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SENATE PROPOSAL OF AMENDMENT 2007-2008

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H.313

 

An act relating to the administration and enforcement of fines within the judicial bureau

     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:

Sec. 1.  4 V.S.A. § 1105 is amended to read:

§ 1105.  ANSWER TO COMPLAINT; DEFAULT

(a)  A violation shall be charged upon a summons and complaint form approved and distributed by the court administrator.  The complaint shall be signed by the issuing officer or by the state’s attorney.  The original shall be filed with the judicial bureau, a copy shall be retained by the issuing officer or state’s attorney and two copies shall be given to the defendant.  The complaint shall include a statement of rights, instructions, notice that a defendant may admit, not contest, or deny a violation, notice of the fee for failure to answer within 20 days, and other notices as the court administrator deems appropriate.  The court administrator, in consultation with appropriate law enforcement agencies, may approve a single form for charging all violations, or may approve two or more forms as necessary to administer the operations of the judicial bureau.

(b)  A person who is charged with a violation shall have 20 days from the date the complaint is issued to admit or deny the allegations or to state that he or she does not contest the allegations in the complaint.  The judicial bureau shall assess against a defendant a fee of $10.00 for failure to answer a complaint within the time allowed.  The fee shall be assessed in the default judgment and deposited in the court technology special fund established pursuant to section 27 of this title.

(c)  A person who admits or does not contest the allegations may so indicate and sign the complaint.  The bureau shall accept the admission or statement that the allegations are not contested and accept payment of the waiver penalty.

(d)  If the person sends in the amount of the waiver penalty without signing the complaint, the bureau shall accept the payment indicating that payment was made and that the allegations were not contested.

(e)  A person who denies the allegations may so indicate and sign the complaint.  Upon receipt, the bureau shall schedule a hearing.

(f)  If a person fails to appear or answer a complaint the bureau shall enter a default judgment against the person.  The bureau shall mail a notice to the person that a default judgment has been entered.  A default judgment may be set aside by the hearing officer for good cause shown.

(g)  All judicial bureau judgments shall contain a notice of tax setoff pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5941.


Sec. 2.  4 V.S.A. § 1109 is added to read:

§ 1109.  REMEDIES FOR FAILURE TO PAY

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Amount due” means all financial assessments contained in a judicial bureau judgment, including penalties, fines, surcharges, court costs, and any other assessment authorized by law.

(2)  “Designated collection agency” means a collection agency designated by the court administrator.

(3)  “Designated credit bureau” means a credit bureau designated by the court administrator or the court administrator’s designee.

(b)  A judicial bureau judgment shall provide notice that a $15.00 fee shall be assessed for failure to pay within 30 days.  If the defendant fails to pay the amount due within 30 days, the fee shall be added to the judgment amount and deposited in the court technology special fund established pursuant to section 27 of this title.

(c)  Civil contempt proceedings.  If an amount due remains unpaid for 75 days after the judicial bureau provides the defendant with a notice of judgment, the judicial bureau may initiate civil contempt proceedings pursuant to this subsection.

(1)  Notice of hearing.  The judicial bureau shall provide notice by first class mail sent to the defendant’s last known address that a contempt hearing will be held pursuant to this subsection, and that failure to appear at the contempt hearing may result in the sanctions listed in subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(2)  Failure to appear.  If the defendant fails to appear at the contempt hearing, the hearing officer may direct the clerk of the judicial bureau to:

(A)  cause the matter to be reported to one or more designated credit bureaus; or

(B)  refer the matter to district court for contempt proceedings.

(3)  Hearing.  The hearing shall be conducted in a summary manner.  The hearing officer shall examine the defendant and any other witnesses and may require the defendant to produce documents relevant to the defendant’s ability to pay the amount due.  The state or municipality shall not be a party except with the permission of the hearing officer.  The defendant may be represented by counsel at the defendant’s own expense.

(4)  Contempt.

(A)  The hearing officer may conclude that the defendant is in contempt if the hearing officer states in written findings a factual basis for concluding that:

(i)  the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that he or she owed an amount due on a judicial bureau judgment;

(ii)  the defendant had the ability to pay all or any portion of the amount due; and

(iii)  the defendant failed to pay all or any portion of the amount due.

(B)  In the contempt order, the hearing officer may do one or more of the following:

(i)  Set a date by which the defendant shall pay the amount due.

(ii)  Assess an additional penalty not to exceed ten percent of the amount due.

(iii)  Direct the clerk of the judicial bureau to cause the matter to be reported to one or more designated credit bureaus.  The court administrator or the court administrator’s designee is authorized to contract with one or more credit bureaus for the purpose of reporting information about unpaid judicial bureau judgments.

(iv)  Recommend that the district court incarcerate the defendant until the amount due is paid.  If incarceration is recommended pursuant to this subdivision (4), the judicial bureau shall notify the district court that contempt proceedings should be commenced against the defendant.  The district court proceedings shall be de novo.  If the defendant cannot afford counsel for the contempt proceedings in district court, the defender general shall assign counsel at the defender general’s expense.

(d)  Collections.

(1)  If an amount due remains unpaid after the issuance of a notice of judgment, the court administrator may authorize the clerk of the judicial bureau to refer the matter to a designated collection agency.

(2)  The court administrator or the court administrator’s designee is authorized to contract with one or more collection agencies for the purpose of collecting unpaid judicial bureau judgments pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 7171.

(e)  For purposes of civil contempt proceedings, venue shall be statewide.

(f)  Notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 502, the court administrator is authorized to contract with a third party to collect fines, penalties, and fees by credit card, debit card, charge card, prepaid card, stored value card, and direct bank account withdrawals or transfers, as authorized by 32 V.S.A. § 583, and to add on and collect, or charge against collections, a processing charge in an amount approved by the court administrator.

Sec. 3.  4 V.S.A. § 1110 is added to read:

§ 1110.  Licenses or governmental contracts

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Agency” means any unit of state government, including agencies, departments, boards, commissions, authorities, or public corporations.

(2)  “Contract” means a contract for the provision of goods, services, or real estate space.

(3)  “License” means any license, certification, or registration issued by an agency to conduct a trade or business, including a license to practice a profession or occupation, or a license required to engage in recreational activities, including licenses to hunt, fish, or trap.

(b)  Every applicant for a license shall sign a statement that the applicant is in good standing with respect to any unpaid judgment issued by the judicial bureau or district court for fines or penalties for a violation or criminal offense.  A license may not be issued or renewed without such a statement.

(c)  No agency shall enter into, extend, or renew any contract unless the person submits a statement that the person is in good standing with respect to any unpaid judgment issued by the judicial bureau or district court for fines or penalties for a violation or criminal offense as of the date the contract is made.

(d)  For the purposes of this section, a person is in good standing with respect to any unpaid judgment issued by the judicial bureau or district court for fines or penalties for a violation or criminal offense if:

(1)  60 days or fewer have elapsed since the date a judgment was issued; or

(2)  the person is in compliance with a repayment plan approved by the judiciary.


Sec. 4.  13 V.S.A. § 7171 is amended to read:

§ 7171.  Collection by complaint, information, or

               indictment

(a)  Fines, forfeitures, and penalties incurred or imposed by statute may be recovered by complaint, information, or indictment, unless some other mode of recovery is specially provided.

(b)  The attorney general court administrator is authorized to contract with private collection agencies for collection of fines, forfeitures, fees and penalties, fines, surcharges, court costs, and any other assessment authorized by law incurred or imposed by statute on persons who have failed to pay after reasonable notification of the debt, and the risk that the debt may be referred to a collection agency and that the debtor will be liable for the collection agency’s fee.  The attorney general and the court administrator may agree to pay collection agencies a fee based on a fixed rate for services rendered or a percentage of the amount actually collected by such agencies and remitted to the state.  Notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 502, the attorney general may charge against such collections an agreed‑upon fixed rate or percentage of collections  The debtor shall be liable for the collection agency’s fee, in addition to the judgment amount.  The collection agency shall deduct its fee from the collected amount and remit the balance to the judiciary.  All collection agency fees shall be governed by the contract with the court administrator and shall be clearly disclosed in all notices sent by the collection agency to the debtor.

Sec. 5.  23 V.S.A. § 2307 is amended to read:

§ 2307.  REMEDIES FOR FAILURE TO PAY TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS

(a)  As used in this section:,

(1)  “Amount “amount due” means all financial assessments contained in a judicial bureau judgment, including penalties, fines, surcharges, court costs, and any other assessment authorized by law.

(2)  “Designated collection agency” means a collection agency designated by the court administrator.

(3)  “Designated credit bureau” means a credit bureau designated by the court administrator or the court administrator’s designee.

(b)  Notice of risk of suspension.  A judgment for a traffic violation shall contain a notice that failure to pay or otherwise satisfy the amount due within 20 30 days of the notice will result in suspension of the person’s operator’s license or privilege to operate, and the denial, if the person is the sole registrant, of the person’s application for renewal of a motor vehicle registration, until the amount due is paid or otherwise satisfied.  If the defendant fails to pay the amount due within 20 30 days of the notice and the case is not pending on appeal, the judicial bureau shall provide electronic notice thereof to the commissioner of motor vehicles who, after 20 days from the date of receiving the electronic notice, shall suspend the person’s operator’s license or privilege to operate and deny, if the person is the sole registrant, the person’s application for renewal of a motor vehicle registration until the amount due is paid or otherwise satisfied. 

(c)  Civil contempt proceedings.  If an amount due remains unpaid for 45 days after the judicial bureau provides the defendant with a notice of risk of suspension pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the judicial bureau may initiate civil contempt proceedings pursuant to this subsection.  During proceedings conducted pursuant to 4 V.S.A. § 1109, the hearing officer may apply the following mitigation remedies when the judgment is based upon a traffic violation:

(1)  Notice of hearing.  The judicial bureau shall provide notice by first class mail sent to the defendant’s last known address that a contempt hearing will be held pursuant to this subsection and that failure to appear at the contempt hearing may result in the sanctions listed in subdivision (c)(2) of this section and subject to procedures for tax setoffs under 32 V.S.A. § 5941.

(2)  Failure to appear.  If the defendant fails to appear at the contempt hearing, the hearing officer may direct the clerk of the judicial bureau to:

(A)  cause the matter to be reported to one or more designated credit bureaus; or

(B)  refer the matter to district court for contempt proceedings.

(3)  Hearing.  The hearing shall be conducted in a summary manner.  The hearing officer shall examine the defendant and any other witnesses and may require the defendant to produce documents relevant to the defendant’s ability to pay the amount due.  The state or municipality shall not be a party except with the permission of the hearing officer.  The defendant may be represented by counsel at the defendant’s own expense.

(4)  Mitigation remedies.

(A)(1)  The hearing officer may waive the reinstatement fee required by section 675 of this title or reduce the amount due on the basis of:

(i)(A)  the defendant’s driving history, ability to pay, or service to the community;

(ii)(B)  the collateral consequences of the violation; or

(iii)(C)  the interests of justice.

(B)(2)  The hearing officer may specify a date by which the defendant shall pay the amount due and may notify the commissioner of motor vehicles to reinstate the defendant’s operator’s license or privilege subject to payment of the amount due by the specified date.  If the defendant fails to pay the amount due by the specified date, the judicial bureau may notify the commissioner to suspend the defendant’s operator’s license or privilege.  A license may be reinstated under this subdivision only if the defendant’s license is suspended solely for failure to pay a judicial bureau judgment.

(C)(3)  The judicial officer shall have sole discretion to determine mitigation remedies pursuant to this subdivision, and the judicial officer’s determination shall not be subject to review or appeal in any court, tribunal, or administrative office.

(5)  Contempt.

(A)  The hearing officer may conclude that the defendant is in contempt if the hearing officer states in written findings a factual basis for concluding that:

(i)  The defendant knew or reasonably should have known that he or she owed an amount due on a judicial bureau judgment;

(ii)  The defendant had the ability to pay all or any portion of the amount due; and

(iii)  The defendant failed to pay all or any portion of the amount due.

(B)  The hearing officer may in the contempt order do one or more of the following:

(i)  Set a date by which the defendant shall pay the amount due;

(ii)  Assess an additional penalty not to exceed ten percent of the amount due;

(iii)  Direct the clerk of the judicial bureau to cause the matter to be reported to one or more designated credit bureaus.  The court administrator or the court administrator’s designee is authorized to contract with one or more credit bureaus for the purpose of reporting information about unpaid judicial bureau judgments; and

(iv)  Recommend that the district court incarcerate the defendant until the amount due is paid.  If incarceration is recommended pursuant to this subdivision, the judicial bureau shall notify the district court that contempt proceedings should be commenced against the defendant.  If the defendant cannot afford counsel for the contempt proceedings in district court, the defender general shall assign counsel at the defender general’s expense.

(d)  Collections.

(1)  If an amount due remains unpaid for one year after the issuance of a notice of risk of suspension pursuant to subsection (b) of this section and the defendant has failed to appear at a judicial bureau contempt hearing, the court administrator may authorize the clerk of the judicial bureau to refer the matter to a designated collection agency.

(2)(A)  The court administrator or the court administrator’s designee is authorized to contract with one or more collection agencies for the purpose of collecting unpaid judicial bureau judgments.

(B)  The court administrator may authorize a collection agency to settle a judicial bureau judgment for less than the amount due and to retain a portion of the amount collected for its services.  The judgment amount shall be reduced in the judicial bureau records to reflect the settlement amount and the fee retained by the collection agency.

(e)  For purposes of civil contempt proceedings, venue shall be statewide.

(f)  Notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 502, the court administrator is authorized to contract with a third party to collect fines, penalties, and fees by credit card, debit card, charge card, prepaid card, stored value card, and direct bank account withdrawals or transfers, as authorized by 32 V.S.A. § 583, and to add on and collect a processing charge in an amount approved by the court administrator.

Sec. 6.  23 V.S.A. § 305a is added to read:

§ 305a.  –WHEN NOT ISSUED

The commissioner shall not renew the registration of a person who is the sole registrant after receiving notice from the judicial bureau that the person has not paid a judgment for a traffic violation.

Sec. 7.  32 V.S.A. § 509a is added to read:

§ 509a.  Judiciary overpayment; refund

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 509 of this title, when a person who owes money to the judiciary makes an overpayment, the judiciary shall forthwith refund to that person the amount of such overpayment; however, there shall be no obligation to refund sums in the amount of $10.00 or less.  If a person is owed a refund of more than $10.00 and cannot be located by the judiciary, the refund shall be submitted to the abandoned property procedure.  For refunds of $10.00 or less which are not demanded by the person within a year after the payment, the refund shall revert to the state and be deposited into the revenue fund where the original payment was deposited. 

Sec. 8.  32 V.S.A. § 583 is amended to read:

§ 583.  Credit card payments

(a)  A statewide officer or secretary of a state agency, commissioner of a state department, or the court administrator may accept payment of taxes, registration fees, license fees, penalties, fines, interest, charges, surcharges, or any other fees or amounts due the state by means of credit cards, debit cards, charge cards, prepaid cards, stored value cards, and direct bank account withdrawals or transfers.

(b)  The court administrator may not accept credit cards, debit cards, charge cards, prepaid cards, stored value cards, and direct bank account withdrawals or transfers for payments of fines, penalties or surcharges assessed by a circuit of the district court.  However, the court administrator may accept credit cards, debit cards, charge cards, prepaid cards, stored value cards, and direct bank account withdrawals or transfers for any payments to the Chittenden, Essex, and Washington circuits of the district court.

(c)  The state treasurer shall negotiate and contract with banks and bank credit card companies or others to provide as a method of payment to state agencies, or departments, or the judiciary the use of credit card or debit card accounts or direct bank account withdrawals or transfers, and may agree to pay such bank or other company a fee or percentage of the amount collected and remitted to the state.  The court administrator may so contract for the judiciary with the approval of the state treasurer.  Notwithstanding section 502 of this title, an agency, a department, or the judiciary may charge against such collections the percentage or fee imposed.

(d)(c)  The state treasurer shall assist each statewide officer, secretary, commissioner, and court administrator who elects to accept payments, as authorized by this section, with establishing procedures for accepting those payments.

(e)(d)  A statewide officer or secretary of a state agency, a commissioner of a state department, or the court administrator who has authority to accept payment of fees, penalties, fines, charges, surcharges, or any other amounts due the state by a credit card, debit card, charge card, prepaid card, or stored value card shall not charge or collect any additional amounts for using such card to make the payment unless the agency develops a policy regarding additional charges.  Each policy and recommended charge, except that which is adopted and recommended by the court administrator, shall be approved by the secretary of administration prior to applying the charge.  Any such charge shall approximate the cost of providing the service. 

(f)(e)  By January 15 of each year, the treasurer, with the assistance of the court administrator, shall file a report with the general assembly and the joint fiscal committee which:

* * *

Sec. 9.  DEBT COLLECTION BY JUDICIARY

The court administrator is authorized to send a notice to defendants who have failed to pay judicial bureau and district court judgments issued prior to September 25, 2006 to inform them of the judiciary’s intent to collect the debt through any authorized means, and that the debt will be subject to procedures for tax setoffs under 32 V.S.A. § 5941.  Concurrent with providing the notice to the debtor, the judiciary shall assess a $10.00 collection fee which shall be added to the judgment amount and deposited in the court technology special fund established pursuant to 4 V.S.A. § 27.  If the defendant satisfies the judgment within 20 days, the fee shall be waived.  The court administrator may charge the cost of preparing and sending the notice against revenues collected in this effort.  This authorization shall expire on June 30, 2009.


Sec. 10.  12 V.S.A. § 5540a is amended to read:

§ 5540a.  JURISDICTION OVER SMALL CLAIMS; ASSISTANT JUDGES;

                ADDISON, CHITTENDEN, FRANKLIN, GRAND ISLE,

                LAMOILLE, ORANGE, ORLEANS, WASHINGTON,

                WINDHAM, AND WINDSOR COUNTIES

(a)  Subject to the limitations in this section and notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, assistant judges of Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, Windham, and Windsor counties sitting alone shall hear and decide small claims actions filed under this chapter with the appropriate superior court if the assistant judges first elect to successfully complete the training required in subsection (b) of this section.

(b)  With the exception of assistant judges authorized to preside in small claims matters prior to the effective date of this act who have successfully completed the testing requirements established herein, an assistant judge hearing cases under this section shall have completed at least 100 hours of relevant training and testing, and observed 20 hours of small claims hearings in accordance with the protocol for said training and observation which shall be established by a majority of the assistant judges of the state, which shall include attendance at colleges or classes available in various locations in and outside the state to lay judges.  An assistant judge who hears cases under this section shall complete 16 hours of continuing education every year relating to jurisdiction exercised under this section and shall file a certificate to such effect with the court administrator.  Training shall be paid for on a per capita basis of those judges electing to take the training by the county, which expenditure is hereby authorized.  Law clerk assistance available to superior court judges shall be available to the assistant judges.

(c)  A decision of an assistant judge shall be entered as a small claims judgment and may be appealed pursuant to section 5538 of this title.  The appeal shall be decided by the presiding judge.

(d)  An assistant judge upon successful completion of the training under subsection (b) of this section, shall cause the superior court clerk to notify the court administrator of the assistant judge's successful completion of training. Upon receipt of such notification, small claims cases which require a hearing shall first be set for hearing before an assistant judge in the superior court in the county and shall be heard by the assistant judge.  If the assistant judge is unavailable due to illness, vacation, administrative leave, disability, or disqualification, the administrative judge pursuant to section 22 of Title 4 may assign a judge, or appoint and assign a member of the Vermont bar to serve temporarily as an acting judge, to hear small claims cases in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Washington, Windham, and Windsor counties.  No action filed or pending shall be heard at or transferred to any other location unless agreed to by the parties.  If both assistant judges of the county elect to successfully complete training to hear these matters, the senior assistant judge shall make the assignment of cases to be heard by each assistant judge.  The assistant judges, once qualified to preside in these matters, shall work with the court administrator's office and the administrative judge such that the scheduling of small claims cases before the assistant judges are at such times as to permit adequate current court personnel to be available when these cases are heard.

(e)  This section shall be repealed effective on July 1, 2008 July 1, 2011.

Sec. 11.  13 V.S.A. § 7043a is added to read:

§ 7043a.  Licenses or governmental contracts

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Agency” means any unit of state government, including agencies, departments, boards, commissions, authorities, or public corporations.

(2)  “Contract” means a contract for the provision of goods, services, or real estate space.

(3)  “License” means any license, certification, or registration issued by an agency to conduct a trade or business, including a license to practice a profession or occupation, or a license required to engage in recreational activities, including a license to hunt, fish, or trap.

(b)  Every applicant for a license shall sign a statement that the applicant is in good standing with respect to any restitution order.  A license may not be issued or renewed without such a statement.

(c)  No agency shall enter into, extend, or renew any contract unless the person submits a statement that the person is in good standing with respect to any restitution order as of the date the contract is made.

(d)  For the purposes of this section, a person is in good standing with respect to any restitution order if:

(1)  60 days or fewer have elapsed since the date a restitution judgment was issued;

(2)  the person is in compliance with a repayment plan approved by the restitution unit; or

(3)  the person is in compliance with a court-ordered restitution judgment order.
Sec. 12.  15 V.S.A. § 798 is amended to read:

§ 798.  ENFORCEMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS; SUSPENSION

             OF LICENSES

(a)  Upon noncompliance with an order issued under section 606 of this title, a motion may be filed seeking an order for suspension of licenses under this section.  The motion shall be scheduled for hearing in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Family Proceedings within 30 days of the filing of the motion.  At a hearing under this subsection, the obligor shall have the opportunity to present evidence relating to the reasons for noncompliance.  An inability to comply shall be a defense in an action brought under this subsection.  The noncomplying party shall have the burden of demonstrating inability to comply.  An order issued under subsection (b) of this section is in addition to other remedies available at law.

(b)  Upon a finding of noncompliance with an order issued under section 606 of this title and a delinquency of at least one-quarter of the annual support obligation, a family court judge or magistrate, if assigned by the presiding family court judge, may order a civil suspension of a noncomplying party 's motor vehicle operator's license issued under chapter 9 of Title 23 or commercial driver license issued under chapter 39 of Title 23, recreational license, and any other license certification or registration issued by an agency to conduct a trade or business, including a license to practice a profession or occupation.

(c)  Upon receipt of a license suspension order issued under this section, the license issuing authority shall suspend the license according to the terms of the order.  Prior to suspending the license, the license issuing authority shall notify the license holder of the pending suspension and provide the license holder with an opportunity to contest the suspension based solely on the grounds of mistaken identity or compliance with the underlying child support order.  The license shall be reinstated within five days of a reinstatement order from the court or notification from the office of child support or the custodial parent, where the rights of that parent have not been assigned to the office of child support, that the parent is in compliance with the underlying child support order.  The license issuing authority shall charge a reinstatement fee as provided for in section 675 of Title 23, or as otherwise provided by law or rule.

(d)  The license issuing authority shall adopt procedural rules in accordance with the provisions of chapter 25 of Title 3 to implement the provisions of this section.

(e)  Notwithstanding the provisions of this section to the contrary, after notifying the obligor of the pending revocation or suspension and giving the obligor an opportunity to object and request a grievance hearing pursuant to 33 V.S.A. § 4108 to contest the suspension on the grounds that the action is improper due to a mistake of fact, the office of child support may direct a licensing authority, with the exception of the department of motor vehicles, to revoke or suspend an obligor's right to a license, and with respect to hunting, fishing and trapping, the right to hunt, fish and trap, without obtaining a modification of the court order if any amount due under the order has accumulated to one-twelfth of the annualized amount of child support.  All objections to the suspension shall be made to the office of child support and not to the licensing authority, and the licensing authority shall not be required to hold a hearing before suspending a license pursuant to this subsection.

(f)  A license shall be reinstated within five days of notification from the office of child support or the custodial parent, where the rights of that parent have not been assigned to the office of child support, that the obligor is in compliance with the underlying child support order or repayment plan.  The licensing authority shall charge a reinstatement fee as provided by law or rule.

Sec. 13.  APPROPRIATION FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION

There is appropriated the amount of $190,000.00 from the general fund to the center for crime victims services.  The center shall use the funds to present grants to organizations that provide services to victims of domestic violence.  These funds shall be used for programs that are designed to prevent domestic violence and are targeted at the needs of children in families affected by domestic violence.  At the end of FY08, any unexpended portion of this appropriation shall be carried forward and used for the same purpose.

Sec. 14.  REPORTS

(a)(1)  The commissioner of the department of fish and wildlife, in consultation with the court administrator, the office of child support, the center for crime victims services, the department of motor vehicles, and the department of information and innovation, shall develop a proposal for an automated system for the department of fish and wildlife to suspend a license to hunt, fish, or trap for a violation of:

(A)  4 V.S.A. § 1110, relating to any unpaid judgment issued by the judicial bureau or district court for fines or penalties for a criminal offense;

(B)  13 V.S.A. § 7043, relating to failure to comply with a restitution order; and

(C)  15 V.S.A. §§ 795 and 798, relating to failure to comply with a child support order.

(2)  The commissioner shall report to the house and senate committees on judiciary and to legislative council not later than December 1, 2007 regarding the proposed automated system and any costs associated with implementation.

(b)  The commissioner of the department of motor vehicles and the court administrator shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary no later than December 1, 2007 on methods to protect the interests of innocent owners when suspending the registrations of motor vehicles titled to more than one person on account of the failure of one of the titleholders to pay to the judicial bureau judgments for traffic violations.

(c)  The Vermont law school is requested to provide a report to the senate and house committees on judiciary no later than November 15, 2008 on the results and performance of assistant judges in deciding small claims cases.  The report shall include an analysis of a sufficient number of small claims decisions by assistant judges to permit a statistically supportable conclusion about whether the percentage of the decisions containing clear error is within a range which provides substantial justice to litigants. 

Sec. 15.  VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT STUDY COMMITTEE

(a)  A committee is established to study certain issues related to victims of sexual assault.  The committee shall examine:

(1)  the financial cost of forensic sexual assault examination and other health care needs of sexual assault victims, including follow-up care for victims undergoing PEP, best practices in other states, and whether the cost of forensic sexual assault examinations should be capped;

(2)  how forensic sexual assault examination kits are collected and transported by law enforcement and how the kits are received and processed by the Vermont Forensic Laboratory;

(3)  the currency of practice standards for sexual assault nurse examiners, oversight and enforcement of standards, and the training and certification opportunities available in Vermont;

(4)  the feasibility of instituting a pediatric sexual assault examination program in Vermont.  The committee shall review the study conducted by the Vermont children’s alliance and consult with other state and national organizations with expertise in pediatric sexual assault examiner programs;

(5)  whether a victim of sexual assault shall be considered eligible for the victims compensation program based solely on a report to a sexual assault nurse examiner;

(6)  the current funding sources for the sexual assault nurse examiner program and the need for additional resources.

(b)  The committee shall consist of the following members:

(1)  One member appointed by the Vermont center for crime victim services, who shall serve as co-chair of the committee.

(2)  One member appointed by the Vermont center for the prevention and treatment of sexual abuse, who shall serve as co-chair of the committee.

(3)  One member appointed by the Vermont hospital association.

(4)  One member appointed by the Vermont network against domestic and sexual violence.

(5)  A survivor of sexual assault appointed by the Vermont center for crime victim services.

(6)  One member appointed by the department of public safety.

(7)  The director of the Vermont forensic laboratory.

(8)  One member of the Vermont children’s alliance.

(9)  A pediatrician appointed by the Vermont medical society.

(10) A sexual assault nurse examiner appointed by the sexual assault nurse examiner advisory board.

(11)  One member of the senate appointed by the committee on committees.

(c)  The committee shall have the assistance and cooperation of all state and local agencies and departments.  The center for crime victim services shall convene the meetings and provide professional and administrative support for the committee.

(d)(1)  Members of the committee who are not state employees shall be entitled to per diem compensation and reimbursement for expenses through the center for crime victim services to the same extent that legislative members of committees are entitled to such compensation and reimbursement under 2 V.S.A. § 406. 

(2)  For attendance at a meeting when the general assembly is not in session, the legislative member of the committee shall be entitled to per diem compensation and reimbursement for expenses as provided by 2 V.S.A. § 406.

(e)  The committee shall present its findings and recommendations, including proposals for legislative action, to the general assembly no later than December 1, 2007.

Sec. 16.  Sec. 9 of No. 169 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read:

Sec. 9.  DISSEMINATION OF ELECTRONIC CASE RECORDS

The judiciary shall not permit public access via the internet to criminal case records or family court case records prior to June 1, 2007 July 1, 2008.  The court may permit criminal justice agencies, as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2056a, internet access to criminal case records for criminal justice purposes, as defined in section 2056a. 

Sec. 17.  24 V.S.A. § 441 is amended to read:

§ 441.  APPOINTMENT; JURISDICTION; EX OFFICIO NOTARIES;

            APPLICATION

(a)  The judges of the superior court may appoint as many notaries public for the county as the public good requires, to hold office until ten days after the expiration of the term of office of such judges, whose jurisdiction shall extend throughout the state.

(b)  The clerk of the supreme court, county clerks, district court clerks, family court clerks, justices of the peace, and town clerks and their assistants shall be ex officio notaries public.

(c) Every (1)  Unless subdivision (2) of this subsection applies, every applicant for appointment and commission as a notary public shall complete an application to be filed with the clerk of the superior court stating that the applicant is a resident of the county and has reached the age of majority, giving his business or home address and providing a handwritten specimen of the applicant's official signature.

(2)  The judges of the superior court may appoint as a notary public a person not less than 17 years of age upon application to the clerk of the superior court stating that the applicant is an honor student and a resident of the county, giving the applicant’s home address and providing a handwritten specimen of his or her official signature.  The application shall be accompanied by a certification from the applicant’s school that the applicant is an honor student under criteria established by the school. 

(d)  The attorney general, a state’s attorney, a deputy attorney general, an assistant attorney general, and a deputy state’s attorney shall be ex officio notaries public.

(e)  An ex officio notary public shall cease to be a notary public when he vacates the office on which his status as a notary public depends.

Sec. 18.  4 V.S.A. § 27 is added to read:

§ 27.  MUNICIPAL TICKET REPAYMENT REVOLVING FUND

(a)  A municipal ticket repayment revolving fund is created for the purpose of facilitating the transfer of incorrectly deposited judicial bureau payments to the appropriate municipality.  A municipality may request a loan from the municipal ticket repayment revolving fund in the amount owed another municipality if the municipality requesting the loan:

(1)  received payments from the judicial bureau that were actually owed to the other municipality for penalties collected by the judicial bureau for violations of an ordinance within the other municipality; and

(2)  received such payments from the judicial bureau between June 30, 2004 and June 30, 2007.

(b)  The court administrator shall have the authority to approve all loans from the municipal ticket repayment revolving fund.  To request a loan from the fund, a municipality shall file an application on a form approved by the court administrator by July 1, 2008.  The application shall contain the following information:

(1)  an agreement, signed by both municipalities, defining the amount owed by one municipality to the other; and

(2)  a plan for the municipality requesting the loan to repay the fund by July 1, 2013.  The plan may authorize the court administrator to withhold judicial bureau violation payments to the municipality requesting the loan for deposit into the fund.

(c)  The maximum loan balance at any time shall be $100,000.00 for one municipality and $400,000.00 for all municipalities.  The court administrator shall administer the municipal ticket repayment revolving fund and shall establish procedures to allocate the available funds fairly and equitably.

(d)  Nothing in this section shall prohibit the sending or receiving municipality from otherwise agreeing on, or bringing a civil action to resolve, overpayment issues prior to June 30, 2004.

Sec. 19.  23 V.S.A. § 1098 is added to read:

§ 1098.  DISPOSITION OF PENDING CASES

(a)  The judicial bureau shall enter judgment against the defendant in all cases in which:

(1)  prior to January 1, 2007, the defendant filed an answer admitting or not contesting the violation;

(2)  the defendant paid all or a portion of the fine, penalty, or surcharge; and

(3)  The issuing officer did not file the original complaint prior to July 1, 2007.

(b)  Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a judgment entered pursuant to this section shall not result in points assessed against the defendant by the department of motor vehicles. Any funds received by the judicial bureau for judgments under this section shall be deposited in the court technology special fund up to $150,000.00, and the balance to be deposited to the municipal ticket repayment revolving fund defined in 4 V.S.A. § 27.

(c)  The judicial bureau shall dismiss the action in all cases in which:

(1)  the defendant filed an answer denying or contesting the violation prior to January 1, 2007; and

(2)  the issuing officer did not file the original complaint prior to July 1, 2007.

Sec. 20.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  In Sec. 5 of this act, 23 V.S.A. § 2307(b), the provisions relating to the denial of a motor vehicle registration, and Sec. 6 in its entirety shall take effect January 1, 2010. 

(b)  Secs. 3 and 11 shall take effect January 1, 2008.

(c)  Sec. 16 shall take effect on passage.

(d)  All other sections shall take effect July 1, 2007.

and, that upon passage, the title shall read:  “AN ACT RELATING TO THE ADMINISTRATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF JUDICIAL FINES AND JURISDICTION OF ASSISTANT JUDGES OVER SMALL CLAIMS”



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us