits.

(7)  “Full-time employee” means an employee who works at least 37 hours each week.

(8)  “Incentive ratio” set at 70 percent is the percentage applied to the net fiscal benefit in order to calculate the maximum award that may be authorized under this section.

(9)  “Incremental payroll” means the portion by which current year base payroll exceeds prior year base payroll.

(10)  “Job threshold” means the number of jobs representing expected growth as determined by the council using the cost-benefit model, above which otherwise qualifying jobs can earn credits under this section.

(11)  “Net fiscal benefit” means the excess of the present value benefit to the state over the present value cost to the state as calculated by the cost‑benefit model.

(12)  “Nonowner” means an employee with no more than 10 percent ownership interest, including attribution of ownership interests of the employee’s spouse, parents, spouse’s parent, siblings, and children.

(13)  “Qualifying capital investment” means projected investment in new facilities, machinery and equipment the value of which is an input to the cost‑benefit model in evaluating applications.

(14)  “Qualifying jobs” means the number of full-time Vermont jobs performed by non-owners in excess of the base number of jobs and the job threshold that meet or exceed wage thresholds established by the council.

(15)  “Qualifying payroll” means actual Vermont gross wages and salaries paid for qualifying jobs in a utilization period year, provided incremental payroll in that year equals or exceeds such gross wages.

(16)  “Utilization period” means the period during which credits can be claimed, and includes each year of the award period plus the four years immediately following each year of the award period.

(17)  “Vermont gross wages and salaries” means Medicare wages as reported on Federal Tax Form W2 to the extent those wages are Vermont wages.

(18)  “Wage threshold” means the minimum annualized Vermont gross wages and salaries paid, as determined by the council, but not less than fifty percent above the minimum wage, in order for a new job to be a qualifying job under this section.

(b)  A business may apply to the council for approval of a payroll-based credit against its withholding tax liability.  In addition to any other information that the Vermont economic progress council may require in order to fulfill its obligations under this section, an application shall include all the following information:

(1)  Application base number of jobs at time of application.

(2)  Total payroll at time of application.

(3)  Application base payroll.

(4)  Projected number of qualifying jobs in the award period.

(5)  Projected qualifying payroll for each year in the award period.

(6)  Projected qualifying capital investment to be made in the award period.

(7)  A statement signed by the president or chief executive officer or equivalent acknowledging that to the extent the applicant fails to meet the minimum capital investment by the end of the award period, any credits remaining to be earned shall be limited, and any credits taken shall be subject to complete or partial reversal, pursuant to subsection (g) of this section.

(c)  The council shall review each application and ascertain, to the best of its judgment, that but for the credit provided for in this section, the proposed economic development would not occur or would occur in a significantly different and significantly less desirable manner.  Applications that do not meet the “but for” test are not eligible for the credit and shall not be further considered by the council.  If the “but for” test is answered in the affirmative, then prior to approving any application, the council shall evaluate the overall consistency of each application with the following guidelines:

(1)  The enterprise should create new, full-time jobs to be filled by individuals who are Vermont residents.  The new jobs shall not include jobs or employees transferred from an existing business in the state, or replacements for vacant or terminated positions in the applicant’s business.  The new jobs include those that exceed the applicant’s average annual employment level in Vermont during the two preceding fiscal years.  The enterprise should provide opportunities that increase income, reduce unemployment, and reduce facility vacancy rates.  Preference should be given to projects that enhance economic activity in areas of the state with the highest levels of unemployment and the lowest levels of economic activity.

(2)  The new jobs should make a net positive contribution to employment in the area, and meet or exceed the prevailing compensation level, including wages and benefits, for the particular employment sector.  The new jobs should offer opportunities for advancement and professional growth consistent with the employment sector.

(3)  The enterprise should create positive fiscal impacts on the state, the host municipality, and the region as projected by the cost-benefit model applied by the council under subsection (d) of this section.

(4)  The enterprise should be welcomed by the host municipality, and should conform to all appropriate town and regional plans and to all permit and approval requirements.

(5)  The enterprise should protect or improve Vermont’s natural, historical, and cultural resources, and enhance Vermont’s historic settlement patterns.

(6)  It is desirable for the enterprise to make use of Vermont resources.

(7)  It is desirable for the enterprise to strengthen the quality of life in the host municipality, and to foster cooperation within the region.

(8)  It is desirable for the enterprise to use existing infrastructure or to locate in an existing downtown redevelopment project.

(9)  If the enterprise proposes to expand within a limited local market, then the enterprise should not be given an unfair competitive advantage over other Vermont businesses in the same or similar line of business and in the same limited local market as a result of the economic incentive granted.

(d)  The council shall apply a cost-benefit model in reviewing a business application to determine the net fiscal benefit to the state.  The cost-benefit model shall be a uniform and comprehensive methodology for assessing and measuring the projected net fiscal benefit of proposed economic development activities.  Any modification of the cost-benefit model shall be subject to the approval of the joint fiscal committee.  The council shall perform the cost‑benefit analysis in consultation with the commissioner of economic development.  The cost-benefit analysis shall include consideration of the effect of the passage of time and inflation on the value of multiyear fiscal benefits and costs.

(e)  Except as provided in subsection (h) of this section, the value of the credit will be dependent upon the net fiscal benefit resulting from projected qualifying payroll and qualifying capital investment.  An incentive ratio shall be applied to the net fiscal benefit generated by the cost-benefit model in order to determine the maximum award the council may authorize for each application it approves.  The council shall establish appropriate job and wage thresholds and minimum qualifying capital investment for individual applications the council wishes to approve.  The council shall calculate a credit percentage for each approved application as follows:

Authorized award amount ÷ [Projected average wage × 5 (number of years in award period) × projected number of qualifying jobs over the award period]

(f)  The council shall approve or deny an application in writing within 45 days of receipt of a completed application.  An approval shall specify the application base jobs at the time of the application; application base payroll; total payroll at the time of application; job thresholds for each year of the award period; the projected number of qualifying jobs for each year of the award period; projected qualifying payroll for each year of the award period; the credit percentage; the minimum amount and description sufficient for application of subsection (g) of this section of the nature of qualifying capital investment over the award period upon which approval shall be conditioned; and the amount of the total award.  The council shall provide a copy of each approval to the tax department along with a copy of the application submitted by that applicant.

(g)  A business whose application is approved and meets or exceeds its award year thresholds may claim as a credit against its withholding tax liability under section 5841 of this title an amount equal to the qualifying payroll multiplied by the credit percentage for each year of the utilization period, not to exceed the total award approved by the council.  The tax department shall deny applications for credits in each year during the utilization period in which the award year thresholds are not maintained or have not been reestablished.  The credit is refundable and must be claimed annually on a credit return available from the tax department filed no later than February 28 of each year of the utilization period.  A business that fails to invest the minimum qualifying capital investment specified by the council by the end of the award period shall be liable for repayment of credits taken, plus interest, to the extent credits taken exceed the total award after it is reduced in proportion to the deficiency by which the applicant fails to meet its minimum qualifying capital investment.  The repayment, if any, shall be calculated and remitted with the credit return for the last year of the award period and no further credits may be earned.  The repayment shall be calculated as follows:

Credits taken minus [qualifying capital investments made ÷

minimum qualifying capital investment] × total award

To the extent the minimum qualifying capital investment is not met by the end of the award period but no repayment is triggered, the total award against which future credits may be earned shall be reduced in proportion to the level of deficiency by which the applicant fails to meet the minimum qualifying capital investment.

(h)  Notwithstanding subsection (e) of this section, the council may authorize credits in excess of net fiscal benefit multiplied by the incentive ratio not to exceed an annual authorization established by law. 

(i)  It is the intention of the general assembly to review the incentive ratio every two years and adjust it as necessary to ensure an appropriate positive fiscal impact to the state.  Legislative adjustments to the incentive ratio shall not apply to maximum awards approved prior to the effective date of any such adjustment.

(j)  By May 1, 2006, and by May 1 each year thereafter, the council and the department of taxes shall file a joint report on the payroll‑based tax incentives authorized by this section with the chairs of the house committee on ways and means, the house committee on commerce, the senate committee on finance, the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs, the house and senate committees on appropriations, and the joint fiscal committee of the general assembly and provide notice of the report to the members of those committees.  The joint report shall contain the gross and net value of incentives granted during the preceding year, an account of each incentive granted, from inception of the program to the date of the report, including the date and amount of the award, the expected calendar year or years in which the award will be exercised, whether the award is currently available, the date the award will expire, and the amount and date of all incentives exercised.  The joint report shall also include information on economic activity, benefits to the state, and recipient performance in the fiscal year in which the credit was applied.  The council and department may use measures to protect confidential financial information, such as reporting information in an aggregate form or masking the identity of the tax award recipient.

Sec. 43.  PAYROLL BASED TAX CREDIT; EFFECTIVE DATE

     This section and Sec. 42 shall take effect July 1, 2005.

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Koch of Barre Town, Allaire of Rutland City, Bartlett of Dover, Branagan of Georgia, Canfield of Fair Haven, Clark of Vergennes, DePoy of Rutland City, Donahue of Northfield, Dunsmore of Georgia, Endres of Milton, Errecart of Shelburne, Flory of Pittsford, Houston of Ferrisburgh, Hube of Londonderry, Hudson of Lyndon, Kainen of Hartford, Kennedy of Chelsea, Komline of Dorset, Krawczyk of Bennington, Larocque of Barnet, Larrabee of Danville, LaVoie of Swanton, Lawrence of Lyndon, Livingston of Manchester, Marcotte of Coventry, Marron of Stowe, Metzger of Milton, Miller of Elmore, Morrissey of Bennington, Niquette of Colchester, Otterman of Topsham, Parent of St. Albans City, Peaslee of Guildhall, Schiavone of Shelburne, Shaw of Derby, Smith of New Haven, Sunderland of Rutland Town, Valliere of Barre City, Westman of Cambridge, Winters of Swanton, Winters of Williamstown to H. 524

            Move to amend the bill by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  JOINT HEALTH REFORM COMMITTEE; PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROCESS

(a)  In recognition of the importance of public engagement, the house committee on health care, the senate committee on health and welfare, and a nonvoting member appointed by the governor upon passage of this act shall form a joint health reform committee and shall meet as necessary during the interim of the 2005 legislative session to solicit input from citizens, stakeholders, and interested parties for the purpose of developing and proposing a state‑administered package of health services (“the health plan”) to be financed through broad‑based taxes.

(b)  The committee shall engage in the following process:

(1)  have regional public hearings;

(2)  have regional and statewide meetings with stakeholders, such as citizens, employers, hospitals, health care professionals, and insurers;

(3)  solicit information through a survey that shall be available online as well as on paper;

(4)  arrange for facilitated focus groups; and

(5)  maintain a web site.

(c)(1)  In order to obtain a broad range of information and input, the committee shall collaborate with interested parties, agencies, and organizations, including the agency of human services regional partnerships, the Vermont ethics network, and area health education centers (AHEC) in developing and implementing the public process.

(2)  The joint health reform committee shall consider any recommendations received on or before September 15, 2005 by Coalition 21, the coalition of stakeholder groups established in July 2004 to develop a sustainable plan for transforming Vermont’s health care system concerning the health care services that should be covered under a universal access plan for primary/preventive and hospital care.

(3)  The joint health reform committee shall consider the results of the studies under Secs. 2 and 3 of this act in forming and making its recommendations for health care reform.

(d)  The joint health reform committee shall address topics related to health care reform, including:

(1)  designing a package of health services, including preventive and primary care services to be covered by the health plan by July 1, 2007, hospital services by October 1, 2007, and any other essential health services by July 1, 2009, including consideration of the factors outlined in subsection (e) of this section;

(2)  developing administrative and operational details of the health plan, including any new administrative positions needed, residency requirements, and the treatment of preexisting conditions;

(3)  evaluating the interrelationship of the health plan with Medicaid and any Medicaid waiver programs;

(4)  developing opportunities and making recommendations for reorganizing health care delivery and improving quality;

(5)  developing methods for facilitating a seamless transition to the health plan;

(6)  developing standards and measurements for evaluating the implementation and operation of the health plan;

(7)  determining a method for assessment and evaluation of quality;

(8)  determining the cost of the package of health services and any new administration;

(9)  recommending a financing mechanism to fund the reformed health care system;

(10)  recommending whether there should be changes to the procedures for the certificate of need and hospital budget reviews; and

(11)  receiving input from the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration and the agency of human services in order to propose any reorganization of government.

(e)  The joint health reform committee shall ensure that a package of health services will provide a choice of services and health care professionals, contain costs over time, and improve quality of care and health outcomes.  In developing the package of health services, the joint committee shall consider:

(1)  the current range of health services received by Vermonters through public and private benefit packages;

(2)  credible, evidence-based, scientific research and comment by health care professionals, both nationally and internationally, concerning clinical efficacy and risk;

(3)  health care ethics;

(4)  the cost-effectiveness of health services and technology;

(5)  revenues anticipated to be available to finance the package of health services;

(6)  the state health plan and the health resource allocation plan established under section 9405 of Title 18; and

(7)  any Vermont-specific initiatives that would inform the committee.

(f)  With the approval of the speaker of the house and the president pro tempore of the senate, the joint health reform committee may retain the services of one or more consultants or experts to assist in its work.

(g)  The joint committee may meet as needed and shall have such powers as are needed to carry out the purposes of this section.  For attendance at meetings, joint committee members shall be entitled to compensation and expenses as provided in 2 V.S.A. § 406.

(h)  By December 1, 2005, the joint committee shall file a joint report with the general assembly and the governor summarizing its activities and findings and recommending further legislation for health care reform.

Sec. 2.  FISCAL STUDY

The legislative council and the joint fiscal office, in consultation with the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration and the office of Vermont health access, shall oversee the following studies:

(1)(A)  A study of the economic impact of the implementation of a universal access health care plan in Vermont funded primarily by broad-based taxes.  The study shall include the following:

(i)  impacts on existing businesses, including medical businesses, and labor force flexibility, and on the future growth of the economy and the economic competitiveness of Vermont;

(ii)  potential for employment dislocation through changing patterns of service and reductions in system administration;

(iii)  impacts on residents, including possible relocation and demographic change, population groups’ costs of living, and access to care;

(iv)  cost impacts on state and other governmental entities of providing health care coverage through a statewide program;

(v)  specific impacts on the administrative cost by the health care sector (e.g., providers:  hospitals, nursing homes, physicians’ offices, other health care providers, and “payers” insurance companies);

(vi)  impacts on workers’ compensation and other private insurance, including health insurance;

(vii)  implications for health care system fixed and variable costs based on changes in usage due to the universal coverage availability and program design;

(viii)  transitional issues as Vermont moves from the current health care environment to a reformed health system and the package of health services described under Sec. 1 of this act; and

(ix)  impacts of continuing with the current health care system.

(B)  A study of the various financing options and implications for financing the package of health services described under Sec. 1 of this act.  The study shall include the following:

(i)  financing options for consideration, including adjustments to the income tax, a payroll tax, premiums or cost-sharing measures, consumption taxes, and specific more limited taxes to support parts of the health care system financial needs;

(ii)  the tax burdens caused by changing levels of deductibility based on the tax systems contemplated;

(iii)  issues involved with federal law and taxation, including ERISA and other areas of preemption;

(iv)  other revenue sources replaced or tax offsets, including current insurance risk pools, reductions in current and future liabilities, and net costs for public and private entities and individuals due to the new system;

(v)  impacts of tax system change:

(I)  on individuals, households, businesses, public sector entities, and the nonprofit community;

(II)  over time, on changing revenue needs and possible

tax-based decision-making;

(III)  in transition, as the tax system and health care cost structure changes, including methods to avoid double payments during the transition (e.g., premiums and tax obligations).

(2)  The study may be contracted out in all or in part pursuant to the process established in subdivision (5) of this section.  In the case of contracts for services, the legislative council and joint fiscal office may:

(A)  solicit requests for proposals (RFPs) for contracts;

(B)  contract with the University of Vermont;

(C)  contract with the state economist, the legislative economist, and a third economist who specializes in health issues to produce a joint product; or

(D)  contract with or solicit, or both, with a combination of any of the above.

(3)  The study description or RFPs shall be developed in draft form and made available to the house committee on health care, the senate committee on health and welfare, the senate committee on finance, and the house committee on ways and means for input.  Draft documents shall also be distributed to those entities indicating interest, including the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration and the office of Vermont health access, and be made available on the legislative web page for public comment.

(4)  The legislative committees designated in subdivision (3) of this section are authorized to meet during the interim of the 2005 session, as necessary to review the study description or RFPs prior to issuance.  The committee members shall also consider how the study process will promote communication and interaction among the various participants to facilitate a coordinated result.  For attendance at meeting, committee members shall be entitled to per diem compensation and expenses as provided in 2 V.S.A. § 406.

(5)  The decisions on the process and selection of service providers shall be done by the legislative council and the joint fiscal office in consultation with the chairs of the committees in subdivision (3) of this section and the chair and vice chair of the joint fiscal committee.  The providers shall present interim reports to the joint health reform committee established in Sec. 1 of this act, the house committee on ways and means, and the senate committee on finance in September and November 2005.

(6)  Final reports shall be issued to the general assembly no later than January 15, 2006.

Sec. 3.  ADMINISTRATIVE STUDIES

(a)  The agency of human services and the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration shall develop recommendations for reorganizing the health care- and health insurance-related functions of these agencies in order to facilitate the integration of the delivery of health care in this state and shall submit those recommendations to the joint health reform committee no later than September 1, 2005.  The preliminary recommendations shall include recommendations relating to personnel, operations, and budgetary requirements.

(b)  The department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration shall investigate ways of coordinating or integrating the health plan developed pursuant to Sec. 1 of this act with the current workers’ compensation system and shall make recommendations to the general assembly by January 1, 2006.

* * *Medical Malpractice * * *

Sec. 4.  MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ARBITRATION

(a)  Sec. 50 (effective date) of No. 160 of the Acts of the 1991 Adj. Sess. (1992) is amended to read:

Sec. 50.  EFFECTIVE DATE

Secs. 46, 47, 48, and 49, amending chapter 215 of Title 12 to provide for mandatory arbitration in medical malpractice cases and admission of practice guidelines, shall take effect on the effective date of a universal access health care system enacted by the general assembly on January 1, 2006 and shall apply to cases filed on or after that date.

(b)  Not later than January 1, 2009, the commissioner of the department of health care administration shall review medical malpractice and tort law, and file a report with the general assembly.  The report shall include recommendations for changes to the mandatory arbitration process, if appropriate.  If universal cost‑containment measures affect or place limits on clinical decision‑making, the department shall recommend limitations on the liability of providers who follow practice guidelines, if appropriate.  The commissioner shall seek advice and assistance in developing recommendations under this subsection from an advisory group established under subdivision 9411(3) of Title 18 consisting of representatives of the judicial branch, the health care provider community, the legal community, health insurers, medical malpractice insurers, and health care consumers.  To the fullest extent possible, the recommendations shall be based upon the board’s collection of data specific to Vermont.

Sec. 5.  12 V.S.A. § 1910 is added to read:

§ 1910.  MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTIONS; CERTIFICATE OF

              QUALIFIED EXPERT

(a)  In an action based on medical malpractice, the plaintiff shall file a certificate of qualified expert with the complaint.  The plaintiff shall serve a copy of the certificate upon each party to the action.

(b)(1)  A certificate of qualified expert filed under this section shall state:

(A)  The expert’s qualifications, which shall be sufficient to demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that the expert will be permitted to testify about the matter set forth in the complaint if a trial is held.

(B)  The applicable standard of care.

(C)  Facts demonstrating a prima facie departure from the standard of care by the defendant.

(D)  How the departure from the standard of care proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury.

(2)  A separate certificate of qualified expert shall be filed for each defendant.

(c)  This section shall not limit the availability of discovery as to the basis of the certificate, the qualifications of the qualified expert, or any other matter as to which discovery is normally available.

(d)(1)  Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the court shall dismiss the action without prejudice upon motion by a party if:

(A)  the plaintiff fails to file the certificate of qualified expert required  under the section; or

(B)  the court finds that the certificate of qualified expert fails to meet the standards established under this section.

(2)  The court, upon motion filed at the time the complaint is filed, shall grant an extension of no more than 90 days for filing a certificate of qualified expert if:

(A)  the limitations period applicable to the claim has expired; and

(B)  the plaintiff demonstrates by affidavit that the failure to file the certificate was neither willful nor the result of gross negligence.

(e)(1)  As used in this section:

(A)  “Health care provider” means a medical doctor licensed to practice under chapter 23 of Title 26, an osteopathic physician licensed pursuant to subdivision 1750(9) of Title 26, an advance practice registered nurse licensed pursuant to subdivision 1572(4) of Title 26, or a physician’s assistant certified pursuant to section 1733 of Title 26, acting within the scope of the license under which the health care provider is practicing.

(B)  “Qualified expert” means a health care provider who:

(i)  has had active clinical experience, provided consultation relating to active clinical practice, or taught medicine in the defendant's specialty or a related field of health care within five years of the date of the alleged act or omission giving rise to the action; and

(ii)  is board certified in the same or a related specialty as the defendant, if the defendant is board certified in a specialty.

(2)  Subdivision (1)(B)(ii) of this subsection shall not apply if the defendant provides care or treatment to the plaintiff unrelated to the area in which the defendant is board certified.

(3)  A qualified expert may not devote more than 20 percent of his or her annual professional activities to activities that directly involve testimony in personal injury claims.

(4)  A qualified expert shall not be:

(A)  A party to the action.

(B)  An employee or partner of a party to the action; or

(C)  An employee or stockholder of any professional corporation of which a party to the action is a stockholder.

(f)  This section shall not be construed to expand, limit, or in any way affect the requirements and procedures for expert testimony.

Sec. 6.  12 V.S.A. § 1912 is added to read:

§ 1912.  EXPRESSION OF REGRET OR APOLOGY BY HEALTH CARE                                          PROVIDER INADMISSIBLE

(a)  An expression of regret or apology, or an explanation of how a medical error occurred, made by or on behalf of a health care provider, including an expression of regret, apology, or explanation that is made in writing, orally, or by conduct, does not constitute a legal admission of liability for any purpose and shall be inadmissible in any civil or administrative proceeding against the health care provider, including any arbitration or mediation proceeding.

(b)  In any civil or administrative proceeding against a health care provider, including any arbitration or mediation proceeding, the health care provider, or any other person who makes an expression of regret, apology, or explanation on behalf of the health care provider, including an expression of regret, apology, or explanation that is made in writing, orally, or by conduct, may not be examined by deposition or otherwise with respect to the expression of regret, apology, or explanation.

(c)  As used in this section, “health care provider” shall have the meaning defined in subdivision 1910(e)(1)(A) of this title.

* * * FQHCs *  * *

Sec. 7.  FEDERALLY QUALIFIED HEALTH CENTERS (FQHC)

              LOOK-ALIKES; CAPITALIZATION GRANTS; CASE

              MANAGEMENT

Funds appropriated by Sec. 19 of this act to the department of health shall be expended for the purpose of providing to federally qualified health center (FQHC) look-alike funds for initial capitalization and to establish an

income-sensitized sliding scale fee schedule for patients of these organizations.  In distributing the grants, the department shall consider ensuring the geographic distribution of health centers around the state as well as criteria under federal law.  Initial priority shall be given to health centers in Lamoille, Washington, and Windsor/Windham counties, and other counties that demonstrate readiness to achieve look-alike status.  The goal shall be to ensure there are FQHC look-alikes in each county in Vermont.

* * * Health Care Information Technology * * *

Sec. 8.  18 V.S.A. § 9417 is added to read:

§ 9417.  HEALTH CARE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

(a)  The commissioner shall contract with the Vermont program for quality in health care to facilitate the establishment of a health information technology plan for establishing a statewide, integrated electronic health information infrastructure in Vermont by 2010.  The plan shall include standards and protocols designed to promote patient education, patient privacy, physician best practices, electronic connectivity to health care data, and, overall, a more efficient and less costly means of delivering quality health care in Vermont.

(b)  The responsibilities of the Vermont program for quality in health care in establishing a health information technology plan shall include:

(1)  supporting the effective, efficient, statewide use of electronic health information in patient care, health care policymaking, clinical research, health care financing, and continuous quality improvements;

(2)  educating the general public and health care professionals about the value of an electronic health infrastructure for improving patient care;

(3)  promoting the use of national standards for the development of an interoperable system, which shall include provisions relating to security, privacy, data content, structures and format, vocabulary, and transmission protocols;

(4)  making strategic investments in equipment and other infrastructure elements that will facilitate the ongoing development of a statewide infrastructure;

(5)  establishing a method for assessing various stakeholders for ongoing development and maintenance costs of a statewide health information system.

(c)  A health information technology advisory group is created to develop the health information technology plan, including applicable standards, protocols, and pilot programs.  Members of the advisory group shall include the members of the preexisting Vermont information technology leaders advisory group formed by the Vermont association of hospitals and health systems, except for those members who are vendors of information technology.  Vendors of information technology, however, shall be invited to provide input on plan development, as deemed appropriate by the Vermont program for quality in health care.

(d)  The technology advisory group also shall include as a member the commissioner of information and innovation, who shall advise the group on technology best practices and the state’s information technology policies and procedures, including the need for a functionality assessment and feasibility study related to establishing an electronic health information infrastructure under this section. 

(e)  On or before January 1, 2006, the Vermont program for quality in health care shall initiate a pilot program involving at least two hospitals using existing sources of electronic health information to establish electronic data sharing for clinical decision support, pursuant to priorities and criteria established in conjunction with the health information technology advisory group.  Objectives of the pilot program may include:

(1)  supporting patient care and improving quality of care;

(2)  enhancing productivity of health care professionals and reducing administrative costs of health care delivery and financing;

(3)  implementing strategies for future developments in health care technology, policy, management, governance, and finance; and

(4)  ensuring patient data confidentiality at all times. 

(f)  The standards and protocols developed by the Vermont program for quality in health care shall be no less stringent than the “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information” established under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and contained in 45 C.F.R., Parts 160 and 164, and any subsequent amendments.  In addition, the standards and protocols shall ensure that there are clear prohibitions against the out-of-state release of individually identifiable health information for purposes unrelated to treatment, payment, and health care operations, and that such information shall under no circumstances be used for marketing purposes.  The standards and protocols shall require that access to individually identifiable health information is secure and traceable by an electronic audit trail.

(g)  On or before January 1, 2007, the Vermont program for quality in health care shall submit to the commissioner, the commissioner of information and innovation, and the general assembly a health information technology plan for establishing a statewide, integrated electronic health information infrastructure in Vermont, including specific steps for achieving the goals, objectives, and time frames of this section.  The plan shall include also recommendations for self-sustainable funding for the ongoing development, maintenance, and replacement of the health information technology system.  Upon approval by the general assembly, the plan shall serve as the framework within which certificate of need applications for information technology are reviewed under section 9440b of this title by the commissioner.

(h)  Beginning January 1, 2006, and annually thereafter, the Vermont program for quality in health care shall file a report with the commissioner, the commissioner of information and innovation, and the general assembly.  The report shall include an assessment of progress in implementing the provisions of this section, recommendations for additional funding and legislation required,, and an analysis of the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of the pilot program authorized under subsection (e) of this section.

(i)  The Vermont program for quality in health care is authorized to seek matching funds to assist with carrying out the purposes of this section.  In addition, it may accept any and all donations, gifts, and grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials, and services from the federal or any local government, or any agency thereof, and from any person, firm, or corporation for any of its purposes and functions under this section and may receive and use the same subject to the terms, conditions, and regulations governing such donations, gifts, and grants.

(j)  The commissioner, in consultation with the Vermont program for quality in health care and the health information technology advisory group, may seek any waivers of federal law, rule, or regulation that might assist with implementation of this section.

Sec. 9.  18 V.S.A. § 9437(4) and (5) are amended and (6) is added to read:

(4)  in the case of a proposal for the addition of beds for the provision of skilled nursing or intermediate care, the number of beds to be approved is not inconsistent with the considerations identified under subsection 9439(e) of this title; and

(5)  The the proposed new health care project is consistent with the certificate of need guidelines published by the department in accordance with its rules, and is within the portion of the unified health care budget applicable to the proposed health care facility;

(6)  if the application is for the purchase or lease of new health care information technology, it conforms with the health information technology plan established under section 9417 of this title, upon approval of the plan by the general assembly.

Sec. 10.  18 V.S.A. § 9440b is added to read:

§ 9440b.  INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY; REVIEW PROCEDURES

Notwithstanding the procedures in section 9440 of this title, upon approval by the general assembly of the health information technology plan developed under section 9417 of this title, the commissioner shall establish by rule standards and expedited procedures for reviewing applications for the purchase or lease of health care information technology that otherwise would be subject to review under this subchapter.  Such applications may not be granted or approved unless they are consistent with the health information technology plan.  The commissioner’s rules shall include a provision requiring applications be reviewed by the health information advisory group established under subsection 9417(c) of this title.  The advisory group shall make written findings and a recommendation to the commissioner in favor of or against each application.

* * * Healthy Lifestyles Insurance Discount * * *

Sec. 11.  8 V.S.A. § 4080a(h) is amended to read:

(h)(1)  A registered small group carrier shall use a community rating method acceptable to the commissioner for determining premiums for small group plans.  Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the following risk classification factors are prohibited from use in rating small groups, employees, or members of such groups, and dependents of such employees or members:

(A)  demographic rating, including age and gender rating;

(B)  geographic area rating;

(C)  industry rating;

(D)  medical underwriting and screening;

(E)  experience rating;

(F)  tier rating; or

(G)  durational rating.

(2)(A)  The commissioner shall, by rule, adopt standards and a process for permitting registered small group carriers to use one or more risk classifications in their community rating method, provided that the premium charged shall not deviate above or below the community rate filed by the carrier by more than 20 percent (20%), and provided further that the commissioner’s rules may not permit any medical underwriting and screening.

(B)  The commissioner’s rules shall permit a carrier, including a hospital or medical service corporation, to establish premium discounts or rebates or otherwise modify applicable co-payments or deductibles in return for adherence to programs of health promotion and disease prevention, in accordance with federal regulations relating to bona fide wellness programs.  Under the federal regulations, permissible bona fide wellness programs shall:

(i)  limit any discount, rebate, or waiver of cost-sharing to no more than 20 percent of the cost of employee-only coverage;

(ii)  be designed reasonably to promote good health or prevent disease for individuals in the program, and not be used as a subterfuge for imposing higher costs on an individual based on a health factor; and

(iii)  provide that the reward under the program is available to all similarly situated individuals.

(C)  The commissioner, in consultation with the commissioner of health, shall adopt by rule:

(i)  standards for approved health promotion and disease prevention programs, based on the best scientific, evidence-based medical practices; and

(ii)  standards and procedures for evaluating an individual’s adherence to programs of health promotion and disease prevention.

(3)  The commissioner may exempt from the requirements of this section an association as defined in section subdivision 4079(2) of this title which:

(A)  offers a small group plan to a member small employer which is community rated in accordance with the provisions of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection.  The plan may include risk classifications in accordance with subdivision (2) of this subsection;

(B)  offers a small group plan that guarantees acceptance of all persons within the association and their dependents; and

(C)  offers one or more of the common health care plans approved by the commissioner under subsection (e) of this section.

(4)  The commissioner may revoke or deny the exemption set forth in subdivision (3) of this subsection if the commissioner determines that:

(A)  because of the nature, size or other characteristics of the association and its members, the employees or members are in need of the protections provided by this section; or

(B)  the association exemption has or would have a substantial adverse effect on the small group market.

Sec. 12.  8 V.S.A. § 4080b(h) is amended to read:

(h)(1)  A registered nongroup carrier shall use a community rating method acceptable to the commissioner for determining premiums for nongroup plans.  Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the following risk classification factors are prohibited from use in rating individuals and their dependents:

(A)  demographic rating, including age and gender rating;

(B)  geographic area rating;

(C)  industry rating;

(D)  medical underwriting and screening;

(E)  experience rating;

(F)  tier rating; or

(G)  durational rating.

(2)(A)  The commissioner shall, by rule, adopt standards and a process for permitting registered nongroup carriers to use one or more risk classifications in their community rating method.  After July 1, 1993, provided that the premium charged shall not deviate above or below the community rate filed by the carrier by more than 40 percent (40%) for two years, and thereafter 20 percent (20%).  Such rules may not permit, and provided further that the commissioner’s rules may not permit any medical underwriting and screening and shall give due consideration to the need for affordability and accessibility of health insurance.

(B)  The commissioner’s rules shall permit a carrier, including a hospital or medical service corporation, to establish premium discounts or rebates or otherwise modify applicable co-payments or deductibles in return for adherence to programs of health promotion and disease prevention, in accordance with federal regulations relating to bona fide wellness programs.  Under the federal regulations, permissible bona fide wellness programs shall:

(i)  limit any discount, rebate, or waiver of cost-sharing to no more than 20 percent of the cost of employee-only coverage;

(ii)  be designed reasonably to promote good health or prevent disease for individuals in the program, and not be used as a subterfuge for imposing higher costs on an individual based on a health factor; and

(iii)  provide that the reward under the program is available to all similarly situated individuals.

(C)  The commissioner, in consultation with the commissioner of health, shall adopt by rule:

(i)  standards for approved health promotion and disease prevention programs, based on the best scientific, evidence-based medical practices; and

(ii)  standards and procedures for evaluating an individual’s adherence to programs of health promotion and disease prevention.

Sec. 13.  8 V.S.A. § 4516 is amended to read:

§ 4516.  ANNUAL REPORT TO COMMISSIONER

Annually, on or before the fifteenth day of March, a hospital service corporation shall file with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration a statement sworn to by the president and treasurer of the corporation showing its condition on the thirty-first day of December.  The statement shall be in such form and contain such matters as the commissioner shall prescribe.  To qualify for the tax exemption set forth in section 4518 of this title, the statement shall include a certification that the hospital service corporation operates on a nonprofit basis for the purpose of providing an adequate hospital service plan to individuals of the state, both groups and nongroups, without discrimination based on age, gender, geographic area, industry, and medical history except as allowed by subdivisions 4080a(h)(2)(B) and 4080b(h)(2)(B) of this title.

Sec. 14.  8 V.S.A. § 4588 is amended to read:

§ 4588.  ANNUAL REPORT TO COMMISSIONER

Annually, on or before March 15, a medical service corporation shall file with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration a statement sworn to by the president and treasurer of the corporation showing its condition on December 31, which shall be in such form and contain such matters as the commissioner shall prescribe.  To qualify for the tax exemption set forth in section 4590 of this title, the statement shall include a certification that the medical service corporation operates on a nonprofit basis for the purpose of providing an adequate medical service plan to individuals of the state, both groups and nongroups, without discrimination based on age, gender, geographic area, industry, and medical history except as allowed by subdivisions 4080a(h)(2)(B) and 4080b(h)(2)(B) of this title.

* * * DRUG UTILIZATION REVIEW BOARD * * *

Sec. 15.  1 V.S.A. § 313(a) is amended to read:

(a)  No public body described in section 312 of this title may hold an executive session from which the public is excluded, except by the affirmative vote of two-thirds of its members present in the case of any public body of state government or of a majority of its members present in the case of any public body of a municipality or other political subdivision.  A motion to go into executive session shall indicate the nature of the business of the executive session, and no other matter may be considered in the executive session.  Such vote shall be taken in the course of an open meeting and the result of the vote recorded in the minutes.  No formal or binding action shall be taken in executive session except actions relating to the securing of real estate options under subdivision (2) of this subsection.  Minutes of an executive session need not be taken, but if they are, shall not be made public subject to section subsection 312(b) of this title.  A public body may not hold an executive session except to consider one or more of the following:

* * *

(9)  Information relating to a pharmaceutical rebate or to supplemental rebate agreements, other than information protected from disclosure by federal law, by the terms and conditions required by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a condition of rebate authorization under the Medicaid program.

Sec. 16.  33 V.S.A. § 1998(f)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  The board shall meet at least quarterly.  The board shall comply with the requirements of subchapter 2 of chapter 5 of Title 1 (open meetings) and subchapter 3 of chapter 5 of Title 1 (open records), except that the board may go into executive session as provided for in subdivision 313(a)(9) of Title 1 in order to comply with subsection 2002(c) of this title.

* * * Medicare Premium Assistance * * *

Sec. 17.  33 V.S.A. chapter 19, subchapter 5 is added to read:

Subchapter 5.  Premium Assistance Program

§ 2030.  MEDICARE PREMIUM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

(a)  The office of Vermont health access shall establish a premium assistance program by rule under chapter 25 of Title 3 to assist eligible individuals who are unable to afford Medicare supplemental insurance under section 4062b of Title 8 or Medicare part B premiums.

(b)  The program shall provide a fixed grant of $20.00 per month to eligible individuals who apply until such time as the funds appropriated to support the program are exhausted. This program is not an entitlement.

(c)  An “eligible individual” means an individual enrolled in or applying for Medicare who is not eligible for Medicaid under 42 U.S.C. § 1396a, is under 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, and does not have health insurance coverage through a group or association.

Sec. 18.   MEDICARE PART D ELIGIBILITY

(a)  The Office of Vermont Health Access shall take steps necessary to eliminate the asset test from the requirements for eligibility for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary, Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary and Qualified Individuals Medicare Savings programs of Medicare  provided that it finds that it will be at a minimum cost neutral to the state in that the costs of the resulting increased Medicaid participation would not exceed the benefits from greater participation in the low income subsidy program as it relates to the Medicare Part D program.

(b)  If, on or before July 1, 2005, the asset test for eligibility under subsection (a) is eliminated:

(1)  Sec. 17 of this act establishing a Medicare Premium Assistance Program shall not take effect; and

(2) the amount of $250,000.00 of the appropriation for the Medicare premium assistance program under Sec. 19(b) of this act is rescinded.

(3)  the amount of $250,000.00 of the appropriation for the Medicare premium assistance program under Sec. 19(b) of this act is redirected, on a one-time basis, to the Office of Vermont Health Access for the purpose of  providing  information to the public on the low income subsidies for the Medicare prescription drug program and provisions of the Medicaid Modernization Act of 2005.

Sec. 19.  APPROPRIATION

     (a)  Fiscal year 2005.  There is appropriated in fiscal year 2005 the following amounts:

(1)  $425,000.00 from the general fund to the legislature for the following purposes:

               (A)  $125,000.00 for the fiscal study authorized by Sec. 2 of this act.

               (B)  $100,000.00 for actuarial services for the purposes of supporting the studies required by Sec. 2 and other provisions of this act.

               (C)  $50,000.00 for interim committee meetings of the joint health care reform committee established by Sec. 1 of this act.

               (D)  $150,000.00 to support the public engagement process of Sec. 1 of this act.

(2)  $200,000.00 from the general fund to the Department of Health for the purpose of providing to federally qualified health center (FQHC)

look-alike funds under Sec. 7 of this act.

          (3)  $200,000.00 from the general fund to the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Health Care Administration for the purpose of a health information technology plan under Sec. 8 of this act.

(b)  Fiscal year 2005 designated balance (waterfall).

Sec. 263(a) of H.516 of 2005 is amended by inserting two new subdivisions after subdivision (7) to read as follows:

(8)  Eighth, $200,000.00 shall be appropriated to the department of health for use as an additional appropriation to fund free clinics.

(9)  Ninth, $500,000.00 shall be appropriated to the office of Vermont health access or its successor in interest to fund the Medicare premium assistance program established under 33 V.S.A. § 2030 and Sec. 17 of this act.

and by renumbering the remaining subdivisions to be numerically correct

Sec. 20.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall be effective upon passage.

S. 52

An act relating to renewable energy portfolio standards, appliance efficiency standards, and distributed electricity.

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Flory of Pittsford and Sunderland of Rutland Town to S. 52

     Moves to amend the House proposal of amendment in Sec. 4, 30  V.S.A. § 8005, by striking subdivision (b)(6) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(6) make available to Vermont retail electricity providers for purchase a specified portion of the power generated under subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection;

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Flory of Pittsford and Sunderland of Rutland Town to S. 52

Move to substitute the following for the Seventh House proposal of amendment;

In Sec. 4, 30 V.S.A. § 8005(b), by striking subdivision (7) in its entirety and inserting the following:

(7) Establish a way to give retail electricity providers appropriate credit, in meeting any portfolio standard implemented under the provisions of section 8004 of this title, for resources developed through the SPEED program;

Committee Bill for Second Reading

H. 527

An act relating to agricultural water quality.

(Rep. Johnson of South Hero will speak for the Committee on Agriculture.)

NOTICE CALENDAR

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 518

     An act relating to capital construction and state bonding.

The Senate proposes to the House to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following

* * * Capital Appropriations * * *

Sec. 1.  STATE BUILDINGS

The sum of $12,175,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services, and the commissioner is authorized to direct funds appropriated in this section to the projects contained in this section; however, no project shall be canceled unless the chairs of the house and senate committees on institutions are notified before that action is taken.  The individual appropriations in this section are estimates only.

(1)  Bennington, state office building, completion:                            (590,000)

(2)  Burlington, Cherry Street garages, continued repairs:    (910,000)

(3)  Chittenden and Washington Counties, health and safety labs, continued planning, design, and permitting:                        (1,800,000)

(4)  Montpelier, 133 State Street, renovations:                             (1,900,000)

(5)  Montpelier, capitol complex heating system, completion of schematic design:                                                                      (90,000)

(6)  Montpelier, 109 State Street, renovation:                                 (500,000)

(7)  Statewide, major maintenance:                                              (5,000,000)

(8)  Statewide, Americans with Disabilities Act, accessibility to public buildings; provided that $100,000 of this appropriation shall be the state match for a potential agency of transportation enhancement grant for the Kent Tavern in Calais, which match shall not be disbursed until evidence is provided to the department that federal funds have been awarded; and further provided that if evidence of federal approval for an enhancement grant is not provided to the department on or before January 1, 2006, the department shall use the $100,000 for one or more other accessibility projects identified in state buildings:                                                                                                          (300,000)

(9)  Statewide, contingency fund:                                                    (500,000)

(10)  Statewide, building reuse:                                           (100,000)

(11)  Statewide, planning:                                                                 (25,000)

(12)  Statewide, State House, flag conservation:                                (20,000)

(13)  Statewide, secretary of state, archive facility; for preliminary space layout, site identification and evaluation, acquisition of an option on a site, and schematic design, provided that schematic design shall not occur until a site has been identified:                                                                    (90,000)

(14)  Waterbury, state office complex, generator, electrical upgrades:                                                                                                                    (275,000)

(15)  State House, chairs for house committee rooms and fire extinguisher cabinets for second floor:                                         (50,000)

(16)  State House, vertical files and constituent seating for senate committee rooms, decorative stenciling in room 6:                    (25,000)

(Total appropriation – Section 1                                                         $12,175,000)

Sec. 2.  TAXES

The sum of $100,000 is appropriated to the department of taxes as the second appropriation in an anticipated five-year project to update statewide quadrangle maps through digital orthophotographic quadrangle mapping.

(Total appropriation – Section 2                                                            $100,000)

Sec. 3.  HUMAN SERVICES

(a)  Vermont state hospital; renovations.  The sum of $307,888 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the agency of human services to complete necessary FY2005 renovations and make additional capital improvements for patient and staff safety purposes at the Vermont state hospital, to be substantially complete by September 1, 2005.

(b)  Vermont state hospital; future planning. 

(1)  The sum of $725,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for planning associated with the state hospital, provided:

(A)  The department may use up to $250,000 of this appropriation to begin planning, evaluation, and program work pursuant to the plan required from the secretary of human services by Sec. 141a of No. 122 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004) submitted to the general assembly on February 4, 2005 (the “Plan”); and

(B)  The department may use the remaining $475,000 in connection with work required by the Plan; provided the work under this subdivision shall be initiated and this remaining sum shall be disbursed only after proven necessary by the Plan if and when the Plan is approved, with or without amendments, by the general assembly or by the joint legislative mental health oversight committee established in Sec. 141c of No. 122 if the general assembly is not in session.

(2)  The department shall provide regular reports to the joint legislative mental health oversight committee regarding the status of the work authorized in this subsection.

(c)(1)  The sum of $400,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the agency of human services, department of corrections, for site acquisition, design, and initial construction costs of a minimum security, dormitory-style work camp.

(2)  It is the intent of the general assembly that the creation of one or more new work camps will help alleviate the current overcrowded conditions in the state’s correctional facilities and permit Vermonters housed in out‑of‑state facilities to be brought home to Vermont.  The general assembly specifically does not intend the creation of new work camps to result in an increase in the total number of Vermont offenders sentenced to incarceration.  Therefore, specific plans and programs developed by the department of corrections shall restrict placement in new work camps to those offenders who have been convicted of a nonviolent offense and who have served a portion of their current sentence within a correctional facility.  No court shall impose a sentence of imprisonment to be served initially or solely within the new facility. 

(d)  The sum of $500,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the agency of human services, department of corrections, to complete renovations necessary to bring the sprinkler and smoke evacuation systems at the northwest state correctional facility in St. Albans into compliance with life‑safety codes.

(e)  On or before January 15, 2006, the department of corrections shall develop and present to the house and senate committees on institutions a proposal for programs to occur within a potential correctional industries building to be constructed at the southern state correctional facility in Springfield, which presentation shall include details regarding the proposal’s likely impact on future capital and general fund appropriations.

(Total appropriation – Section 3                                                           $1,932,888)

Sec. 4.  JUDICIARY

The sum of $950,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the judiciary to renovate the existing Rutland courthouse to accommodate the offices of probation and parole.

(Total appropriation – Section 4                                                              $950,000)

Sec. 5.  COMMERCE AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

(a)  The sum of $150,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the agency of commerce and community development for major maintenance at historic sites statewide; provided such maintenance shall be under the supervision of the department of buildings and general services.

(b)  The sum of $30,000 is appropriated to the agency of commerce and community development for underwater preserves. 

(c)  Calvin Coolidge homestead, Plymouth Notch.

(1)  The sum of $100,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the agency of commerce and community development as the final state match for a federal Save America’s Treasures grant for installation of a sprinkler system at the Calvin Coolidge homestead in Plymouth Notch; provided that no portion of this appropriation shall be disbursed until evidence is provided to the department that the federal funds have been awarded.

(2)  The sum of $70,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the agency of commerce and community development for the Calvin Coolidge homestead to be used by the department to acquire an option to purchase the Hoskison property and to purchase an easement to access, install, and maintain components of a fire suppression system for the homestead; provided that any option acquired pursuant to this subdivision shall ensure that all sums paid to acquire the option and easement are credited against the purchase price; and further provided that, if all or a portion of the funds necessary for these purposes are received from non-state sources, then the balance of this appropriation shall be used for the purposes in subsection (d) of this section. 

(d)  The sum of $80,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the agency of commerce and community development for continued renovation of the Kent Tavern in Calais.

(Total appropriation – Section 5                                                             $430,000)

Sec. 6.  EDUCATION

(a)  The sum of $9,300,000 shall be expended by the department of education for state aid for school construction projects pursuant to section 3448 of Title 16, of which amount the sum of $5,300,000 shall be appropriated from capital funds in this act and the sum of $4,000,000 shall be from general funds appropriated by Sec. 255(b) of No. XXX of the Acts of 2005 (the Fiscal Year 2006 Appropriations Act); provided that, notwithstanding any provision of section 3448 of Title 16 or state board of education rule to the contrary:

(1)  Up to $5,256,245 of this appropriation shall be used to pay first awards to all projects on the state board’s prioritized list submitted to the legislature in January 2005 that initiated construction on or before December 31, 2004 and to pay final awards to all projects on that list that have completed construction on or before December 31, 2004; and

(2)  Up to $72,039 of this appropriation shall be used to pay costs associated with emergency shelters in schools.

(b)  The sum of $100,000 is appropriated to the department of education for regional technical education centers and comprehensive high schools to assist with the purchase of educational program equipment, to be distributed in equal amounts to each center and high school with no local matching funds required.

(c)  The sum of $500,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the Brattleboro Union High School District #6 in partial payment of the state’s obligation to pay 100 percent of the approved cost of the Windham Regional Career Center (Southeastern Vermont Career Education Center) project. 

(d)  The state board of education is directed to evaluate the method by which it assigns points to school projects and places them on a prioritized list.  It shall also consider ways in which it might integrate technical education centers, including the three proposed projects for which the state is obligated to provide 100 percent state aid, into the prioritization system or ways in which it might otherwise ensure a reasonably predictable payment schedule for such centers.  On or before January 15, 2006, the board shall report to the house and senate committees on institutions and on education regarding its evaluation, any changes it has made, and any recommendations it is proposing for legislation.

(e)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, including subdivision 3448(a)(5) of Title 16 requiring approval of a final application by the state board of education as a precondition to receipt of school construction aid, the sum of up to $16,044 is appropriated to the department of education for the Danville School District to equal 25 percent of construction aid for the state’s total share of costs incurred in 2004, if the district’s costs are deemed eligible by the commissioner of education under state board rules, and if the project was properly bid under section 559 of Title 16.  In no case shall the construction aid exceed 25 percent of the voter-approved cost of the project. 

(f)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary including subdivision 3448(a)(5) of Title 16 requiring approval of a final application by the state board of education as a precondition to receipt of school construction aid, the sum of up to $71,300 is appropriated to the department of education for the Middlebury Union High School District #3 to equal 25 percent of construction aid for the state’s total share of costs incurred in 2004 for health and safety improvements to its gymnasium, if the district’s costs are deemed eligible by the commissioner of education under state board rules and if the project was properly bid under section 559 of Title 16.  In no case shall the construction aid exceed 25 percent of the voter-approved cost of the project.

(g)  Notwithstanding any provision of law that might render an early education program ineligible for state school construction aid under chapter 123 of Title 15, the sum of $27,930 is appropriated to the department of education for the Orleans Central Supervisory Union to equal 30 percent construction aid for additional costs associated with construction of a community early education center in Barton, pursuant to the provisions by which funding was originally authorized as set forth in Sec. 67 of No. 149 of the Acts of the 2001 Adj. Sess. (2002).

(h)  The sum of $250,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the North Country Career Center project to finalize documents necessary for preliminary state review and a public bond vote. 

(Total appropriation – Section 6                                                         $6,265,274)

Sec. 7.  UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

The sum of $2,200,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the University of Vermont to assist with construction, renovation, and major facility maintenance to the university campus that advances the mission of the university to prepare the students to lead productive lives and to interpret and share knowledge for the benefit of Vermont and for society as a whole.  The university shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15 of each year, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.

(Total appropriation – Section 7                                                          $2,200,000)

Sec. 8.  VERMONT STATE COLLEGES

The sum of $1,200,000 is appropriated to the Vermont state colleges for major facility maintenance.

(Total appropriation – Section 8                                                           $1,200,000)

Sec. 9.  NATURAL RESOURCES

(a)  The sum of $7,550,000 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for water pollution grants and the state match for the pollution control and public drinking water supply program state revolving fund loans, all in accordance with chapter 55 of Title 10 and chapter 120 of Title 24 for projects on a list prepared by the agency of natural resources, dated May 20, 2003 entitled “Wastewater Project Phase-In List from the Capital Bill Conference Committee 2003 Legislative Session” and referenced in Sec. 55 of No. 63 of the Acts of 2003; provided that this appropriation shall include a grant of $200,000 to the Marshfield Village Water District to improve the existing water system, such that the public drinking water supplied by the Marshfield Village Water District meets state standards for uranium.

(b)  The sum of $2,810,000 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for the clean and clear program to accelerate the reduction of phosphorus discharges into Lake Champlain and other waters of the state; provided that this appropriation shall include a grant of $300,000 to assist the town of Chester to pay for the increased costs associated with its wastewater treatment facility upgrade.

(c)  The sum of $450,000 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for maintenance, repair, dismantling, and reconstruction of state-owned dams.

(d)  The sum of $1,000,000 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for the department of forests, parks and recreation for rehabilitation of aging state park infrastructure.

(e)  The sum of $50,000 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for wildlife habitat restoration.  If the agency contracts with non-state workers for some or all of the habitat restoration, then it shall be done on a competitive bid basis under best bid award criteria.

(f)  The sum of $100,000 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for the department of fish and wildlife to complete construction of a dining hall and education center at the Kehoe conservation camp in Castleton; provided that no part of any general fund appropriation or of this or any unspent portion of a previous capital appropriation for the camp shall be disbursed until evidence is provided to the secretary of the agency that the state’s lease of this facility has been renegotiated to provide the state with:

(1)  A lease term of 99 years; and

(2)  The right of first refusal in the event of a sale.

(g)  The sum of $270,000 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for the department of fish and wildlife to construct two site supervisor residences at the Ed Weed fish culture station; provided that the construction shall be directed by the department of buildings and general services.

(h)  The sum of $25,000 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for the Catamount Trail Association for the procurement of easements along the Catamount Trail.

(i)  The sum of $50,000 is appropriated to the agency of natural resources for the Green Mountain Club, Inc. for the procurement, in fee simple or by easement, of properties along the Long Trail. 

(Total appropriation – Section 9                                                         $12,305,000)

Sec. 10.  MILITARY

The sum of $100,000 is appropriated to the department of the military to address capital emergencies and maintenance projects identified by the department.

(Total appropriation – Section 10                                                            $100,000)

Sec. 11.  VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The sum of $50,000 is appropriated to the Vermont historical society for the final phase of renovating the former Spaulding Graded School in Barre, an education and research center known as the Vermont History Center.

(Total appropriation – Section 11                                                              $50,000)

Sec. 12.  PUBLIC SAFETY

(a)  The sum of $2,850,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the department of public safety to finalize construction and fit-up of a new state police station in Addison County to replace the station currently located in Middlebury, to replace funds originally appropriated to this project and subsequently transferred for use in connection with the construction of a new Bethel/Royalton state police station.

(b)  The sum of $150,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the department of public safety for renovations to state police stations in Middlesex, Bradford, Rockingham, and Rutland.

(Total appropriation – Section 12                                                     $3,000,000)

Sec. 13.  CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND FIRE SERVICE TRAINING COUNCILS

(a)  The sum of $100,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the Vermont criminal justice training council in Pittsford for creation of a streetscape training building. 

(b)  The sum of $30,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the Vermont criminal justice and fire service training council site in Pittsford as the state match required for the acquisition and placement of an emergency generator; provided, if federal funding is not awarded on or before July 1, 2005 for this purpose, this appropriation shall be disbursed to Vermont Public Television for the purposes set forth in Sec. 17 of this act.

(c)  The sum of $225,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the Vermont fire service training council in Pittsford to design a Vermont emergency service training classroom at the Pittsford training academy.

(Total appropriation – Section 13                                                         $355,000)

Sec. 14.  AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND MARKETS

(a)  The sum of $1,800,000 is appropriated to the agency of agriculture, food and markets, best management practice implementation cost share program, for agricultural nonpoint source pollution reduction.  Farmers participating in this program may receive a maximum of 50 percent of state aid when no federal dollars are available.

(b)  The sum of $300,000 is appropriated to the agency of agriculture, food and markets as a 20 percent state match for the federal conservation reserve enhancement program.

(c)  The sum of $100,000 is appropriated to the agency of agriculture, food and markets for the competitive grants program for state fair capital projects.  No single entity shall be awarded more than ten percent of this appropriation.

(Total appropriation – Section 14                                                         $2,200,000)

Sec. 15.  VERMONT RURAL FIRE PROTECTION

The sum of $100,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the Vermont rural fire protection task force to continue the dry hydrant program.

(Total appropriation – Section 15                                                            $100,000)

Sec. 16.  BUILDING COMMUNITIES GRANTS

(a)  The following sums are appropriated to the agency of commerce and community development, division for historic preservation, for:

(1)  The historic preservation grant program:                          200,000

(2)  The historic barns preservation grant program:                             100,000

(b)  The sum of $200,000 is appropriated to the agency of commerce and community development, division for historic preservation, for the cultural facilities competitive grant program, to be administered by the Vermont Arts Council and made available on a one‑for-one matching basis with funds raised from nonstate sources; no such grant shall be available for a project receiving funding from any other appropriation of this act.  No portion of this appropriation shall be used to pay salaries.  The appropriation shall be awarded on a competitive basis.  In recommending grant awards, a review panel shall give priority consideration to applicants who demonstrate greater financial need or are in underserved areas of the state. 

(c)  The sum of $200,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the recreational and educational facilities grant program established in Sec. 32 of this act.

(d)  The sum of $200,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the human service grant program established in Sec. 33 of this act.

(Total appropriation – Section 16                                                         $900,000)

Sec. 17.  VERMONT PUBLIC TELEVISION

The sum of $300,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for Vermont Public Television for either or a portion of both of the following purposes:

(1)  The federally mandated conversion of Vermont Public Television’s transmission sites to digital broadcasting format. 

(2)  Vermont Public Television’s share of the costs of a state-mandated collocation project on Mount Mansfield.

(Total appropriation – Section 17                                                          $300,000)

Sec. 18.  VERMONT INTERACTIVE TELEVISION

The sum of $60,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for Vermont Interactive Television to purchase equipment necessary for the creation of a new interactive television site to be located in Montpelier. 

(Total appropriation – Section 18                                                              $60,000)

Sec. 19.  VERMONT VETERANS’ HOME

The sum of $300,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the Vermont Veterans’ Home for the state share of a new heating plant.

(Total appropriation – Section 19                                                            $300,000)

Sec. 20.  VERMONT VETERANS’ MEMORIAL CEMETERY

The sum of $250,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the Vermont Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery Advisory Board for cemetery expansion design; provided that when the state receives federal reimbursement for this appropriation, the general assembly shall be notified, and the funds shall be reallocated for future capital appropriations.

(Total appropriation – Section 20                                                            $250,000)

* * * Financing this Act * * *

Sec. 21.  REALLOCATION OF FUNDS

Of the amount received from the sale of state-owned land in the town of Duxbury, authorized by No. 102 of the Acts of the 1995 Adj. Sess. (1996), the sum of $173,162 is reallocated to the department of buildings and general services to defray expenditures authorized in Sec. 1 of this act.

(Total reallocation– Section 21                                                                $173,162)

Sec. 22.  GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS

The state treasurer is authorized to issue general obligation bonds in the amount of $45,000,000 for the purpose of funding the appropriations of this act.  The state treasurer, with the approval of the governor, shall determine the appropriate form and maturity of the bonds authorized by this section consistent with the underlying nature of the appropriation to be funded.  The state treasurer shall allocate the estimated cost of bond issuance, or issuances, to the entities to which funds are appropriated pursuant to this section and for which bonding is required as the source of funds, pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 954.

(Total bonding – Section 22                                                               $45,000,000)

* * * Managing this Act * * *

Sec. 23.  REALLOCATION; TRANSFER OF FUNDS

(a)  Historic sites.  The commissioner of buildings and general services may reallocate the funds in Sec. 5(a) of this act (commerce and community development) to state historic sites other than those presented to the general assembly during the 2005 legislative session only for major maintenance, should a more pressing need arise following the legislative session.

(b)  Natural resources.  The secretary of natural resources, with the approval of the secretary of administration, may transfer any unexpended project balances between projects authorized in Sec. 9(a) and (d) of this act (natural resources).

(c)  Southeast state correctional facility.  The commissioner of buildings and general services may expend up to $125,000 from appropriations made in this or previous capital acts for the purpose of developing a test site for a biomass-fueled cogeneration system at the southeast state correctional facility in Windsor.  These funds may be transferred in whole or in part to the biomass energy resource council for purposes of fulfilling its grant obligations in connection with this project.

Sec. 24.  ACCEPTANCE OF GRANTS AND OTHER FUNDS

(a)  Notwithstanding section 5 of Title 32 (acceptance of grants):

(1)  The commissioner of environmental conservation, with the approval of the secretary of natural resources, may accept federal grants made available through the federal Clean Water Act and the federal Drinking Water Act in accordance with chapter 120 of Title 24.  Acceptance of this grant money is hereby approved, provided all notifications are made under subsection 4760(a) of Title 24.

(2)  The commissioner of corrections, with the approval of the secretary of human services, may accept federal grants made available through federal crime bill legislation. 

(3)  The commissioner of buildings and general services may accept grants of funds, equipment, and services from any source, including federal appropriations, for the installation, operation, implementation, or maintenance of energy conservation measures or improvements at state buildings.

(4)  The commissioner of buildings and general services may accept grants of funds from the National Cemetery Administration for the design cost reimbursement for the Vermont Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery expansion authorized by Sec. 20 of this act.

(5)  The commissioner of buildings and general services may accept grant funds received by the town of Pittsford for a power generator, which may be made available for the purchase and installation of an emergency power generator at the Vermont criminal justice and fire service training facility in Pittsford, Vermont.  These funds may be used to defray or supplement costs in Sec. 13(b) of this act.

(6)  The commissioner of buildings and general services may accept federal grant funds in connection with the state health and forensic laboratories.  These funds may be used to defray or supplement costs in Sec. 1(3) of this act.

(b)  Each receipt of a grant or gift authorized by this section shall be reported by the commissioner of the department receiving the funds to the chairs of the house and senate committees on institutions and to the joint fiscal committee. 

* * * Buildings and General Services; State Buildings * * *

Sec. 25.  PROJECTS FUNDED IN PRIOR YEARS

The commissioner of buildings and general services is authorized to use funds appropriated under this act for capital projects requiring additional support that were funded with capital or general appropriations made in prior years.

Sec. 26.  PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS; BRANDON

Notwithstanding any provision of Sec. 1(b) of No. 59 of the Acts of 1993 or Sec. 23 of No. 62 of the Acts of 1995 to the contrary, the amount received from the sale of state-owned land in the town of Brandon, authorized by No. 59 of the Acts of 1993, which is anticipated to be in the amount of $400,000 more or less after payment of costs and fees associated with the sale, shall be disbursed to the department of education for regional technical education centers and comprehensive high schools to assist with the purchase of educational program equipment to be distributed in equal amounts to each center and high school with no local matching funds required.

Sec. 27.  PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS; VERMONT STATE POLICE FACILITIES

(a)  Addison and Franklin Counties.  If necessary construction permits for the new Addison County state police station in New Haven are not issued by October 1, 2005, the commissioner of buildings and general services is authorized, at his or her discretion, to use the funds appropriated in Sec. 12 of this act to begin construction of a new state police station in St. Albans, provided that the station shall be designed and constructed, to the extent feasible, using the “prototype” plans developed for the Vermont state police stations.

(b)  Windham County.  The commissioner of buildings and general services is authorized to use funds provided by the department of public safety to make improvements and renovations to the state police station in Brattleboro and to construct an adjacent garage.  The estimated cost of these improvements is approximately $40,000.

Sec. 28.  REPEAL

Sec. 86 of No. 121 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004) (St. Albans state police facility; development agreement) is repealed. 

Sec. 29.  STATE OFFICES; CHITTENDEN AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES

(a)  In order to accommodate state infrastructure needs, the commissioner of buildings and general services shall hire one or more consultants to evaluate existing and potential state office space in Chittenden and Washington Counties.  The consultant’s consideration of office space currently owned or occupied by the state (the “State Buildings”) shall focus primarily on those State Buildings located at 50 Cherry Street (the Formac Building) in Burlington; 108 Cherry Street (the Zampieri Office Building) in Burlington; 195 Colchester Avenue (health laboratory) in Burlington; 1193 North Avenue (the Thayer School) in Burlington; 59 Pearl Street in Burlington; the state police barracks in Williston; and the state forensic laboratory in Waterbury.     

(b)  In performing the work required by this section, the consultant or consultants shall:

(1)  Evaluate the suitability of the physical structure to support the provision of programs and services currently offered or proposed to be offered in the State Buildings.

(2)  Explore and evaluate opportunities to purchase real property in Chittenden and Washington Counties, to redevelop one or more of the State Buildings, or to do both, in order to more efficiently provide the programs and services currently offered or proposed to be offered in the State Buildings.

(3)  Appraise the property value of one or more of the State Buildings and explore and evaluate opportunities for their sale.

(4)  Develop a comprehensive proposal to meet state infrastructure needs, which proposal may include purchase of real property, redevelopment of one or more of the State Buildings, sale of one or more of the State Buildings, and relocation of the programs and services currently offered in the State Buildings.

(c)  On or before December 1, 2005, the commissioner of buildings and general services shall present the comprehensive proposal, together with the supporting evaluations, to the house and senate committees on institutions together with a request for any legislation necessary to accomplish the proposal.  The commissioner’s presentation shall include a detailed financial analysis of the impact the proposal might have on future capital and general fund appropriations.    

(d)  If, during a time in 2005 when the general assembly is not in session, the commissioner of buildings and general services believes that it will advance the purposes of this section to enter into an option to purchase real property, then, notwithstanding 29 V.S.A. § 152(a)(3)(B), the commissioner is authorized to do so only after first obtaining the approval of at least three of the following members of the general assembly:  the chairs and vice chairs of the house and senate committees on institutions or their designees. 

(e)  Capital appropriations made in this or any previous act for the health and forensic laboratories may be used to perform the work required in subsections (a) through (c) of this section.

Sec. 30.  REPORT; CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICERS

On or before January 15, 2006, the commissioner of buildings and general services shall present to the house and senate committees on institutions a detailed plan, including a timeline and the anticipated capital appropriations that would be needed, by which the offices of the governor, the attorney general, the treasurer, and the secretary of state could be located at 109 State Street in Montpelier.  In connection with this process, the commissioner shall contract for an appraisal of the Redstone Building, so-called, and shall provide proposals to the committees for future use of this site.

Sec. 31.  WASHINGTON DISTRICT COURT; TERRY TRONO COURTROOM

The “Terry Trono Courtroom” shall be the name of Courtroom #2 of the Washington District Court in Barre.  The department of buildings and general services shall work with Mr. Trono’s family to design a plaque which the department shall erect outside the courtroom.

Sec. 32.  RECREATIONAL AND EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES GRANT PROGRAM

(a)  Creation of Program.  There is created a recreational and educational facilities grant program to provide competitive grants to municipalities as defined in chapter 117 of Title 24 and to nonprofit organizations for capital costs associated with the development and creation of community recreational and educational opportunities in Vermont communities.  The program is authorized to award matching grants of up to $25,000 per project, provided that grant funds shall be awarded only when evidence is presented by a successful applicant that three dollars have been raised from nonstate sources for every one dollar awarded under this program.

(b)  Creation of committee.  There is established a recreational and educational facilities grant advisory committee.  The committee shall consist of the commissioners of forests, parks and recreation and of buildings and general services, or the commissioners’ designees; a representative of the Vermont Recreation and Parks Association; two members of the Vermont general assembly, one appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives and one appointed by the senate committee on committees; a representative of the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council; and one citizen member to be appointed by the governor.  The members of the committee shall select a chair.  The citizen member shall serve for a term of two years or until his or her successor is appointed. 

(c)  Process.  The recreational facilities grant advisory committee shall coordinate and administer the recreational facilities grant program.  On or before July 1, 2005, the commissioner of buildings and general services shall convene an initial meeting of the committee, during which the committee shall begin to develop an application form and establish criteria under which applications will be evaluated.  The committee shall also establish a process that ensures:

(1)  the efficient review of applications;

(2)  the equitable selection of grant recipients; and

(3)  the accountability of grant recipients. 

(d)  Before it notifies an applicant that it will be awarded a grant, the recreational facilities grant advisory committee shall provide notice of the award and the time and location of any award presentation to the chairs of the house and senate committees on institutions and to those members of the general assembly who represent the area in which a successful applicant resides.

(e)  The department of buildings and general services shall provide administrative support to the program.

Sec. 33.  HUMAN SERVICES; COMPETITIVE GRANT PROGRAM

(a)  Creation of program.  There is created a human services grant program to provide competitive grants to municipalities as defined in chapter 117 of Title 24 and to nonprofit organizations for capital costs associated with the major maintenance, renovation, or development of facilities for the delivery of human services and health care in Vermont communities.  The program is authorized to award matching grants of up to $25,000 per project, provided that grant funds shall be awarded only when evidence is presented by a successful applicant that at least three dollars have been raised from nonstate sources for every dollar awarded under this program.

(b)  Creation of committee.  There is established a human services grant advisory committee.  The committee shall consist of the secretary of human services or the secretary’s designee; the commissioner of buildings and general services or the commissioner’s designee; two members of the Vermont general assembly, one appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives and one appointed by the senate committee on committees; and three representatives of broad-based community organizations such as the United Way of Vermont or the Vermont Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations who shall be selected and appointed by the governor.  The members of the committee shall select a chair.  The members appointed by the governor shall serve for terms of two years or until their successors are appointed.

(c)  Process.  The human services grant advisory committee shall coordinate and administer the human services grant program.  On or before July 1, 2005, the commissioner of buildings and general services shall convene an initial meeting of the committee, during which the committee shall begin to develop an application form and establish criteria under which applications will be evaluated.  The committee shall also establish a process that ensures:

(1)  the efficient review of applications;

(2)  the equitable selection of grant recipients; and

(3)  the accountability of grant recipients. 

(d)  Before it notifies an applicant that it will be awarded a grant, the recreational facilities grant advisory committee shall provide notice of the award and the time and location of any award presentation to the chairs of the house and senate committees on institutions and to those members of the general assembly who represent the area in which a successful applicant resides.

(e)  The department of buildings and general services shall provide administrative support to the program.

Sec. 34.  STUDY; COMMUNITY GRANTS

(a)  On or before September 1, 2005, the commissioner of buildings and general services shall convene a meeting of one or more representatives from each of the entities responsible for the grant programs for which appropriations are made in Sec. 16 of this act.  At this and any necessary subsequent meetings, the representatives shall discuss ways in which the grant programs might be coordinated and made more uniform.  Discussions shall include the following:

(1)  Development of a unified application form for use in all programs.

(2)  Establishment of simultaneous deadlines for submission of applications and notification of awards.

(3)  Inclusion of legislators as members of the grant-making entities. 

(b)  On or before January 15, 2006, the grant program representatives shall present to the house and senate committees on institutions recommendations for coordinating and improving the programs, together with a timeline for achieving these recommendations and a request for any legislation necessary to accomplish the desired results.  

Sec. 35.  CRIME VICTIMS’ GARDEN

Notwithstanding any provision of chapter 6 of Title 29, the department of buildings and general services shall design and site a Crime Victims’ Garden at the space between the buildings at 10 and 12 Baldwin Street.

Sec. 36.  STATE BUILDINGS; ADDITIONAL SPACE

When a department or other division of state government requests additional space or a change in space, the commissioner of buildings and general services shall provide details to the requesting entity and the commissioner of finance of all anticipated costs associated with the request.

Sec. 37.  WATERBURY STATE COMPLEX; GENERATOR

The secretary of natural resources shall consider whether it is possible, without compromising the objectives of air pollution control regulations, to permit the Waterbury state complex generator to continue to be used, on a time-limited basis, for purposes other than as an emergency generator.  The secretary shall report to the house and senate committees on institutions on or before January 15, 2006 regarding this section.

* * * UVM and State Colleges * * *

Sec. 38.  SPENDING AND BONDING AUTHORIZATION; VERMONT STATE COLLEGES

In conformity with subsection 2171(e) of Title 16, the general assembly approves the expenditure by the Vermont state colleges from its revenues, other than state appropriations, and from its self-generated revenues established for the purpose of capital improvements on housing, dining, and general purpose facilities, to an aggregate of $1 million for necessary capital improvements.

* * * Natural Resources * * *

Sec. 39.  MUNICIPAL SALT AND SALTED SAND PILE SHEDS

On or before October 15, 2005, the agency of natural resources, in consultation with the department of buildings and general services and the agency of transportation, shall develop one or more prototype designs for covering municipal salt and salted sand piles to comply with the multisector general permit requirements for stormwater discharges established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.  In developing the design or designs, the agencies and department shall use the most cost‑effective design concepts that comply with the requirements of federal law.

Sec. 40.  INVASIVE AQUATIC PLANTS; CAPITAL APPROPRIATIONS

On or before January 15, 2006, the secretary of natural resources, in consultation with the Lake Champlain Basin Program, shall prepare and submit to the house and senate committees on institutions a detailed plan of action to eradicate and prevent future growth of invasive aquatic plants in Lake Champlain, which plan shall include timelines and an estimate of the associated capital fund appropriations that will be needed.

* * * Effective Date * * *

Sec. 41.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on passage.  The sums appropriated and spending authority authorized by this act shall be continuing and shall not revert at the end of the fiscal year.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Concurrent Resolutions for Notice Under Joint Rule 16

     The following concurrent resolutions have been introduced for approval by the House and Senate and have been printed in the Senate and House Addendum to today’s calendars. These will be adopted automatically unless a member requests floor consideration before the end of the session of the next legislative day.  Requests for floor consideration should be communicated to the Clerk of the House or to a member of his staff.

(For text of Resolutions, see Addendum to House and Senate Notice Calendar for Thursday, April 21, 2005)

H.C.R.  100

House concurrent resolution congratulating the St. Johnsbury Town Band on the occasion of its 175th anniversary

H.C.R.  101

House concurrent resolution honoring Gary Rosen for his outstanding work in the performing arts

H.C.R.  102

House concurrent resolution congratulating Taylor Coppenrath of West Barnet on the conclusion of his historic basketball career as a University of Vermont Catamount

H.C.R.  103

House concurrent resolution honoring University of Vermont basketball coach Tom Brennan

S.C.R. 29

  Senate concurrent resolution congratulating the People's Health and Wellness Clinic on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

S.C.R. 30

  Senate concurrent resolution congratulating Dale Wells on his selection as the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year.

 

 

 

 

INFORMATION NOTICE

The following items were recently received by the Joint Fiscal Committee:

            JFO #2206 –$200,000 grant from the National Association of Attorneys General to the office of the Vermont Attorney General.  These funds will be used to retain outside counsel in connection with anticipated enforcement action against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company relating to “Eclipse” cigarettes.  [JFO received 04/13/05]

 

            JFO #2207 – Request from the Department of Public Safety to establish two (2) new limited service positions:  Homeland Security Program Planner.  These sponsored positions are 100% federally funded and associated with activities in connection with a continuing annual Department of Homeland Security grant.  [JFO received 04/15/05]

 

            JFO #2208 – Request from the Department of Public Safety to establish one (1) new limited service position:  Grants Management  Specialist.  This sponsored position is 100% federally funded and associated with activities in connection with a continuing annual U.S. Department of Justice Methamphetamine grant.  [JFO received 04/15/05 ]