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House Calendar

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2007

92nd DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

House Convenes at 9:00 A M

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                               Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

Action Postponed Until Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Favorable with Amendment

H.  78  Reconsideration or Rescission of Votes in Local Elections................... 732

               Rep. Martin for Government Operations

               Rep. Martin Amendment.................................................................. 733

H. 91  Rozo McLaughlin Farm-to-School Program........................................ 733

               Rep. Donovan for Education............................................................ 733

               Rep. Johnson for Appropriations...................................................... 735

H. 229  Health Care Affordability Act of 2006/Related Legislation.................. 736

               Rep. Leriche for Health Care........................................................... 736

               Rep. Condon for Ways and Means.................................................. 736

               Rep. Leriche Amendment................................................................ 737

H. 520  Energy Conservation and Generation of Electricity............................. 737

               Rep. Dostis for Natural Resources and Energy

          Rep. Howard for Ways and Means                         

NEW BUSINESS

Third Readings

H. 526  Education Quality and Cost Control................................................... 739

               Rep. Komline Amendments............................................................. 739

H. 534  Relating to Prekindergarten Registration............................................. 740

               Rep. Howrigan Amendment

 

NOTICE CALENDAR

Committee Bill for Second Reading

H. 537  Appropriations for the Support of Government.................................. 740

               Rep. Heath for Appropriations

Favorable with Amendment

H. 148  Child Abuse Registry......................................................................... 740

          Rep. Jewett for Judiciary

               Rep. McAllister for Human Services................................................ 754

H. 531  Ensuring Success in Health Care Reform............................................ 756

               Rep. Maier for Health Care Committee

               Re. Larson for Appropriations

Favorable

H. 528  Amendments to Charter City of Montpelier........................................ 757

               Rep. L. Martin for Government Operations

Governor’s Veto

H. 302  Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Adjustment................................................ 757

 

 


 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

     Action Postponed Until Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Favorable with Amendment

H. 78

     An act relating to reconsideration and rescission of votes in local elections.

Rep. Martin of Wolcott, for the Committee on Government Operations, recommends the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  17 V.S.A. § 2661(b) is amended to read:

§ 2661. RECONSIDERATION OR RESCISSION OF VOTE

* * *

(b)  Where a petition signed by not less than five percent of the qualified voters of a municipality If a petition requesting reconsideration or rescission of a question considered or voted on at a previous annual or special meeting is filed with the clerk of the municipality within thirty 30 days following the date of that meeting, the legislative body shall provide for a vote by the municipality in accordance with the petition within sixty 60 days of the submission at an annual or special meeting duly warned for that purpose.  The number of signatures required for a petition for reconsideration or rescission shall be five percent of the registered voters unless the voters of the municipality increase that percentage pursuant to the following:

(1)  At a meeting duly warned for the purpose, the voters of a municipality may require that a petition for reconsideration be signed by not less than up to 20 percent of the registered voters.

(2)  A vote to increase the percentage of voters required to sign a petition for reconsideration or rescission to up to 20 percent shall be in substantially the following form:  “Shall the (name of municipality) increase the percentage of voters required on a petition for reconsideration or rescission from five to (up to 20) percent?” 

(3)  Once the voters of a municipality have voted to require a new percentage, that percentage shall remain in effect until the voters of the municipality vote to change the percentage.

* * *

(e)  A vote in favor of reconsideration or rescission shall not be effective unless the number of votes cast in favor of reconsideration or rescission exceeds two-thirds of the number of votes cast for the prevailing side at the original meeting unless the voters of the municipality approve a different percentage pursuant to the following:

(1)  At a meeting duly warned for the purpose, the voters of a municipality may require that a vote in favor of reconsideration or rescission shall not be effective unless the number of votes cast in favor of reconsideration or rescission exceeds a certain percentage of the number of votes cast for the prevailing side at the original meeting.

(2)  A vote to increase or decrease the percentage shall be in substantially the following form:  “Shall the (name of municipality) change the percentage of votes cast in favor of reconsideration or rescission required for a vote to reconsider or rescind a question considered or voted on at a previous annual or special meeting to be effective to (percentage)?”

(3)  Once the voters of a municipality have voted to require a new percentage, that percentage shall remain in effect until the voters of the municipality vote to change the percentage.

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Martin of Wolcott to H. 78

Moves to amend the bill in Sec. 1, 17  V.S.A. § 2661(e), in the first sentence, after “A” and before “vote”, by inserting the word “majority”, and after the first instance of the word “rescission” by inserting “of a question voted on by paper or Australian ballot

H. 91

     An act relating to the Rozo McLaughlin Farm-to-School Program.

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND INTENT

(a)  Representative Rosemary “Rozo” McLaughlin was a dedicated, hardworking legislator who devoted herself to improving the health and welfare of Vermont’s children.  She was instrumental in developing the ideas for and details of the local foods mini‑grant program.  Thanks largely to her persistent shepherding of the bill through the legislative process, the program was enacted into law in 2006.

(b)  Therefore, it is the intent of this act to honor Representative McLaughlin’s hard work and dedication by establishing the local foods
mini-grant program as a permanent program and by renaming it the Rozo McLaughlin farm‑to‑school program.

Sec. 2.  6 V.S.A. chapter 211 is added to read:

Chapter 211.  THE ROZO MCLAUGHLIN

FARM‑TO‑SCHOOL PROGRAM

§ 4721.  LOCAL FOODS GRANT PROGRAM 

(a)  There is created in the agency of agriculture, food and markets the Rozo McLaughlin farm‑to‑school program to award local grants for the purpose of helping Vermont schools develop relationships with local farmers and producers.

(b)  A school, a school district, a consortium of schools, or a consortium of school districts may apply to the secretary of agriculture, food and markets for a grant award to:

(1)  fund equipment, resources, training, and materials that will help to increase use of local foods in the school food service program;

(2)  fund items, including local farm products, that will help teachers to use hands-on educational techniques to teach children about nutrition and farm‑to‑school connections; and

(3)  provide professional development and technical assistance to help teachers educate students about nutrition and farm‑to‑school connections.

(c)  The secretary and the commissioner of education, in consultation with farmers, food service workers, and educators, shall jointly adopt rules relating to the content of the grant application and the criteria for making awards.  

(d)  The secretary shall determine that there is significant interest in the school community before making an award and shall give priority consideration to schools and school districts that are developing farm‑to‑school connections and education and that are making progress toward the implementation of the Vermont nutrition and fitness policy guidelines developed by the agency of agriculture, food and markets, the department of education, and the department of health, dated November 2005 or of the successor of these guidelines. 

(e)  No award shall be greater than $15,000.00.

Sec. 3.  APPROPRIATION

The amount of $200,000.00 is appropriated to the secretary of agriculture, food and markets in fiscal year 2008 for the purpose of awarding grants under the Rozo McLaughlin farm-to-school program established in 6 V.S.A. chapter 211.

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

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

First:  In Sec. 2, after 6 V.S.A. § 4721, by adding new sections 4722 and 4723 to read as follows:

§ 4722.  FARM ASSISTANCE; SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD

              AND MARKETS

The secretary of agriculture, food and markets shall work with existing programs and organizations to develop and implement educational opportunities for farmers to help them to increase their markets through selling their products to schools and state government agencies and participating in the federal food commodities program, including the federal Department of Defense Fresh program, and selling to regulated child care programs participating in the adult and child food program.  

§ 4723.  PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR FOOD SERVICE
              PERSONNEL

(a)  The commissioner of education shall offer expanded regional training sessions for public school food service personnel and child care resource development specialists as funds are made available.  Training shall include information about strategies for purchasing, processing, and serving locally grown foods, as well as information about nutrition, obesity prevention, coping with severe food allergies, and food service operations.  The commissioner may use a portion of the funds appropriated for this training session to pay a portion of or all expenses for attendees and to develop manuals or other materials to help in the training.

(b)  The commissioner of education shall train people as funds are made available to provide technical assistance to school food service personnel and use a portion of the funds appropriated for this purpose to enable the trained people to provide technical assistance at the school and school district levels.

(c)  Training provided under this section shall promote the policies established in the Vermont nutrition and fitness policy guidelines developed by the agency of agriculture, food and markets, the department of education, and the department of health, dated November 2005, or the guidelines’ successor.

Second:  By striking Sec. 3 in its entirety

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

H. 229

An act relating to corrections and clarifications to the Health Care Affordability Act of 2006 and related legislation.

(Rep. Leriche of Hardwick will speak for the Committee on Health Care.)

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

     First:  In Sec. 27, in 21 V.S.A. § 2002, by adding a new subdivision (6) to read:

"(6)  “Part-time employee” shall mean an employee who works for an employer for fewer than 25 hours a week."

and by striking subdivision (3) and inserting a new subdivision (3) to read:

"(3)  “Full‑time equivalent” or “FTE” means the number of employees expressed as the number of employee hours worked during a calendar quarter divided by 520.  “Full‑time equivalent” shall not include any employee hours attributable to a seasonal employee or part-time employee of an employer who offers health care coverage to all of its regular full‑time employees, provided that the seasonal employee or part-time employee has health care coverage under either a private or a public plan."

     Second:  By inserting a new Sec. 27a to read:

Sec. 27a.  EFFECTIVE DATE

     The provisions of Sec. 27 of this act (employer assessments for Catamount Health) shall apply to employer assessments for reporting periods beginning April 1, 2007, or after.

     Third:  By inserting a new Sec. 27b to read:

Sec. 27b.  ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL FOR SUSTAINABILITY

     In Sec. 27 of this act the general assembly has taken immediate measures to reduce Vermont employers' health fund contributions under the Catamount Health program for employers with seasonal and part-time employees.  In affording this relief to employers, however, Catamount Health revenues are reduced by an approximate $800,000.00 and sustainability of the program is affected.  The Secretary of Administration in conjunction with the Joint Fiscal Committee shall, by December 1, 2007, propose to the general assembly a means of restoring this lost revenue and full sustainability to Catamount Health.  The written proposal, including any proposed legislative amendments, shall be submitted to the House committees on Appropriations, Health, and Ways and Means, and to the Senate committees on Appropriations, Health and Welfare, and Finance.

(Committee vote: 10-1-0)

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Leriche of  Hardwick to H. 229

Moves the bill be amended by striking Sec. 28, 21 V.S.A., chapter 5, subchapter 10A, and inserting a new Sec. 28 to read:

Sec. 28.  21 V.S.A. chapter 5, subchapter 12 is added to read:

Subchapter 12.  Health Coverage Status 

§ 561.  HEALTH COVERAGE STATUS DISCRIMINATION PROHIBITED

(a)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Employee” shall have the same meaning as in section 2002 of this title. 

(2)  “Employer” shall have the same meaning as in section 2002 of this title. 

(b)(1)  No employer or employment agency or agent of either shall inquire about the health coverage status of a job applicant or in any way discriminate among applicants on the basis of health coverage status. 

(2)  Nothing in this section shall prevent:

(A)  an employer, employment agency, or agent from informing an applicant about the employer’s health coverage benefits; or 

(B)  an employer from inquiring about the health coverage status of an employee to enable the employer to determine the number of uncovered employees pursuant to chapter 25 of this title.

(c)  Any person aggrieved by a violation of the provisions of this subchapter may bring an action in superior court seeking compensatory and punitive damages or equitable relief, including restraint of prohibited acts, restitution of wages or other benefits, reinstatement, costs, reasonable attorney’s fees, and other appropriate relief.

H. 520

An act relating to the conservation of energy and increasing the generation of electricity within the state by use of renewable resources.

(Rep. Dostis of Waterbury will speak for the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.)

Rep. Howard of Rutland City, for the Committee on Ways and Means, recommends the bill be amended as follows:

     First:  In Sec. 16, on page 39, on line 18, by striking "$0.003 per kWh" and inserting in lieu thereof "$0.006 per kWh"; and on line 20, by inserting before the period ", but in no case shall the tax imposed for any six month period be less than an amount equal to 15% of the installed capacity of the facility multiplied by the rate per kWh imposed by this subsection. Until a facility is certified under this subsection, it shall remain subject to taxation under section 5402 of this title"

     Second: on page 40, after line 10, by inserting a new subsection (d) to read:

    (d)  Review of rates.  Beginning in 2009, and every three years thereafter, the division of property valuation and review shall review the tax rate and minimum tax in subsection (a) of this section to determine whether the rate and minimum tax are sufficient to raise an amount of revenue equivalent to the education property tax revenue which would otherwise be due under the education property tax provisions of section 5402 of this title upon the buildings and fixtures of the taxpayer.

     Third:  By striking Secs. 18, 19, and 20, and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 18 to read:

Sec.18. 10 V.S.A. § 6523(e)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  The commissioner of public service shall:

* * *

(D) acting jointly with the members of the clean energy development fund investment committee, make decisions with respect to specific grants and investments, after the plans, budget, and program designs have been approved by the clean energy development fund investment committee. This subdivision (D) shall be repealed upon the effective date of rules adopted under subdivision (2) (B) of this subsection.;

(E)  assure that the program includes a component pursuant to which businesses may apply for grants in an amount up to 76% of the business energy credit available for individual taxpayers under the Internal Revenue Code for the taxable year preceding the year of the grant, and in an amount up to 100% of the business energy credit available to corporate taxpayers under the Internal Revenue Code for the taxable year preceding the year of the grant.  During fiscal year 2008, grants under this subdivision shall not be issued to exceed a total of $250,000.

     Fourth:  By inserting a new Sec. 16a to read:

"Sec.16a. STUDY OF EDUCATION TAX ON WIND-POWERED ELECTRIC GENERATING PROPERTY       

     The commissioner of the department of public service and the commissioner of taxes shall consider the possible options for raising education tax revenue from wind-powered electric generating facilities, including the current education property tax, and the advantages and disadvantages of the various options with regard to stability of the revenue source, ability to build inflation into the tax mechanism, how well the tax mechanism will reflect cost of power sold and fluctuations in power production, whether property valuation creates difficulties for application of a property tax, how the tax mechanism will produce revenue during any start-up or construction period, and any other issues which the commissioners may find pertinent to the inquiry; and based upon their findings, shall recommend one or more education tax options for this property.  The commissioners shall report their findings and recommendations, including proposed legislative amendments, to the house committee on ways and means and senate committee on finance by December 1, 2007.

(Committee vote: 10-1-0)

Third Readings

H. 526

An act relating to education quality and cost control.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Komline of Dorset to H. 526

Moves the bill be amended by adding a new Sec. 24a to read:

Sec. 24a.  MODEL CONTRACT LANGUAGE; APPROPRIATION

On or before July 1, 2007, the commissioner of education shall develop and announce model contract language that would base any reduction in the number of staff members employed by a school district upon performance, rather than seniority.  The model language shall be sent to all school board clerks and principals in the state for potential use in the collective bargaining process.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Komline of Dorset to H. 526

Moves the bill be amended in Sec. 29 by adding a subsection (e) to read:

(e)  The commissioner shall request the following organizations to submit, jointly or independently, recommendations regarding the future governance of school districts:  the Vermont superintendents’ association, the Vermont school boards association, the Vermont principals’ association, and the Vermont national education association.  The commissioner shall include the recommendations in the report to the house and senate committees on education required in subsection (b) of this section.

 

H. 534

An act relating to prekindergarten registration.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Howrigan of Fairfield to H. 534

Moves the bill be amended by adding a new Sec. 13 a to read:

Sec. 13 a

          This act shall sunset July 1, 2011.

NOTICE CALENDAR

Committee Bill for Second Reading

H. 537

An act relating to making appropriations for the support of government.

Rep. Heath of Westford will speak for the Committee on Appropriations.)

Favorable with Amendment

H. 148

     An act relating to the child abuse registry.

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

Sec. 1.  33 V.S.A. chapter 49, subchapter 2 is amended to read:

Subchapter 2.  Reporting Abuse of Children

* * *

§ 4912.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this subchapter:

(1)  “Child” means an individual under the age of majority.

(2)  An “abused or neglected child” means a child whose physical health, psychological growth and development or welfare is harmed or is at substantial risk of harm by the acts or omissions of his or her parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare.  An “abused or neglected child” also means a child who is sexually abused or at substantial risk of sexual abuse by any person.

(3)  “Harm” can occur by:

(A)  Physical injury or emotional maltreatment;

(B)  Failure to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or health care.  For the purposes of this subchapter, “adequate health care” includes any medical or nonmedical remedial health care permitted or authorized under state law.  Notwithstanding that a child might be found to be without proper parental care under chapter 55 of Title 33, a parent or other person responsible for a child’s care legitimately practicing his or her religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child shall not be considered neglectful for that reason alone; or

(C)  Abandonment of the child.

(4)  “Risk of harm” means a significant danger that a child will suffer serious harm other than by accidental means, which harm would be likely to cause physical injury, neglect, emotional maltreatment or sexual abuse.

(5)  “A person responsible for a child’s welfare” includes the child’s parent; guardian; foster parent; any other adult residing in the home who serves in a parental role; an employee of a public or private residential home, institution or agency; or other person responsible for the child’s welfare while in a residential, educational or day child care setting, including any staff person.

(6)  “Physical injury” means death, or permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily organ or function by other than accidental means.

(7)  “Emotional maltreatment” means a pattern of malicious behavior which results in impaired psychological growth and development.

(8)  “Sexual abuse” consists of any act or acts by any person involving sexual molestation or exploitation of a child including but not limited to incest, prostitution, rape, sodomy, or any lewd and lascivious conduct involving a child.  Sexual abuse also includes the aiding, abetting, counseling, hiring, or procuring of a child to perform or participate in any photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts a sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse involving a child.

(9)  “Multi‑disciplinary team” means a group of professionals, paraprofessionals and other appropriate individuals, empanelled by the commissioner of social and rehabilitation services under this chapter, for the purpose of assisting in the identification and investigation of cases of child abuse and neglect, coordinating treatment services for abused and neglected children and their families and promoting child abuse prevention.

(10)  “Substantiated report” means that the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee has determined after investigation that a report is based upon accurate and reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the child has been abused or neglected.

(11)  [Repealed.]

(12)  “Member of the clergy” means a priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, accredited Christian Science practitioner, person performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body that are recognized as the duties of a priest, rabbi, clergy, nun, brother, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioner. 

(13)  “Redacted investigation file” means the intake report, the investigation activities summary, and case determination report that are amended in accordance with confidentiality requirements set forth in subsection 4913(d) of this title.

(14)  “Child abuse and neglect registry” means a record of all investigations that have resulted in a substantiated report on or after January 1, 1992.

(15)  “Registry record” means an entry in the child abuse and neglect registry that consists of the name of an individual substantiated for child abuse or neglect, the date of the finding, the nature of the finding, and at least one other personal identifier, other than a name, listed in order to avoid the possibility of misidentification.

§ 4913.  SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT; REMEDIAL
  ACTION

(a)  Any physician, surgeon, osteopath, chiropractor, or physician’s assistant licensed, certified, or registered under the provisions of Title 26, any resident physician, intern, or any hospital administrator in any hospital in this state, whether or not so registered, and any registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, medical examiner, dentist, psychologist, pharmacist, any other health care provider, school superintendent, school teacher, school librarian, day child care worker, school principal, school guidance counselor, mental health professional, social worker, probation officer, police officer, camp owner, camp administrator, camp counselor, or member of the clergy who has reasonable cause to believe that any child has been abused or neglected shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title within 24 hours.  As used in this subsection, “camp” includes any residential or nonresidential recreational program.

(b)  Any other concerned person not listed in subsection (a) of this section who has reasonable cause to believe that any child has been abused or neglected may report or cause a report to be made in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title.

(c)  Any person enumerated in subsections subsection (a) or (b) of this section, other than a person suspected of child abuse, who in good faith makes a report to the department of social and rehabilitation services shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of making a report.

(d)  The name of and any identifying information about either the person making the report, or any person mentioned in the report shall be confidential unless the person making the report specifically requests allows disclosure or unless a judicial proceeding results therefrom or unless a court, after a hearing, finds probable cause to believe that the report was not made in good faith and orders the department to make the name of the reporter available.

(e)(1)  A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $500.00.

(2)  A person who violates subsection (a) of this section with the intent to conceal abuse or neglect of a child shall be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

(3)  This section shall not be construed to prohibit a prosecution under any other provision of law.

(f)  Except as provided in subsection (g) of this section, a person may not refuse to make a report required by this section on the grounds that making the report would violate a privilege or disclose a confidential communication.

(g)  A member of the clergy shall not be required to make a report under this section if the report would be based upon information received in a communication which is:

(1)  made to a member of the clergy acting in his or her capacity as spiritual advisor;

(2)  intended by the parties to be confidential at the time the communication is made;

(3)  intended by the communicant to be an act of contrition or a matter of conscience; and

(4)  required to be confidential by religious law, doctrine, or tenet.

(h)  When a member of the clergy receives information about abuse or neglect of a child in a manner other than as described in subsection (g) of this section, he or she is required to report on the basis of that information even though he or she may have also received a report of abuse or neglect about the same person or incident in the manner described in subsection (g) of this section. 

§ 4914.  NATURE AND CONTENT OF REPORT; TO WHOM MADE

A report shall be made orally or in writing to the commissioner for children and families or designee.  The commissioner or designee shall request the reporter to follow the oral report with a written report, unless the reporter is anonymous.  Reports shall contain the name and address or other contact information of the reporter as well as the names and addresses of the child and the parents or other persons responsible for the child’s care, if known; the age of the child; the nature and extent of the child’s injuries together with any evidence of previous abuse and neglect of the child or the child’s siblings; and any other information that the reporter believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries or reasons for the neglect as well as in protecting the child and assisting the family.  If a report of child abuse or neglect involves the acts or omissions of the commissioner for children and families or employees of that department, then the report shall be directed to the secretary of the agency of human services who shall cause the report to be investigated by staff of the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living or of corrections or other appropriate agency staff other than staff of the department for children and families.  If the report is substantiated, services shall Services may be offered to the child and to his or her family or caretaker according to the requirements of section 4915 of this title. 

§ 4915.  INVESTIGATION; REMEDIAL ACTION

(a)  The commissioner of social and rehabilitation services shall cause an investigation to commence department shall begin an investigation within 72 hours after receipt of a report made pursuant to section 4914 of this title, provided that it has received sufficient information to proceed.

(b)  The investigation, to the extent that it is reasonable and practicable, shall include all of the following:

(1)  A visit to the child’s place of residence or place of custody and to the location of the alleged abuse or neglect.

(2)  An interview with, or observance of the child reportedly having been abused or neglected.  If the investigator elects to interview the child, that interview may take place without the approval of the child’s parents, guardian, or custodian, provided that it takes place in the presence of a disinterested adult who may be, but shall not be limited to being, a teacher, a member of the clergy, child care provider regulated by the department, or a nurse.

(3)  Determination of the nature, extent, and cause of any abuse or neglect.

(4)  Determination of the identity of the person alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect.

(5)(A)  The identity, by name, of any other children living in the same home environment as the subject child.  The investigator shall consider the physical and emotional condition of those children and may interview them, unless the child is the person who is alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(B)  The identity, by name, of any other children who may be at risk if the abuse was alleged to have been committed by someone who is not a member of the subject child’s household.  The investigator shall consider the physical and emotional condition of those children and may interview them, unless the child is the person who is alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(6)  A determination of the immediate and longterm long-term risk to each child if that child remains in the existing home or other environment.

(7)  Consideration of the environment and the relationship of any children therein to the person alleged to be responsible for the suspected abuse or neglect.

(8)  All other data deemed pertinent.

(c)  If the investigation produces evidence that the child has been abused or neglected For cases investigated by the department, the commissioner may, to the extent that it is reasonable, cause assistance to be provided to the child and the child’s family in accordance with a written plan of treatment.

(d)  The commissioner, designee, or any person required to report under section 4913 or any other person performing an investigation pursuant to section 4914 may take or cause to be taken, photographs of trauma visible on a child who is the subject of a report.  The commissioner or designee may seek consultation with a physician.  If it is indicated as appropriate by the physician, the commissioner or designee may cause the child who is subject of a report to undergo a radiological examination, without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian. 

(e)  Services may be provided to the child’s immediate family whether or not the child remains in the home. 

(f)  The department shall report to and request assistance from law enforcement in the following circumstances:

(1)  Investigations of child sexual abuse by an alleged perpetrator age 10 or older.

(2)  Investigations of serious physical abuse or neglect likely to result in criminal charges or requiring emergency medical care.

(3)  Situations potentially dangerous to the child or department worker.

§ 4916.  CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT REGISTRY; RECORDS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT

(a)(1)  The commissioner of social and rehabilitation services shall maintain a child abuse and neglect registry which shall contain written records of all investigations initiated under section 4915 of this title unless the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee determines after investigation that the reported facts are unsubstantiated, in which case, after notice to the person complained about, the records shall be destroyed unless the person complained about requests within one year that it not be destroyed a record of all investigations that have resulted in a substantiated report on or after January 1, 1992.  Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, prior to placement of a substantiated report on the registry, the commissioner shall comply with the procedures set forth in section 4916a of this title.

(2)  In cases involving sexual abuse or serious physical abuse of a child, the commissioner in his or her sole judgment may list a substantiated report on the registry pending any administrative review after:

(A)  Reviewing the investigation file.

(B)  Making written findings in consideration of:

(i)  the nature and seriousness of the alleged behavior; and

(ii)  the person’s continuing access to children.

(3)  A person alleged to have abused or neglected a child and placed on the registry in accordance with subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be notified of the registry entry, provided with the commissioner’s findings, and advised of the right to seek an administrative review in accordance with section 4916a of this title.

(b)  If no court proceeding is brought pursuant to subsection 4913(d) of this title within one year of the date of the notice to the person complained about, the records relating to the unsubstantiated report shall be destroyed  A registry record means an entry in the child abuse and neglect registry that consists of the name of an individual substantiated for child abuse or neglect, the date of the finding, the nature of the finding, and at least one other personal identifier, other than a name, listed in order to avoid the possibility of misidentification.

(c)  The commissioner shall adopt rules to permit use of the registry records as authorized by this subchapter while preserving confidentiality of the records registry and other department records related to abuse and neglect. 

(d)  Written Registry records maintained in the registry shall only be disclosed to the commissioner or person designated by the commissioner to receive such records, persons assigned by the commissioner to investigate reports, the person reported on, an employer as defined in subsection 4919(e) of this title, or a state’s attorney or the attorney general.  In no event shall registry records be made available for employment purposes, other than as set forth in section 309 or 4919 of this title, or for credit purposes, or to a law enforcement agency other than the state’s attorney.  Any person who violates this subsection, except as provided in section 4919 of this title, shall be fined not more than $500.00.

(e)(1)  Verbal Notice.  The commissioner or the commissioner’s designee shall promptly inform a parent or guardian of the child that a report has been made and substantiated.  If a parent or guardian is under investigation for abuse or neglect, such information need only be provided to that parent or guardian in accordance with subsection 4916(d) of this title.

(2)  Written Records.  If Absent good cause shown by the department, if a report has been substantiated, the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee may shall provide upon request the written record redacted investigation file to the child’s parent or guardian or, if there is a pending juvenile proceeding or if the child is in custody of the commissioner, to the child’s attorney. 

(f)(1)  The commissioner or the commissioner’s designee may inform the following persons that a report has been substantiated:

(1)(A)  The person responsible for supervising the staff in the child’s residential, educational or day child care setting.

(2)(B)  Upon request, to the person who made the report under subsection 4913(a) of this title.

(C)  Any person authorized by law to receive such information. 

(2)  A person receiving information under this subsection shall not disclose that information to persons who are not involved with the provision of treatment services under section 4915 of this title to the abused or neglected child.

(g)  A person may, at any time, apply to the human services board for relief if he or she has reasonable cause to believe that contents of the registry are being misused.  All registry records relating to an individual child shall be destroyed when the child reaches the age of majority.  All registry records relating to a family or siblings within a family shall be destroyed when the youngest sibling reaches the age of majority.   All registry records shall be maintained according to the name of the child who has been abused or neglected, and the name of the person about whom the report was made.

(h)  A person may, at any time, apply to the human services board for an order expunging from the registry a record concerning him or her on the grounds that it is unsubstantiated or not otherwise expunged in accordance with this section.  The board shall hold a fair hearing under section 3091 of Title 3 on the application at which hearing the burden shall be on the commissioner to establish that the record shall not be expunged.

§ 4916a.  CHALLENGING PLACEMENT ON THE REGISTRY

(a)  If an investigation conducted in accordance with section 4915 of this title results in a determination that a report of child abuse or neglect should be substantiated, the department shall notify the person alleged to have abused or neglected a child of the following:

(1)  The nature of the substantiation decision, and that the department intends to enter the record of the substantiation into the registry.

(2)  Who has access to registry information and under what circumstances.

(3)  The implications of having one’s name placed on the registry as it applies to employment, licensure, and registration.

(4)  The right to request a review of the substantiation determination by an administrative reviewer, the time in which the request for review shall be made, and the consequences of not seeking a review.

(5)  The right to receive a copy of the commissioner’s written findings made in accordance with subdivision 4916(a)(2) of this title if applicable.

(b)  Under this section, notice by the department to a person alleged to have abused or neglected a child shall be by first class mail sent to the person’s last known address.

(c)  A person alleged to have abused or neglected a child may seek an administrative review of the department’s intention to place the person’s name on the registry by notifying the department within 14 days of the date the department mailed notice of the right to review in accordance with subsections (a) and (b) of this section.

(d)  The department shall hold an administrative review conference within 14 days of receipt of the request for review.  At least seven days prior to the administrative review conference, the department shall provide to the person requesting review a copy of the redacted investigation file, notice of time and place of the conference, and conference procedures, including information that may be submitted and mechanisms for providing testimony.  The department shall also provide to the person those redacted investigation files that relate to prior investigations that the department has relied upon to make its substantiation determination in the case in which a review has been requested.

(e)  At the administrative review conference, the person who requested the review shall be provided with the opportunity to present documentary evidence or other information that supports his or her position and provides information to the reviewer in making the most accurate decision regarding the allegation.  The department shall have the burden of proving that it has accurately and reliably concluded that a reasonable person would believe that the child has been abused or neglected by that person.  Upon the person’s request, the conference may be held by teleconference.

(f)  The department shall establish an administrative case review unit within the department and contract for the services of administrative reviewers.  An administrative reviewer shall be a neutral and independent arbiter who has no prior involvement in the original investigation of the allegation.

(g)  Within seven days of the conference, the administrative reviewer shall:

(1)  reject the department’s substantiation determination;

(2)  accept the department’s substantiation; or

(3)  place the substantiation determination on hold and direct the department to further investigate the case based upon recommendations of the reviewer.

(h)  If the administrative reviewer accepts the department’s substantiation determination, a registry record shall be made immediately. 

(i)  Within seven days of the decision to reject or accept or to place the substantiation on hold in accordance with subsection (g) of this section, the administrative reviewer shall provide notice to the person of his or her decision.  If the administrative reviewer accepts the department’s substantiation, the notice shall advise the person of the right to appeal the administrative reviewer’s decision to the human services board in accordance with section 4916b of this title.

(j)  Persons whose names were placed on the registry on or after January 1, 1992 but prior to July 1, 2007 shall be entitled to an opportunity to seek an administrative review to challenge the substantiation pursuant to this section.

(k)  If no administrative review is requested, the department’s decision in the case shall be final, and the person shall have no further right of review under this section. The commissioner may grant a waiver and permit such a review upon good cause shown.

§ 4916b.  HUMAN SERVICES BOARD HEARING

(a)  Within 30 days of the date on which the administrative reviewer mailed notice of placement of a report on the registry, the person who is the subject of the substantiation may apply in writing to the human services board for relief. The board shall hold a fair hearing pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 3091.  When the department receives notice of the appeal, it shall make note in the registry record that the substantiation has been appealed to the board.

(b)(1)  The board shall hold a hearing within 60 days of the receipt of the request for a hearing and shall issue a decision within 30 days of the hearing.

(2)  Priority shall be given to appeals in which there are immediate employment consequences for the person appealing the decision.

(c)  A hearing may be stayed upon request of the petitioner if there is a related case pending in court.

(d)  If no review by the board is requested, the department’s decision in the case shall be final, and the person shall have no further right for review under this section.  The board may grant a waiver and permit such a review upon good cause shown.

§ 4916c.  PETITION FOR EXPUNGEMENT FROM THE REGISTRY

(a)  A person whose name has been listed on the registry for at least seven years may file a written request with the commissioner, seeking a review for the purpose of expunging an individual registry record.  The commissioner shall grant a review upon request.

(b)  The person shall have the burden of proving that a reasonable person would believe that he or she no longer presents a risk to the safety or well‑being of children.  Factors to be considered by the commissioner shall include:

(1)  The nature of the substantiation that resulted in the person’s name being placed on the registry.

(2)  The number of substantiations, if more than one.

(3)  The amount of time that has elapsed since the substantiation.

(4)  The circumstances of the substantiation that would indicate whether a similar incident would be likely to occur.

(5)  Any activities that would reflect upon the person’s changed behavior or circumstances, such as therapy, employment, or education.

(6)  References that attest to the person’s good moral character.

(c)  At the review, the person who requested the review shall be provided with the opportunity to present any evidence or other information, including witnesses, that supports his or her request for expungement.  Upon the person’s request, the review may be held by teleconference.

(d)  A person may seek a review under this section no more than once every 36 months. 

(e)  Within 30 days of the date on which the commissioner mailed notice of the decision pursuant to this section, a person may appeal the decision to the human services board.  The person shall be prohibited from challenging his or her substantiation at such hearing, and the sole issue before the board shall be whether the commissioner abused his or her discretion in denial of the petition for expungement.  The hearing shall be on the record below, and determinations of credibility of witnesses made by the commissioner shall be given deference by the board.

(f)  The department shall take steps to provide reasonable notice to persons on the registry of their right to seek an expungement under this section.  Actual notice is not required.   Reasonable steps may include activities such as the production of an informative fact sheet about the expungement process, posting of such information on the department website, and other approaches typically taken by the department to inform the public about the department’s activities and policies.  The department shall send notice of the expungement process to any person listed on the registry for whom a registry check has been requested.

§ 4916d.  AUTOMATIC EXPUNGEMENT OF REGISTRY RECORDS

Registry entries concerning a person who was substantiated for behavior occurring before the person reached 10 years of age shall be expunged when the person reaches the age of 18, provided that the person has had no additional substantiated registry entries.

§ 4916e.  NOTICE TO MINORS

If the person alleged to have abused or neglected a child is a minor, any notice required pursuant to this subchapter shall be sent:

(1)  to the minor’s parents or guardian; or

(2)  if the child is in the custody of the commissioner, to the social worker assigned to the child by the department and the child’s counsel of record. 

* * *

§ 4919.  DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION

(a)  The commissioner shall maintain a registry which shall contain the following information: the names of all the individuals found on the basis of a substantiated report to have abused, neglected or exploited a child; the date of the finding; and the nature of the finding.  In addition, the commissioner shall require that, aside from a person’s name, at least one other personal identifier is listed in the registry to prevent the possibility of misidentification.

(b)  The commissioner or the commissioner’s designee may disclose registry information only as set forth in section 4916 of this title or as follows:

(1)  To the state’s attorney or the attorney general;

(2)  To the owner or operator of a facility regulated by the department for the purpose of informing the owner or operator that employment of a specific individual may result in loss of license or registration, as set forth in section 309 of this title;

(3)  To an employer if such information is used to determine whether to hire or retain a specific individual providing care, custody, treatment, transportation, or supervision of children or vulnerable adults.  The employer may submit a request concerning a current employee, volunteer, grantee, or contractor or an individual to whom the employer has given a conditional offer of a contract, volunteer position, or employment.  The request shall be accompanied by a release signed by the current or prospective employee, volunteer, grantee, or contractor.  If that individual has a record of a substantiated report, the commissioner shall provide the registry information record to the employer;

(4)  To the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living, or the commissioner’s designee, for purposes related to the licensing or registration of facilities regulated by the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living;

(5)  To the commissioner of health or of disabilities, aging, and independent living, or the commissioner’s designee, for purposes related to oversight and monitoring of persons who are served by or compensated with funds provided by the departments of health and of disabilities, aging, and independent living, including persons to whom a conditional offer of employment has been made;

(6)  Upon request or when relevant to other states’ adult protective services offices; and

(7)  Upon request or when relevant to other states’ child protection agencies.

(b)  An employer providing transportation services to children or vulnerable adults may disclose registry records obtained pursuant to subdivision (a)(3) of this section to the agency of human services or its designee for the sole purpose of auditing the records to ensure compliance with this subchapter.  An employer shall provide such records at the request of the agency or its designee.  Only registry records regarding individuals who provide direct transportation services or otherwise have direct contact with children or vulnerable adults may be disclosed.

(c)  Volunteers shall be considered employees for purposes of this section.

(d)  Disclosure of registry records or information or other records used or obtained in the course of providing services to prevent child abuse or neglect or to treat abused or neglected children and their families by one member of a multidisciplinary team to another member of that team shall not subject either member of the multidisciplinary team, individually, or the team as a whole, to any civil or criminal liability notwithstanding any other provision of law.

(e)  “Employer,” as used in this section, means a person or organization who employs or contracts with one or more individuals to care for children or vulnerable adults, on either a paid or volunteer basis. 

* * *

Sec. 2.  33 V.S.A. § 6911 is amended to read:

§ 6911.  RECORDS OF ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND EXPLOITATION

* * *

(c)  The commissioner or the commissioner's designee may disclose registry information only to:

* * *

(3)  an employer if such information is used to determine whether to hire or retain a specific individual providing care, custody, treatment, transportation, or supervision of children or vulnerable adults.  "Employer," as used in this section, means a person or organization who employs or contracts with one or more individuals to care for children or vulnerable adults, on either a paid or volunteer basis.  The employer may submit a request concerning a current employee, volunteer, or contractor or an individual to whom the employer has given a conditional offer of a contract, volunteer position, or employment.  The request shall be accompanied by a release signed by the current or prospective employee, volunteer, or contractor.  If that individual has a record of a substantiated report, the commissioner shall provide the registry information to the employer;

* * *

(d)  An employer providing transportation services to children or vulnerable adults may disclose registry records obtained pursuant to subdivision (c)(3) of this section to the agency of human services or its designee for the sole purpose of auditing the records to ensure compliance with this chapter.  An employer shall provide such records at the request of the agency or its designee.  Only registry records regarding individuals who provide direct transportation services or otherwise have direct contact with children or vulnerable adults may be disclosed.

(e)  A person may, at any time, apply to the human services board for relief if he or she has reasonable cause to believe that the contents of the registry or investigative records are being misused.

(e)(f)  A person may at any time apply to the department for expungement of his or her name from the registry.  The petitioner shall have the burden of showing why his or her name should be expunged from the registry.

(f)(g)  Any person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $500.00.

(g)(h)  Volunteers shall be considered employees for purposes of this section.

Sec. 3.  STUDY

The house committee on judiciary may convene while the general assembly is not in session for the purpose of considering issues related to allegations of abuse or neglect of a child, including a tiered approach to the investigation and substantiation of child abuse or neglect that is based upon the severity of the behavior and the risk to children and the community, and that establishes appropriate corresponding consequences and protections.

Sec. 4.  EFFECTIVE DATE

(a)  In Sec. 2, the following provisions shall take effect September 1, 2007:  33 V.S.A. §§ 4916(a), 4916a, and 4916b.

(b)  All other sections shall take effect upon passage.

(Committee vote: 10-0-1)

Rep. McAllister if Highgate, for the Committee on Human Services, recommends the bill ought to pass when amended as recommended by the Committee on Judiciary and when further amended as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, by striking 33 V.S.A. § 4914 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new § 4914 to read as follows:

§ 4914.  NATURE AND CONTENT OF REPORT; TO WHOM MADE

A report shall be made orally or in writing to the commissioner for children and families or designee.  The commissioner or designee shall request the reporter to follow the oral report with a written report, unless the reporter is anonymous.  Reports shall contain the name and address or other contact information of the reporter as well as the names and addresses of the child and the parents or other persons responsible for the child’s care, if known; the age of the child; the nature and extent of the child’s injuries together with any evidence of previous abuse and neglect of the child or the child’s siblings; and any other information that the reporter believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries or reasons for the neglect as well as in protecting the child and assisting the family.  If a report of child abuse or neglect involves the acts or omissions of the commissioner for children and families or employees of that department, then the report shall be directed to the secretary of the agency of human services who shall cause the report to be investigated by staff of the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living or of corrections or other appropriate agency staff other than staff of the department for children and families.  If the report is substantiated, services shall be offered to the child and to his or her family or caretaker according to the requirements of section 4915 of this title.

Second:  In Sec. 1, 33 V.S.A § 4915(b)., by striking the first sentence of subsection (b) through the colon and inserting in lieu thereof a new sentence to read as follows:

The investigation, to the extent that it is reasonable under the facts and circumstances presented by the particular allegation of child abuse, shall include all of the following:

Third:  In Sec. 1, 33 V.S.A.§ 4915, by striking subsection (c) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

(c)  If the investigation produces evidence that the child has been abused or neglected For cases investigated by the department, the commissioner may, to the extent that it is reasonable, cause assistance to be provided provide assistance to the child and the child’s family in accordance with a written plan of treatment.

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

Sec. 3.  STUDY

The house committee on judiciary may convene while the general assembly is not in session for the purpose of considering:

(1)  Issues related to allegations of abuse or neglect of a child, including a tiered approach to the investigation and substantiation of child abuse or neglect that is based upon the severity of the behavior and the risk to children and the community and that establishes appropriate corresponding consequences and protections.

(2)  Issues related to the substantiation of minors, including the availability of psychological treatment for a minor suspected of committing an act of abuse, placement of a minor’s name on the child abuse registry once the commissioner determines the minor committed an act of abuse, and expungement of a minor’s registry records once the minor reaches the age of 18.  The house committee on judiciary shall consult with the house committee on human services while considering the issues in this subdivision.

(Committee vote: 10-0-1)

H. 531

An act relating to Ensuring success in health care reform.

(Rep. Maier of Middlebury will speak for the Committee on Health Care.)

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

First:  In Sec. 7, Integrated Early Implementation of Blueprint Programs; Appropriation, by striking “; Appropriation” in the title of the section

 

Second:  In Sec. 7, Integrated Early Implementation of Blueprint Programs; Appropriation, by striking subsection (d) and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (d) to read:

(d)  For fiscal year 2008, the department of  health shall provide a grant to the Vermont rural health alliance for the early implementation projects described in this section upon the approval by the commissioner and upon receipt of $185,

Third:  By adding a new Sec. 15 as follows:

Sec. 15.  33 V.S.A. § 1986(d) is amended to read:

(d)  All monies received by or generated to the fund shall be used only as allowed by appropriation of the general assembly for the administration and delivery of the Catamount Health assistance program under this subchapter, employer‑sponsored insurance premium assistance under section 1974 of this title, immunizations under section 1130 of Title 18, and the nongroup health insurance market assistance under section 4062d of Title 8, and for transfers to the state health care resources fund established in section 1901d of this title as approved by the general assembly.

Favorable

H. 528

     An act relating to approval of amendment to the charter of the city of Montpelier.

Rep. Martin of Wolcott, for the Committee on Government Operations, recommends the bill ought to pass.

( Committee Vote: 11-0-0)

Special Notice to Representatives

Members’ amendments to H.537

 (FY 2008 appropriations bill)

 

Members who plan to introduce amendments to the FY 2008 appropriations bill are encouraged to meet with the Appropriations Committee on Thursday, April 5, from 8:45-9:00 a.m. in Room 42.

Governor’s Veto

H. 302

     An act relating to fiscal year 2007 budget adjustments.

Text of Veto Message

     The text of the communication from His Excellency, the Governor, whereby he vetoed and returned unsigned House Bill No. 302 to the House is as follows:

     “April 3, 2007

The Honorable Donald G. Milne Clerk of the House of Representatives State House

Montpelier, VT 05633-5401

Dear Mr. Milne:

     Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, I am returning H.302, An Act Relating to Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Adjustments, without my signature because of objections described herein.

     Achieving the prosperity and peace of mind we desire for every generation of Vermonters requires that we take steps now to moderate the cost of living in Vermont—including the cost of higher education.

     Scholarships are immensely important to Vermont families, Vermont's institutions of higher learning, and Vermont's continued economic growth. Accordingly, for some time I insisted that funding for scholarships be included in the Budget Adjustment bill – which is the most appropriate and most timely vehicle for this initiative.

     The reluctance of the controlling majority of this General Assembly to embrace scholarships has been both astonishing and disappointing. After more than a year of discussion, their unwillingness to pass scholarships expeditiously is equally astounding. Such intransigence reflects a fundamental, and widening, divide between the priorities of this majority and working families.

     Scholarships are an important investment in the future of our state, and Vermonters have embraced this initiative. They make college more affordable and accessible for more working families and help address the enormous demographic challenges facing our state, by enticing college-bound students to stay in Vermont after college graduation.

     Legislative leaders knowingly abandoned an opportunity to include funding for scholarships in the Budget Adjustment bill and ensure that scholarships are available to Vermont students who are now making their decisions about which college to attend this fall, or whether they can afford to attend college at all.

     In order to ensure the economic security, prosperity and peace of mind we desire for every new generation of Vermonters, we must take more aggressive steps—like providing scholarships that make Vermont more affordable.

     I respectfully request that the General Assembly immediately pass a new budget adjustment bill that provides scholarships for Vermont students. If you do so, I am confident that those students, their parents, and all who care about the security and prosperity of this great state will thank you.

                                                           Sincerely,

                                                           /s/James H. Douglas

                                                           Governor”

 

     PUBLIC HEARINGS

     Wednesday, April 4, 2007 – Room 11 – 10:00 A M until Noon - - House and Senate Committees on Agriculture  Re: H. 522 Viability of VT Agriculture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
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Montpelier, Vermont


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