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H.879

AN ACT RELATING TO UNIVERSAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  30 V.S.A. § 7503(f) is added to read:

(f)  The fiscal agent acts as a fiduciary and holds funds in trust for the ratepayers until the funds have been disbursed as provided pursuant to sections 7511 through 7515 of this chapter.

Sec. 2.  30 V.S.A. § 7523 is amended to read:

§ 7523.  RATE ADJUSTED ANNUALLY

(a)  Annually before April 15, the department of public service shall petition the public service board to establish distribution amounts for the ensuing fiscal year for purposes of the Vermont telecommunications relay service under section 7512 of this title and of the Vermont lifeline program under section 7513 of this title.  The department’s petition shall also propose a universal service charge for the ensuing fiscal year.

(b)  The Annually, after considering the probable expenditures for programs funded pursuant to this chapter, the probable service revenues of the industry and seeking recommendations from the department, the public service board shall establish a rate of charge under section 7521 of this title to meet the funding obligations under this chapter to apply during the 12 months beginning on the following September 1.  However, the rate so established shall not at any time exceed two percent of retail telecommunications service.  The board’s decision shall be entered and announced each year not later than June before July 15.  However, if the general assembly does not enact an authorization amount for E-911 before May July 15, the Board board may defer decision until 30 days after the E-911 authorization is established, and the existing charge rate shall remain in effect until the board establishes a new rate.

Sec. 3.  30 V.S.A. § 7525(f) is added to read:

(f)  Payments, interest, and penalties due under this chapter may be collected by civil actions in the courts of this state initiated in the name of the state or fiscal agent.

Sec. 4.  30 V.S.A. § 218a(b), (c), (d), and (f) are amended to read:

(b)  The department of public service shall issue a request for proposal seeking competitive bids from qualified vendors to provide telecommunications relay services and competitive bids from qualified vendors to provide telecommunications equipment in accordance with the provisions of this section, including the standards developed under subsection (a) of this section.  The department shall file its recommendations and any proposed contract or contracts with the public service board for review and approval. The term of any contract shall not exceed four years.

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

(d)  Upon approval of a contract by the public service board pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the The department of public service shall establish a Vermont telecommunications relay service advisory council composed of the following members: one representative of the department of public service, who shall act as chair and who shall be designated by the commissioner of public service; one representative of the department of aging and disabilities disabilities, aging, and independent living, who shall act as vice-chair; two representatives of the deaf community; one member of the hard of hearing or speech impaired community; one representative of a company providing local exchange service within the state; and one representative of an organization currently providing telecommunications relay services.  The members of the council who are not officers or employees of the state shall receive per diem compensation and expense reimbursement in amounts authorized by section subsection 1010(b) of Title 32.  The costs of such compensation and reimbursement, and any other necessary administrative costs shall be included within the contract approved by the board entered into under subsection (c) of this section.  The Vermont telecommunications relay service advisory council shall advise the department of public service and the contractor for telecommunications relay services on all matters concerning the implementation and administration of the state’s telecommunications relay service.

(f)  The costs of the state’s telecommunications relay service and any equipment benefit under subsection (e) of this section shall be included as part of the telephone lifeline Vermont universal service fund program established under subsection 218(c) of this title.  The board shall administer such costs through its dockets implementing the telephone lifeline program.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us