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House Calendar

FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2007

115th DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

House Convenes at 9:30  A M

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                               Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

     Third Reading

S.  39  Health Insurance Reimbursement for Naturopathic Physicians............ 1159

Favorable with Amendment

H. 542  Amendment to Charter City of Vergennes........................................ 1159

               Rep. Manwaring for Government Operations

S.    6  Preventing Conviction of Innocent Persons........................................ 1159

               Rep. Jewett for Judiciary

S.   93   Miscellaneous Changes to Education Law....................................... 1171

               Rep. Donovan for Education

S. 137  Reducing Phosphorus Allowed in Household Cleansing Products ..... 1178

               Rep. C. Martin for Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources

Favorable

H. 330  Repeal of Law to Municipal Trailer Park Ordinances....................... 1179

               Rep. Valliere for General, Housing and Military Services

S. 52  Motor Vehicles, Snowmobiles, Motorboats, All-Terrain Vehicles.....   1179

               Rep. Minter for Transportation

S. 128  Sunsets on Forensic Examinations at Designated Hospitals................ 1179

               Rep. Mrowicki for Human Services

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H. 296  Potable Water Supply and Wastewater System Permitting............... 1179

H. 313  Administration and Enforcement of Fines in Judicial System.............. 1180

 

 

 

 

Action Postponed Until Tuesday, May 1, 2007

S. 133  Motor Vehicle /Junior Operators / Primary Seat Belt Enforcement.... 1198

 

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Amendment

H. 346  Statewide Coordinator on Stuttering................................................ 1198

               Rep. Gilbert for Education

S. 116  Miscellaneous Election Law Amendments......................................... 1199

               Rep. L. Martin for Government Operations

S. 121  Relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders............................................. 1204

               Rep. Oxholm for Education

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H. 148  Relating to child Abuse Registry....................................................... 1207

H. 154  Relating to Stormwater Management............................................... 1230

CONSENT CALENDAR

(See Addendum to House and Senate Calendar)

H.C.R. 123  In Memory of Elizabeth Daley Jeffords .................................... 1233

H.C.R. 124  Congratulating 2007 Champions Vermont Frost Heaves........... 1233

 

 


 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

     Third Reading

S. 39

An act relating to health insurance plan reimbursement for covered services by naturopathic physicians.

Favorable with Amendment

H. 542

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

Rep. Manwaring of Wilmington, for the Committee on Government Operations, recommends the bill be amended in Sec. 2, 24 V.S.A. App. Chapter 15, § 26(b), in the second sentence, after the first instance of the word “capacity” , by inserting the following: outside the territorial limits of the city

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

S.  6

An act relating to preventing conviction of innocent persons.

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

Sec. 1.  13 V.S.A. chapter 182 is added to read:

CHAPTER 182.  INNOCENCE PROTECTION

Subchapter 1.  Postconviction DNA Testing

§ 5561.  PETITION FOR POSTCONVICTION DNA TESTING

(a)  A person convicted of a qualifying crime may at any time file a petition requesting forensic DNA testing of any evidence which may contain biological evidence that was obtained during the investigation or prosecution of the crime.  The petition shall:

(1)  specifically identify the crime for which the petitioner asserts that he or she is innocent and the evidence which the petitioner seeks to have subjected to DNA testing;

(2)  contain the petitioner’s certification, under oath, that the petitioner did not commit the crime for which he or she was convicted;

(3)  contain the petitioner’s certification, under oath, that the petition is true and accurate; and

(4)  allege facts showing that DNA testing may be material to the petitioner’s claim of innocence.

(b)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Biological evidence” means:

(A)  a sexual assault forensic examination kit; or

(B)  semen, blood, saliva, hair, skin tissue, or other identified biological material.

(2)   “Person convicted of a qualifying crime” means a person convicted of:

(A)  one of the following crimes as defined in this title:

(1)  rson causing death, § 501;

(2)  assault and robbery with a dangerous weapon, § 608(b);

(3)  assault and robbery causing bodily injury, § 608(c);

(4)  aggravated assault, § 1024;

(5)  murder, § 2301;

(6)  manslaughter, § 2304;

(7)  aggravated murder, § 2311;

(8)  kidnapping, § 2405;

(9)  unlawful restraint, §§ 2406 and 2407;

(10)  maiming, § 2701;

(11)  sexual assault, § 3252;

(12)  aggravated sexual assault, § 3253;

(13)  burglary into an occupied dwelling, § 1201(c); or

(14)  lewd and lascivious conduct with a child; § 2602.

(B)  any felony not listed in subdivision (b)(1) of this section, if the petition is filed within 30 months after the conviction becomes final, the person presents specific facts demonstrating that DNA evidence will provide substantial evidence of the person’s innocence, and the court finds that the interests of justice would be served by permitting the petition.   

(c)(1)  The petition shall be filed in the superior court of the county where the conviction was imposed, and shall not be heard by a judge who presided over the trial, sentencing, or any motion hearing related to evidence to be admitted at the trial. 

(2)(A)  Unless subdivision (B) of this subdivision (2) applies, the petitioner shall provide copies of the petition to the attorney general and to the state’s attorney in the district where the conviction was obtained. 

(B)  If the petitioner is not represented by counsel, the court shall provide copies of the petition to the attorney general and to the state’s attorney in the district where the conviction was obtained.

(3)  Within 30 days after it receives the petition, the state shall agree to perform the requested DNA testing in a timely manner or file a response to the petition.  The petitioner may file a reply to the state’s response only within ten days after the response is filed. 

(4)  The court shall schedule a hearing on the petition within 90 days after the state’s response is filed unless the state notifies the court that it has agreed to provide the testing in a timely manner or the court dismisses the petition pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. 

(5)  Time limits under this subsection may be extended for good cause shown or by consent of the parties.

(c)  The court shall dismiss the petition without a hearing if it determines that:

(1)  the petition, response, reply if any, files, and records conclusively establish that the petitioner is entitled to no relief; or

(2)  the petition was not made to demonstrate innocence or the appropriateness of a lesser sentence and will unreasonably delay the execution of sentence or administration of justice.     

§ 5562.  ASSIGNMENT OF COUNSEL

The court may appoint counsel if the petitioner is unable financially to employ counsel and may order that all necessary costs and expenses incident to the matter, including but not limited to court costs, stenographic services, printing, and reasonable compensation for legal services, be paid by the state from the appropriation to the defender general.  On appeal, the supreme court may make a similar order.

§ 5563.  VICTIM NOTIFICATION

If the address of a victim of the crime which the petitioner claims to be innocent of in the petition is known, the state’s attorney or attorney general shall give written notice of a petition under this section to the victim as soon as the petition is received.  If the victim’s current address is not known, the state’s attorney or the attorney general shall consult with the department of corrections victim services division to verify the victim’s last known address.  The notice shall be by any reasonable means to the victim's last known address and shall indicate whether the petitioner is represented by public or private counsel.  Upon the victim's request, the state’s attorney or attorney general shall give the victim notice of the time and place of any hearing on the petition and shall inform the victim of the disposition of the petition and the outcome of any hearing.  If DNA testing is ordered, the state’s attorney or the attorney general shall inform the victim whether the test results require further court hearings, the time and place of any hearings, and the outcome of the hearings.

§ 5564.  DISCOVERY

(a)  Upon motion by the petitioner or the state, and after providing the nonmovant with reasonable opportunity to respond to the motion, the court may permit reasonable discovery and the right to depose witnesses.  The court in its discretion may delay ruling on any discovery motions until after it has determined whether to dismiss the petition pursuant to subsection 5561(c) of this section.  

(b)  A discovery order issued pursuant to this section may include the following:

(1)  The court may order the state to locate and provide the petitioner with any documents, notes, logs, or reports relating to items of physical evidence collected in connection with the case or to help the petitioner locate items of biological evidence that the state contends have been lost or destroyed.  The court may further order the state to take reasonable measures to locate biological evidence that may be in its custody or to help the petitioner locate evidence that may be in the custody of a public or private hospital, public or private laboratory, or other facility.

(2)  If evidence has previously been subjected to DNA testing, the court may order production of laboratory reports prepared in connection with the testing and may order production of the underlying data and the laboratory notes.

(3)  If any DNA or other biological evidence testing was previously conducted by either the prosecution or the defense without knowledge of the other party, the court may order that the previous testing be disclosed.

(4)  If the court orders DNA testing under this subchapter, the court shall order the production of any laboratory reports prepared in connection with the testing and may order production of the underlying data, bench notes, or other laboratory notes.

§ 5565.  PRESERVATION OF BIOLOGICAL EVIDENCE; POLICIES

The department of public safety shall disseminate policies regarding the collection and preservation of biological evidence to all state and local law enforcement agencies on or before July 1, 2007.  Law enforcement agencies shall adopt the policies distributed pursuant to this section, or adopt similar policies on a department-by-department basis.

§ 5566.  ORDER; NECESSARY FINDINGS; CONFIDENTIALITY

(a)  The court shall grant the petition and order DNA testing if it makes all of the following findings:

(1)  A reasonable probability exists that the petitioner would not have been convicted of the crime which the petitioner claims to be innocent of in the petition if the results of the requested DNA testing had been available at the time of the original prosecution.

(2)  One or more of the items of evidence that the petitioner seeks to have tested is still in existence.

(3)  The evidence to be tested was obtained in connection with the offense that is the basis of the challenged conviction and:

(A)  was not previously subjected to DNA testing; or

(B)  although previously subjected to DNA testing, can be subjected to additional DNA testing that provides a reasonable likelihood of significantly more probative results.

(4)(A)(i)  The chain of custody of the evidence to be tested establishes that the evidence has not been tampered with, replaced, or altered in any material respect; or

(ii)  If the chain of custody does not establish the integrity of the evidence, the testing itself has the potential to establish the integrity of the evidence.

(B)  For purposes of this subchapter, evidence that has been in the custody of a law enforcement agency, a governmental body, or a public or private hospital shall be presumed to satisfy the chain-of-custody requirement of this subdivision.

(b)  The court may designate in its order:

(1)  the type of DNA analysis to be used;

(2)  the testing procedures to be followed;

(3)  the preservation of some portion of the sample for replicating the testing;

(4)  additional DNA testing, if the results of the initial testing are inconclusive or otherwise merit additional scientific analysis.

(c)  DNA profile information from biological samples taken from any person pursuant to a petition under this subchapter shall be confidential and shall be exempt from any law requiring disclosure of information to the public.

§ 5567.  APPEALS

An order entered on the petition may be appealed to the Vermont supreme court pursuant to the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

§ 5568.  CHOICE OF LABORATORY; PAYMENT

(a)  If the court orders DNA testing under this subchapter, the testing shall be conducted at a facility mutually agreed upon by the petitioner and the state and approved by the court.  If the parties are unable to agree, the court shall designate the testing facility and provide the parties with a reasonable opportunity to be heard on the issue.

(b)  The court shall impose reasonable conditions on the testing to protect the parties’ interests in the integrity of the evidence and the testing process.

(c)(1)  The state shall bear the costs of testing performed at the state crime laboratory.

(2)  Except as provided in subdivision (3) of this subsection, the court may require the petitioner or the state or both to pay for testing performed at a private laboratory.

(3)  If the state crime laboratory does not have the ability or resources to conduct the type of DNA testing to be performed, the state shall bear the costs of testing at a private laboratory which does have such capabilities or resources.

§ 5569.  PROCEDURE AFTER TEST RESULTS OBTAINED

(a)  The results of any postconviction DNA testing conducted pursuant to this subchapter shall be disclosed to the state’s attorney, the attorney general, the petitioner, and the court.

(b)  If the results of forensic DNA testing ordered under this subchapter support the facts alleged in the petition, the court shall schedule a hearing as soon as practicable after the results are received to determine the appropriate relief to be granted.  The petitioner and the state shall be permitted to submit motions and be heard at the hearing.

(c)  At or subsequent to the hearing, the court may issue an order including but not limited to the following:

 

(1)  setting aside or vacating the petitioner’s judgment of conviction;

(2)  granting the petitioner a new trial;

(3)  granting the petitioner a new sentencing hearing;

(4)  discharging the petitioner from custody;

(5)  specifying the disposition of any evidence that remains after the completion of the testing;

(6)  granting the petitioner additional discovery on matters related to DNA test results or the conviction or sentence under attack, including documents pertaining to the original criminal investigation and the identities of other suspects; or

(7)  providing such other relief as the court deems appropriate.

(d)  If the person’s conviction is reversed or vacated or the person is pardoned as a result of DNA evidence:

(1)  The court shall order the removal and destruction of the person’s name and any information about that conviction from the sex offender registry established under section 5402 of this title, the child abuse registry established under section 4916 of Title 33, the vulnerable adult registry established under section 6911 of Title 33, and any other registry on which the person’s name appears solely because of his or her conviction of the offense for which the person’s actual innocence has been established.  If the person has more than one entry on a registry, only the entry related to the offense for which the person’s actual innocence has been established shall be removed and destroyed.

(2)  The court shall order the Vermont crime information center to remove and destroy any criminal records it has related to the person’s commission of the offense for which his or her actual innocence has been established.  If the center has records related to the person’s commission of other offenses, only the records related to the offense for which the person’s actual innocence has been established shall be removed and destroyed.

(3)  It shall not be a violation of Vermont law for the person to respond when asked, that he or she has never previously been convicted of a crime, and that his or her innocence of the crime charged has been established.  This subdivision shall not apply if the person has been convicted of a crime other than the one for which the person’s conviction was reversed or the person was pardoned as a result of DNA evidence.   

(e)  An order issued under this section may be appealed to the Vermont supreme court pursuant to the Rules of Appellate Procedure. 

 

§ 5570.  SUCCESSIVE PETITIONS

(a)  The court shall not be required to entertain a second or successive petition for similar relief on behalf of the same petitioner unless it appears the petition will be assisted by the availability of more advanced DNA technology.

(b)  The court may entertain a second or successive petition if it determines that doing so would serve the interests of justice.

Subchapter 2.  Compensation for Wrongful Convictions

§ 5572.  RIGHT OF ACTION; PROCEDURE

(a)  A person convicted and imprisoned for a crime of which the person was exonerated pursuant to subchapter 1 of this chapter shall have a cause of action for damages against the state.

(b)  An action brought under this subchapter shall be filed in Washington County superior court.  Notice of the action shall be served upon the attorney general.

(c)  The Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply to actions brought under this subchapter, and the plaintiff shall have a right to trial by jury.  The Vermont Rules of Appellate Procedure shall apply to appeals from orders and judgments issued under this subchapter.

(d)  The attorney general may consider, adjust, determine, and settle any claim for damages brought against the state of Vermont under this subchapter.

§ 5573.  COMPLAINT

(a)  A complaint filed under this subchapter shall be supported by facts and shall allege that:

(1)  the complainant has been convicted of a crime, been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, and served all or any part of the sentence; and

(2)  the complainant’s actual innocence has been established by DNA evidence which resulted in the person’s conviction being reversed or vacated or the granting of a pardon. 

(b)  The court may dismiss the complaint, upon its own motion or upon motion of the state, if it determines that the complaint does not state a claim for which relief may be granted.

§ 5574.  BURDEN OF PROOF; JUDGMENT; DAMAGES 

(a)  A claimant shall be entitled to judgment in an action under this subchapter if the claimant establishes each of the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

(1)  The complainant was convicted of a crime, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, and served all or any part of the sentence.

(2)(A)  The complainant’s conviction was reversed or vacated; or

(B)  The complainant was pardoned for the crime for which he or she was sentenced.

(3)  DNA evidence establishes that the complainant did not commit the crime for which he or she was sentenced.

(4)  The complainant did not fabricate evidence or commit or suborn perjury during any proceedings related to the crime with which he or she was charged.

(b)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, a claimant awarded judgment in an action under this subchapter shall be entitled to damages for each year the claimant was incarcerated in an amount to be determined by the trier of fact and adjusted proportionally for partial years served.  The damage award may also include:

(A)  Economic damages, including lost wages and costs incurred by the claimant for his or her criminal defense and for efforts to prove his or her innocence.

(B)  Up to ten years of physical and mental health care through the state employees’ health care system, offset by any amount provided through the claimant’s employers during that time period.

(C)  Compensation for any reasonable reintegrative services and mental and physical health care costs incurred by the claimant for the time period between his or her release from mistaken incarceration and the date of the award.

(D)  Reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for the action brought under this subchapter.   

(2)  A claimant entitled to judgment under this section whose conviction resulted from a plea agreement shall only be eligible for the remedies provided by subdivisions (1)(B), (C), and (D) of this subsection. 

(c)  Damages awarded under this section:

(1)  shall not be subject to any state taxes, except for the portion of the judgment awarded as attorney’s fees; and

(2)  shall not be offset by any services awarded to the claimant pursuant to this section or by any expenses incurred by the state or any political subdivision of the state, including expenses incurred to secure or maintain the claimant’s custody or to feed, clothe, or provide medical services for the claimant.

(d)  The claimant’s acceptance of a damages award, compromise, or settlement as a result of a claim under this subchapter shall be in writing and, except when procured by fraud, shall be final and conclusive on the claimant, and constitute a complete release by the claimant of any claim against the state and a complete bar to any action by the claimant against the state with respect to the same subject matter. 

(e)  A claimant shall be entitled to compensation under this subchapter only if he or she would not otherwise have been incarcerated for another sentence.  

§ 5575.  PAYMENT

(a)  Any award made or compromise or settlement against the state of Vermont agreed upon by the attorney general in response to an action brought under this subchapter shall be paid by the state treasurer out of the treasury, and the emergency board shall reimburse the state treasurer therefor from time to time.

(b)  If the state elects to self‑insure for liability as defined in section 5601 of Title 12, any award, compromise, or settlement against the state of Vermont agreed to by the attorney general shall be paid by the treasurer from the liability self-insurance fund.

(c)  To the extent that an award, settlement, or compromise is covered by a policy of liability insurance, payment will be governed by the terms of the policy.

§ 5576.  LIMITATIONS

(a)  Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, an action for wrongful conviction under this subchapter shall be commenced within three years after the person’s actual innocence is established by the person’s conviction being reversed or vacated or by the granting of a pardon.

(b)(1)  If the state challenges the establishment of the actual innocence of a person entitled to bring an action under this subchapter, the limitations period shall not commence until the challenge is finally resolved.

(2)  If a person entitled to bring an action under this subchapter is not provided the notice required by section 5586 of this title, the person shall have an additional year within which to bring the action.     

§ 5577.  NOTICE OF RIGHT OF ACTION

(a)  A copy of this subchapter shall be provided to a person by a court:

(1)  issuing judicial relief establishing the person’s actual innocence through vacating or reversing the person’s conviction; or

(2)  receiving notice of a pardon.

(b)  A person receiving a copy of this subchapter pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall be required to acknowledge its receipt in writing on a form established by the court administrator.  The acknowledgement shall be entered on the docket by the court and shall be admissible in an action filed under this subchapter.

Sec. 2.  PRESERVATION OF EVIDENCE STUDY COMMITTEE

(a)  A committee is established for the purpose of studying issues related to the preservation of evidence in criminal cases.

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

(1)  one member appointed by the executive director of the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs, who shall be the chair of the committee;

(2)  one district court clerk appointed by the court administrator;

(3)  the attorney general or designee;

(4)  one member appointed by the Vermont chiefs of police association;

(5)  the captain of the bureau of criminal investigations or designee;

(6)  one member appointed by the Vermont criminal justice training council;

(7)  the commissioner of public safety or designee;

(8)  the executive director of the Vermont crime laboratory or designee;

(9)  the defender general or designee;

(10)  an investigator appointed by the defender general; and

(11)  a staff public defender appointed by the defender general;

(12)  one member appointed by the Vermont sheriffs’ association;

(13)  one member appointed by the Vermont center for crime victims services.

(c)  The committee shall consider the following:

(1)  Current statewide policies regarding the preservation of evidence in criminal cases, and whether a statewide policy should be adopted;

(2)  Current policies in local jurisdictions regarding the preservation of evidence in criminal cases, and whether these policies are consistent with one another and with relevant statewide policies;

(3)  Best practices regarding the preservation of evidence in criminal cases;

(4)  The appropriate duration for preservation of evidence, with specific consideration of whether evidence should be preserved while a convicted person is incarcerated or while the person is under other forms of state supervision;

(5)  Whether and how advances in DNA testing technology should effect policies concerning preservation of evidence;

(6)  Whether current facilities provide enough space to preserve the evidence that needs to be preserved; and   

(7)  Whether there should be one central, statewide repository for evidence collected in criminal cases.

(d)  The committee shall have the assistance and cooperation of all state and local agencies and departments.  The committee shall consult with the Innocence Project.  The department of public safety shall provide professional and administrative support for the committee. 

(e)  The committee shall report its findings and recommendations, including proposals for legislative action, to the senate and house committees on judiciary no later than December 15, 2007 whereupon the committee shall cease to exist.

Sec. 3.  EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION AND CUSTODIAL

           INTERROGATION RECORDING STUDY COMMITTEE

(a)  A committee is established for the purpose of studying issues related to best practices regarding eyewitness identification procedures and audio and audio-visual recording of custodial interrogations.  The committee shall:

(1)  study and analyze federal and state models and develop best practices regarding:

(A)  audio and audio-visual recording of any custodial interrogations related to the investigation or prosecution of felonies; and

(B)  eyewitness identification procedures for conducting photo lineups and live lineups.

(2)  Study current statewide policies regarding eyewitness identification procedures for conducting photo lineups and live lineups and audio and

audio-visual recording of custodial interrogations, and whether statewide policies on these issues should be adopted; and

(3)  Study current policies in local jurisdictions regarding eyewitness identification procedures for conducting photo lineups and live lineups and audio and audio-visual recording of custodial interrogations, and whether these policies are consistent with one another and with relevant statewide policies.

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

(1)  one member appointed by the executive director of the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs, who shall be the chair of the committee;

(2)  the attorney general or designee;

(3)  one member appointed by the Vermont chiefs of police association;

(4)  the captain of the bureau of criminal investigations or designee;

(5)  one member appointed by the Vermont criminal justice training council;

(6)  the commissioner of public safety or designee;

(7)  the defender general or designee;

(8)  an investigator appointed by the defender general;

(9)  a staff public defender appointed by the defender general;

(10)  one member appointed by the Vermont sheriffs’ association;

(11)  one member appointed by the Vermont center for crime victims services; and

(12)  one member appointed by the Vermont bar association.

(d)  The committee shall have the assistance and cooperation of all state and local agencies and departments.  The committee shall consult with the Innocence Project.  The department of public safety shall provide professional and administrative support for the committee. 

(e)  The committee shall report its findings and recommendations, including proposals for legislative action, to the senate and house committees on judiciary no later than December 15, 2007, whereupon the committee shall cease to exist.

(Committee vote: 10-0-1)

(For text see Senate Journal March 1, 2007 – pp. 205-215 )

S. 93

An act relating to miscellaneous changes to education law.

Rep. Donovan of Burlington, for the Committee on Education, recommends that the House propose to the Senate that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  By striking Secs. 3 and 3a in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following: 

Sec. 3.  [Deleted.]

Sec. 3a.  [Deleted.]

Second:  By adding a new section to be Sec. 6a to read:

Sec. 6a.  16 V.S.A. § 823(a) is amended to read:

§ 823.  ELEMENTARY TUITION

(a)  Tuition for elementary pupils shall be paid by the district in which the pupil is a resident.  The district shall pay the full tuition charged its students attending a public elementary school.  However, if If a payment made to a public elementary school is three percent more or less than the calculated net cost per elementary pupil in the receiving school district for the year of attendance, the district shall be reimbursed, credited, or refunded pursuant to section 836 of this title, unless otherwise agreed to by.  Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection or of subsection 825(b) of this title, the boards of both the receiving and sending districts may enter into tuition agreements with terms differing from the provisions of those subsections, provided that the receiving district must offer identical terms to all sending districts, and further provided that the statutory provisions apply to any sending district that declines the offered terms.

Third:  By striking Sec. 8 in its entirety and inserting a new Sec. 8 to read:

Sec. 8.  [Deleted.]

Fourth:  By striking Sec. 10 in its entirety and inserting a new Sec. 10 to read:

Sec. 10.  16 V.S.A. § 4028(c) is amended to read: 

(c)  Any district which has adopted a school budget that includes excess spending, as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12), shall, upon timely notice, be authorized to use a portion of its excess spending penalty in obtaining an education operations consultant, as follows:  The district may employ a consultant for recommendations on how to reduce its future education spending, and the department of education shall pay the consulting costs from the property tax revenue to be generated by the excess spending increase to the district’s spending adjustment as estimated by the commissioner, up to a maximum of $5,000.00.  “Timely notice” for this purpose means written notice from the district to the commissioner within 60 days after the budget is adopted.  The consultant may not be an employee of the district or of the department of education.  A copy of the consultant’s final recommendations shall be submitted to the commissioner, and each affected town shall include in its next town report an executive summary of the consultant’s final recommendations and notice of where a complete copy is available.  No district is authorized to obtain consulting funds under this section more often than once every five years.

(c)(1)  Any district that has adopted a school budget which includes high spending, as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12), shall, upon timely notice, be authorized to use a portion of its high spending penalty to reduce future education spending as follows:

(A)  By entering into a contract with an education operations or budget consultant.

(B)  By entering into a contract with an energy or facilities management consultant.

(C)  By engaging in discussions with other school districts about reorganization or consolidation for better service delivery at a lower cost. 

(2)  To the extent approved by the commissioner, the department shall pay the district from the property tax revenue to be generated by the high spending increase to the district’s spending adjustment as estimated by the commissioner, up to a maximum of $5,000.00.  For the purposes of this subsection, “timely notice” means written notice from the district to the commissioner by September 30 of the budget year.  If the district enters into a contract with a consultant pursuant to this subsection, the consultant shall not be an employee of the district or of the department of education.  A copy of the consultant’s final recommendations or a copy of the district’s recommendations regarding reorganization, as appropriate, shall be submitted to the commissioner, and each affected town shall include in its next town report an executive summary of the consultant’s or district’s final recommendations and notice of where a complete copy is available.  No district is authorized to obtain funds under this section more than once in every five years.

Fifth:  By striking Sec. 12 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 12 to read:

Sec. 12.  SCHOOL DISTRICTS; ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING HIGH SPENDING

(a)  The commissioner of education shall explore and analyze the reasons school districts exceed the excess spending threshold defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12) and develop recommendations for exempting school districts from the consequences of exceeding the excess spending threshold in the following circumstances:

(1)  The district has high costs for special education services, the department has recommended ways to lower the costs, the district has followed the recommendations, and the district still exceeds the threshold; or

(2)  The district has high costs for special education services, the department has been unable to identify ways to lower the costs, and the district still exceeds the threshold; or

(3)  The district pays tuition for all or most of its students to attend one or more schools outside the district and the commissioner determines that it is not possible for the district to make alternative arrangements that would enable it to stay beneath the high spending threshold.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2008, the commissioner shall file a report with the house and senate committees on education and on appropriations regarding the recommendations required by this section.  The report shall include a detailed fiscal analysis of the recommendations and related draft legislation.  It shall also include an analysis of the effectiveness of 16 V.S.A. § 4028(c), which permits high spending districts to hire a budget consultant with money paid as a consequence of exceeding the threshold.

Sixth:  By striking Sec. 13 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof two new sections to be Secs. 13 and 13a to read:

Sec. 13.  16 V.S.A. § 2975 is added to read:

§ 2975.  UNUSUAL SPECIAL EDUCATION COSTS; FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

The commissioner may use up to two percent of the funds appropriated for special education expenditures, as that term is defined in subsection 2967(b) of this title, to directly assist school districts with special education expenditures of an unusual or unexpected nature.  These funds shall not be used for exceptional circumstances that are funded under section 2963a of this title.  The commissioner’s decision regarding a district’s eligibility for and amount of assistance shall be final.

Sec. 13a.  REPEAL

Sec. 9(a) of No. 117 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000) (financial assistance for unusual special education costs), as amended by Sec. 18 of No. 107 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004), is repealed.

Seventh:  By striking Sec. 16 in its entirety and adding new six new sections to be Secs. 16‑21 to read:

Sec. 16.  16 V.S.A. § 4001(1) is amended to read: 

(1) “Average daily membership” of a school district, or if needed in order to calculate the appropriate homestead tax rate, of the municipality as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(9), in any year means:

(A)  the full‑time equivalent enrollment of pupils, as defined by the state board by rule, who are legal residents of the district or municipality attending a school owned and operated by the district, attending a public school outside the district under an interdistrict agreement, or for whom the district pays tuition to one or more approved independent schools or public schools outside the district during the annual census period.  The census period consists of the first 40 days 11th day through the 31st day of the school year in which school is actually in session; and

(B)  the full‑time equivalent enrollment in the year between the end of before the last census period and the end of the current census period, of any state‑placed students as defined in subdivision 11(a)(28) of this title.  A school district which provides for the education of its students by paying tuition to an approved independent school or public school outside the district shall not count a state‑placed student for whom it is paying tuition for purposes of determining average daily membership.  A school district which is receiving the full amount, as defined by the state board by rule, of the student’s education costs under subsection 2950(a) of this title, shall not count the student for purposes of determining average daily membership.  A state‑placed student who is counted in average daily membership shall be counted as a student for the purposes of determining weighted student count.

Sec. 17.  16 V.S.A. § 4010(h) is added to read:

§ 4010.  DETERMINATION OF WEIGHTED MEMBERSHIP

* * *

(h)  On December 1 each year, the commissioner shall determine the equalized pupil count for the next fiscal year for district review.  The commissioner shall make any necessary corrections on or before December 15, on which date the count shall become final for that year.

Sec. 18.  STATEWIDE NETWORK FOR DISTANCE LEARNING

(a)  The department of education shall examine, analyze, and make recommendations concerning a process by which the state could develop a statewide, managed network offering shared, high‑quality distance‑learning opportunities to all Vermont schools through accredited, online course offerings from nationally recognized distance learning schools and through Vermont‑based distance learning courses.

(b)  The department shall present its analysis and recommendations in the form of a report to the general assembly on or before January 1, 2008.  The report shall:

(1)  Explain the impediments that have prevented the creation of this network and describe how the department would overcome these impediments.

(2)  Outline in detail a process by which the department would create a network of high‑quality distance‑learning opportunities for all Vermont schools, which would include:

(A)  A professional development program to improve the skills of Vermont educators in creating course offerings and overseeing the distance learning system.

(B)  A warehouse of content‑based, electronic resources for educators.

(C)  Shared infrastructure services such as e‑mail, content filtering, spam filtering, and security services.

(3)  Include a detailed fiscal analysis of the funding required for initial and ongoing implementation of the proposed network, including proposed sources of funding.

(4)  Include a detailed timeline for implementation.

Sec. 19.  PREGNANT AND PARENTING PUPILS ATTENDING TEEN PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAMS

(a)  Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, a school district of residence shall make the following payments for a publicly funded pregnant or parenting pupil attending a teen parent education program: 

(1)  The school district shall pay the teen parent education program 83 percent of the base education payment for the year of attendance prorated based on the pupil’s full‑time equivalent enrollment, as defined by state board rule, in academic courses at the teen parent education program.

(2)  If the district of residence does not maintain a school, the otherwise qualified pregnant or parenting pupil may enroll in any public school or approved independent school (the “enrolling school”) in which any other legal pupil in the district of residence may enroll at public expense.  In this situation, the district of residence shall reimburse the enrolling school for coordinating the pregnant or parenting pupil’s education plan at the teen parent education program and for planning and facilitating the pupil’s subsequent education plan and transition to the enrolling school, at a rate of 17 percent of the base education payment for the year in which the pupil attends the teen parent education program.

(b)(1)  The pregnant or parenting pupil must be enrolled in a school maintained by the school district of residence or, if the district does not maintain a school, enrolled at a public school or an approved independent school at the district’s expense. 

(2)  The teen parent education program must be recognized by the department for children and families.

(3)  As determined by the district of residence or by the enrolling school if the district does not maintain a school, the pupil must be taking academic courses at the teen parent education program that are the substantial equivalent of the courses required by the district of residence or enrolling school, as applicable, to obtain a high school diploma.  The sending district or enrolling school, as applicable, will collaborate with the teen parent education program regarding the pupil’s programs and progress.

(4)  In the event of a dispute, the pupil, the teen parent education program, the district of residence, or the enrolling school may request a ruling from the commissioner of education which shall be final.

(5)  On or before January 8, 2008, the commissioner of education shall report to the house and senate committees on education regarding information gathered from the teen parent education programs and recommendations for future legislation.  The report shall include an overview of the pupils served, current funding mechanisms, and a description of the academic resources offered by the programs.  The report shall also include data regarding the pupils’ educational success rates, including the number of pupils taking academic courses at the teen parent programs, the number of courses taken by the pupils, the number of pupils who remain in the program and the number who drop out, the number of pupils who return to the school in their district of residence or to the enrolling school, and the number of pupils who obtain a high school diploma or GED after receiving services at the teen parent education center.

Sec. 20.  Sec. 168a of No. 122 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004) is amended to read:

Sec. 168a.  SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION; TRANSITION AID;
       APPROPRIATION SUNSET

(a)  In its first year of operation After voter approval of the establishment of a union, unified union, or interstate school district, the commissioner of education shall pay to a joint contract, the board of the union, unified union, or interstate school district which began operation during or after school year 2003‑2004 a facilitation grant of five percent of the base education payment amount in 16 V.S.A. § 4001(13) based on October 1 enrollment for that year the combined enrollment of the participating districts on October 1 of the year in which the successful vote was taken or $150,000.00, whichever is less, from the education fund.  The funds grant shall be in addition to funds received under 16 V.S.A. § 4028 and for districts beginning operation during or after school year 2004‑2005 shall be paid in thirds in the same manner that other state education aid is paid under that section

(b)  This section shall sunset on June 30, 2008 2010.

Sec. 21.  EFFECTIVE DATES; SUNSET

(a)  Sec. 19 shall take effect on July 1, 2007 and shall remain in effect until July 1, 2008.

(b)  All other sections of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2007.

(Committee vote: 10-1-0)   

(No Senate Amendments)

S. 137

An act relating to reducing the amount of phosphorus allowed in household cleansing products used in dishwashers.

Rep. Martin of Springfield, for the Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources, recommends that the House propose to the Senate that the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  10 V.S.A. § 1382 is amended to read:

§ 1382.  PROHIBITIONS

(a)  No household cleansing products except those used in dishwashers, for cleansing medical and surgical equipment, food and beverage processing equipment, and dairy equipment may be distributed, sold, offered, or exposed for sale at retail, after April 1, 1978, or at wholesale, after January 1, 1978, or used in a commercial establishment in this state, after April 1, 1978, which shall contain a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of a trace quantity.

(b)  No household cleansing products used in dishwashers, for cleansing medical and surgical equipment and food and beverage processing equipment, may be distributed, sold, offered, or exposed for sale at retail, after April 1, 1978, or at wholesale, after January 1, 1978, or used in a commercial establishment in this state, after April 1, 1978, which shall contain a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of 8.7 percent by weight expressed as elemental phosphorus. 

(a)  No household cleansing products containing a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of a trace quantity may be distributed, sold, offered for sale at retail or wholesale, exposed for sale at retail or wholesale, or used in a commercial establishment in this state, except as set forth in subsections (b) and (c) of this section.

(b)  No household cleansing product used in a dishwasher in a commercial establishment, used to cleanse food and beverage processing equipment, including dishes, pots, pans and utensils, used to cleanse medical or surgical equipment, or used to cleanse dairy equipment may be distributed, sold, offered for sale at retail or wholesale, exposed for sale at retail or wholesale, or used in a commercial establishment if it contains a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of 8.7 percent by weight expressed as elemental phosphorus.

(c)  As of July 1, 2010, no household cleansing product used in a residential dishwasher may be distributed, sold, offered for sale at retail or wholesale, or exposed for sale at retail or wholesale if it contains a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of a trace quantity, except for product inventory purchased by retailers prior to July 1, 2010.

(c) (d)  The provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit the phosphorus content of household cleansing products used in agricultural production and for cleansing equipment used in processing of agricultural products.

(d) (e)  The provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit the phosphorus content of household cleaning products approved by the commissioner of health for use in lead hazard management projects.

(Committee vote: 9-0-0)            (No Senate Amendments)

Favorable

H. 330

     An act relating to repeal of the law relating to municipal trailer park ordinances.

Rep. Valliere of Barre City, for the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, recommends the bill ought to pass.

( Committee Vote: 7-0-1)

S. 52

An act relating to motor vehicles, snowmobiles, motorboats, and all-terrain vehicles.

Rep. Minter of Waterbury, for the Committee on Transportation, recommends that the bill ought to pass in concurrence.

(Committee Vote: 11-0-0)          (No Senate Amendments)

S. 128

An act relating to certain sunsets on forensic examinations at designated hospitals.

Rep. Mrowicki of Putney, for the Committee on Human Services, recommends that the bill ought to pass in concurrence.

(Committee Vote: 10-0-1)          (No Senate Amendments)

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H. 296

     An act relating to potable water supply and wastewater system permitting.

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

First:  By striking out Sec. 1 in its entirety

Second:  By striking Sec. 6 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 6.  TRANSITION PROVISIONS

(a)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no permit or permit amendment shall be required for the design and installation of a replacement potable water supply serving only one single‑family residence on its own individual lot, provided:

(1)  the design and installation is performed in accordance with the Vermont Water Supply Rules;

(2)  a form provided by the secretary regarding the replacement well is recorded and indexed in the land records for the municipality where the project is located; and

(3)  no other action has been taken or has been caused to be taken that would require a permit under these rules.

(b)  This section shall remain in effect only until the date that the proposed revisions to the wastewater system and potable water supply rules have taken effect.

Sec. 7.  Effective DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

and by renumbering the remaining sections to be numerically correct.

 (For text see House Journal 3/27/07 – pp. 417-423)

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)(1) Unless subdivision (2) of this subsection applies, every 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.

(d)(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 DATE

(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”

(No House Amendments)

Action Postponed Until Tuesday, May 1, 2007

S. 133

An act relating to the operation of a motor vehicle by junior operators and primary safety belt enforcement.

Pending Action: Second Reading of the bill.

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Amendment

H. 346

     An act relating to a statewide coordinator on stuttering.

Rep. Gilbert of Fairfax, 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.  UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT; EARLY STUTTERING INTERVENTION

(a)  The general assembly finds:

(1)  The long term effects of stuttering can drastically reduce social, academic, and occupational achievement. 

(2)  Five percent of all children begin to stutter before they enter kindergarten.  Of the children who are still stuttering at age six, 75 percent will probably outgrow the stuttering without intervention.  Therefore, in Vermont, approximately 500 of the children still stuttering at age six will be lifelong stutterers unless there is effective intervention. 

(3)  Early intervention in stuttering, particularly when using the Lidcombe Program of Early Stuttering Intervention, has profound positive results.  Intervention after the age of six is less likely to be effective. 

(4)  The family, working with people trained in early intervention, plays the most important role in ensuring the success of any early intervention program. 

(b)  The sum of $50,000.00 from the fiscal year 2008 general fund is appropriated to the University of Vermont for the Eleanor M. Luse Center Clinic to develop a statewide program for stuttering prevention and early intervention for preschoolers based on the Lidcombe Program of Early Stuttering Intervention.  To ensure that families have access to the most helpful information and services available, the program shall:  train and mentor speech language pathologists and other clinicians working with preschoolers; develop and maintain a website to serve both families and clinicians working with preschoolers who are beginning to stutter; and gather and publicize data on the effectiveness of the program.

The Committee further recommends that upon passage the title shall be:

“AN ACT RELATING TO A STATEWIDE PROGRAM FOR STUTTERING PREVENTION AND EARLY INTERVENTION”

(Committee vote: 7-4-0)

S. 116

An act relating to miscellaneous election law amendments.

Rep. Martin of Wolcott, for the Committee on Government Operations, recommends that the House propose to the Senate that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  By striking Sec. 8 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 8 to read:

Sec. 8.  17 V.S.A. § 2493(a) is amended to read:

(a) The secretary of state shall adopt rules governing the use and the selection of any voting machine in the state. These rules shall include requirements that:

* * *

(2)  The secretary of state shall provide for the security of voting machines at all times. Voting machines, not including the ballot box portion, shall be locked in a vault or a secure location at all times when not in use.  The secretary of state may conduct a random post election audit of any polling place election results for a primary or general election within 30 days of the election.  If the secretary determines that a random audit shall be conducted of the election results in a town or city, the town clerk shall direct two members of the board of civil authority to transport the ballot bags to the office of the secretary of state not later than 10:00 a.m. on the morning when the secretary has scheduled the audit.  The secretary shall open the ballot bags and conduct the audit in the same manner as recounts are to be conducted under sections 2602e through 2602h ballots are counted under sections 2581 through 2588 of this title.  The secretary of state shall publicly announce the results of the audit as well as the results from the original return of the vote.  If the secretary finds that the audit indicates that there was possible fraud in the count or return of votes, the secretary shall refer the results to the attorney general for possible prosecution.

* * *

(5) Establish a process for municipalities using voting machines, whereby markings on ballots that are unreadable by a machine may be transferred by a pair of election officials, who are not members of the same political party, to ballots that are readable by the machine.

Second:  By adding a Sec. 8a to read:

Sec. 8a.  17 V.S.A. § 2532(a) is amended to read:

(a)(1)  An early or absentee voter, or an authorized family member or health care provider acting in on the voter’s behalf, may apply for an early voter absentee ballot by telephone, in person, or in writing.  “Family member’’ here As used in this section, “family member” means a person’s spouse, children, brothers, sisters, parents, spouse’s parents, grandparents, and spouse’s grandparents.  Any other authorized person may apply in writing or in person.  The application shall be in a form prescribed by the secretary of state. substantially the following form:

REQUEST FOR EARLY VOTER ABSENTEE BALLOT

Name of early or absentee voter: ____________________________________

Current address: _________________________________________________

Residence (if different): ___________________________________________

Telephone contact:    _________________         E-mail:    ________________

If applicant is other than the early or absentee voter:

Name of applicant: _______________________________________________

Address of applicant: _____________________________________________

Relationship to early or absentee voter: _______________________________

Telephone contact:    _________________         E-mail:    ________________

Date: _____________ Signature:_____________________________________

(2) If the application is made by telephone or in writing, the information supplied must be in substantial conformance with the information requested on this form.

Third:  By adding a Sec. 8b to read:

Sec. 8b.  17 V.S.A. § 2546 is amended to read:

§ 2546.  DEPOSIT OF EARLY VOTER ABSENTEE BALLOTS IN
       BALLOT BOX

(a)  No sooner than 30 days before the opening of polls on election day, the clerk of a municipality with at least 10,000 registered voters on its checklist may open the outside envelope in order to sort absentee ballots by ward and district, may data enter the return of the ballots by the voter, may determine that the certificate has been signed, and may place the inside envelopes in various secure containers to be transported to the polling places on election day.   No sooner than 48 hours before the opening of polls on election day, a town clerk in all other municipalities may direct two election officials working together to open the outside envelope and remove the certificate envelope in order to determine that an absentee ballot certificate has been properly signed by the early voter, and that the name of the early voter appears on the checklist.  The election officials shall check the name of the early voter off the entrance checklist and place the sealed envelope into a secure container marked “checked‑in early voter absentee ballots” to be transported to the polling place on election day.  Upon opening of the polls on election day, ballots from this container may be opened by election officials, who are not members of the same political party, and deposited either into the ballot box or into the voting machine.

(b)  The town clerk or presiding officer shall deliver the unopened early voter absentee ballots to the election officials at the place where the entrance checklist is located.  If the ballots are in a container marked “checked‑in early voter absentee ballots,” two election officials from different political parties may open the envelopes and deposit the ballots into the ballot box or into the voting machine.  If the ballots have not been previously checked off the entrance checklist and if an elections election official determines that the certificate on the envelope is signed by the early voter, the name of the early voter appears on the checklist, and the early voter is not a first-time voter in the municipality who registered by mail, the elections election official shall mark the checklist, open the envelope, and deposit the ballot in the proper ballot box or voting machine.  If the early voter is a first-time voter who registered by mail, the elections election official shall determine whether the identification required under subdivision 2563(a)(1) of this title has been submitted by the voter. Upon ascertaining that the proper identification has been submitted by the voter, the elections election official shall mark the checklist, open the envelope, and deposit the ballot in the proper ballot box or voting machine.  If the proper identification has not been submitted, the ballot shall be treated as a provisional ballot, as provided in subchapter 6A of this chapter.

(b)(c)  All early voter absentee ballots shall be commingled with the ballots of voters who have voted in person.

Fourth:  By adding a Sec. 8c to read:

Sec. 8c.  17 V.S.A. § 2548(b) is amended to read:

(b)  A person who in good faith has received early voter absentee ballots for his or her use but has not yet marked them, if he finds that he or she is able to vote in person, may cast the early voter absentee ballots as provided above, or may vote in person after returning the complete set of unmarked ballots, together with the envelope intended for their return, to the presiding officer at the time the voter appears to vote in person.  If a person does not have his or her absentee ballots to return, the person shall be checked off the checklist and permitted to vote only after completing a sworn affidavit that he or she does not have his or her absentee ballots to return.  The presiding officer shall return the unused early voter absentee ballots and envelope to the town clerk, who shall make a record of their return on the list of early or absentee voters and treat them as spoiled or unused ballots, pursuant to section 2568 of this title.

Fifth:  By adding a Sec. 9a to read:

Sec. 9a.  17 V.S.A. § 2587 is amended to read:

§ 2587.  RULES FOR COUNTING BALLOTS

* * *

(e)  In the case of “write-in” votes in a primary election, the act of writing in the name of a candidate, or pasting a label containing a candidate’s name upon the ballot, without other indications of the voter’s intent, shall constitute a vote for that candidate, even though no cross is placed after such name.  The election officials counting ballots and tallying results must shall list every person who receives a “write-in” vote and the number of votes received.  On each tally sheet, the counters shall add together the names of candidates that are clearly the same person, even though a nickname or last name is used.  Names of fictitious persons shall not be listed.

(f)  In the case of “write-in” votes in a general election, the act of writing in the name of a candidate, or pasting a label containing a candidate’s name upon the ballot, without other indications of the voter’s intent, shall constitute a vote for that candidate, even though no oval is marked or cross is placed after such name.  The election officials counting ballots and tallying results shall list each person who receives a “write-in” vote and the number of votes received, except that a write-in candidate shall not have his or her name listed and votes counted unless the candidate has filed a declaration of candidacy form with the official where nominating petitions must be filed for the office by 12:00 p.m. on the day prior to election day.  The declaration of candidacy form shall contain the same information as the candidate consent form.  Votes for write-in candidates who have not filed a declaration of candidacy form shall be counted as “write-in” votes but shall not be listed by name.  On each tally sheet, the counters shall add together the names of candidates that are clearly the same person, even though a nickname or last name is used.  Names of persons who did not file a declaration of candidacy and fictitious persons shall not be listed, but votes for these persons shall be counted as “write-in” votes.

(g)  When the same number of persons are nominated for the position of justice of the peace as there are positions to be filled, the presiding officer may declare the whole slate of candidates elected without making individual tallies, providing each person on the slate has more votes than the largest number of write-in votes for any one candidate.

Sixth:  By striking Sec. 14 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 14 to read:

Sec. 14.  17 V.S.A. § 2682 is amended to read:

§ 2682.  PROCESS OF VOTING; APPOINTMENTS

* * *

(c)  In a municipal election controlled by this subchapter, the person receiving the greatest number of votes for an office shall be declared elected to that office; a certificate of election need not be issued.  However, in order to be elected a write-in candidate must receive 30 votes or the votes of one percent of the registered voters in the municipality, whichever is less.  The act of writing in the name of a candidate, or pasting a label containing a candidate’s name upon the ballot, without other indications of the voter’s intent, shall constitute a vote for that candidate, even though no oval is marked or cross is placed after such name.  The election officials counting ballots and tallying results shall list each person who receives a “write-in” vote and the number of votes received, except that a write-in candidate shall not have his or her name listed and votes counted unless the candidate has filed a declaration of candidacy form with the town clerk or presiding officer by the close of the polls on election day or unless there are no candidates printed on the ballot.  The declaration of candidacy form shall contain the same information as the candidate consent form.  Votes for write-in candidates who have not filed a declaration of candidacy form shall be counted as “write-in” votes but shall not be listed by name.  On each tally sheet, the counters shall add together the names of candidates that are clearly the same person, even though a nickname or last name is used.  Names of persons who did not file a declaration of candidacy and fictitious persons shall not be listed, but votes for these persons shall be counted as “write-in” votes.

* * *

(e)  If there is a tie vote for any office, the legislative body, or in their stead, the municipal clerk, shall within seven days warn a runoff election to be held not less than 15 days nor more than 22 days after the warning.  The only candidates in the runoff election shall be those who were tied in the original election.  However, if one of the candidates that are tied withdraws his or her candidacy within five days after the election, the town clerk shall certify the other tied candidate as the winner, and there shall be no runoff election.

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

(For Senate amendments see Senate Journal 243 )

S. 121

An act relating to autism spectrum disorders.

Rep. Oxholm of Vergennes, for the Committee on Education, recommends that the House propose to the Senate that the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

(1)  Autism is a life-long pervasive developmental disorder identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM‑IV).  The five pervasive developmental disorders are:  autistic disorder; Asperger’s disorder; pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified; Rett’s disorder; and childhood disintegrative disorder.  These lifelong disorders are often referred to collectively as autism spectrum disorders.

(2)  Autism spectrum disorders are neurologically based developmental disorders that can have profound lifelong effects in social interaction, the ability to communicate, imagination, and the establishment of relationships.

(3)  Children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders by psychologists, developmental pediatricians, psychiatrists, and neurologists.

(4)  In 1992, only 13 Vermont children with autism spectrum disorders received special education in Vermont.  According to the preliminary December 1, 2006 child count, 582 children with autism spectrum disorders are currently receiving special education in Vermont.

(5)  There is no single intervention that will be effective for all individuals with autism spectrum disorders or for the same individual across his or her lifespan.

(6)  National Research Council findings suggest that up to 48 percent of young children with autism spectrum disorders make marked progress when they receive intensive early intervention.

Sec. 2.  PROPOSAL FOR AN INTERAGENCY INITIATIVE TO ENHANCE SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS

(a)  On or before January 15, 2008, the secretary of human services and the commissioner of education shall develop an interagency proposal for a coordinated, life-long system of care designed to address the needs of Vermonters with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families.  The

agency of human services shall assume primary responsibility for developing the proposed plan.  The plan shall be:

(1)  Consistent with the Vermont Interagency White Paper on Autism Spectrum Disorders, issued March 2006, and informed by other papers or proposals developed by or for the agency of human services or the department of education. 

(2)  Developed in collaboration with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including individuals with ASD and their families, professionals with established expertise in ASD, private and public providers of services to individuals with ASD and their families, entities providing support to families of individuals with ASD, and members of the autism task force, the Vermont developmental disabilities council, and the Act 264 advisory board.  Collaboration with individuals with ASD and their families shall reflect diversity in geography, in diagnoses, and in the severity of symptoms.  It shall also ensure consideration of an individual’s needs as a child, as a youth, and as an adult.

(b)  The proposed plan shall include:

(1)  A profile of the range of diagnoses and needs of the children, youth, and adults to be served.

(2)  Projections of the future needs of individuals with ASD in Vermont, including transitional services related to socialization, job training and employment, and independent living in a community-based format to assist individuals moving from school to the community.

(3)  Identification of the specific goals of the proposed plan for a life-long system of care for individuals with ASD and their families.

(4)  Development of research-based best practices guidelines to enhance the ability of public and private providers to meet the needs of individuals with ASD and their families.

(5)  A review of the educational and human services-related supports and services currently available to individuals with ASD throughout their lifetime.

(6)  A review of the supports and services currently available to the families of individuals with ASD.

(7)  Identification of the strengths of and deficiencies in the current system of supports and services identified in subdivisions (5) and (6) of this subsection and of the availability of those supports and services in all areas of the state.

(8)  Identification of the additional supports and services needed for an effective life-long system of care for individuals with ASD and their families and recommendations for how unmet needs might be satisfied. 

(9)  A review of the current role of public schools in connection with the provision of services to individuals with ASD, including:

(A)  the financial impact that the provision of these services has on school budgets.

(B)  Consideration of whether the current allocation of costs between the education system and the agency of human services for the provision of services to individuals with ASD is appropriate.

(C)  Recommendations for any change in the role of public schools, including consideration of how the current and potential costs of services for individuals with ASD provided by schools might be assumed by the agency of human services and whether such assumption would be consistent with federal law and would be otherwise appropriate and advisable.

(10)  A detailed proposal, with a related timeline, for implementing the proposed life-long system of care, including:

(A)  The manner in which existing resources and facilities might be used or redirected to support the system.

(B)  The availability of federal and other potential funding sources for the proposed system of care.

(C)  Strategies to encourage collaboration among existing and new resources to provide coordinated, life-long services, training, technical assistance, information dissemination, and consultation to individuals with ASD and their families, including a centralized, publicly available information system with an information “hotline”.

(D)  Strategies to encourage collaboration among existing and new resources to provide coordinated training, technical assistance, information dissemination, and consultation to schools, local agencies, and other providers of developmental, mental health, and early intervention services to individuals with ASD and their families.

(E)  Strategies for enabling access to the early and accurate diagnosis of ASD.

(F)  Strategies for encouraging collaboration with higher education programs to provide a sufficient number of well‑trained professionals to provide life-long services to individuals with ASD and their families in all regions of the state.

(G)  Provisions ensuring regular review and revision of the proposed system of care.

(c)  On or before January 15, 2008, the agency and the department shall present a written plan consistent with this section to the governor, the house committees on education, on human services, and on appropriations, and the senate committees on education, on health and welfare, and on appropriations. 

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect from passage.

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

(For Senate Amendment see Senate Journal 4/3/07 – pp 360-365 )

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H. 148

     An act relating to the child abuse registry.

     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.  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 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 under the facts and circumstances presented by the particular allegation of child abuse, 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 provide assistance 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

(a)  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, unless the department determines that the registry record should not be expunged due to the nature and seriousness of the incident of abuse.

(b)  If the department determines that the registry record should not be expunged, the department shall provide written notice to the individual.  The individual shall have the opportunity to petition for expungement from the registry pursuant to section 4916c of this title.

§ 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 or provide transportation services to 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 or provide transportation services to children or vulnerable adults, on either a paid or volunteer basis.  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 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.  15A V.S.A. § 1-113 is amended to read:

§ 1-113.  CRIMINAL RECORD CHECKS

(a)  Criminal record checks required under this title shall be obtained as provided in this section.

(b)  The commissioner of the department of social and rehabilitation services for children and families or any judge of the probate court shall obtain from the Vermont criminal information center the record of Vermont convictions and pending criminal charges for any person being evaluated to be an adoptive parent.

(c)  The commissioner or probate judge, through the Vermont criminal information center shall request the record of convictions and pending criminal charges of the appropriate criminal repositories in all states in which there is reason to believe the applicant has resided or been employed.

(d)  If no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the The commissioner or probate judge through the Vermont criminal information center shall request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) a national criminal history record check of the applicant’s convictions and pending criminal charges.  The request to the FBI shall be accompanied by a set of the applicant’s fingerprints and a fee established by the Vermont criminal information center which shall be paid by the applicant and shall reflect the cost of obtaining the record from the FBI.

(e)  The Vermont criminal information center shall send to the requester any record received pursuant to this section or inform the requester that no record exists.

(f)  The requester shall promptly provide a copy of any record of convictions and pending criminal charges to the applicant and shall inform the applicant of the right to appeal the accuracy and completeness of the record pursuant to rules adopted by the Vermont criminal information center.

(g)  Upon completion of the applicant process under this section, the applicant’s fingerprint card and any copies thereof shall be destroyed.

Sec. 4.  33 V.S.A. § 309 is amended to read:

§ 309.  ACCESS TO RECORDS

(a)(1)  The commissioner may obtain from the Vermont crime information center the record of convictions of any person to the extent the commissioner has determined by rule that such information is necessary to regulate a facility or individual subject to regulation by the department.

(2)  In cases involving the prospective placement of a child in foster care, the commissioner shall for any prospective foster parent:

(A)  Obtain from the Vermont criminal information center the record of Vermont convictions and pending criminal charges.

(B)  Request, through the Vermont criminal information center, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) a national criminal history record check of the prospective foster parent.  The request to the FBI shall be accompanied by a set of the applicant’s fingerprints, and a fee established by the Vermont criminal information center shall reflect the cost of obtaining the record from the FBI.

(C)  The department shall bear all costs for obtaining criminal records for prospective foster parents licensed by the department.

(3)  The commissioner shall first notify the person receive written authorization from the person whose record is being requested before requesting the record from the Vermont crime information center.

(b)(1)  The owner or operator of a facility or program licensed or, registered, or otherwise regulated by the department may ask the commissioner for the record of convictions criminal record and the record of substantiated reports of child abuse child abuse and neglect registry record of the following individuals:

(A)  a current employee or;

(B)  a person to whom the owner or operator has given a conditional offer of employment; or

(C)  any other person to the extent the commissioner has determined by rule that such information is necessary to regulate a facility or program.

(2)  The request shall be in writing and shall be accompanied by a release signed by the current or prospective employee person whose record is sought. The owner or operator release form shall inform the current or prospective employee person that he or she has the right to appeal the accuracy and completeness of the record.  Upon receiving a request under this subsection, the commissioner shall ask the Vermont crime information center for the record of convictions of the current or prospective employee and shall promptly search the child abuse and neglect registry.

(c)  If the person has a record of convictions, the commissioner shall provide the owner or operator of the facility or program that is licensed, registered, or otherwise regulated by the department with a copy of the record. If the person has a record of substantiated reports of child abuse in the child abuse and neglect registry, the commissioner shall inform the requesting owner or operator that such record exists.

(d)  Information released to an owner or operator under this section shall not be released or disclosed by the owner or operator to any other person except as authorized by law.  Release or disclosure of such information by an owner or operator may result in loss of license or, registration, or certification.

(e)  As used in this section,:

(1)  “Commissioner” means the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee.

(2)  “Employee” shall include volunteers.

(3)  “Substantiated reports of child abuse” “Child abuse and neglect registry record” means reports of child abuse substantiated under section 4915 of this title and entered into the child abuse and neglect registry maintained by the department pursuant to chapter 49 of this title.

(4)  “Volunteer” means an individual who without compensation provides services through a public or private organization.

Sec. 5.  SUNSET

The amendments in Secs. 3 and 4 shall be repealed on July 1, 2009 and 15A V.S.A. § 1-113 and 33 V.S.A. § 309 shall revert to the prior statutory text.

Sec. 6.  STUDY

(a)  The commissioner of the department for children and families or a designee shall perform a study for the purpose of considering:

(1)  The need for the agency or its designee to have the authority to perform criminal background checks on individuals providing care, custody, treatment, transportation, or supervision for children or vulnerable adults.

(2)  The need for reciprocal agreements with New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire to share child abuse registry information for the purpose of performing child abuse registry checks on residents of those states who provide care, custody, treatment, transportation, or supervision for children or vulnerable adults in this state.  The commissioner shall consult with similar agency administrators in those states to determine the feasibility of these reciprocal agreements.

(3)  The need for broadened authority for employers providing care, custody, treatment, transportation, or supervision for children or vulnerable adults to perform criminal background checks on prospective and current employees.

(4)  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.

(b)  While considering the issues of subsection (a) of this section, the commissioner shall consult with the following individuals, organizations, and state agencies:

(1)  The agency of human services.

(2)  The agency of human services’ director of housing and transportation.

(3)  The defender general.

(4)  Early childhood educators and caregivers.

(5)  The family services unit of the department for children and families.

(6)  The network against domestic and sexual violence.

(7)  Teachers, school nurses, and school administrators.

(8)  Pediatricians.

(9)  The Vermont citizens advisory board.

(10)  The Vermont public transportation association.

(c)  The commissioner shall report the findings of this study to the senate and house committees on judiciary, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the house committee on human services on or before November 1, 2007.

Sec. 7.  3 V.S.A. § 5407 is amended to read:

§ 5407.  SEX OFFENDER’S DUTY RESPONSIBILITY TO REPORT

(a)  A Except as provided in section 5411d of this title, a sex offender shall report to the department as follows:

(1)  if convicted of a registry offense in another state, within 10 days after either establishing residence in this state or crossing into this state for purposes of employment, carrying on a vocation, or being a student, the sex offender shall provide the information listed in subsection 5403(a) of this title;

(2)  annually within 10 days after the registrant’s birthday, or if a person is determined to be a sexually violent predator, that person shall report to the department every 90 days;

(3)  within three days after any change of address, or if a person is designated as a high‑risk sex offender pursuant to section 5411b of this title, that person shall report to the department within 36 hours;

(4)  within three days after the registrant enrolls in or separates from any postsecondary educational institution; and

(5)  within three days after any change in place of employment; and

(6)  within three days of any name change.

* * *

(f)  A person required to register as a sex offender under this subchapter shall continue to comply with this section for the life of that person, except during periods of incarceration, if that person:

(1)  has at least one prior conviction for an offense described in subdivision 5401(10) of this subchapter or a comparable offense in another jurisdiction of the United States;

(2)  has been convicted of a sexual assault as defined in section 3252 of this title or aggravated sexual assault as defined in section 3253 of this title; however, if a person convicted under section 3252 is not more than six years older than the victim of the assault and if the victim is 14 years or older, then the offender shall not be required to register for life if the age of the victim was the basis for the conviction; or

(3)  has been determined to be a sexually violent predator pursuant to section 5405 of this subchapter title; or

(4)  has been designated as a noncompliant high‑risk sex offender pursuant to section 5411d of this title.

* * *

(h)  A registrant who has no permanent address shall report to the department to notify it as to his or her temporary residence.  Temporary residence, for purposes of this section, need not include an actual dwelling or numbered street address, but shall identify a specific location.  A registrant shall not be required to check in daily if he or she makes acceptable other arrangements with the department to keep his or her information current.  The department may enter into an agreement with a local law enforcement agency to perform this function, but shall maintain responsibility for compliance with this subsection.

Sec. 8.  13 V.S.A. § 5411 is amended to read:

§ 5411.  NOTIFICATION TO LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND LOCAL COMMUNITY

* * *

(e)  After 10 years have elapsed from the completion of the sentence, a person required to register as a sex offender for life pursuant to section 5407 of this title who is not designated as a noncompliant high‑risk sex offender pursuant to section 5411d of this title may petition the district court for a termination of community notification, including the internet.  The state shall make a reasonable attempt to notify the victim of the proceeding, and consider victim testimony regarding the petition.  If the registrant was convicted of a crime which requires lifetime registration, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the person is a high‑risk sex offender.  Should the registrant present evidence that he or she is not a high‑risk offender, the state shall have the burden of proof to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the person remains a high risk to reoffend.  The court shall consider whether the offender has successfully completed sex offender treatment.  The court may require the offender to submit to a psychosexual evaluation.  If the court finds that there is a high risk of reoffense, notification shall continue.  The Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply to these proceedings.  A lifetime registrant may petition the court to be removed from community notification requirements once every 60 months.  The presumption under this section that a lifetime registrant is a high‑risk offender shall not automatically subject the offender to increased public access to his or her status as a sex offender and related information under subdivision (c)(1) of this section or section 5411a of this title.

Sec. 9.  13 V.S.A. § 5411a is amended to read:

§ 5411a.  ELECTRONIC POSTING OF THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY

(a)  Notwithstanding sections 2056a–2056e of Title 20, the department shall electronically post information on the internet in accordance with subsection (b) of this section regarding the following sex offenders, upon their release from confinement:

* * *

(5)(A)  Sex offenders who have not complied with sex offender treatment recommended by the department of corrections or who are ineligible for sex offender treatment.  The department of corrections shall establish rules for the administration of this subdivision and shall specify what circumstances constitute noncompliance with treatment and criteria for ineligibility to participate in treatment.  Offenders subject to this provision shall have the right to appeal the department of corrections’ determination in superior court in accordance with Rule 75 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.  This subdivision shall apply prospectively and shall not apply to those sex offenders who did not comply with treatment or were ineligible for treatment prior to March 1, 2005. 

(B)  The department of corrections shall notify the department if a sex offender who is compliant with sex offender treatment completes his or her sentence but has not completed sex offender treatment.  As long as the offender complies with treatment, the offender shall not be considered noncompliant under this subdivision and shall not be placed on the internet registry in accordance with this subdivision alone.  However, the offender shall submit to the department proof of continuing treatment compliance every three months.  Proof of compliance shall be a form provided by the department that the offender’s treatment provider shall sign, attesting to the offender’s continuing compliance with recommended treatment.  Failure to submit such proof as required under this subdivision shall result in the offender’s placement on the internet registry in accordance with subdivision (A) of this subdivision (5).

* * *

Sec. 10.  13 V.S.A. § 5411d is added to read:

§ 5411d.  DESIGNATION OF NONCOMPLIANT HIGH‑RISK SEX OFFENDER

(a)  Prior to releasing a person from total confinement, the department of corrections shall designate the person as a noncompliant high‑risk sex offender if the person:

(1)  Is incarcerated on or after the effective date of this act for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child as defined in section 2602 of this title, sexual assault as defined in section 3252 of this title, aggravated sexual assault as defined in section 3253 of this title, or any attempt to commit a crime listed herein, or a comparable offense in another jurisdiction of the United States.

(2)  Is not subject to indeterminate life sentences under section 3271 of this title.

(3)  Is designated as a high‑risk sex offender pursuant to section 5411b of this title.

(4)  Is noncompliant with sex offender treatment as defined by department of corrections’ directives.

(b)  Noncompliant high‑risk sex offenders shall report to the department as follows:

(1)  In person, within 15 days from the date of release from department of corrections’ supervision, and within every 30 days thereafter.

(2)   Prior to any change of address.  However, if the change of address is unanticipated, the offender shall report within one day of the change of address.

(3)  Prior to enrollment in or separation from any postsecondary educational institution.  However, if the change in school status is unanticipated, the offender shall report within one day of the change.

(4)  Within one day of any change in a place of employment.

(c)  In addition to the registry information required in section 5403 of this title, a noncompliant high‑risk sex offender shall provide the department with the make, model, color, registration, and license plate number of any vehicle the person operates prior to operation.  An offender found in operation of a vehicle not on the list provided to the department shall be considered to be in violation of this subsection.

(d)  The department shall arrange for the noncompliant high‑risk sex offender to have his or her digital photograph updated annually for purposes of the electronic registry as provided in section 5411a of this title.  An offender who is requested by the department to report to the department or a local law enforcement agency for the purpose of being photographed for the internet registry shall comply with the request within 30 days.

(e)  The department shall conduct periodic unannounced registry compliance checks on noncompliant high‑risk sex offenders to verify the accuracy of registry information.  The department may enter into an agreement with a local law enforcement agency to perform duties under this subsection and under subdivision (b)(1) of this section, but shall maintain responsibility for compliance with this subsection.

(f)(1)  A noncompliant high‑risk sex offender may petition the district court to be relieved from the heightened registry requirements in this section once every five years from the date of designation.  The offender shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she:

(A)  no longer qualifies as a high‑risk offender as defined in section 5401 of this title and rules adopted by the department of corrections in accordance with section 5411b of this title; and

(B)  has complied with and completed sex offender treatment as provided by department of corrections’ directives.

(2)  The Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure shall apply to these proceedings.

(3)  If the court finds that the offender is not high‑risk and has successfully completed treatment, the court shall order that the offender is no longer considered a noncompliant high‑risk offender and is subsequently relieved from the heightened registry requirements of this section; however, the offender shall still continue to comply with sex offender registry and other requirements as provided elsewhere in this subchapter.

(g)(1)  A noncompliant high‑risk sex offender who violates any of the registry requirements under this section shall be imprisoned for a maximum term of life.  A sentence may be suspended in whole or in part, or the person may be eligible for parole or release on conditional reentry or furlough, provided the person is subject to electronic monitoring using an active global positioning system.  Electronic monitoring shall be an addition to intensive supervision by the department of corrections.

(2)  In a criminal proceeding for violating any of the registry requirements under this section, a defendant shall be prohibited from challenging his or her status as a noncompliant high‑risk sex offender.

Sec. 11.  4 V.S.A. § 437 is amended to read:

§ 437.  Civil jurisdiction of district court

The district court shall have jurisdiction of the following actions:

* * *

(9)  Sex offender notification proceedings pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 5411(c) subsections 5411(e) and 5411d(f) of Title 13.

* * *

Sec. 12.  EFFECTIVE DATE

(a)  In Sec. 2 of this act, 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.

(For House Amendment see House Journal 4/5/07 – pp 542-558)

H. 154

     An act relating to stormwater management.

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

First:  In Sec. 1, 10 V.S.A. § 1264(f)(3), by striking out “January 15, 2010” where it appears in the first sentence and inserting in lieu thereof January 15, 2009

Second:  By striking out Secs. 3 and 4 in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following: 

Sec. 3.  EXTENSION OF SUNSET OF INTERIM STORMWATER PERMITTING PROGRAM AND CONVEYANCE OF REAL ESTATE WITH STORMWATER PERMITS

Sec. 10 of No. 140 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004), as amended by Sec. 8 of No. 154 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006), is further amended to read:

Sec. 10.  SUNSET

(a)  Sec. 2 of this act (interim permitting authority for regulated stormwater runoff), except for subsection 1264a(e) of Title 10, shall be repealed on September 30, 2007 January 15, 2009.

(b)  Sec. 4 of this act (local communities implementation fund) shall be repealed on September 30, 2012.

(c)  Sec. 6 of this act (stormwater discharge permits during transition period) shall be repealed on September 30, 2007 January 15, 2009.

Sec. 4.  AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES REPORT ON IMPLEMENTATION OF STORMWATER TMDLS

(a)  Beginning January 15, 2008, and every two years thereafter, the agency of natural resources shall report to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on natural resources and energy regarding agency progress in establishing and implementing the total maximum daily load (TMDL) plan for Lake Champlain.  Beginning January 15, 2009, and every two years thereafter, the agency of natural resources shall report to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on natural resources and energy regarding agency progress in establishing and implementing the TMDLs for the stormwater-impaired waters of the state.  Prior to issuing the reports required under this section, the agency of natural resources shall hold a public hearing in the Lake Champlain watershed and each watershed of a stormwater-impaired water for which a permit has been issued implementing a total maximum daily load.  The reports required by this section shall include:

(1)  An assessment of the implementation plan for the TMDL based on available data, including an evaluation of the efficacy of the implementation plan;

(2)  An assessment of the hydrologic targets of the TMDL based on available data, including an evaluation of the adequacy of the hydrologic targets of the TMDL;

(3)  Recommendations, if any, for amending an implementation plan or reopening a TMDL.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2008, the agency of natural resources shall report to the senate and house committee on institutions, the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources, and the senate committee on natural resources and energy regarding methods for and the cost of reducing phosphorus discharges from wastewater treatment facilities in the Lake Champlain basin.  The report required by this section may be combined with the report required under subsection (a) of this section regarding agency progress in establishing and implementing the TMDL for Lake Champlain.  The report required by this subsection shall include:

(1)  An analysis and summary of the existing phosphorus treatment practices at each wastewater treatment facility in the Lake Champlain basin;

(2)  An analysis of each wastewater treatment facility in the Lake Champlain basin in order to determine the feasibility of each facility reducing the amount of phosphorus it discharges to state waters, including the treatment processes that each facility could implement in order to reduce additional phosphorus discharges;

(3)  An estimate of the capital cost to each wastewater treatment facility in the Lake Champlain basin of implementing the phosphorus reduction treatment processes identified under subdivision (2) of this subsection; and

(4)  Recommended incentives that would encourage wastewater treatment facilities in the Lake Champlain basin to reduce voluntarily phosphorus discharges.

Sec. 5.  10 V.S.A. chapter 47, subchapter 6 is added to read:

Subchapter 6.  Lake Champlain Water Quality

§ 1385.  LAKE CHAMPLAIN TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOAD

(a)(1)  The secretary of natural resources shall reopen the total maximum daily load (TMDL) plan for Lake Champlain as it pertains to the waters of Vermont in order to:

(A)  Adopt a new hydrologic base year to reflect the average phosphorus load discharged to Lake Champlain between 1993 and 2004;

(B)  Allocate point source and non-point source load reductions on a subwatershed basis;

(C)  Ensure that the total, annual phosphorus discharged by all wastewater treatment facilities in the aggregate does not exceed the total phosphorus load discharged to Lake Champlain by all wastewater treatment facilities in the aggregate in 2006 and to adjust aggregate total phosphorus load allocations to Lake Champlain accordingly; and

(D)  Amend pollutant load allocations within the TMDL so as to reduce point source and non-point source load allocations in order to reasonably assure that the TMDL meets the Vermont water quality standards.

(2)  The amended TMDL shall be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as required by 33 U.S.C. § 303.

(b)  In addition to the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, the secretary of natural resources shall amend the Vermont-specific implementation plan of the Lake Champlain TMDL to include a strategy for identifying and targeting critical source areas for non-point source pollution in each subwatershed.  For the purposes of this subsection, “critical source area” means an area in a watershed with high potential to release phosphorus to surface or subsurface runoff to waters of the state.

(c)  In amending the TMDL for Lake Champlain under subsection (a) of this section and in amending the Vermont-specific implementation plan of the Lake Champlain TMDL under subsection (b) of this section, the secretary of natural resources shall comply with the public participation requirements of 40 C.F.R. § 130.7(c)(1)(ii).

Sec. 6.  CLEAN AND CLEAR ACTION PLAN INDEPENDENT AUDIT

On or before January 15, 2008, the secretary of administration shall submit to the house and senate committees on appropriations, the house and senate committees on agriculture, the senate committee on natural resources and energy, and the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources a program audit of the progress and efficacy of the clean and clear action plan, including a financial analysis of the utilization and spending of funds appropriated to the agency of natural resources and the agency of agriculture, food and markets as part of the clean and clear action plan.  The audit shall be conducted by a qualified, independent environmental consultant or organization with knowledge of the clean water act, state water quality requirements and programs, and the program elements of the clean and clear action plan.

Sec. 7.  EFFECTIVE DATE

(a)  This section and Secs. 1 (secretary issuance of TMDLs), 2 (notice of deferral of permit), 3 (extension of interim stormwater permit program), 4 (agency of natural resources TMDL report), and 6 (clean and clear action plan audit) of this act shall take effect upon passage.

(b)  Sec. 5  (Lake Champlain TMDL review and reopening) shall take effect July 1, 2008.

(For House Amendments see House Journal 3/21/07 pp 374-377; 3/22/07 pp 387-388)

CONSENT CALENDAR

Concurrent Resolutions for Notice under Joint Rule 16

     The following joint concurrent resolutions have been introduced for approval by the Senate and House and will be adopted automatically unless a Senator or Representative requests floor consideration before the end of the session of the next legislative day.  Requests for floor consideration in either chamber should be communicated to the Secretary’s office and/or the House Clerk’s office, respectively.

H.C.R.  123

House concurrent resolution in memory of Elizabeth Daley Jeffords

H.C.R.  124

House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2007 American Basketball League champion Vermont Frost Heaves

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us