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House Calendar

WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 2007

120th DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

House Convenes at 9:30 A M

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                               Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

Action Postponed Until Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H.   91  Rozo McLaughlin Farm-to-School Program.................................... 1369

Third Reading

S.   7  Compassionate Use of Marijuana for Medical Purposes..................... 1369

               Rep. Kilmartin et al Amendment

S.   51  Prohibiting Discrimination on Basis of Gender Identity....................... 1375

               Rep. Lavoie Amendment............................................................... 1376

S.   82  VT Addresses and Representations of VT Origins............................ 1376

S. 116  Miscellaneous Election Law Amendments......................................... 1376

S. 121  Relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders............................................. 1376

S. 133  Motor Vehicle/Junior Operators/Primary Seat Belt Enforcement....... 1376

               Rep. Clark Amendment................................................................. 1376

               Rep. O’Donnell Amendment.......................................................... 1377

               Rep. Allard Amendment................................................................ 1377

               Rep. Weston et al Amendment....................................................... 1378

               Reps. Donahue and Pearson Amendment....................................... 1378

J.R.H. 21  Worldwide ONE Campaign....................................................... 1379

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Amendment

S. 115  Transparency of Prescription Drug Pricing and Information............... 1379                                Rep. Copeland-Hanzas for Health Care............................................................................... 1379

               Rep. Sharpe for Ways and Means................................................. 1399      

               Rep. Larson for Appropriations..................................................... 1399

S. 143  Racing Fuel Containing MTBE or Other Gasoline Ethers................... 1400

               Rep. Anderson for Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources

Favorable

H. 546  Compensation and Retirement Benefits Certain Employees............... 1401

               Rep. Keenan for Appropriations

J.R.H. 26  Urging Congress to Enact H. R. 676 Nat’l Ins. Act..................... 1401

               Rep. O’Donnell for Health Care

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H. 78  Reconsideration or Rescission of Votes Local Elections..................... 1401

H. 113  All Age Access for Tobacco........................................................... 1402

H. 229  Corrections and Clarifications / Health Care Affordability................. 1402

H. 518  Technical Tax Amendments............................................................. 1410

H. 523  Moving Families out of Poverty....................................................... 1411

S.   78  Cost of Picking Up and Hauling Milk Paid by Purchaser................... 1462

 

 


 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

Action Postponed Until Wednesday, May 2, 2007

H. 91

     An act relating to the Rozo McLaughlin farm-to-school program.

Pending Question: Shall the House concur in the Senate Proposal of Amendment?

     The Senate proposes to the House to amend the bill in Sec. 2, 6 V.S.A. § 4722, by designating the existing paragraph as subsection (a) and by adding a subsection (b) to read as follows:

(b)  For the purposes of this section and section 4723 of this title, the secretary may provide funds to one or more technical assistance providers to provide farm to school education and teacher trainings to more school districts and to assist the secretary and commissioner of education to carry out farmer and food service worker trainings.

(For House Amendment see April 4, 2007 – P. 585)

Third Reading

S.  7

An act relating to the compassionate use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Amendment proposal of amendment to be offered by Reps. Kilmartin of Newport City, Acinapura of Brandon, Allard of St. Albans Town, Baker of West Rutland, Branagan of Georgia, Canfield of Fair Haven, Clark of St. Johnsbury, Clark of Vergennes, Devereux of Mount Holly, Fitzgerald of St. Albans City, Helm of Castleton, Howrigan of Fairfield, Hudson of Lyndon, Johnson of Canaan, Koch of Barre Town, Krawczyk of Bennington, Larocque of Barnet, Larrabee of Danville, LaVoie of Swanton, Lawrence of Lyndon, Marcotte of Coventry, Morrissey of Bennington, Otterman of Topsham, Peaslee of Guildhall, Shaw of Derby, Sunderland of Rutland Town, Valliere of Barre City, Wheeler of Derby and Winters of Williamstown to S. 7

Move to amend the proposal of amendment by adding five new sections, to be numbered Secs. 2-6, to read as follows:

Sec. 2.  18 V.S.A. chapter 115 is added to read:

CHAPTER 115.  PARENTAL NOTIFICATION OF ABORTION

§ 5281.  Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Abortion” means the use of any means to terminate the pregnancy of a female known to be pregnant with knowledge that the termination with those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the fetus.

(2)  “Fetus” means any individual human organism from fertilization until birth.

(3)  “Health care provider” means any health care professional who is authorized to perform an abortion and is proposing to provide an abortion.   

§ 5282.  Notification

(a)  No abortion shall be performed upon an unemancipated minor or upon a minor for whom a guardian has been appointed, according to subdivisions 2645(1), (2), (3), and (4) of Title 14, until 48 hours after written notification of the pending abortion has been delivered to at least one parent of the unemancipated minor or to the guardian of the minor. 

(b)  The notification required by this section shall be delivered at the parent’s or guardian’s usual place of abode, if possible; otherwise, at any other appropriate place, and shall be:

(1)  personally delivered to the parent or guardian by the attending health care provider proposing to provide the abortion or an agent of the health care provider; or

(2)  sent to the parent or guardian by certified mail, return receipt requested, delivery restricted to the addressee.  Time of delivery shall be deemed to occur at the time the return receipt is signed by the recipient.

§ 5283.  Limitations

(a)  Notification required under section 5282 of this title shall not be required if:

(1)  the attending health care provider proposing to provide the abortion certifies in the minor’s medical record that the abortion is necessary to prevent the minor’s death or serious physical injury to the minor, and there is insufficient time to provide the required notification to a parent or guardian; or

(2)  the parent or guardian entitled to notification certifies in writing, with proof of identification, that he or she has been notified of the minor’s intent to have an abortion; or 

(3)  a court authorizes the health care provider to proceed with the abortion pursuant to the following procedure:

(A)  A minor, with the assistance of her health care provider and without notification to a parent or guardian, may petition any probate court for a waiver of the parental notification requirement.  The petition shall be in simple form prescribed by rules adopted by the Vermont supreme court, and shall include a statement that the petitioner is pregnant, that notification has not been waived, and that the minor has not petitioned any other court for a waiver to the notification requirement relating to this pregnancy.

(B)  The probate court shall forthwith appoint an attorney and an appropriately-trained guardian ad litem for the minor.

(C)  The probate court shall hold an ex parte hearing on a petition filed under this subdivision (3), which may be in a setting other than a traditional courtroom.  The hearing shall be informal and closed to the public.  Strict rules of evidence shall not apply.  Witnesses shall be sworn, and the testimony shall be audio-recorded.  A copy of the audio recording shall be made available to the minor without cost.

(D)  Probate court proceedings under this subdivision (3) shall be given precedence over other pending matters to the extent necessary to ensure that the court reaches a decision promptly and in the best interests of the minor. 

(E)  The probate court shall hear the matter and issue a written entry order within three business days after the petition is filed, except that the three‑business-day limitation may be extended at the request of the minor.  A certified copy of the court’s written entry order shall be sent to the minor’s health care provider.  If the court fails to rule within three business days of receiving the petition or fails to rule by the expiration of any extension, the petition is granted.  A certified copy of the automatic waiver of parental notification shall be delivered forthwith to the minor’s health care provider.  

(F)  The probate court shall issue an order authorizing the minor to consent to an abortion without the notification of a parent or guardian if the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, any of the following:

(i)  upon an evaluation of relevant factors, including a minor’s age, intelligence, reasoning ability, and emotional state, the minor is sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy and provide for her own post-abortion care, and understands the nature, risks, and consequences of the procedure to be performed;

(ii)  notification would place the minor at substantial risk of being physically or emotionally harmed by a parent or guardian;

(iii)  notification would cause irreparable harm to the minor’s relationship with her parent or guardian; or

(iv)  notification is not in the best interests of the minor. 

(b)  All records of proceedings that take place under this section shall remain confidential and be placed under seal.  Any information that is sent to the minor’s health care provider in accordance with this section shall become part of the minor’s confidential medical record.

(c)  For purposes of this section, any probate judge who grants a waiver of notification based upon a decision that the pregnancy is a result of abuse, neglect, or the commission of a crime against the minor, or any guardian ad litem who has a suspicion that the pregnancy is a result of abuse, neglect, or the commission of a crime against the minor, shall report or cause a report to be made within 24 hours after the decision, in accordance with the provisions of sections 4913 and 4914 of Title 33.   

§ 5284.  APPEAL

(a)  An expedited, confidential appeal to the presiding judge of the family court in the county in which the probate court action occurred, pursuant to section 5283 of this title, shall be available to any minor for whom the probate court denies a waiver of notification. 

(b)  Notice of an appeal must be filed in family court within 11 days of the probate court decision. 

(c)  Within three business days of filing the notice of appeal, the presiding judge of the family court shall conduct a hearing de novo and issue a decision, including findings of fact and conclusions of law, on this matter.  The

three-business-day limitation may be extended at the request of the minor. 

(d)  The presiding judge of the family court shall hold an ex parte hearing on a notice of appeal filed under this section, which may be in a setting other than a traditional courtroom.  The hearing shall be informal and closed to the public.  Strict rules of evidence shall not apply.  Witnesses shall be sworn, and the testimony shall be audio-recorded.  A copy of the audio recording shall be made available to the minor without cost.

(e)  Family court proceedings under this section shall be given precedence over other pending matters to the extent necessary to ensure that the court reaches a decision promptly and in the best interests of the minor. 

(f)  A certified copy of the family court’s written decision shall be sent to the minor’s health care provider.  If the family court fails to rule within three business days of receiving the notice of appeal or fails to rule by the expiration of any extension, the request for a waiver of notification is granted.  A certified copy of the automatic waiver of parental notification shall be delivered forthwith to the minor’s health care provider.

(g)  The presiding judge of the family court shall issue an order authorizing the minor to consent to an abortion without the notification of a parent or guardian if the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that any of the requirements of subdivision 5283(a)(3)(F) of this chapter have been met.

(h)  All records of proceedings that take place under this section shall remain confidential and be placed under seal.  Any information that is sent to the minor’s health care provider in accordance with this section shall become part of the minor’s confidential medical record.

(i)  For purposes of this section, any presiding judge of a family court who grants a waiver of notification based upon a finding that the pregnancy is a result of abuse, neglect, or the commission of a crime against the minor, or any guardian ad litem who has a suspicion that the pregnancy is a result of abuse, neglect, or the commission of a crime against the minor, shall report or cause a report to be made within 24 hours after the finding has been made, in accordance with the provisions of sections 4913 and 4914 of Title 33.

§ 5285.  LIMITATIONS ON APPEAL

An order authorizing an abortion without notification shall not be subject to appeal.

§ 5286.  RECUSAL; FEES AND COSTS 

(a)  In the event of a judge’s recusal, a substitute judge shall be appointed immediately, and the hearing and decision shall be concluded within two business days thereafter.

(b)  No filing fees or court costs shall be required of the minor in either the probate court or the family court.

Sec. 3.  4 V.S.A. § 311 is amended to read:

§ 311.  JURISDICTION GENERALLY

The probate court shall have jurisdiction of the probate of wills, the settlement of estates, trusts created by will, trusts of absent person's estates, charitable, cemetery and philanthropic trusts, irrevocable trusts created by inter vivos agreements solely for the purpose of removal and replacement of trustees pursuant to subsection 2314(c) of Title 14, the appointment of guardians, and of the powers, duties, and rights of guardians and wards, proceedings concerning chapter 231 of Title 18, accountings of attorneys in fact where no guardian has been appointed and the agent has reason to believe the principal is incompetent, relinquishment for adoption, adoptions, uniform gifts to minors, changes of name, issuance of new birth certificates, amendment of birth certificates, correction or amendment of marriage certificates, correction or amendment of death certificates, emergency waiver of premarital medical certificates, proceedings relating to cemetery lots, trusts relating to community mausoleums or columbariums, proceedings relating to the conveyance of a homestead interest of a spouse under a legal disability, the issuance of declaratory judgments, issuance of certificates of public good authorizing the marriage of persons under 16 years of age, waiver of parental notification prior to performing an abortion on an unemancipated minor, appointment of administrators to discharge mortgages held by deceased mortgagees, appointment of trustees for persons confined under sentences of imprisonment, fixation of compensation and expenses of boards of arbitrators of death taxes of Vermont domiciliaries, and as otherwise provided by law.

Sec. 4.  4 V.S.A. § 311a is amended to read:

§ 311a.  VENUE GENERALLY

For proceedings authorized to probate courts, venue shall lie in a district of the court as follows:

* * *

(30)  Waiver of parental notification prior to performing an abortion on an unemancipated minor:  in the district or county where the minor petitions the probate court for a waiver of the parental notification requirement.

Sec. 5.  4 V.S.A. § 454 is amended to read:

§ 454.  JURISDICTION

(a)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the family court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and dispose of the following proceedings filed or pending on or after October 1, 1990.  The family court shall also have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and dispose of any requests to modify or enforce any orders issued by the district or superior court relating to the following proceedings:

* * *

(b)  The family court shall have appellate jurisdiction to hear and dispose of an appeal from the probate court regarding a waiver of parental notification prior to performing an abortion on an unemancipated minor. 

Sec. 6.  18 V.S.A. chapter 42A is added to read:

CHAPTER 42A.  PREGNANCY INFORMATION

AND COUNSELING FOR MINORS

§ 1870.  PROVISION OF INFORMATION AND COUNSELING

Prior to providing services related to pregnancy, a health care provider, as defined in subdivision 9432(8) of this title, or a mental health professional, as defined in subdivision 7101(13) of this title, shall, to the extent already required by the providers’ code of professional conduct, provide information and counseling in a manner and language that will be understood by the minor, including:

(1)  an explanation that the information is being given objectively, and is not intended to coerce, persuade, or induce the minor to make a particular decision;

(2)  an explanation that the minor may withdraw or reconsider a decision related to her pregnancy, within certain limits, which shall also be explained to her;

(3)  an explanation to the minor of the options available for managing pregnancy decisions and follow-up care;

(4)  an explanation that public and private agencies are available to assist the minor with services related to her pregnancy, and that a list of these agencies and the services available from each will be provided if the minor requests;

(5)  a discussion of the possibility of involving the minor’s parents, guardian, or other adult family members in the minor’s reproductive health care decision‑making; and

(6)  an adequate opportunity for the minor to ask questions and receive answers concerning reproductive health care.  The health care provider and mental health professional shall indicate where the minor can receive the information requested if he or she, or both, are unable to provide such information.

§ 1871.  MEDICAL EMERGENCY EXCEPTION

Information and counseling required under section 1870 of this title shall not be required if a health care provider determines that a medical emergency exists and complicates the pregnancy or the health, safety, or well-being of the minor to the extent that an immediate abortion is necessary.

S. 51

An act relating to prohibiting discrimination on basis of gender identity.

Amendment to proposal of amendment to be offered by Rep. Lavoie to S. 51

Moves to amend the proposal of amendment in the second instance, in Sec. 18a, by adding a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

(c)  It is the intent of the general assembly that the protections of this act shall apply only to a person who has conclusively determined that the person’s gender identity is inconsistent with the person’s assigned sex at birth.

S. 82

An act relating to the use of Vermont addresses and representations of Vermont origins.

S. 116

An act relating to miscellaneous election law amendments.

S. 121

An act relating to autism spectrum disorders.

S. 133

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

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Clark of Vergennes to S. 133

Moves the amend the proposal of amendment by striking Sec. 8 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof three new sections to be numbered Secs. 8, 9, and 10 to read as follows:

Sec. 8.  4 V.S.A. § 1102 is amended to read:

§ 1102.  JUDICIAL BUREAU; JURISDICTION

* * *

(b)  The judicial bureau shall have jurisdiction of the following matters:

* * *

(11)  violations of 18 V.S.A. § 4234b(b), relating to selling ephedrine base, pseudoephedrine base, or phenylpropanolamine base;

(12)  violations of 13 V.S.A. § 2510, relating to the unauthorized possession of signs issued by the state or a municipality.

Sec. 9.  13 V.S.A. § 2510 is added to read:

§ 2510.  UNAUTHORIZED POSSESSION OF SIGNS ISSUED BY THE STATE OR A MUNICIPALITY

(a)  A person who possesses without prior authorization any of the following signs shall be subject to a civil penalty not more than $500.00:

(1)  A sign issued by the state enhanced 9‑1‑1 board pursuant to subdivision 7053(a)(3) of Title 30.

(2)  A traffic control sign, signal, or marking issued pursuant to section 1025 of Title 23.

(3)  A municipal sign issued pursuant to section 1029 of Title 23.

(4)  An official directional sign posted for the purpose of providing tourist information pursuant to section 486 of Title 10.

(b)  An action under subsection (a) of this section shall be brought in the same manner as for a traffic violation pursuant to chapter 24 of Title 23.

Sec. 10.  EFFECTIVE DATE

(a)  Secs. 1-7 of this act shall take effect on June 30, 2007.

(b)  Secs. 8 and 9 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2008.

Amendment to be offered by Reps. O’Donnell of Vernon and Livingston of Manchester to S. 133

Move the proposal of amendment be amended as follows:

First:  By adding a new Sec. 8 to read as follows:

* * * Persons under the Age of 18 Riding in Rear of Pickup Trucks * * *

Sec. 8.  23 V.S.A. § 1091a is added to read:

§ 1091a.  PERSONS UNDER AGE 18 RIDING IN REAR OF PICKUP
    TRUCKS

A person under the age of 18 years of age shall not be transported in the rear portion of a pickup truck.

and by renumbering the existing Sec. 8 to be Sec. 9

Second:  In renumbered Sec. 9(b), by striking out “Sec. 7” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  “Secs. 7 and 8

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Allard of St. Albans, Lippert of Hinesburg and Grad of  Moretown to S. 133

Move to amend the proposal of amendment by striking out Sec. 4 and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 4 to read as follows:

* * * Junior Operator Night‑Time Restriction * * *

Sec. 4.  23 V.S.A. § 614(c) is added to read:

(c)  A person operating with a junior operator’s license shall not operate a motor vehicle between midnight and 5:00 a.m. except when carrying the signed and dated written permission of a parent or guardian that contains the parent's or guardian's contact information, including a home and work address and phone numbers, and except when:

(1)  traveling on a direct route between work and home;

(2)  traveling for a school‑related activity; or

(3)  going to or returning from hunting or fishing, provided the operator has in his or her possession hunting or fishing equipment and a valid hunting or fishing license.

(d)  A person in violation of subsection (c) of this section shall be allowed to drive his or her vehicle on a direct route home, following issuance of a traffic ticket by a law enforcement officer.

Amendment to proposal of amendment of Rep. Allard to be offered by Reps. Weston of Burlington, LaVoie of Swanton, Stevens of Shoreham, and Zuckerman of Burlington to S. 133

     Move to amend the proposal of amendment offered by Representative Allard by striking the words “between midnight and 5:00 am”, and by inserting in lieu thereof the words “between 1:00 am and 4:00 am”.

Amendment to be offered by Reps. Donahue of Northfield and Pearson of Burlington to S . 133

Move to amend the proposal of amendment by  striking Sec. 6 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec.  6. 23 V.S.A § 1191(a) is amended to read:

(a) Negligent operation.

(1) A person who operates a motor vehicle on a public highway in a negligent manner shall be guilty of negligent operation.

(2) The standard for a conviction for negligent operation in violation of this subsection shall be ordinary negligence, examining whether the person breached a duty to exercise ordinary care. The duty to exercise ordinary care includes the duty to maintain full attention and focus on the safe operation of the motor vehicle.

(3) A person who violates this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both. If the person has been previously convicted of a violation of this subsection, the person shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $3,000.00, or both.

J. R. H. 21

     Joint resolution in support of the worldwide ONE campaign and urging Congress to appropriate and the President to spend an additional one percent of the federal budget on the goals of the ONE campaign.

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Amendment

S. 115

An act relating to increasing transparency of prescription drug pricing and information.

Rep. Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford, for the Committee on Health Care, 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.  33 V.S.A. § 1998 is amended to read:

§ 1998.  PHARMACY BEST PRACTICES AND COST CONTROL
              PROGRAM ESTABLISHED

(a)  The director of the office of Vermont health access shall establish and maintain a pharmacy best practices and cost control program designed to reduce the cost of providing prescription drugs, while maintaining high quality in prescription drug therapies.  The program shall include:

(1)  A Use of an evidence‑based preferred list of covered prescription drugs that identifies preferred choices within therapeutic classes for particular diseases and conditions, including generic alternatives and over‑the‑counter drugs.

(A)  The director and the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration shall implement the preferred drug list as a uniform, statewide preferred drug list by encouraging all health benefit plans in this state to participate in the program.

(B)  The commissioner of human resources shall use the preferred drug list in the state employees health benefit plan only if participation in the program will provide economic and health benefits to the state employees health benefit plan and to beneficiaries of the plan, and only if agreed to through the bargaining process between the state of Vermont and the authorized representatives of the employees of the state of Vermont.  The provisions of this subdivision do not authorize the actuarial pooling of the state employees health benefit plan with any other health benefit plan, unless otherwise agreed to through the bargaining process between the state of Vermont and the authorized representatives of the employees of the state of Vermont.  No later than November 1, 2004, the commissioner of human resources shall report to the health access oversight committee and the senate and house committees on health and welfare on whether use of the preferred drug list in the state employees health benefit plan would, in his or her opinion, provide economic and health benefits to the state employees health benefit plan and to beneficiaries of the plan.

(C)  The director shall encourage all health benefit plans to implement the preferred drug list as a uniform, statewide preferred drug list by inviting the representatives of each health benefit plan providing prescription drug coverage to residents of this state to participate as observers or nonvoting members in the director’s drug utilization review board, and by inviting such plans to use the preferred drug list in connection with the plans’ prescription drug coverage.

(2)  Utilization review procedures, including a prior authorization review process.

(3)  Any strategy designed to negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers to lower the cost of prescription drugs for program participants, including a supplemental rebate program.

(4)  With input from physicians, pharmacists, private insurers, hospitals, pharmacy benefit managers, and the drug utilization review board, an evidence‑based research education program designed to provide information and education on the therapeutic and cost‑effective utilization of prescription drugs to physicians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals authorized to prescribe and dispense prescription drugs.  To the extent possible, the program shall inform prescribers about drug marketing that is intended to circumvent competition from generic alternatives.  Details of the program, including the scope of the program and funding recommendations, shall be contained in a report submitted to the health access oversight committee and the senate and house committees on health and welfare no later than January 1, 2005.

(5)(4)  Alternative pricing mechanisms, including consideration of using maximum allowable cost pricing for generic and other prescription drugs.

(6)(5)  Alternative coverage terms, including consideration of providing coverage of over‑the‑counter drugs where cost‑effective in comparison to prescription drugs, and authorizing coverage of dosages capable of permitting the consumer to split each pill if cost‑effective and medically appropriate for the consumer.

(7)(6)  A simple, uniform prescription form, designed to implement the preferred drug list, and to enable prescribers and consumers to request an exception to the preferred drug list choice with a minimum of cost and time to prescribers, pharmacists and consumers.

(7)  A joint pharmaceuticals purchasing consortium as provided for in subdivision (c)(1) of this section.

(8)  Any other cost containment activity adopted, by rule, by the director that is designed to reduce the cost of providing prescription drugs while maintaining high quality in prescription drug therapies.

* * *

(c)(1)  The director may implement the pharmacy best practices and cost control program for any other health benefit plan within or outside this state that agrees to participate in the program.  For entities in Vermont, the director shall directly or by contract implement the program through a joint pharmaceuticals purchasing consortium.  The joint pharmaceuticals purchasing consortium shall be offered on a voluntary basis no later than January 1, 2008, with mandatory participation by state or publicly funded, administered, or subsidized purchasers to the extent practicable and consistent with the purposes of this chapter, by January 1, 2010.  If necessary, the office of Vermont health access shall seek authorization from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to include purchases funded by Medicaid.  “State or publicly funded purchasers” shall include the department of corrections, the division of mental health, Medicaid, the Vermont Health Access Program (VHAP), Dr. Dynasaur, Vermont Rx, VPharm, Healthy Vermonters, workers’ compensation, and any other state or publicly funded purchaser of prescription drugs.

* * *

(f)(1)  The drug utilization review board shall make recommendations to the director for the adoption of the preferred drug list.  The board’s recommendations shall be based upon evidence‑based considerations of clinical efficacy, adverse side effects, safety, appropriate clinical trials, and cost‑effectiveness.  “Evidence‑based” shall have the same meaning as in section 4622 of Title 18.

* * *

(6)  The director shall encourage participation in the joint purchasing consortium by inviting representatives of the programs and entities specified in subdivision (c)(1) of this section to participate as observers or nonvoting members in the drug utilization review board, and by inviting the representatives to use the preferred drug list in connection with the plans’ prescription drug coverage.

Sec. 2.  33 V.S.A. § 1998(g) is added to read:

(g)  The office shall seek assistance from entities conducting independent research into the effectiveness of prescription drugs to provide technical and clinical support in the development and the administration of the preferred drug list and the evidence‑based education program established in subchapter 2 of Title 18.

* * * Pharmaceutical Marketer Disclosures * * *

Sec. 3.  33 V.S.A. § 2005(a)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  The office of the attorney general shall keep confidential all trade secret information, as defined by subdivision 317(b)(9) of Title 1, except that the office may disclose the information to the department of health and the office of Vermont health access for the purpose of informing and prioritizing the activities of the evidence‑based education program in subchapter 2 of chapter 91 of Title 18.  The department of health and the office of Vermont health access shall keep the information confidential.  The disclosure form shall permit the company to identify any information that it claims is a trade secret as defined in subdivision 317(c)(9) of Title 1.  In the event that the attorney general receives a request for any information designated as a trade secret, the attorney general shall promptly notify the company of such request.  Within 30 days after such notification, the company shall respond to the requester and the attorney general by either consenting to the release of the requested information or by certifying in writing the reasons for its claim that the information is a trade secret.  Any requester aggrieved by the company’s response may apply to the superior court of Washington County for a declaration that the company’s claim of trade secret is invalid.  The attorney general shall not be made a party to the superior court proceeding.  Prior to and during the pendency of the superior court proceeding, the attorney general shall keep confidential the information that has been claimed as trade secret information, except that the attorney general may provide the requested information to the court under seal.

Sec. 4.  33 V.S.A. § 2005(a)(4) is amended and (d) is added to read:

(4)  The following shall be exempt from disclosure:

* * *

(D)  scholarship or other support for medical students, residents, and fellows to attend a significant educational, scientific, or policy‑making conference of a national, regional, or specialty medical or other professional association if the recipient of the scholarship or other support is selected by the association; and

(E)  unrestricted grants for continuing medical education programs; and

(F)  prescription drug rebates and discounts.

* * *

(d)  Disclosures of unrestricted grants for continuing medical education programs shall be limited to the value, nature, and purpose of the grant and the name of the grantee.  It shall not include disclosure of the individual participants in such a program.

Sec. 5. 33  V.S.A. § 2005a(d) is amended to read:

(d)  As used in this section:

* * *

(2)  “Pharmaceutical manufacturing company” is defined by subdivision 2005(c)(5) 4632(c)(5) of this title.

(3)  “Pharmaceutical marketer” is defined by subdivision 2005(c)(4) 4632(c)(4) of this title.

* * * Price Disclosure and Certification * * *

Sec. 6.  33 V.S.A. § 2010 is added to read:

§ 2010.  ACTUAL PRICE DISCLOSURE AND CERTIFICATION

(a)  A manufacturer of prescription drugs dispensed in this state under a health program directed or administered by the state shall, on a quarterly basis, report by National Drug Code the following pharmaceutical pricing criteria to the director of the office of Vermont health access for each of its drugs:

(1)  the prices required to be provided to the Medicaid program under federal law, including prices defined in 42 U.S.C. § 1396r-8; and

(2)  the price that each wholesaler in this state pays the manufacturer to purchase the drug.

(b)  When reporting the prices as provided for in subsection (a) of this section, the manufacturer shall include a summary of its methodology in determining the price.  The office may accept the standards of the National Drug Rebate agreement entered into by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Section 1927 of the Social Security Act for reporting pricing methodology.

(c)  The pricing information required under this section is for drugs defined under the Medicaid drug rebate program and must be submitted to the director following its submission to the federal government in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 1396r‑8(b)(3).

(d)  When a manufacturer of prescription drugs dispensed in this state reports the information required under subsection (a) of this section, the president, chief executive officer, or a designated employee of the manufacturer shall certify to the office, on a form provided by the director of the office of Vermont health access, that the reported prices are the same as those reported to the federal government as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1396r‑8(b)(3) for the applicable rebate period.  A designated employee shall be an employee who reports directly to the chief executive officer or president and who has been delegated to make the certification under this section.

(e)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, information submitted to the office under this section is confidential and is not a public record as defined in subsection 317(b) of Title 1.  Disclosure may be made by the office to an entity providing services to the office under this section; however, that disclosure does not change the confidential status of the information.  The information may be used by the entity only for the purpose specified by the office in its contract with the entity.  Data compiled in aggregate form by the office for the purposes of reporting required by this section are public records as defined in subsection 317(b) of Title 1, provided they do not reveal trade information protected by state or federal law.

(f)  The attorney general shall enforce the provisions of this section under the Vermont consumer fraud act in chapter 63 of Title 9.  The attorney general has the same authority to make rules, conduct civil investigations, and bring civil actions with respect to acts and practices governed by this section as is provided under the Vermont consumer fraud act.

* * * Healthy Vermonters * * *

Sec. 7.  33 V.S.A. § 2003 is amended to read:

§ 2003.  PHARMACY DISCOUNT PLANS

(a)  The director of the office of Vermont health access shall implement pharmacy discount plans, to be known as the “Healthy Vermonters” program and the “Healthy Vermonters Plus” program, for Vermonters without adequate coverage for prescription drugs.  The provisions of section 1992 of this title subchapter 8 of this chapter shall apply to the director’s authority to administer the pharmacy discount plans established by this section.

(b)  The Healthy Vermonters program shall offer beneficiaries an initial discounted cost for covered drugs.  Upon approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver program, and upon subsequent legislative approval, the Healthy Vermonters program and the Healthy Vermonters Plus program shall offer beneficiaries a secondary discounted cost, which shall reflect a state payment toward the cost of each dispensed drug as well as any rebate amount negotiated by the commissioner.

* * *

(c)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Beneficiary” means any individual enrolled in either the Healthy Vermonters program or the Healthy Vermonters Plus program.

(2)  “Healthy Vermonters beneficiary” means any individual Vermont resident without adequate coverage:

(A)  who is at least 65 years of age, or is disabled and is eligible for Medicare or Social Security disability benefits, with household income equal to or less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, as calculated under the rules of the Vermont health access plan, as amended; or

(B)  whose household income is equal to or less than 300 350 percent of the federal poverty level, as calculated under the rules of the Vermont Health access plan, as amended.

(3)  “Healthy Vermonters Plus beneficiary” means any individual Vermont resident without adequate coverage:

(A)  whose household income is greater than 300 percent and equal to or less than 350 percent of the federal poverty level, as calculated under the rules of the Vermont health access plan, as amended; or

(B)  whose family incurs unreimbursed expenses for prescription drugs, including insurance premiums, that equal five percent or more of household income or whose total unreimbursed medical expenses, including insurance premiums, equal 15 percent or more of household income.

* * *

* * * PBM Regulation * * *

Sec. 8.  18 V.S.A. chapter 221, subchapter 9 is added to read:

Subchapter 9.  Pharmacy Benefit Managers

§ 9471.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this subchapter:

(1)  “Beneficiary” means an individual enrolled in a health plan in which coverage of prescription drugs is administered by a pharmacy benefit manager and includes his or her dependent or other person provided health coverage through that health plan.

(2)  “Health insurer” is defined by subdivision 9402(9) of this title and shall include:

(A)  a health insurance company, a nonprofit hospital and medical service corporation, and health maintenance organizations;

(B)  an employer, labor union, or other group of persons organized in Vermont that provides a health plan to beneficiaries who are employed or reside in Vermont;

(C)  the state of Vermont and any agent or instrumentality of the state that offers, administers, or provides financial support to state government; and

(D)  Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, Vermont Rx, and any other public health care assistance program.

(3)  “Health plan” means a health benefit plan offered, administered, or issued by a health insurer doing business in Vermont.

(4)  “Pharmacy benefit management” means an arrangement for the procurement of prescription drugs at a negotiated rate for dispensation within this state to beneficiaries, the administration or management of prescription drug benefits provided by a health plan for the benefit of beneficiaries, or any of the following services provided with regard to the administration of pharmacy benefits:

(A)  mail service pharmacy;

(B)  claims processing, retail network management, and payment of claims to pharmacies for prescription drugs dispensed to beneficiaries;

(C)  clinical formulary development and management services;

(D)  rebate contracting and administration;

(E)  certain patient compliance, therapeutic intervention, and generic substitution programs; and

(F)  disease or chronic care management programs.

(5)  “Pharmacy benefit manager” means an entity that performs pharmacy benefit management.  The term includes a person or entity in a contractual or employment relationship with an entity performing pharmacy benefit management for a health plan.

§ 9472.  PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS; REQUIRED PRACTICES

(a)  A pharmacy benefit manager that provides pharmacy benefit management for a health plan shall discharge its duties with reasonable care and diligence and be fair and truthful under the circumstances then prevailing that a pharmacy benefit manager acting in like capacity and familiar with such matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims.  In the case of a health benefit plan offered by a health insurer as defined by subdivision 9471(2)(A) of this title, the health insurer shall remain responsible for administering the health benefit plan in accordance with the health insurance policy or subscriber contract or plan and in compliance with all applicable provisions of Title 8 and this title.

(b)  A pharmacy benefit manager shall provide notice to the health insurer that the terms contained in subsection (c) of this section may be included in the contract between the pharmacy benefit manager and the health insurer.

(c)  Unless the contract provides otherwise, a pharmacy benefit manager that provides pharmacy benefit management for a health plan shall:

(1)  Provide all financial and utilization information requested by a health insurer relating to the provision of benefits to beneficiaries through that health insurer’s health plan and all financial and utilization information relating to services to that health insurer.  A pharmacy benefit manager providing information under this subsection may designate that material as confidential.  Information designated as confidential by a pharmacy benefit manager and provided to a health insurer under this subsection may not be disclosed by the health insurer to any person without the consent of the pharmacy benefit manager, except that disclosure may be made by the health insurer:

(A)  in a court filing under the consumer fraud provisions of chapter 63 of Title 9, provided that the information shall be filed under seal and that prior to the information being unsealed, the court shall give notice and an opportunity to be heard to the pharmacy benefit manager on why the information should remain confidential;

(B)  when authorized by chapter 63 of Title 9;

(C)  when ordered by a court for good cause shown; or

(D)  when ordered by the commissioner as to a health insurer as defined in subdivision 9471(2)(A) of this title pursuant to the provisions of Title 8 and this title.

(2)  Notify a health insurer in writing of any proposed or ongoing activity, policy, or practice of the pharmacy benefit manager that presents, directly or indirectly, any conflict of interest with the requirements of this section.

(3)  With regard to the dispensation of a substitute prescription drug for a prescribed drug to a beneficiary in which the substitute drug costs more than the prescribed drug and the pharmacy benefit manager receives a benefit or payment directly or indirectly, disclose to the health insurer the cost of both drugs and the benefit or payment directly or indirectly accruing to the pharmacy benefit manager as a result of the substitution.

(4)  If the pharmacy benefit manager derives any payment or benefit for the dispensation of prescription drugs within the state based on volume of sales for certain prescription drugs or classes or brands of drugs within the state, pass that payment or benefit on in full to the health insurer.

(5)  Disclose to the health insurer all financial terms and arrangements for remuneration of any kind that apply between the pharmacy benefit manager and any prescription drug manufacturer that relate to benefits provided to beneficiaries under or services to the health insurer’s health plan, including formulary management and drug‑switch programs, educational support, claims processing, and pharmacy network fees charged from retail pharmacies and data sales fees.  A pharmacy benefit manager providing information under this subsection may designate that material as confidential.  Information designated as confidential by a pharmacy benefit manager and provided to a health insurer under this subsection may not be disclosed by the health insurer to any person without the consent of the pharmacy benefit manager, except that disclosure may be made by the health insurer:

(A)  in a court filing under the consumer fraud provisions of chapter 63 of Title 9, provided that the information shall be filed under seal and that prior to the information being unsealed, the court shall give notice and an opportunity to be heard to the pharmacy benefit manager on why the information should remain confidential;

(B)  when authorized by chapter 63 of Title 9;

(C)  when ordered by a court for good cause shown; or

(D)  when ordered by the commissioner as to a health insurer as defined in subdivision 9471(2)(A) of this title pursuant to the provisions of Title 8 and this title.

(d)  Compliance with the requirements of this section is required for pharmacy benefit managers entering into contracts with a health insurer in this state for pharmacy benefit management in this state.

§ 9473.  ENFORCEMENT

(a)  Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, in addition to any remedy available to the commissioner under this title and any other remedy provided by law, a violation of this subchapter shall be considered a violation of the Vermont consumer fraud act in subchapter 1 of chapter 63 of Title 1.  Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, all rights, authority, and remedies available to the attorney general and private parties to enforce the Vermont consumer fraud act shall be available to enforce the provisions of this subchapter.

(b)  In connection with any action for violation of the Vermont consumer fraud act, the commissioner’s determinations concerning the interpretation and administration of the provisions of this subchapter and any rules adopted hereunder shall carry a presumption of validity.  The attorney general and the commissioner shall consult with each other prior to the commencement of any investigation or enforcement action with respect to any pharmacy benefit manager.

(c)  The commissioner may investigate, examine, or otherwise enforce a violation of this subchapter by a pharmacy benefit manager under section 9412 of this title as if the pharmacy benefit manager were a health insurer. 

(d)  The commissioner shall have the exclusive authority to investigate, examine, and otherwise enforce the provisions of this subchapter relating to a pharmacy benefit manager in connection with the pharmacy benefit manager’s contractual relationship with, and any other activity with respect to, a health insurer defined by subdivision 9471(2)(A) of this title.

(e)  Notwithstanding the foregoing, the commissioner and the attorney general may bring a joint enforcement action against any person or entity for a violation of this subchapter.

Sec. 9.  18 V.S.A. § 9421 is added to read:

§ 9421.  PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGEMENT; REGISTRATION; AUDIT

(a)  A pharmacy benefit manager shall not do business in this state without first registering with the commissioner on a form and in a manner prescribed by the commissioner.

(b)  In accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner, pharmacy benefit managers operating in the state of Vermont and proposing to contract for the provision of pharmacy benefit management shall notify health insurers when the pharmacy benefit manager provides a quotation that a quotation for an administrative‑services‑only contract with full pass through of negotiated prices, rebates, and other such financial benefits which would identify to the health insurer external sources of revenue and profit is generally available and whether the pharmacy benefits manager offers that type of arrangement.  Quotations for an administrative‑services‑only contract shall include a reasonable fee payable by the health insurer which represents a competitive pharmacy benefit profit.  This subsection shall not be interpreted to require a pharmacy benefits manager to offer an administrative‑services‑only contract.

(c)(1)  In order to enable periodic verification of pricing arrangements in administrative‑services‑only contracts, pharmacy benefit managers shall allow access, in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner, by the health insurer who is a party to the administrative‑services‑only contract to financial and contractual information necessary to conduct a complete and independent audit designed to verify the following:

(A)  full pass through of negotiated drug prices and fees associated with all drugs dispensed to beneficiaries of the health plan in both retail and mail order settings or resulting from any of the pharmacy benefit management functions defined in the contract;

(B)  full pass through of all financial remuneration associated with all drugs dispensed to beneficiaries of the health plan in both retail and mail order settings or resulting from any of the pharmacy benefit management functions defined in the contract; and

(C)  any other verifications relating to the pricing arrangements and activities of the pharmacy benefit manager required by the contract if required by the commissioner.

(d)  The department’s reasonable expenses in administering the provisions of this section may be charged to pharmacy benefit managers in the manner provided for in section 18 of Title 8.  These expenses shall be allocated in proportion to the lives of Vermonters covered by each pharmacy benefit manager as reported annually to the commissioner in a manner and form prescribed by the commissioner.  The department shall not charge its expenses to the pharmacy benefit manager contracting with the office of Vermont health access if the office notifies the department of the conditions contained in its contract with a pharmacy benefit manager.

(e)  The commissioner may adopt such rules as are necessary or desirable in carrying out the purposes of this section.  The rules also shall ensure that proprietary information is kept confidential and not disclosed by a health insurer.

(f)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Health insurer” is defined in subdivision 9471(2) of this title.

(2)  “Health plan” is defined in subdivision 9471(3) of this title.

(3)  “Pharmacy benefit management” is defined in subdivision 9471(4) of this title.

(4)  “Pharmacy benefit manager” is defined in subdivision 9471(5) of this title.

Sec. 10.  APPLICATION

Secs. 8 and 9 of this act apply to contracts executed or renewed on or after September 1, 2007.  For purposes of this section, a contract executed pursuant to a memorandum of agreement executed prior to September 1, 2007 is deemed to have been executed prior to September 1, 2007 even if the contract was executed after that date.

Sec. 11.  8 V.S.A. § 4088d is added to read:

§ 4088d.  NOTICE OF PREFERRED DRUG LIST CHANGES

A health insurer, as defined in subdivisions 9471(2)(A), (C), and (D) of Title 18, shall provide beneficiaries sufficient notice of any changes to the prescription drugs covered on its preferred drug list.  For purposes of this section, “sufficient notice” means:

(1)  written notice to affected beneficiaries specifying the drugs that have been added or removed from the preferred drug list, which shall be provided to beneficiaries at least 30 days prior to the effective date of such changes; or

(2)  written notice to a beneficiary that a specific drug is no longer covered on the preferred drug list at the time the beneficiary seeks a refill of that drug.  In such circumstances, the beneficiary shall not be denied coverage for the first requested refill after the change to the preferred drug list has taken place.  Subsequent refills, however, shall be subject to the requirements of the revised preferred drug list.

Sec. 12.  18 V.S.A. chapter 91 is amended to read:

CHAPTER 91.  GENERIC DRUGS PRESCRIPTION DRUG
COST CONTAINMENT

Sec. 13.  18 V.S.A. chapter 91, sections 4601–4608 are designated as subchapter 1 which is added to read:

Subchapter 1.  Generic Drugs

Sec. 14.  18 V.S.A. chapter 91, subchapter 2 is added to read:

Subchapter 2.  Evidence‑Based Education Program

§ 4621.  Definitions

For the purposes of this subchapter:

(1)  “Department” means the department of health.

(2)  “Evidence‑based” means based on criteria and guidelines that reflect high‑quality, cost‑effective care.  The methodology used to determine such guidelines shall meet recognized standards for systematic evaluation of all available research and shall be free from conflicts of interest.  Consideration of the best available scientific evidence does not preclude consideration of experimental or investigational treatment or services under a clinical investigation approved by an institutional review board.

§ 4622.  Evidence‑based education Program

(a)(1)  The department, in collaboration with the attorney general, the University of Vermont area health education centers program, and the office of Vermont health access, shall establish an evidence‑based prescription drug education program for health care professionals designed to provide information and education on the therapeutic and cost‑effective utilization of prescription drugs to physicians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals authorized to prescribe and dispense prescription drugs.  The department may collaborate with other states in establishing this program.

(2)  The program shall notify prescribers about commonly used brand-name drugs for which the patent has expired within the last 12 months or will expire within the next 12 months.  The department and the office of Vermont health access shall collaborate in issuing the notices.

(3)  To the extent permitted by funding, the program may include the distribution to prescribers of samples of generic medicines used to treat chronic conditions common in Vermont.

(b)  The department shall request information and collaboration from physicians, pharmacists, private insurers, hospitals, pharmacy benefit managers, the drug utilization review board, medical schools, the attorney general, and any other programs providing an evidence‑based education to prescribers on prescription drugs in developing and maintaining the program.

(c)  The department may contract for technical and clinical support in the development and the administration of the program from entities conducting independent research into the effectiveness of prescription drugs.

(d)  The department and the attorney general shall collaborate in reviewing the marketing activities of pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in Vermont and determining appropriate funding sources for the program, including awards from suits brought by the attorney general against pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Sec. 15.  GENERIC DRUG SAMPLE PILOT PROJECT

(a)  As part of the evidence-based education program established in subchapter 2 of chapter 91 of Title 18, the department of health, in collaboration with the office of Vermont health access and the University of Vermont area health education centers program, shall establish a pilot project to distribute vouchers for a sample of generic drugs used to treat high cholesterol, including statins, and informational and educational materials to prescribers.  The department and office may expand the pilot program to include other classes of prescription drugs used to treat common chronic conditions for which there is a generic medicine available. 

(b)  The office of Vermont health access shall fund the vouchers from the fee established in section 1998b of Title 33 and shall provide payment to the pharmacy dispensing the prescription drugs in exchange for the voucher.  The office shall establish a payment rate, including a dispensing fee, using the rules and procedures for the Medicaid program.

Sec. 16.  Prescription Drug Pricing; Federally Qualified
   Health Centers

No later than January 1, 2008, the department of health shall create a plan to inform Vermonters of the availability of health services provided by federally qualified health centers (FQHC) and FQHC look‑alikes, including information about prescription drug pricing, focusing on state employees, individuals under the supervision of corrections, individuals receiving workers’ compensation benefits if applicable, and any other state or publicly funded purchaser of prescription drugs for whom the cost of prescription drugs is likely to be higher than prices under Section 340B of the Public Health Service Act.

* * * Prescription Drug Data Confidentiality * * *

Sec. 17.  18 V.S.A. chapter 91, subchapter 3 is added to read:

Subchapter 3.  Information Requirements

§ 4631.  Confidentiality of Prescription Information

(a)  The general assembly finds that it has become an increasingly common practice for information identifying physicians and other prescribers in prescription records to be used to target pharmaceutical marketing and gifts toward physicians who prescribe the most expensive drugs for their patients.  This practice raises drug costs for all Vermont residents and compromises the professional autonomy of physicians.  It is the intent of the general assembly to ensure the privacy of Vermonters and health care professionals by prohibiting the commercial use of prescription information.

(b)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Commercial purpose” shall include advertising, marketing, promotion, or any activity that is intended to be used or is used to influence sales or the market share of a pharmaceutical product, influence or evaluate the prescribing behavior of an individual health care professional, market prescription drugs to patients, or evaluate the effectiveness of a professional pharmaceutical detailing sales force.

(2)  “Electronic transmission intermediary” means an entity that provides the infrastructure that connects the computer systems or other electronic devices used by health care professionals, prescribers, pharmacies, health care facilities and pharmacy benefit managers, health insurers, third‑party administrators, and agents and contractors of those persons in order to facilitate the secure transmission of an individual’s prescription drug order, refill, authorization request, claim, payment, or other prescription drug information.

(3)  “Health care facility” shall have the same meaning as in section 9402 of this title.

(4)  “Health care professional” shall have the same meaning as in section 9402 of this title.

(5)  “Health insurer” shall have the same meaning as in section 9410 of this title.

(6)  “Pharmacy” means any individual or entity licensed or registered under chapter 36 of Title 26.

(7)  “Prescriber” means an individual allowed by law to prescribe and administer prescription drugs in the course of professional practice.

(8)  “Regulated records” means information or documentation from a prescription written by a prescriber doing business in Vermont or a prescription dispensed in Vermont.

(c)  A health insurer, a self‑insured employer, an electronic transmission intermediary, a pharmacy, or other similar entity shall not license, transfer, use, or sell regulated records which include prescription information containing patient‑identifiable or prescriber‑identifiable data for any commercial purpose.

(d)  This section shall not apply to:

(1)  the license, transfer, use, or sale of regulated records for the limited purposes of pharmacy reimbursement; prescription drug formulary compliance; patient care management; utilization review by a health care professional, the patient’s health insurer, or the agent of either; or health care research;

(2)  the dispensing of prescription medications to a patient or to the patient’s authorized representative;

(3)  the transmission of prescription information between an authorized prescriber and a licensed pharmacy, between licensed pharmacies, or that may occur in the event a pharmacy’s ownership is changed or transferred;

(4)  care management educational communications provided to a patient about the patient’s health condition, adherence to a prescribed course of therapy and other information relating to the drug being dispensed, treatment options, recall or patient safety notices, or clinical trials;

(5)  the collection, use, or disclosure of prescription information or other regulatory activity as authorized by chapter 84, chapter 84A, or section 9410 of this title, or as otherwise provided by law;

(6)  the collection and transmission of prescription information to a Vermont or federal law enforcement officer engaged in his or her official duties as otherwise provided by law;

(7)  the collection, use, transfer, or sale of patient and prescriber data for commercial purposes if the data do not identify a person, and there is no reasonable basis to believe that the data provided could be used to identify a person.

(e)  In addition to any other remedy provided by law, the attorney general may file an action in superior court for a violation of this section or of any rules adopted under this section by the attorney general.  The attorney general shall have the same authority to investigate and to obtain remedies as if the action were brought under the Vermont consumer fraud act, chapter 63 of Title 9.  Each violation of this section or of any rules adopted under this section by the attorney general constitutes a separate civil violation for which the attorney general may obtain relief. 

Sec. 18.  1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(38) is added to read:

(38)  records held by the agency of human services, which include prescription information containing patient-identifiable or prescriber‑identifiable data, that could be used to identify a patient or prescriber, except that the records shall be made available upon request for medical research purposes consistent with those expressed in sections 4621, 4631, 4632, 4633, and 9410 of Title 18 and chapters 84 and 84A of Title 18, or law enforcement activities.

Sec. 19.  18 V.S.A. § 9410(g) is amended to read:

(g)  Any person who knowingly fails to comply with the requirements of this section or rules adopted pursuant to this section shall be fined subject to an administrative penalty of not more than $1,000.00 per violation.  The commissioner may impose an administrative penalty of not more than $10,000.00 each for those violations the commissioner finds were willful. In addition, any person who knowingly fails to comply with the confidentiality requirements of this section or rules adopted pursuant to this section  and  uses, sells or transfers the data or information for commercial advantage, pecuniary gain, personal gain or malicious harm shall be  subject to an administrative penalty of not more than $50,000.00 per violation.  The powers vested in the commissioner by this subsection shall be in addition to any other powers to enforce any penalties, fines or forfeitures authorized by law.

Sec. 20.  33 V.S.A. § 1998b is added to read:

§ 1998b.  Manufacturer Fee

(a)  Annually, each pharmaceutical manufacturer of prescription drugs that are paid for by Medicaid, the Vermont Health Access Program, Dr. Dynasaur, VPharm or Vermont Rx shall pay a fee to the agency of human services.  The fee shall be 0.5 percent of the previous calendar year’s drug spending and shall be assessed based on manufacturer labeler codes as used in the Medicaid rebate program.

(b)  Fees collected under this section shall fund the implementation and operation of subdivision 2466a(c)(1) of Title 9 and the evidence‑based education program established in subchapter 2 of Title 18.

(c)  The secretary of human services or designee shall make rules for the implementation of this section.

* * * Consumer Protection; False Advertising * * *

Sec. 21.  9 V.S.A. § 2466a is added to read:

§ 2466a.  Consumer Protections; Prescription Drugs

(a)  A violation of section 4631 of Title 18 shall be considered a violation under this chapter.

(b)  As provided in section 9473 of Title 18, a violation of section 9472 shall be considered a violation under this chapter.

(c)(1)  It shall be a violation under this chapter for a manufacturer of prescription drugs to present or cause to be presented in the state a regulated advertisement if that advertisement does not comply with the requirements concerning drugs and devices and prescription drug advertising in federal law and regulations under 21 United States Code, Sections 331 and 352(n) and 21 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 202 and state rules.  A warning or untitled letter issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of federal law and regulations.

(2)  For purposes of this section:

(A)  “Manufacturer of prescription drugs” means a person authorized by law to manufacture, bottle, or pack drugs or biological products, a licensee or affiliate of that person, or a labeler that receives drugs or biological products from a manufacturer or wholesaler and repackages them for later retail sale and has a labeler code from the federal Food and Drug Administration under 21 Code of Federal Regulations, 2027.20 (1999).

(B)  “Regulated advertisement” means:

(i)  the presentation to the general public of a commercial message regarding a prescription drug or biological product by a manufacturer of prescription drugs that is broadcast on television, cable, or radio from a station or cable company that is physically located in the state, broadcast over the internet from a location in the state, or printed in magazines or newspapers that are printed, distributed, or sold in the state; or

(ii)  a commercial message regarding a prescription drug or biological product by a manufacturer of prescription drugs or its representative that is conveyed:

(I)  to the office of a health care professional doing business in Vermont, including statements by representatives or employees of the manufacturer and materials mailed or delivered to the office; or

(II)  at a conference or other professional meeting occurring in Vermont.

(d)  No person shall sell, offer for sale, or distribute electronic prescribing software that advertises, uses instant messaging and pop‑up advertisements, or uses other means to influence or attempt to influence the prescribing decision of a health care professional through economic incentives or otherwise and which is triggered or in specific response to the input, selection, or act of a health care professional or agent in prescribing a specific prescription drug or directing a patient to a certain pharmacy.  This subsection shall not apply to information provided to the health care professional about pharmacy reimbursement, prescription drug formulary compliance, and patient care management.

* * * Insurance Marketing * * *

Sec. 22.  8 V.S.A. § 4804(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The commissioner may suspend, revoke, or refuse to continue or renew any license issued under this chapter if, after notice to the licensee and to the insurer represented, and opportunity for hearing, he or she finds as to the licensee any one or more of the following conditions:

* * *

(8)  The licensee has committed any unfair trade practice or fraud as defined in this title.  It shall be an unfair practice under this section for a licensee to:

(A)(i)  sell, solicit, or negotiate the purchase of health insurance in this state through an advertisement which makes use directly or indirectly of any method of marketing which fails to disclose in a conspicuous manner that a purpose of the method of marketing is solicitation of insurance, and that contact will be made by an insurance agent or insurance company. 

(ii)  Use an appointment that was made to discuss Medicare products or to solicit the sale of Medicare products to solicit sales of any other insurance products unless the consumer requests the solicitation, and the products to be discussed are clearly identified to the consumer in writing at least 48 hours in advance of the appointment. 

(iii)  Solicit the sale of Medicare products door-to-door prior to receiving an invitation from a consumer.

(B)  As used in this subdivision, the term “Medicare products” includes Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, Medicare Part C, Medicare Part D, and Medicare supplement plans;

* * *

Sec. 23.  Recodification

The following sections of Title 33 as amended by this act are recodified as follows:

(1)  Section 2005 shall be section 4632 of Title 18.

(2)  Section 2005a shall be section 4633 of Title 18.

(3)  Section 2008 shall be section 4634 of Title 18.

(4)  Section 2006 shall be section 852 of Title 2.

Sec. 24.  Repeal

Section 2009 of Title 33 is repealed.

(Committee vote: 9-1-1)

Rep. Sharpe of Bristol, for the Committee on Ways and Means, recommends the bill ought to pass in concurrence when amended as recommended by the Committee on Health Care.

(Committee vote: 7-4-0)

     Rep. Larson of Burlington, for the Committee on Appropriations, recommends the bill ought to pass in concurrence when amended as recommended by the Committee on Health Care, And when further amended as follows:

First:  In Sec. 19, 18 V.S.A. § 9410(g), in the third sentence, by inserting the word “confidentiality” between the words “or” and “rules

Second:  By striking Sec. 20 and inserting a new Sec. 20 to read:

Sec. 20.  33 V.S.A. § 2004 is added to read:

§ 2004.  MANUFACTURER FEE

(a)  Annually, each pharmaceutical manufacturer or labeler of prescription drugs that are paid for by the office of Vermont health access for individuals participating in Medicaid, the Vermont Health Access Program, Dr.  Dynasaur, VPharm, or Vermont Rx shall pay a fee to the agency of human services.  The fee shall be 0.5 percent of the previous calendar year’s prescription drug spending by the office and shall be assessed based on manufacturer labeler codes as used in the Medicaid rebate program. 

(b)  Fees collected under this section shall fund collection and analysis of information on pharmaceutical marketing activities under sections 4632 and 4633 of Title 18, analysis of prescription drug data needed by the attorney general’s office for enforcement activities, and the evidence‑based education program established in subchapter 2 of Title 18.  The fees shall be collected in the evidence‑based education and advertising fund established in section 2004a of this title.

(c)  The secretary of human services or designee shall make rules for the implementation of this section.

Third:  By inserting a Sec. 20a to read:

Sec. 20a.  33 V.S.A. § 2004a is added to read:

§ 2004a.  EVIDENCE‑BASED EDUCATION AND ADVERTISING FUND

(a)  The evidence‑based education and advertising fund is established in the treasury as a special fund to be a source of financing for activities relating to fund collection and analysis of information on pharmaceutical marketing activities under sections 4632 and 4633 of Title 18, analysis of prescription drug data needed by the attorney general’s office for enforcement activities,  and for the evidence‑based education program established in subchapter 2 of Title 18.  Monies deposited into the fund shall be used for the purposes described in this section.

(b)  Into the fund shall be deposited:

(1)  revenue from the manufacturer fee established under section 2004 of this title; and

(2)  the proceeds from grants, donations, contributions, taxes, and any other sources of revenue as may be provided by statute, rule, or act of the general assembly.

(c)  The fund shall be administered pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned on the fund and any remaining balance shall be retained in the fund.

Fourth:  By inserting a Sec. 24a to read:

Sec. 24a.  APPROPRIATIONS

(a)  The amount of $200,000.00 is appropriated from the evidence‑based education and advertising fund to the department of health for a grant to the area health education centers for the evidence‑based education program established under subchapter 2 of Title 18.

(b)  The amount of $300,000.00 is appropriated from the evidence‑based education and advertising fund to the office of Vermont health access for the evidence‑based education program’s generic drug sample pilot project as described in Sec. 15 of this act.

(c)  The amount of $50,000.00 is appropriated from the evidence‑based education and advertising fund to the office of attorney general fund for the collection and analysis of information on pharmaceutical marketing activities under sections 4632 and 4633 of Title 18 and analysis of prescription drug data needed by the attorney general’s office for enforcement activities.

(Committee vote: 10-0-1)

(For Senate Amendments see Senate Journal 4/3/07- pp  346-359 )

S. 143

An act relating to authorizing the use of racing fuel containing the additive MTBE or other gasoline ethers.

Rep. Anderson of Montpelier, for the Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources, recommends that the House propose to the Senate that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, 10 V.S.A. § 577(b)(4), by inserting “motorcycles,” before “all-terrain vehicles” and after “snowmobiles,

Second:  In Sec. 1, 10 V.S.A. § 577(b)(5), by inserting “on an oval track” before “permitted under section 4802” and after “a race or contest

Third:  By adding a Sec. 2 to read as follows:

Sec. 2.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

(Committee vote: 9-0-0)

(For text see Senate Journal March 29, 2007  P.332 )

Favorable

H. 546

     An act relating to compensation and retirement benefits for certain state employees and emergency management.

Rep. Keenan of St. Albans City, for the Committee on Appropriations, recommends the bill ought to pass.

( Committee Vote: 10-0-1)

Favorable

     J. R. H. 26

     Joint resolution urging Congress to enact H.R, 676, the National Health Insurance Act (or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act)

(For text see House Journal April 26, 2007)

Rep. O’Donnell, for the Committee on Health Care, recommends the resolution ought to be adopted.

(Committee vote: 11-0-0)

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H. 78

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

     The Senate proposes to the House to amend the bill in Sec. 1, 17 V.S.A. § 2661, by striking out subsection (e) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (e) to read:

(e)  At a meeting duly warned for the purpose, the voters of a municipality may require that a majority vote in favor of reconsideration or rescission shall not be effective unless the number of votes cast in favor of reconsideration or rescission exceeds a certain percentage of the number of votes cast for the prevailing side at the original meeting.  A vote to require a percentage, or increase or decrease a percentage, shall be in substantially the following form:  “Shall the (name of municipality) require that the percentage of votes cast in favor of reconsideration or rescission exceed (percentage) of the number of votes cast for the prevailing side at the original meeting?”  Once the voters of a municipality have voted to require a percentage, that percentage shall remain in effect until the voters of the municipality vote to increase or decrease the percentage.

(For text see House Journal April 4, 2007 P. 501-503; April 5, 2007 – P. 539)

H. 113

     An act relating to all-age access for tobacco cessation programs.

     The Senate proposes to the House to amend the bill in Sec. 1, 18 V.S.A. § 9503(b) by striking out “by Quitline” and inserting in lieu thereof a quitline approved by VDH

(For text see House Journal February 6, 2007 P. 146)

H. 229

     An act relating to corrections and clarifications to the health care affordability act of 2006 and related legislation.

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

First:  By striking out Sec. 11 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 11 to read:

Sec. 11.  33 V.S.A. § 1974(b) and (c) are amended to read:

(b)  VHAP‑eligible premium assistance.

* * *

(3)  The agency shall determine whether it is cost‑effective to the state to enroll an individual in an approved employer‑sponsored insurance plan with the premium assistance under this subsection as compared to enrolling the individual in the Vermont health access plan. If the agency determines that it is cost‑effective, the individual shall be required to enroll in the approved employer‑sponsored plan as a condition of continued assistance under this section or coverage under the Vermont health access plan, except that dependents who are children of eligible individuals shall not be required to enroll in the premium assistance program.  Notwithstanding this requirement, an individual shall be provided benefits under the Vermont health access plan until the next open enrollment period offered by the employer or insurer.  The agency shall not consider the medical history, medical conditions, or claims history of any individual for whom cost‑effectiveness is being evaluated.

(c)  Uninsured individuals; premium assistance.

* * *

(5)  The agency shall determine whether it is cost‑effective to the state to require the individual to purchase the approved employer‑sponsored insurance plan with premium assistance under this subsection instead of Catamount Health established in section 4080f of Title 8 with assistance under subchapter 3a of chapter 19 of this title.  If providing the individual with assistance to purchase Catamount Health is more cost‑effective to the state than providing the individual with premium assistance to purchase the individual’s approved employer‑sponsored plan, the state shall provide the individual the option of purchasing Catamount Health with assistance for that product.  An individual may purchase Catamount Health and receive Catamount Health assistance until the approved employer‑sponsored plan has an open enrollment period, but the individual shall be required to enroll in the approved employer‑sponsored plan in order to continue to receive any assistance.  The agency shall not consider the medical history, medical conditions, or claims history of any individual for whom cost‑effectiveness is being evaluated.

Second:  By striking out Sec. 24 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof new Secs. 24 and 24a to read:

Sec. 24.  22 V.S.A. § 903 is added to read:

§ 903.  HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

(a)  The commissioner shall facilitate the development of a statewide health information technology plan that includes the implementation of an integrated electronic health information infrastructure for the sharing of electronic health information among health care facilities, health care professionals, public and private payers, and patients.  The plan shall include standards and protocols designed to promote patient education, patient privacy, physician best practices, electronic connectivity to health care data, and, overall, a more efficient and less costly means of delivering quality health care in Vermont.

(b)  The health information technology plan shall:

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

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

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

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

(5)  recommend funding mechanisms for the ongoing development and maintenance costs of a statewide health information system, including funding options and an implementation strategy for a loan and grant program;

(6)  incorporate the existing health care information technology initiatives in order to avoid incompatible systems and duplicative efforts;

(7)  integrate the information technology components of the blueprint for health established in chapter 13 of Title 18, the global clinical record, and all other Medicaid management information systems being developed by the office of Vermont health access, information technology components of the quality assurance system, the program to capitalize with loans and grants electronic medical record systems in primary care practices, and any other information technology initiatives coordinated by the secretary of administration pursuant to section 2222a of Title 3; and

(8)  address issues related to data ownership, governance, and confidentiality and security of patient information.

(c)(1)  The commissioner shall contract with the Vermont information technology leaders (VITL), a broad‑based health information technology advisory group that includes providers, payers, employers, patients, health care purchasers, information technology vendors, and other business leaders, to develop the health information technology plan, including applicable standards, protocols, and pilot programs.  In carrying out their responsibilities under this section, members of VITL shall be subject to conflict of interest policies established by the commissioner to ensure that deliberations and decisions are fair and equitable.

(2)  VITL shall be designated in the plan to operate the exclusive statewide health information exchange network for this state, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (g) of this section requiring the recommendation of the commissioner and the approval of the general assembly before the plan can take effect.  Nothing in this section shall impede local community providers from the exchange of electronic medical data.

(d)  The following persons shall be members of VITL:

(1)  the commissioner, who shall advise the group on technology best practices and the state’s information technology policies and procedures, including the need for a functionality assessment and feasibility study related to establishing an electronic health information infrastructure under this section;

(2)  the director of the office of Vermont health access or his or her designee;

(3)  the commissioner of health or his or her designee; and

(4)  the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration or his or her designee.

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

(1)  Objectives of the pilot program shall include:

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

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

(2)  Objectives of the pilot program may include:

(A)  determining whether and how best to expand the pilot program on a statewide basis;

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

(C)  ensuring patient data confidentiality at all times.

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

(g)  On or before January 1, 2007, VITL shall submit to the commission on health care reform, the secretary of administration, the commissioner, the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, the director of the office of Vermont health access, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the house committee on health care a preliminary health information technology plan for establishing a statewide, integrated electronic health information infrastructure in Vermont, including specific steps for achieving the goals and objectives of this section.  A final plan shall be submitted July 1, 2007.  The plan shall include also recommendations for self‑sustainable funding for the ongoing development, maintenance, and replacement of the health information technology system.  Upon recommendation by the commissioner and approval by the general assembly, the plan shall serve as the framework within which certificate of need applications for information technology are reviewed under section 9440b of Title 18 by the commissioner.

(h)  Beginning January 1, 2006, and annually thereafter, VITL shall file a report with the commission on health care reform, the secretary of administration, the commissioner, the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, the director of the office of Vermont health access, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the house committee on health care.  The report shall include an assessment of progress in implementing the provisions of this section, recommendations for additional funding and legislation required, and an analysis of the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of the pilot program authorized under subsection (e) of this section, including, to the extent these can be measured, reductions in tests needed to determine patient medications, improved patient outcomes, or reductions in administrative or other costs achieved as a result of the pilot program.  In addition, VITL shall file quarterly progress reports with the secretary of administration and the health access oversight committee and shall publish minutes of VITL meetings and any other relevant information on a public website.

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

(j)  The commissioner, in consultation with VITL, may seek any waivers of federal law, of rule, or of regulation that might assist with implementation of this section.

(k)  VITL, in collaboration with the commissioner, health insurers, the Vermont Association of Hospitals & Health Systems, Inc., and other departments and agencies of state government, shall establish a loan and grant program to provide for the capitalization of electronic health records systems in blueprint communities and at primary care practices serving low income Vermonters.  Health information technology acquired under a grant or loan authorized by this section shall comply with data standards for interoperability adopted by VITL and the state health information technology plan.  An implementation plan for this loan and grant program shall be incorporated into the state health information technology plan.

Sec. 24a.  HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INTERIM FUND AND ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORD PILOT PROGRAM

(a)  Purpose.  It is the intent of the general assembly that use of electronic health records for all Vermonters shall be promoted and encouraged.  The general assembly recognizes that the use and sharing of electronic health records have the potential to improve the quality of care delivered to Vermonters and, in the long term, to help contain increases in the costs of medical care.  Since many providers, especially primary care providers serving low income Vermonters, lack the capital to acquire the information technology necessary to implement electronic health records for their patients, a financing program is needed to facilitate the adoption of electronic health record use by providers. 

(b)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Commissioner” shall mean the commissioner of the department of information and innovation.

(2)  “Department” shall mean the department of information and innovation.

(3)  “Pilot site” shall mean a blueprint community and primary care providers serving low income Vermonters in other communities. 

(c)  Vermont information technology leaders shall establish a health information technology fund which shall be used only during the duration of the electronic health record pilot program described in this section.  The interim fund shall be used for the purposes of:

(1)  encouraging and facilitating the development and utilization of electronic health records by pilot sites; and

(2)  promoting the sharing of electronic health records using the Vermont health information infrastructure created and managed by the Vermont health information technology leaders. 

(d)  VITL and the secretary of administration shall engage in activities designed to achieve the goal of raising at least $1 million for the interim fund created by this section and shall seek to raise these funds from a broad range of stakeholders who would benefit from electronic health records, including commercial health insurers, in relation to the number of insured and self‑insured lives each services in Vermont, the Vermont Association of Hospitals & Health Systems, Inc., self‑insured employers, other payers, and other sources.  On or before September 1, 2007, VITL and the secretary of administration shall report the results of the fundraising activities to the house committee on health care, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the commission on health care reform. 

(e)  On or before October 1, 2007, VITL shall issue a request for proposals:

(1)  to provide computer software or systems, or both, in connection with the development and implementation of a system to enable electronic health records use by pilot sites; and

(2)  for implementation‑consulting vendors to assist pilot sites with related training and system configuration support and upgrades to enable the implementation and use of electronic health record systems.  

(f)  On or before November 1, 2007, VITL shall establish criteria and award conditions for the selection of pilot sites. 

(g)  On or before January 1, 2008, VITL shall commence awarding pilot sites licenses to implement electronic health record systems, making use of the vendors selected in the process described in subsection (e) of this section. 

(h)  VITL shall include in the annual report required pursuant to section 9417 of Title 18 information concerning the interim fund and pilot program created pursuant to this section and shall additionally provide that report to the commissioner of health.  Information in the report concerning this program shall include:

(1)  an assessment of progress in implementing the provisions of this section including the acceptance of electronic health record use by providers, patients, and payers;

(2)  recommendations for additional funding and legislation required; and

(3)  an analysis of the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of the health information technology fund.   

(i)  VITL may use a portion of the interim fund for its costs in implementing and managing the electronic health record pilot program.

Third:  in Sec. 27, 21 V.S.A. § 2002(3) by striking out the following:  “under either a private or a public plan” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  under either a private plan or any public plan that is not supported by state funding

Fourth:  In Sec. 27, 21 V.S.A. § 2002(6) by striking out the figure “25” and inserting in lieu thereof the figure 30

Fifth:  By adding four new sections to be numbered Secs. 32, 33, 34 and 35 to read as follows:

Sec. 32.  3 V.S.A. § 2222a(c)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  The Vermont health information technology project pursuant to section 9417 of Title 18 903 of Title 22.

Sec. 33.  18 V.S.A. § 9416(a) is amended to read: 

(a)  The commissioner shall contract with the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care, Inc. to implement and maintain a statewide quality assurance system to evaluate and improve the quality of health care services rendered by health care providers of health care facilities, including managed care organizations, to determine that health care services rendered were professionally indicated or were performed in compliance with the applicable standard of care, and that the cost of health care rendered was considered reasonable by the providers of professional health services in that area.  The commissioner shall ensure that the information technology components of the quality assurance system are incorporated into and comply with the statewide health information technology plan developed under section 9417 of this title 903 of Title 22 and any other information technology initiatives coordinated by the secretary of administration pursuant to section 2222a of Title 3.

Sec. 34.  18 V.S.A. § 9437 is amended to read: 

§ 9437.  CRITERIA

A certificate of need shall be granted if the applicant demonstrates and the commissioner finds that:

* * *

(7)  if the application is for the purchase or lease of new health care information technology, it conforms with the health information technology plan established under section 9417 of this title 903 of Title 22, upon approval of the plan by the general assembly.

Sec. 35.  18 V.S.A. § 9440b is amended to read: 

§ 9440b.  INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY; REVIEW PROCEDURES

Notwithstanding the procedures in section 9440 of this title, upon approval by the general assembly of the health information technology plan developed under section 9417 of this title 903 of Title 22, the commissioner shall establish by rule standards and expedited procedures for reviewing applications for the purchase or lease of health care information technology that otherwise would be subject to review under this subchapter.  Such applications may not be granted or approved unless they are consistent with the health information technology plan and the health resource allocation plan.  The commissioner’s rules may include a provision requiring that applications be reviewed by the health information advisory group authorized under subsection 9417(c) of this title section 903 of Title 22.  The advisory group shall make written findings and a recommendation to the commissioner in favor of or against each application.

(For text see House Journal April 4, 2007 – P. 507-508)

H. 518

     An act relating to technical tax amendments.

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

     First:  By striking out Sec. 4 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 4 to read as follows:

Sec. 4.  32 V.S.A. § 5941(a) and (b) are amended to read:

(a)  The court shall include in any judgment a notice that any unpaid amounts shall amount of a fine, penalty, surcharge, or fee, but not damages, may be certified to the department for a setoff on the judgment debtor’s income tax refund and property tax adjustment under chapter 154 of this title, and the notice shall explain how the judgment debtor may challenge the certification.

(b) Sections 5934(c) and 5936 of this title, relating to the procedure for contesting the debt, shall not apply to a court seeking information setoff from a judgment debtor under this subchapter.

     Second:  In Sec. 9, 32 V.S.A., §6061 in the first line of subsection (14), by striking through the word "municipality's" as follows:  "municipality's"

     Third:  In Sec. 9, 32 V.S.A. §6061 subsection (14) by striking out the word “subdivsion” and inserting in lieu thereof subdivision

(No House Amendments)

 

H. 523

     An act relating to moving families out of poverty.

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:

* * * Reach First * * *

Sec. 1.  33 V.S.A. Part 2, chapter 10 is added to read:

Chapter 10.  Reach First

Subchapter 1.  Eligibility and Assistance

§ 1001.  Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Able‑to‑work” means to be free of any physical, emotional, or mental condition that would prevent the individual from engaging in any combination of the work activities for at least 35 hours per week.

(2)  “Able‑to‑work‑part‑time” means having a physical, emotional, or mental condition that would allow the individual to engage in any combination

of the work activities for at least 10 hours per week but would prevent the individual from engaging in such activities for 35 or more hours per week.

(3)  “Adult” means an individual who:

(A)  is 18 years of age or older, and not a dependent child; or

(B)  is under 18 years of age and:

(i)  is pregnant; or

(ii)  is a parent who is the caretaker for a dependent child.

(4)  “Assessment” means the information‑gathering process, carried out by the department’s established protocol, that identifies an individual’s skills, aptitudes, interests, life and work experience, and barriers, and the determination of how these factors relate to the individual’s current or potential participation in the labor force and his or her family responsibilities.  Where appropriate, this process includes the use of tests, other standardized measurement tools, and referrals to relevant professionals for evaluation or diagnosis.  The department shall use the information gathered as part of this process in developing the individual’s family development plan, as well as, where applicable, assessing the appropriateness and feasibility of the individual’s education, training, and employment goals and determining the individual’s ability to work.  The department shall include a process to determine the development and well‑being of the children in the family.

(5)  “Barrier” means any physical, emotional, or mental condition, any lack of an educational, vocational, or other skill or ability, and any lack of transportation, child care, housing, medical assistance or other services or resources, domestic violence circumstances, caretaker responsibilities, or other conditions or circumstances that prevent an individual from engaging in employment or other work activity.

(6)  “Caretaker” means an individual age 18 or older who is fulfilling a parental role in caring for a dependent child by providing physical care, guidance, and decision‑making related to the child’s health, school, medical care, and discipline.

(7)  “Case management” means the services provided by or through the department to participating families, including assessment, information, referrals, and assistance in the preparation and implementation of a family development plan under section 1007 of this title.

(8)  “Commissioner” means the commissioner of the department for children and families, or his or her designee.

(9)  “Department” means the department for children and families.

(10)  “Dependent child” means a child who is a resident of this state and:

(A)  is under the age of 18 years; or

(B)  is 18 years of age or older who is a full‑time student in a secondary school, or attending an equivalent level of vocational or technical training, and is reasonably expected to complete the educational program before reaching the age of 19 or is not expected to complete the educational program before reaching age 19 solely due to a documented disability.

(11)  “Eligible family” means a family that is determined to be financially eligible for the programs authorized by this chapter, in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner.

(12)  “Family” means:

(A)  one or more dependent children living with one or both parents or a relative or caretaker of such children; or

(B)  a  pregnant individual.

(13)  “Living with a relative or caretaker” means living with a caretaker or relative in a residence maintained by the caretaker or one or more relatives at his or her or their home.

(14)  “Parent” means a biological parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, or pregnant individual.

(15)  “Participant” or “participating adult” means an adult member of a participating family.

(16)  “Participating family” means an eligible family that participates in the Reach First program.

(17)  “Reach Ahead” means the program established under chapter 12 of this title.

(18)  “Reach First payment” means a short‑term cash benefit as determined in section 1004 of this title.

(19)  “Reach First services” means the service component of the Reach First program consisting of assessment, orientation, case management services, support services, and referrals provided to eligible families to assist them in becoming self‑sufficient.

(20)  “Reach Up” means the program established under chapter 11 of this title.

(21)  “Relative” means a person related to a dependent child, as defined by the department by rule.

(22)  “Resources” means any income and property available from whatever source.

(23)  “Secretary” means the secretary of the agency of human services, or his or her designee.

(24)  “Temporary Assistance to Needy Families” or “TANF” means the block grant provided to this state and established in accordance with Part A of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act, as amended, and the regulations adopted pursuant thereto by the U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

(25)  “Unable‑to‑work” means not able‑to‑work and not

able‑to‑work‑part‑time.

(26)  “Work activities” means the following activities limited to the extent and degree that they are allowed and countable in accordance with

Part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act:

(A)  unsubsidized employment;

(B)  subsidized private sector employment;

(C)  subsidized public sector employment;

(D)  work experience (including work associated with the refurbishing of publicly assisted housing) if sufficient private sector employment is not available;

(E)  on‑the‑job training;

(F)  job search and job readiness assistance;

(G)  community service programs;

(H)  vocational educational training (not to exceed 12 months with respect to any individual);

(I)  job skills training directly related to employment;

(J)  education directly related to employment, in the case of a recipient who has not received a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency;

(K)  satisfactory attendance at secondary school or in a course of study leading to a certificate of general equivalence, in the case of a recipient who has not completed secondary school or received such a certificate;

(L)  the provision, consistent with the department’s rules applicable to self‑employment, of child care services to an individual who is participating in a community service program;

(M)  attendance at a financial literacy class; and

(N)  any other work activity recognized in accordance with Part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act as amended.

(27)  “Work‑ready” means the participant possesses the education or skills demanded by the local job market or is capable of participating in one or more work activities at the level required by the participant’s work requirement, and is not subject to any barrier.

§ 1002.  Purpose

(a)  The purpose of the Reach First program is:

(1)  To stabilize families in crisis, assess the family’s strengths and needs, and orient families to the programs, services, assistance, and participant responsibilities available to improve self‑sufficiency, attain economic independence, and ensure the well‑being of children.

(2)  To refer families without recent work histories, recognizing individual and unique characteristics, to an appropriate program available to assist the family in obtaining the opportunities and skills necessary for self‑sufficiency and economic independence.

(3)  To assist families with recent work histories by providing short‑term financial support and support services to stabilize the family while the family transitions back to employment. 

(4)  To support parental responsibility and positive parental role models, both custodial and noncustodial.

(5)  To improve the well‑being of children by providing short‑term supports to their families and referrals to appropriate programs and services.

(6)  To conserve state public financial resources by operating the system of human services in a manner that is efficient and avoids federal fiscal sanctions.

(7)  To conform to the federal TANF law.

(b)  The critical elements of developing a short‑term stabilization, assessment, and orientation program that assists families to maintain or attain self‑sufficiency are:

(1)  cooperative and realistic goal‑setting, coupled with individualized case management that addresses each individual’s situation and barriers to

self‑sufficiency;

(2)  a short‑term monetary payment and support services of a limited duration to provide for immediate, short‑term needs of the family until the family attains employment quickly, or transitions to an appropriate program to assist the family in order to ensure the family’s well‑being and success to reaching self‑sufficiency; and

(3)  clear and comprehensive information on available options and appropriate services communicated to families in a simple fashion and easy transition to programs, such as Reach Ahead, Reach Up, the postsecondary education program, and any other solely state‑funded or separate state‑funded programs.

§ 1003.  Eligibility

(a)  A family shall be eligible for the Reach First program if the family’s income and resources do not exceed the limits established for the Reach Up program, and the family resides in Vermont.  All eligible applicants for programs under this chapter or chapter 11 or 12 of this title shall be eligible for an orientation, initial assessments, the Reach First payment, and, if appropriate for the family, in‑depth assessment, a family development plan, and services through Reach First.

(b)  Reach First payments and services shall be available only once every 12 months for a family, except as provided for by rule.  Families who have received Reach First within the past 12 months shall be provided financial assistance and services through Reach Up, the postsecondary education program, or other program appropriate for the family.  Families applying for or participating in other programs may also receive Reach First assessments, payments, or services as provided for by rule.

(c)  The commissioner may use the eligibility rules for Reach Up instead of adopting new eligibility rules for this program.

(d)  An adult who accepts employment after reporting as directed under section 1007 of this title may receive Reach First or Reach Up, provided that the family remains financially eligible for the program in accordance with department rules.

§ 1004.  Reach First Payment

(a)  An eligible family shall receive a short‑term cash payment, which shall not exceed 120 days of Reach Up financial assistance for the relevant family size with the same income.  The family may receive the payment in installments or a lump sum, if needed to avert a crisis as determined in the initial assessment or the family development plan, during the period in which the family seeks immediate employment or participates in assessment and creating a family development plan.  The commissioner may establish by rule exceptions to the limit on the amount of the payment, as long as the exceptions are budget‑neutral to the program.

(b)  The department shall offer every eligible family the option of electronic or direct payment of the family’s housing or other expenses to the person providing the lodging, utilities, or other service as provided for by rule.

(c)  For the purposes of calculating the payment, child support shall be treated as income, except that the first $50.00 amount of child support shall be disregarded from income.

§ 1005.  Required services to participating families

(a)  The commissioner shall provide to all eligible families an orientation and an initial, up‑front assessment to determine which programs, referrals, or services are appropriate.  The orientation shall provide the family with information about services and referrals available to the family, and the programs established under chapters 11 and 12 of this title, including program requirements, participant responsibilities, and incentives for participation and obtaining employment.

(b)  If needed by the family to improve the family’s prospects for job placement and job retention, the commissioner shall provide participating families in‑depth assessments of the full range of services needed by each family, intensive case management or case consultation services, referral to any agencies or programs that provide the services needed by participating families, and transition to other programs establishes under chapters 11 and 12 of this title.  Services or referrals for services shall include:

(1)  Appropriate child care, available at times that will enable employment or participation in services indicated by the participating family’s family development plan.  As used in this subdivision, “appropriate child care” shall not include:

(A)  Child care that the department classifies as legally exempt child care, and that a parent or caretaker determines to be unacceptable; and

(B)  Child care that the department classifies as either a registered family child care home or a licensed child care facility, and that a parent or caretaker determines to be unacceptable when such determination is confirmed by the department.

(2)  Transportation which will enable employment or participation in services indicated by the participating family’s family development plan.

(3)  Career counseling, education, and training, and job search assistance consistent with the purposes of this chapter.

(4)  Vocational rehabilitation.

(5)  Medical and dental assistance.

(6)  Homelessness prevention and housing assistance.

(7)  Family planning education and counseling.

(8)  Assistance with obtaining documentation of an apparent or claimed physical, emotional, or mental condition that reasonably can be presumed to limit or eliminate the individual’s capacity to engage in employment or other work activity.

(9)  Transfer to a state‑funded program under subchapter 3 of this chapter, the Reach Up program, or the Reach Ahead program.

(10)  Any other services identified in the family development plan and determined by the commissioner to be necessary and appropriate to achieve the purposes of this chapter or chapter 11 of this title.

§ 1006.  Case management; family development plans; coordinated services

(a)  If a family needs or requests in‑depth assessment and ongoing services, the commissioner shall provide all Reach First services to these participating families through a case management model.  The case manager, with the full involvement of the family, shall recommend, and the commissioner shall establish and modify as necessary a family development plan for each participating family in need of ongoing services, with a right of appeal as provided by section 1132 of this title.  A case manager shall be assigned to each participating family as soon as the family is determined to be eligible for this program and in need of services.

(b)  The family development plan shall include:

(1)  each parent or caretaker’s employment goal;

(2)  an assessment of each parent or caretaker’s strengths and barriers. The initial assessment shall include a literacy evaluation followed by a referral to an appropriate resource or program;

(3)  an identification of the services, supports, and accommodations needed to overcome any barriers, to enable the family to achieve

self‑sufficiency, and to fulfill each parent or caretaker’s personal and family responsibilities;

(4)  an assignment of responsibilities, family development plan requirements, and activities among the case manager and family members, together with a time schedule for such responsibilities, requirements, and activities.

(c)  The initial family development plan shall be completed within 30 days of the first meeting with the case manager.  The case manager shall establish a schedule for periodic review of the family development plan.

(d)  The commissioner shall adopt rules, consistent with research on best practices, establishing maximum caseloads for case managers.

§ 1007.  REQUIRED PARTICIPATION

(a)  Each participating adult in a family receiving Reach First services shall participate in necessary assessments and developing a family development plan, if applicable, unless good cause exists for such noncompliance as defined by the commissioner by rule.  The commissioner may use the same rules applicable to good cause as established in the Reach Up program.

(b)(1)  If an adult does not comply with the following requirements without good cause, the department shall initiate the conciliation process to determine the reason that the adult has not complied with the requirements and shall modify the requirements, if necessary, or provide the adult with a second opportunity to comply:

(A)  The single parent or caretaker in a family who has no barriers to obtaining and maintaining a job and a recent and stable work history, including receiving wages for his or her most recent job that, when annualized, equal or exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level applicable to the family, shall report to the department of labor for an immediate job search within two working days of having filed an application.

(B)  The able‑to‑work adult in a two‑parent family (when the other parent is able‑to‑work‑part‑time or unable‑to‑work) who has no barriers to obtaining and maintaining a job and a recent and stable work history, including receiving wages for his or her most recent job that, when annualized, equal or exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level applicable to the family, shall report to the department labor for an immediate job search within two working days of having filed an application.

(C)  The adult in a two‑parent family (when both parents are able‑to‑work) who is not the primary caretaker of the children shall report to the department of labor for an immediate job search within two working days of having filed an application.

(2)  The Reach First payment may be withheld during the conciliation process and until the adult complies.

(3)  If the adult does not report without good cause to the department of labor after the second opportunity, the adult shall be denied Reach First and Reach Up. 

(c)(1)  If an adult does not comply with the following requirements without good cause, the department shall initiate the conciliation process to determine the reason that the adult has not complied with the requirements and shall modify the requirements, if necessary:

(A)  Each participating adult shall participate in the development of his or her family development plan.

(B)  Each participating adult who is not referred to the department of labor pursuant to this subsection shall report as directed by the department for assessment and evaluation activities.

(C)  Each participating adult shall begin to comply with his or her family development plan requirements as soon as possible, and no later than 10 days following identification of initial requirements at the initial family development plan meeting.  Each participating adult shall continue to comply with such family development plan requirements until such time as the family is ineligible or transferred to Reach Up or Reach Ahead.  If a family is transferred to another program, the rules of that program apply.

(2)  If conciliation is unsuccessful, the department may apply the Reach Up sanctions and transfer the family to the Reach Up program for further case management and other services.

Subchapter 2.  Administrative Provisions

§ 1011.  Transition to other programs

(a)  The department shall transfer the family to Reach Up, a separate state program, or a solely state‑funded program established under chapter 11 if, after four months of receiving support in Reach First or sooner at the department’s discretion, a family is assessed to need ongoing financial assistance and the family is financially eligible for Reach Up, a separate state program, or a solely state‑funded program established under chapter 11 of this title, unless the family chooses not to participate.

(b)  If a family finds unsubsidized employment meeting or exceeding the work requirements for Reach Up for the family’s size and composition, but is financially eligible for Reach Up, the department shall transfer the family to Reach Up, unless the family chooses not to participate.  A family transferring from Reach First to Reach Up shall be treated as a recipient for the purposes of income calculation.

(c)  If a family finds unsubsidized employment meeting or exceeding the work requirements for Reach Up for the family’s size and composition, is not financially eligible for Reach Up, and is eligible for the Reach Ahead program, the department shall transfer the family to Reach Ahead, unless the family chooses not to participate.  A family transferring from Reach First to Reach Ahead shall be treated as a recipient for the purposes of income calculation.

(d)  A family transferring to another program under subsections (a) through (c) of this section shall not be required to complete a new application.  Verification of income or other documentation may be required as provided for by rule.

(e)  Transitional medical assistance of up to 36 months shall be provided to families with a working adult who leaves Reach First and is not eligible for Reach Up as provided for in the Vermont Medicaid rule M302.21 in effect on May 1, 2007.

§ 1012.  Notice and Appeal

A participant may appeal decisions in accordance with section 3091 of Title 3.  The commissioner shall provide notice to each participant of the standards and procedures applicable to such appeals.  All federal and agency of human services rules regarding conciliation, notice, hearing, and appeal shall be followed in connection with such appeals.

* * * Reach Up * * *

Sec. 2.  33 V.S.A. § 1101 is amended to read:

§ 1101.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Able‑to‑work” means to be free of any physical, emotional, or mental condition that would prevent the individual from engaging in any combination of the work activities, identified in subdivisions 1101(27)(A) through (E) of this title, for at least 35 hours per week.

(2)  “Able‑to‑work‑part‑time” means having a physical, emotional, or mental condition that would allow the individual to engage in any combination of the work activities, identified in subdivisions 1101(27)(A) through (E) of this title, for at least 10 hours per week but would prevent the individual from engaging in such activities for 35 or more hours per week.

(3)  “Adult” means an individual who:

(A)  is 18 years of age or older, and not a dependent child; or

(B)  is under 18 years of age and:

(i)  is pregnant; or

(ii)  is a parent who is the caretaker for a dependent child.

(4)  “Assessment” means the information‑gathering process, carried out by the department’s established protocol, that identifies an individual’s skills, aptitudes, interests, life and work experience, and barriers, and the determination of how these factors relate to the individual’s current or potential participation in the labor force and his or her family responsibilities.  Where appropriate, this process includes the use of tests, other standardized measurement tools, and referrals to relevant professionals for evaluation or diagnosis.  The department shall use the information gathered as part of this process in developing the individual’s family development plan, as well as, where applicable, assessing the appropriateness and feasibility of the individual’s education, training, and employment goals and determining the individual’s ability to work.  The department shall include a process to determine the development and well‑being of the children in the family.

(5)  “Barrier” means any physical, emotional, or mental condition, any lack of an educational, vocational, or other skill or ability, and any lack of transportation, child care, housing, medical assistance or other services or resources, domestic violence circumstances, caretaker responsibilities, or other conditions or circumstances that prevent an individual from engaging in employment or other work activity.

(6)  “Caretaker” means an individual age 18 or older who is fulfilling a parental role in caring for a dependent child by providing physical care, guidance, and decision‑making related to the child’s health, school, medical care, and discipline.

(7)  “Case management” means the services provided by or through the department to participating families, including assessment, information, referrals, and assistance in the preparation and implementation of a family development plan under section 1107 of this title.

(8)  “Commissioner” means the commissioner of the department for children and families, or his or her designee.

(9)  “Department” means the department for children and families.

(10)  “Dependent child” means a child who: is a resident of this state;: and

(A)  is under the age of 18 years; or

(B)  is 18 years of age or older who is a full‑time student in a secondary school, or attending an equivalent level of vocational or technical training, and is reasonably expected to complete the educational program before reaching the age of 19 or is not expected to complete the educational program before reaching age 19 solely due to a documented disability.

(11)  “Eligible family” means a family that is determined to be financially eligible for the programs authorized by this chapter, in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner.

(12)  “Family” means:

(A)  one or more dependent children living with one or both parents or a relative or caretaker of such children; or

(B)  a pregnant individual.

(13)  “Financial assistance” means cash, payments, vendor electronic or direct payments for a family’s housing or other expenses, and other forms of benefits designed to meet a family’s ongoing basic needs that are available through the Reach Up program.  A family’s ongoing basic needs include food, clothing, shelter, utilities, household goods, personal care items, and general incidental expenses.

(14)  “Job‑ready” means possessing the education or skills demanded by the local job market, and not being subject to any barrier.

(15)(14)  “Living with a relative or caretaker” means living with a caretaker or relative in a residence maintained by the caretaker or one or more relatives as his or her or their home.

(16)(15)  “Parent” means a biological parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, or pregnant individual.

(17)(16)  “Participant” or “participating adult” means an adult member of a participating family.

(18)(17)  “Participating family” means an eligible family that participates in the Reach Up program.

(18)  “Reach Ahead” means the program established in chapter 12 of this title.

(19)  “Reach First” means the program established in chapter 10 of this title.

(19)(20)  “Reach Up program” means the program administered by the department that assists and enables eligible families to become self‑sufficient by providing financial assistance and Reach Up services.

(20)(21)  “Reach Up services” means the service component of the Reach Up program consisting of case management services, support services, and referrals provided to eligible families to assist them in becoming self‑sufficient.

(21)(22)  “Relative” means a person related to a dependent child, as defined by the department by rule.

(22)(23)  “Resources” means any income and property available from whatever source.

(23)(24)  “Secretary” means the secretary of the agency of human services, or his or her designee.

(24)(25)  “Subsidized job” means a job with an employer for which at least 25 percent of the wages are provided by diversion of TANF funds employment for which the employer receives a subsidy from TANF funds or other public funds to offset some or all of the wages and costs of employing a participant.

(25)(26)  Temporary Assistance to Needy Families” or “TANF” means the block grant provided to this state and established in accordance with Part A of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act, as amended, and the regulations promulgated pursuant thereto by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.

(26)(27)  “Unable‑to‑work” means not able‑to‑work and not able‑to‑work‑part‑time able‑to‑work‑part‑time.

(27)(28)  “Work activities” means the following activities limited to the extent and degree that they are allowed and countable in accordance with Part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act:

(A)  unsubsidized employment;

(B)  subsidized private sector employment;

(C)  subsidized public sector employment;

(D)  work experience (including work associated with the refurbishing of publicly assisted housing) if sufficient private sector employment is not available;

(E)  on‑the‑job training;

(F)  job search and job readiness assistance;

(G)  community service programs;

(H)  vocational educational training (not to exceed 12 months with respect to any individual);

(I)  job skills training directly related to employment;

(J)  education directly related to employment, in the case of a recipient who has not received a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency;

(K)  satisfactory attendance at secondary school or in a course of study leading to a certificate of general equivalence, in the case of a recipient who has not completed secondary school or received such a certificate;

(L)  the provision, consistent with the department’s rules applicable to self‑employment, of child care services to an individual who is participating in a community service program;

(M)  attendance at a financial literacy class; and

(N)  any other work activity recognized in accordance with Part A of Title IV of the Social Security Act as amended.

(28)(29)  “Work‑ready” means the earlier of:

(A)  not subject to a barrier and capable of participating in a single work activity or any combination of work activities determined by the commissioner by rule as acceptable to meet the work requirements of section 1113 of this title; or

(B)(i)  having received 12 cumulative months of financial assistance; or

(ii)  having received at least 13 but no more than 18 cumulative months of financial assistance and having been granted an extension of the 12‑month work readiness rule in accordance with subsection 1113(b) of this title the participant possesses the education or skills demanded by the local job market or is capable of participating in one or more work activities at the level required by the participant’s work requirement, and is not subject to any barrier.

Sec. 3.  33 V.S.A. § 1102 is amended to read:

§ 1102.  PURPOSE OF AID

(a)  The purpose of the Reach Up program is:

(1)  to assist families, recognizing individual and unique characteristics, to obtain the opportunities and skills necessary for self‑sufficiency.

(2)  to encourage economic independence by removing barriers and disincentives to work and providing positive incentives to work.

(3)  to support parental nurturing.

(4)  to support parental responsibility and positive parental role models, both custodial and noncustodial.

(5)  to measure the success of the system by what is best for children.

(6)  to protect improve the well‑being of children by providing for their immediate basic needs, including food, housing and clothing.

(7)  to respect the dignity of individuals and families receiving assistance by providing employment, education, and other services through social service delivery systems available to all Vermont citizens residents and by encouraging the private sector to integrate families receiving assistance into the mainstream of the employment market.

(8)  to recognize the challenges facing many families receiving assistance by minimizing structural financial disincentives to increased earnings and the abrupt termination of assistance before parents are fully integrated into the employment market.

(9)  to conserve state public financial resources by operating the system of aid in a manner that is efficient and avoids federal fiscal sanctions.

(10)  to conform to the federal TANF law.

* * *

Sec. 4.  33 V.S.A. § 1103 is amended to read:

§ 1103.  AID; ELIGIBILITY AND BENEFIT LEVELS

(a)  Aid Financial assistance shall be given for the benefit of a dependent child to the relative or caretaker with whom the child is living unless otherwise provided.  The amount of aid financial assistance to which an eligible person is entitled shall be determined with due regard to the income, resources and maintenance available to that person and, as far as funds are available, shall provide that person a reasonable subsistence compatible with decency and health.  The commissioner may fix by regulation maximum amounts of aid financial assistance, and act to insure that the expenditures for the programs shall not exceed appropriations for them consistent with section 101 of this title.  In no case may the department expend state funds in excess of the appropriations for the programs under this chapter.

(b)  Aid Financial assistance may include the maintenance of one or both parents, if in need and in the dependent child’s home, or a relative or caretaker with whom a dependent child is living, if the relative or caretaker is without sufficient means of support.

(c)  The commissioner shall adopt rules for the determination of eligibility for the Reach Up program and benefit levels for all participating families that include the following provisions:

(1)  No less than the first $150.00 $200.00 per month of earnings from an unsubsidized job and 25 percent of the remaining unsubsidized earnings shall be disregarded in determining the amount of the family’s financial assistance grant.  The family shall receive the difference between countable income and the Reach Up payment standard in a partial financial assistance grant.

(2)  No less than the first $90.00 per month of earnings from a subsidized job shall be disregarded in determining the amount of the family’s financial assistance grant.  The family shall receive the difference between countable income and the Reach Up payment standard in a partial financial assistance grant.  Earnings from subsidized jobs shall qualify for federal and state earned income credit if the family is otherwise eligible for such credit.

(3)  Incentive payments shall be provided to participating families for completing parenting education programs or related volunteer work required under a family development plan  Each family development plan shall provide for an incentive payment to be paid to the participating family for completing a required activity or task.

* * *

(5)  The value of assets accumulated from the earnings of adults and children in participating families and from any federal or Vermont earned income tax credit shall be excluded for purposes of determining continuing eligibility for the Reach Up program.  The asset limitation shall be increased from $1,000.00 to $2,000.00 for participating families for the purposes of determining continuing eligibility for the Reach Up program.

* * *

(h)  The department shall offer every eligible family the option of electronic or direct payment of financial assistance for the family’s housing or other expenses to the person providing the lodging, utilities, or other service as provided for by rule.

Sec. 5.  33 V.S.A. § 1105(b) is amended to read:

§ 1105.  CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS

* * *

(b)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if aid financial assistance to a participating family is terminated due to receipt of child support, minus the first $50.00 per month in such payments, that in combination with other countable income is in excess of the financial assistance cash payment standard, and the family again becomes eligible for aid financial assistance within the following 12 calendar months solely because the family no longer receives excess child support, aid financial assistance shall be paid as of the date of the family’s reapplication.

Sec. 6.  33 V.S.A. § 1106 is amended to read:

§ 1106.  REQUIRED SERVICES TO PARTICIPATING FAMILIES

The commissioner shall provide participating families case management services, initial assessment of the full range of services needed by each family, periodic reassessment of service needs and the family development plan, and referral to any agencies or programs that provide the services needed by participating families to improve the family’s prospects for job placement and job retention, including the following:

(1)  Appropriate child care, available at times that will enable employment or participation in services indicated by the participating family’s family development plan.  As used in this subdivision, “appropriate child care” shall not include:

(A)  Child care that the department of social and rehabilitation services’ child care services division classifies as legally exempt child care, and that a parent or caretaker determines to be unacceptable; and

(B)  Child care that the department of social and rehabilitation services’ child care services division classifies as either a registered family child care home or a licensed child care center facility, and that a parent or caretaker determines to be unacceptable when such determination is confirmed by the child care services division department.

* * *

(9)  Services for teen parents through the teen parent education program established in cooperation with the department of education.

(9)(10)  Any other services identified in the family development plan and determined by the commissioner to be necessary and appropriate to achieve the purposes of this chapter.

Sec. 7.  33 V.S.A. § 1107 is amended to read:

§ 1107.  CASE MANAGEMENT; FAMILY DEVELOPMENT PLANS; COORDINATED SERVICES

(a)  The commissioner shall provide all Reach Up services to participating families through a case management model informed by knowledge of the family’s home, community, employment, and available resources.  Services may be delivered in the district office, the family’s home, or community in a way that facilitates progress toward accomplishment of the family development plan.  Case management may be provided to other eligible families.  The case manager, with the full involvement of the family, shall recommend, and the commissioner shall establish and modify as necessary a family development plan established under the Reach First or Reach Up program for each participating family, with a right of appeal as provided by section 1132 of this title.  A case manager shall be assigned to each participating family as soon as the family begins to receive financial assistance.  If administratively feasible and appropriate, the case manager shall be the same case manager the family was assigned in the Reach First program.  The applicant for or recipient of aid financial assistance, under this chapter, shall have the burden of demonstrating the existence of his or her condition.

(b)  The family development plan shall include:

(1)  each parent or caretaker’s employment goal;

(2)  an assessment of each parent or caretaker’s strengths and barriers. The initial assessment shall include a literacy evaluation followed by referral to an appropriate resource or program;

(3)  an identification of the services, supports and accommodations needed to overcome any barriers, to enable the family to achieve self‑sufficiency, and to fulfill each parent or caretaker’s personal and family responsibilities;

(4)  an assignment of responsibilities, family development plan requirements, and activities among the case manager and family members, together with a time schedule for such responsibilities, requirements, and activities.

(c)(b)  The initial family development plan shall be completed within 30 days of the first meeting with the case manager.  The case manager shall establish a schedule for periodic review of the family development plan that includes personal contact with the participant at least once per month.  In addition, the case manager shall review, and modify if necessary, the plan in the following circumstances:

(1)  There is a lack of satisfactory progress in achieving the goals of the plan;

(2)  The parent or caretaker has lost unsubsidized or subsidized employment;

(3)  A family member has failed to comply with a family development plan requirement or a work requirement;

(4)  Services required by the plan are unavailable;

(5)  At least 30 days prior to when the parent or caretaker would become work‑ready or would otherwise be deemed work‑ready on the basis of 12‑cumulative‑month receipt of financial assistance;

(6)  A deferment or modification of the work requirements imposed by section 1113 of this title has been requested or is due for review;

(7)  Within 30 days of when the parent or caretaker has started an unsubsidized or subsidized job; or

(8)  Changes to the plan are needed to protect the well‑being of the children.

* * *

Sec. 8.  33 V.S.A. § 1108 is amended to read:

§ 1108.  OBLIGATION TO ASSIST ELIGIBLE FAMILIES WITH DEPENDENT CHILDREN

Except as specifically authorized herein, the commissioner shall not adopt any rule that would result in the termination of aid financial assistance to a participating family, including a dependent child, on the basis of an adult family member’s having received TANF‑funded aid financial assistance, as an adult, for 60 or more months in his or her lifetime.  This provision shall not prevent the commissioner from adopting rules that impose limitations on how many months that families, including a parent who has received an associate or bachelor’s degree while receiving support from the postsecondary education program authorized by section 1121 of this chapter, may receive aid financial assistance authorized by this chapter in the five‑year period immediately following the receipt of such associate or bachelor’s degree.

Sec. 9.  33 V.S.A. § 1112 is amended to read:

§ 1112.  FAMILY DEVELOPMENT PLAN REQUIREMENTS

(a)  Each participating adult in a family applying for or receiving financial assistance shall comply with each Reach Up family development plan requirement provided for in the family development plan, unless good cause exists for such noncompliance as defined by the commissioner by rule.

(b)  The family’s receipt of the full financial assistance amount allowable and avoidance of fiscal sanctions are contingent on compliance with the following family development plan requirements: the participating adult assisting in the development of his or her family development plan and engaging in the family development plan activities for the number of hours per week that the activities are scheduled and available, unless good cause exists for not doing so as defined by the commissioner by rule.

(1)  The single parent or caretaker in a family who has no barriers to obtaining and maintaining a job and a recent and stable work history, including receiving wages for his or her most recent job that, when annualized, equal or exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level applicable to the family, shall report to the department of labor for immediate job search within two working days of having filed an application for financial assistance.

(2)  The able‑to‑work adult in a two‑parent family (when the other parent is able‑to‑work‑part‑time or unable‑to‑work) who has no barriers to obtaining and maintaining a job and a recent and stable work history, including receiving wages for his or her most recent job that, when annualized, equal or exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level applicable to the family, shall report to the department labor for immediate job search within two working days of having filed an application for financial assistance.

(3)  The adult in a two‑parent family (when both parents are able‑to‑work) who is not the primary caretaker of the children shall report to the department of labor for immediate job search within two working days of having filed an application for financial assistance.

(4)  Any adult who is referred to the department of labor pursuant to this subdivision and who without good cause fails to report shall be denied financial assistance for his or her family.

(5)  An adult who accepts employment after reporting as directed under this subdivision may receive Reach Up services, provided that the family is eligible for such services in accordance with department rules.

(6)  Each participating adult shall participate in the development of his or her family development plan.

(7)  Each participating adult who is not referred to the department of labor pursuant to subdivisions (1), (2) or (3) of this subsection shall report as directed by the department for assessment and evaluation activities.

(8)  Each participating adult shall begin to comply with his or her family development plan requirements as soon as possible, and no later than 10 days following identification of initial requirements at the initial family development plan meeting.  Each participating adult shall continue to comply with such family development plan requirements until such time as the adult is complying with the work requirement provided for under section 1113 of this title, or the family is determined to be ineligible for or is no longer receiving financial assistance.

(9)  Participants shall engage in their family development plan activities for the number of hours per week that the activities are scheduled and available, unless good cause exists for not doing so as defined by the commissioner by rule.

Sec. 10.  33 V.S.A. § 1113 is amended to read:

§ 1113.  WORK REQUIREMENTS

(a)  Each participating adult in a family receiving a financial assistance grant shall fulfill a work requirement in accordance with this section.  Subject to the provisions of this chapter, and provided that all services required by this chapter are offered when appropriate and are available when needed to support fulfillment of the work requirement, an adult having a work requirement shall obtain employment or participate in one or more work activities, and shall work in accordance with the requirements of this section, in order to maintain continued eligibility for financial assistance and to avoid fiscal sanctions.

(b)(1)  The work requirement shall become effective as soon as the participating adult is job or work‑ready, or upon the family’s receipt of 12 cumulative months of financial assistance, whichever is sooner, unless at the end of the 12‑cumulative‑month period the participant’s case manager concludes that the participant is unable to meet the hours of the applicable unmodified work requirement, as established in subsection (c) of this section. In such cases, the case manager shall prepare a written request on behalf of the participant for an extension of up to six months.  The request shall identify the particular reasons why the participant is unable to meet the work requirement and the remedial actions and services to be provided to the recipient to enable fulfillment of the requirement.  The request shall be submitted to the district director and the family services director commissioner for approval.  The request shall be approved unless the participant is able to meet the work requirement or a modified work requirement established in accordance with section 1114 of this title.

(2)  A participant may meet the work requirement through a combination of work activities until the participant has received 24 months of financial assistance.  After that time, the participant shall meet the work requirement through employment.

 (c)  The hours of the work requirement shall be as follows:

(1)  In two‑parent families in which both parents are able‑to‑work:

(A)  The parent who is not the primary caretaker of a dependent child, referred to in this subsection as the “principal‑earner parent,” shall work no less than full‑time in unsubsidized employment or in one or more work activities and accept unsubsidized employment with scheduled hours up to 45 hours per week;

(B)  As used in this subdivision, “full‑time” means 40 hours per week. A position requiring no fewer than 35 hours per week that the employer defines as full‑time shall be deemed full‑time employment.

(C)  The requirements of this subdivision may be satisfied if both parents secure employment or work activities with combined hours equal to or exceeding 40 hours per week, if such shared fulfillment of the work requirement commences within 30 days of application for financial assistance or within 30 days of the onset of the unemployment of the principal‑earner parent.  Parents who have successfully established a shared work requirement shall have 30 days to re‑establish the arrangement in the event one of the parents becomes unemployed.

(2)  The primary caretaker of a dependent child in a two‑parent family in which both parents are able‑to‑work shall have no work requirement, provided that the principal‑earner parent complies with the work requirement and is not sanctioned in accordance with section 1115 of this title. In the event that the principal‑earner parent in a two‑parent family is sanctioned for failing to meet the work requirement, the primary caretaker shall be deemed work‑ready and subject to subdivision (1) of this subsection.  Within 30 days of the effective date of the principal‑earner parent’s sanction the primary caretaker shall report to the family’s case manager, complete an assessment, modify the family’s family development plan, and comply with the requirements of subdivision (1) of this subsection.

(3)  All other able‑to‑work participants and able‑to‑work‑part‑time participants who are not subject to the work requirement established by subdivision (1) of this subsection, or exempted from the work requirement in accordance with subdivision (2) of this subsection, shall comply with the following requirements:

(A)  If the family includes two parents, and one parent is able‑to‑work and the other parent is able‑to‑work‑part‑time or unable‑to‑work, the able‑to‑work parent shall work in unsubsidized employment or participate in one or more work activities for no fewer than 30 hours per week, and shall accept unsubsidized employment with scheduled hours up to 35 hours per week; and

(B)  If the family includes two parents and both parents are able‑to‑work‑part‑time:

(i)  If one participating parent has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time at least 30 hours per week, that parent shall work in unsubsidized employment or participate in one or more work activities for no fewer than 30 hours per week and shall accept unsubsidized employment with scheduled hours up to 34 hours per week, provided that the scheduled hours do not exceed the number of hours the parent has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time;

(ii)  If neither participating parent has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time at least 30 hours per week but the parents, in combination, have been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time 30 hours per week, both parents shall work in unsubsidized employment or participate in one or more work activities for which the sum of the hours is at least 30 hours per week and shall accept unsubsidized employment with scheduled hours up to 34 hours per week, provided that the scheduled hours do not exceed the number of hours the parents, in combination, have been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time; or

(iii)  If the participating parents, in combination, have been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time fewer than 30 hours per week, the parents shall work in unsubsidized employment or participate in one or more work activities for the number of hours that the two parents, in combination, have been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time.

(C)  If the family includes two parents and one parent is able‑to‑work‑part‑time and the other parent is unable‑to‑work:

(i)  If one participating parent has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time at least 30 hours per week, that parent shall work in unsubsidized employment or participate in one or more work activities for no fewer than 30 hours per week and shall accept unsubsidized employment with scheduled hours up to 34 hours per week, provided that the scheduled hours do not exceed the number of hours that the parent has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time; or

(ii)  If one participating parent has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time fewer than 30 hours per week, that parent shall work in unsubsidized work or participate in one or more work activities for the number of hours that the parent has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time.

(D)  If the family includes only one adult (parent, relative, or caretaker) who is able‑to‑work and no child is under the age of six years, the participant shall work in unsubsidized employment or participate in one or more work activities for no fewer than 30 hours per week, and shall accept unsubsidized employment with scheduled hours up to 35 hours per week.

(E)  If the family includes only one adult (parent, relative, or caretaker) who is able‑to‑work‑part‑time and no child is under the age of six years:

(i)  If the participant has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time at least 30 hours per week, the participant shall work in unsubsidized employment or participate in one or more work activities for no fewer than 30 hours per week and shall accept unsubsidized employment with scheduled hours up to 34 hours per week, provided that the scheduled hours do not exceed the number of hours that the participant has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time; or

(ii)  If the participant has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time fewer than 30 hours per week, the participant shall work in unsubsidized work or participate in one or more work activities fewer than 30 hours per week for the number of hours that the participant has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time.

(F)  If the family includes only one adult (parent, relative, or caretaker) who is able‑to‑work and a child under the age of six years, the participant shall work in unsubsidized employment or participate in one or more work activities for no fewer than 20 hours per week and shall accept unsubsidized employment with scheduled hours up to 24 hours per week.

(G)  If the family includes only one adult (parent, relative, or caretaker) who is able‑to‑work‑part‑time and a child under the age of six years:

(i)  If the participant has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time at least 20 hours per week, the participant shall work in unsubsidized employment or participate in one or more work activities for no fewer than 20 hours per week, and shall accept unsubsidized employment with scheduled hours up to 24 hours per week, provided that the scheduled hours do not exceed the number of hours that the participant has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time; or

(ii)  If the participant has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time fewer than 20 hours per week, the participant shall work in unsubsidized work or participate in one or more work activities fewer than 20 hours per week for the number of hours that the participant has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time.

(4)  Except as provided in section 1133 of this title, in computing the cumulative 12‑month period of financial assistance for determining the effective date of a participating adult’s work requirement under subsection (b) of this section, the calculation shall not extend to times prior to the effective date of this section.

(5)(4)  A pregnant individual who is employed shall continue such employment unless there has been a medical determination that the individual is unable‑to‑work, or the individual is exempt from the work requirement based on other criteria established by the commissioner by rule.  A pregnant individual shall not be required to begin new employment.

* * *

(e)  The commissioner may require a participant to participate in job search, coordinated by the commissioner, for the number of hours per week that corresponds to the participant’s work requirement hours under subsection (c) of this section, or a lesser amount that in combination with the participant’s unsubsidized paid employment equals the participant’s work requirement hours under subsection (c) of this section, and during the following periods:

(1)  For a two‑week period immediately following the family’s application for benefits, or reapplication for benefits following a period of non‑receipt lasting at least 30 days, or during the period a decision on application or reapplication is pending, whichever period ends later, and as long as consistent with subdivisions 1112(b)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;

(2)  For a period of two weeks at any time when the participant is deemed to be job‑ready by the commissioner;

(3)  For the first two weeks of the 13th calendar month for which financial assistance is received; and

(4)  For a period of two weeks following the loss of paid employment.

(f)  If a participant is job‑ready and no unsubsidized job is available, or if the participant is work‑ready but not job‑ready, the participant shall accept a subsidized job, community work experience, job search, other work activities, or any combination of these activities, as deemed appropriate by the commissioner that equals the number of hours of the participant’s work requirement per week, or a lesser amount that, in combination with the parent’s unsubsidized paid employment, equals the number of hours of the participant’s work requirement.

(g)(f)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a participant’s hours of unpaid work activities that are not primarily education, job search, job readiness activities, or training shall not exceed the levels established by the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Adjustments required to conform with the Fair Labor Standards Act shall be made pursuant to calculation standards established by the commissioner by rule.

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Sec. 11.  33 V.S.A. § 1114 is amended to read:

§ 1114.  DEFERMENTS AND, MODIFICATIONS, AND REFERRAL

(a)  The commissioner shall establish by rule criteria, standards, and procedures for granting deferments from or modifications to the work requirements established in section 1113 of this title, in accordance with the provisions of this section and for referring individuals with disabilities to the office of vocational rehabilitation.

* * *

(b)  The work requirements shall be either modified or deferred for:

* * *

(3)  A participant who is able‑to‑work‑part‑time or is unable‑to‑work.  Such participants shall be referred for assessment and vocational and other services in accordance with the provisions of his or her family development plan.  Participants with disabilities that do not meet the standards used to determine disability under Title XVI of the Social Security Act shall participate in appropriate rehabilitation, education, or training programs.

(4)(3)  A primary caretaker parent in a two‑parent family in which one parent is able‑to‑work‑part‑time or unable‑to‑work, a single parent, or a caretaker who is caring for a child who has not attained 24 months of age for no more than 24 months of the parent’s or caretaker’s lifetime receipt of financial assistance.  To qualify for such deferment, a parent or caretaker of a child older than the age of six months but younger than 24 months shall cooperate in the development of and participate in a family development plan.

(5)(4)  An individual who has exhausted the 24 months of deferment provided for in subdivision (4)(3) of this subsection and who is caring for a child who is not yet 13 weeks of age or a primary caretaker parent in a family with two parents who are able‑to‑work if the primary caretaker is caring for a child under 13 weeks of age and is otherwise subject to a work requirement because the other parent in the family is being sanctioned in accordance with section 1116 of this title.

(6)(5)  A participant who is needed in the home on a full or part‑time basis in order to care for an ill or disabled parent, spouse, or child.  In granting deferments, the department shall give deference to the participant’s preference as to the number of hours the participant is able to leave home to participate in work activities.

 (7)(6)  A participant who is under 20 years of age, who is a single head of household or married, and who maintains satisfactory attendance at secondary school or the equivalent during the month, or participates in education directly related to employment for an average of 20 or more hours per week during the month.

(8)(7)  A participant who has attained 20 years of age and who is engaged in at least 25 hours per week of classes and related learning activities for the purpose of attaining a high school diploma or general educational development (GED) certificate; provided that the participant is making satisfactory progress toward the attainment of such diploma or certificate; and provided further that a deferment or modification granted for this purpose does not exceed six months.

(9)(8)  A participant who is enrolled in, attending, and making satisfactory progress toward the completion of a full‑time vocational training program that has a normal duration of no more than two years and who is within 12 months of expected completion of such program.  Such deferment or modification shall continue until he or she has completed the program, he or she is no longer attending the program, or the 12‑month expected completion period has ended, whichever occurs first.

(10)(9)  A participant for whom, due to the effects of domestic violence, fulfillment of the work requirement can be reasonably anticipated to result in serious physical or emotional harm to the participant that significantly impairs his or her capacity either to fulfill the work requirement or to care for his or her child adequately, or can be reasonably anticipated to result in serious physical or emotional harm to the child.

(11)(10)  Any other participant designated by the commissioner in accordance with criteria established by rule.

(c)  A participant who is able‑to‑work‑part‑time or is unable‑to‑work shall be referred for assessment of the individual’s skills and strengths, accommodations and support services, and vocational and other services in accordance with the provisions of his or her family development plan.  The work requirement hours shall reflect the individual’s ability to work. Participants with disabilities that do not meet the standards used to determine disability under Title XVI of the Social Security Act shall participate in rehabilitation, education, or training programs as appropriate.  A participant who qualifies for a deferment or modification and who is able‑to‑work‑part‑time shall have his or her work requirement hours modified or deferred.  In granting deferments, the department shall give deference to the participant’s estimation of the number of hours the participant is able‑to‑work.

 (c)(d)  Absent an apparent condition or claimed physical, emotional or mental condition, participants are presumed to be able‑to‑work.  A participant shall have the burden of demonstrating the existence of the circumstances or condition asserted as the basis for a deferral or modification of the work requirement.

(d)  A participant who qualifies for a deferment or modification under subsection (b) of this section and who is able‑to‑work‑part‑time shall have his or her work requirement hours modified instead of deferred.

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Sec. 12.  33 V.S.A. § 1116(f)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  The commissioner shall provide the housing costs by vendor electronic or direct payment directly to the vendor person to whom housing costs are owed.  Any balance of financial assistance remaining after the vendor electronic or direct payment has been deducted shall be paid in two payments, the first to be paid within the first half of the calendar month and the second to be paid within the second half of the calendar month.

Sec. 13.  33 V.S.A. § 1116(h) is amended to read:

(h)  To receive payments during the fiscal sanction period, an adult who is the subject of the sanction shall meet no less than once each month to report his or her circumstances to the case manager or to participate in assessments as directed by the case manager.  In addition, this meeting shall be for initial assessment and development of the family development plan when such tasks have not been completed; reassessment or review and revision of the family development plan, if appropriate; and to encourage the participant to fulfill the work requirement.  Meetings required under this section may take place in the district office, a community location, or in the participant’s home.  Facilitation of meeting the participant’s family development plan goals shall be a primary consideration in determining the location of the meeting.  The commissioner may waive any meeting when extraordinary circumstances prevent a participant from attending.  The commissioner shall adopt rules to implement this subsection.

Sec. 14.  33 V.S.A. § 1121 is amended to read:

§ 1121.  AUTHORIZATION TO SEGREGATE STATE FUNDS AND CREATE SEPARATE STATE AND SOLELY STATE-FUNDED PROGRAMS

(a)  Consistent with the purposes of this chapter, the commissioner shall structure payment of appropriated TANF funds and, state “maintenance of effort” funds, and general funds to create separate state and segregated fund solely state‑funded programs to aid families eligible for the financial assistance.  For purposes of this chapter:

(1)  “Separate state program” means a program in which state funds are used to fund the program, and these funds are counted toward the state’s maintenance‑of‑effort requirement under TANF.

(2)  “Solely state‑funded program” means a program in which state funds are used to fund the program and are not counted toward the state’s maintenance‑of‑effort requirement in order to maintain flexibility.

(b)  The commissioner shall establish by rule standards, requirements, and criteria for the administration of any program established pursuant to this section that requires rules different from the financial assistance program.

(c)  Programs and payment structures created pursuant to this section shall accomplish one or more of the following purposes:

(1)  To provide work supports and assistance to working families while preserving their ability to receive financial assistance beyond the federal TANF 60‑month lifetime limit.

(2)  To foster parental nurturing of children in their own homes.

(3)  To stabilize families in crisis.

(4)  To preserve financial assistance options beyond the federal TANF 60‑month lifetime limit for families addressing multiple issues relating to

self‑sufficiency.

(5)  To preserve eligibility for financial assistance for certain parents who are under 18 and legal aliens whom federal law makes ineligible for

TANF‑funded assistance.

(6)  To provide for the transition of families in the welfare restructuring project to the Reach Up program.

(7)(6)  To ensure that the state complies with the federal TANF program requirements and is able to avoid federal fiscal sanctions.

(d)(1)  The following separate state solely state‑funded programs shall be established, in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner:

(1)(A)  The separate state postsecondary education program established under section 1122 of this title.

(2)  A program for families in which the adult (parent or caretaker) or adults (parents) are not involved in work activities at a TANF‑countable level, limited to the number of families necessary to meet federal TANF participation rate requirements.

(3)(B)  A program for families with a single parent, a caretaker, or two parents with one parent who is able‑to‑work‑part‑time or unable‑to‑work that have a primary caretaker of a child under 24 months of age who chooses pursuant to subdivision 1114(b)(4) subsection 1114(b) of this title to defer the work requirement and to remain at home caring for the child, provided that the deferment is limited to any 24 months over the primary caretaker’s lifetime, and the elimination of such work requirement is not a state option under TANF.

(C)  A program for the following vulnerable families:

(i)  a minor parent who is not meeting the TANF requirements;

(ii)  families who have received TANF‑funded assistance for over 60 months and do not qualify for the hardship exemption as provided for by rule;

(2)  Solely state‑funded programs may be established, in accordance with rules adopted by the commissioner, for the following individuals:

(A)  families in which the parents or caretakers are ineligible immigrants, who are considered work eligible under federal law, but are unable to meet the number of hours in work activities required for the family to be counted as meeting the work requirement under federal law;

(B)  adults who have been in sanction for more than three months;

(C)  families in which the parents have disabilities;

(D)  families in which one or more child has a disability and in which a family member is considered a work‑eligible individual;

(E)  families in which the parents or caretakers have an application pending for Supplemental Security Income; and

(F)  two‑parent households who are unable to meet the number of hours in work activities required for the family to be counted as meeting the work requirement under federal law, unless the federal law allows the state to exclude these families from the work participation rate or provides for an achievable work participation rate as determined by the commissioner.

(e)  The Reach Up Ahead program shall include a segregated funds be a separate state program structured to pay appropriated state maintenance of effort funds to families in which the parent or caretaker is engaged in unsubsidized employment for the number of hours that meets the applicable TANF participation rate requirement and provided there are sufficient general funds to fund the separate state programs established in subdivisions (d)(1) through (3) of this section.  If there are insufficient general funds to pay these families, then they shall be paid from TANF funds.  For self‑employment to be considered unsubsidized employment under this subdivision, average net weekly earnings shall equal or exceed the minimum wage multiplied by the applicable number of TANF‑countable hours.

(f)  The commissioner may establish other separate state and solely state‑funded programs necessary to meet the goals established in this chapter.

(g)  In furtherance of the policy goals of this section and in order to establish an excess of maintenance‑of‑effort state funds, the commissioner shall maximize maintenance‑of‑effort state funds in the reports to the U.S. Administration for Children and Families.

Sec. 15.  33 V.S.A. § 1122 is amended to read:

§ 1122.  POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION PROGRAM

(a)  The commissioner shall establish by rule a separate state solely state‑funded program to provide living expense stipends financial assistance equivalent to the Reach Up financial assistance amount the family would receive if it were participating in the Reach Up program and support services to enable parents in eligible families to pursue undergraduate postsecondary degrees in fields directly related to employment.

(b)  The program authorized by this section shall be administered by the commissioner or by a contractor designated by the commissioner, and shall be supported with funds other than federal TANF block grant funds provided under Title IV‑A of the Social Security Act.

(c)  The Financial eligibility for the program and the amount of the program’s living expense stipend financial assistance shall be determined using Reach Up financial assistance rules with the following modifications:.  The commissioner may use Reach Up rules for the postsecondary education program with the exception of rules inconsistent with this section or related to the work requirements.  

(1)  The amount of the living expense stipend shall be determined at the time of the financial eligibility determination for admission into the program, and annually thereafter within 90 days before the beginning of the participant’s academic year.

(2)  The maximum living expense stipend for a family with three or fewer members shall be the amount that is equal to the ratably reduced sum of the Reach Up basic needs allowance for a household of three, plus the maximum monthly housing allowance for the county in which they reside.

(3)  The maximum living expense stipend allowed for a family with more than three members shall be the amount that is equal to the ratably reduced sum of the Reach Up basic needs allowance for a household of four, plus the maximum housing allowance for the county in which they reside.

(d)  To be financially eligible to participate in the postsecondary education program, the family must meet the following applicable income test:

(1)  In two‑parent families, the family’s gross income minus the participating parent’s earnings shall not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four or fewer members as established by the commissioner by rule, or 150 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of five, provided the family included five or more members as established by the commissioner by rule the appropriate family size.

(2)  In single‑parent families, the gross income of the family shall not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of three, provided the family includes three or fewer members as established by the commissioner by rule, or 150 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four, provided the family includes four or more members as established by the commissioner by rule.

(3)  All program participants shall demonstrate financial eligibility at the time of application, for the calendar year preceding application, and within the 90‑day period prior to the beginning of each academic year of the institution in which the participant is enrolled.

(4)  Verification of all income amounts required by this subsection shall be provided in accordance with Reach Up program rules.

(e)  All financially eligible families who apply to participate in the postsecondary education program will be considered for admission provided that they meet all of the following criteria:

(1)  No more than one parent per family may participate at the same time.

(2)  If the participating parent is in a two‑parent family, the nonparticipating parent shall, if able‑to‑work, be working full‑time; if able‑to‑work‑part‑time, shall be working at least the number of hours per week that he or she has been determined able‑to‑work‑part‑time; or, if unable‑to‑work, may be unemployed.

(3)(A)  The participating parent has not already received a postsecondary undergraduate degree;

(B)  The participating parent has already received a postsecondary undergraduate degree and the occupations for which it prepared the participating parent are obsolete;

(C)  The participating parent, due to a disability, is no longer able to perform the occupations for which the degree prepared him or her; or

(D)  The preparation for occupations that the participating parent received through the postsecondary undergraduate degree is outdated and not marketable in the current labor market.

(4)  The participating parent shall be a matriculating student in a two‑year or four‑year degree program as provided for in the postsecondary education plan.

(5)  The participating parent has been determined to be eligible for financial assistance from the Vermont student assistance corporation, and can demonstrate that he or she has the ability to cover tuition costs.

(6)  The participating parent agrees to limit employment to no more than 20 hours per week when school is in session.

(7)  Participating families who are eligible for Reach Up financial assistance shall agree to accept the program living expense stipend in lieu of a Reach Up financial assistance grant.

(8)  For a period of five years beginning with the date of a parent’s receipt of a postsecondary education degree due to successful completion of this program, the parent and the parent’s family, if financially eligible, shall receive no more than 12 cumulative months of Reach Up financial assistance, and the participating parent shall comply with the following conditions:

(i)  The parent shall engage in job search at a TANF‑countable level for the first four weeks of the family’s receipt of a financial assistance grant;

(ii)  Unless employed full time, the parent shall engage in approved work activities at a TANF‑countable level during all months following the initial job search that the family receives financial assistance; and

(iii)  Parents who have not been sanctioned since receiving their postsecondary education degree, have not left an unsubsidized degree‑related job without good cause since receiving their postsecondary education degree, and have followed through, satisfactorily, on all referrals to degree‑related jobs since receiving their postsecondary education degree shall only have to accept unsubsidized jobs related to their degree during the first three months following receipt of their degree. Parents who have been sanctioned since receiving their postsecondary education degree, have left an unsubsidized degree‑related job without good cause since receiving their postsecondary education degree, have not followed through, satisfactorily, on all referrals to degree‑related jobs since receiving their postsecondary education degree, or have not, after receipt of three cumulative months of financial assistance, obtained a job in a field related to their postsecondary degree, shall accept any unsubsidized job that is offered.

(B)  The limitation on receiving no more than 12 cumulative months of Reach Up cash assistance established under subdivision (A) of this subdivision (8) shall not apply if:

(i)  the parent who received the postsecondary education degree has not been offered a full‑time, unsubsidized job;

(ii) all parents in the family have become so severely disabled that they are precluded from being employed;

(iii)  in the case of a single‑parent family, a child in the family has become so severely disabled that the parent is precluded from being employed; or

(iv)  a catastrophic family event precludes the parent’s employment, as determined by the commissioner.

(9)(6)  The participating parent establishes and follows a postsecondary education plan that has been approved by the commissioner or his or her designee.  Each postsecondary education plan shall include the following:

(A)  the occupation that the parent proposes to pursue;

(B)  a schedule that assures the participating parent will complete the coursework necessary for a two‑year degree within three years and for a four‑year degree within five years.  The commissioner shall establish by rule criteria for exceptions to such time limits.  Such criteria shall be based on circumstances beyond the parent’s control;

(C)  a schedule reflecting that, when an applicant has at least 15 credit hours of course credits that can be applied to the degree being pursued, four months for every 15 credit hours of coursework that can be applied to the degree has been deducted from the three‑year time period allowed for a two‑year degree or the five‑year time period allowed for a four‑year degree; and

(D)  a schedule reflecting that, when a parent who has already obtained a two‑year degree through participation in the program authorized by this section is pursuing a four‑year degree, the time period that was used to obtain the two‑year degree has been subtracted from the five‑year time period allowed for a four‑year degree.

(10)(7)  The family and the participating adult maintain financial eligibility for the program and uninterrupted residency in Vermont for the duration of participation in the postsecondary education program.

(11)(8)  The participating parent maintains good academic standing at the college.

(f)  Participation in the program authorized by this section may be denied to parents meeting the eligibility criteria if program funds are insufficient to allow all eligible applicants to participate. When funds are insufficient to allow all eligible applicants to participate, priority shall be given to those individuals with no postsecondary education who:

(1)  have demonstrated the ability to be successful in college, have already accumulated credits that can be applied to a college degree, and qualify for financial assistance;

(2)  have no postsecondary education and qualify for financial assistance;

(3)  have demonstrated the ability to be successful in college, have already accumulated credits that can be applied to a college degree, and qualify for services but not financial assistance;

(4)  have no postsecondary education and qualify for services but not financial assistance.

(g)  Continued participation in the postsecondary education program is contingent on the participating parent:

(1)  maintaining compliance with all program criteria in subsections (d) and (e) of this section; and

(2)  remaining a member in good standing of the college and making progress toward a degree.

(h)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Full‑time” means 40 hours per week or a position requiring no fewer than 35 hours of work per week that the employer defines as

full‑time.

(2)  “Parent” means either a biological parent, stepparent, or adoptive parent who has custody of and resides with a dependent minor child.

Sec. 16.  33 V.S.A. § 1133 is amended to read:

§ 1133.  TRANSITION FROM WELFARE RESTRUCTURING PROJECT TO REACH UP PROGRAM OTHER PROGRAMS

(a)  The commissioner shall restructure the system of Aid to Needy Families with Children in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.  The restructuring shall be carried out on a statewide basis.  The restructured program shall be reconstituted as the Reach Up program.

(b)  The commissioner shall ensure that representatives of participating families, representatives of community agencies, and representatives of the department staff play an active role in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the restructuring required by this chapter.

(c)  The commissioner shall develop a plan and adopt rules to phase current members of the existing ANFC caseload into the new Reach Up program.

(d)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, able‑bodied single parents and able‑bodied parents in two‑parent families in which one parent is incapacitated who are receiving Aid to Needy Families with Children (“ANFC”) and have their families’ eligibility for and amount of ANFC benefits determined in accordance with welfare restructuring project rules that include a work requirement, in accordance with Sec. 10(a) of Act No. 106 of 1994 shall be deemed work‑ready as follows:

(1)  Parents in families who have received 28 or more cumulative months of ANFC benefits before November 1, 2000, shall be deemed work‑ready as of January 1, 2001.

(2)  Parents in families who have received their 28th cumulative month of ANFC benefits during the period beginning November 1, 2000, and ending on April 30, 2001, shall be deemed work‑ready as of the first day of the 30th cumulative month of having received ANFC benefits.

(3)  Two months prior to being deemed work‑ready in accordance with subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection, parents shall work with their case manager, if necessary, to prepare or include in their family development plan their participation in TANF‑countable work activities, as specified by rule, that are sufficient to meet their weekly hours of work requirement.

(4)  During the period from November 1, 2000, through June 30, 2001, the parents subject to this subsection shall also be subject to the exemption policies defined in Sec. 11 and the sanction policies defined in Sec. 12 of Act No. 106 of 1994.

(e)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, able‑to‑work and able‑to‑work‑part‑time parents and caretakers in families in which one or both of the ANFC children’s parents are absent and able‑to‑work and able‑to‑work‑part‑time parents in two‑parent families in which one parent is unable‑to‑work shall be deemed job‑ or work‑ready as follows:

(1)  Parents and caretakers in families who, subsequent to June 30, 1994, have received at least 22 cumulative months of ANFC benefits by July 1, 2001, shall be deemed job‑ or work‑ready no later than September 1, 2001.

(2)  Parents and caretakers in families who, subsequent to June 30, 1994, have received at least 16 cumulative months of ANFC benefits by September 1, 2001, shall be deemed job‑ or work‑ready no later than November 1, 2001.

(3)  Parents and caretakers in families who, subsequent to June 30, 1994, have received at least 10 cumulative months of ANFC benefits by November 1, 2001, shall be deemed job‑ or work‑ready no later than January 1, 2002.

(4)  Parents and caretakers in families who, subsequent to June 30, 1994, have received at least 10 cumulative months of ANFC benefits by January 1, 2002, shall be deemed job‑ or work‑ready no later than March 1, 2002.

(5)  Parents and caretakers in families who, subsequent to June 30, 1994, have received at least 10 cumulative months of ANFC benefits by March 1, 2002, shall be deemed job‑ or work‑ready no later than May 1, 2002.

(f)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law and effective May 1, 2001, able‑bodied parents who are not the primary caretaker in two‑parent families that have received ANFC benefits for at least 10 cumulative months shall be deemed job‑ or work‑ready as of July 1, 2001.

(g)  All parents and caretakers deemed job‑ or work‑ready, as provided in subsections (e) and (f) of this section:

(1)  Shall work with their case manager during the two months prior to being deemed job‑ or work‑ready to complete their assessment and prepare a family development plan that requires their participation in TANF‑countable work activities, as specified by rule, that are sufficient to meet the parent’s or caretaker’s work requirement as specified in section 1113 of this title; and

(2)  Shall be subject to the deferments and modifications provisions of section 1114 of this title, and the work incentive and sanctions provisions of section 1116 of this title.

(a)  The department shall transfer the family to Reach Up, a separate state program, or a solely state‑funded program established under chapter 11 if, after four months of receiving support in Reach First or sooner at the department’s discretion, a family is assessed as needing ongoing financial assistance and the family is financially eligible for Reach Up, a separate state program, or a solely state‑funded program established under chapter 11 of this title, unless the family chooses not to participate.

(b)  If a family finds unsubsidized employment meeting or exceeding the work requirements for Reach Up for the family’s size and composition, but is financially eligible for Reach Up, the department shall transfer the family to Reach Up, unless the family chooses not to participate.  A family transferring from Reach First to Reach Up shall be treated as a recipient for the purposes of income calculation.

(c)  If a family finds unsubsidized employment meeting or exceeding the work requirements for Reach Up for the family’s size and composition, is not financially eligible for Reach Up, and is eligible for the Reach Ahead program, the department shall transfer the family to Reach Ahead, unless the family chooses not to participate.  A family transferring from Reach Up to Reach Ahead shall be treated as a recipient for the purposes of income calculation.

(d)  A family transferring to another program under subsections (a) through (c) of this section shall not be required to complete a new application. Verification of income or other required documentation may be required as provided for by rule.

Sec. 17.  33 V.S.A. § 1134 is amended to read:

§ 1134.  PROGRAM EVALUATION

(a)  On or before January 31 of each year, the commissioner shall design and implement procedures to evaluate, measure and report to the governor and the general assembly the department’s progress in implementing the Reach First, Reach Up program, and Reach Ahead and achieving the goals of the program programs provided for in section sections 1002, 1102, and 1202 of this title.  The report shall include:

(1)  The types of barriers facing Reach Up families seeking economic self‑sufficiency, the number of families with each type of barrier, and the frequency of occurrence of each type of barrier, and how support services and incentives assist in overcoming barriers.

(2)  Documentation of participant outcomes, including specific information relating to the number of persons employed, by occupation, industry and wage; the types of subsidized and unsubsidized jobs secured by participants; any available information about outcomes for children who have participated in the Reach Up program programs, including objective indicators of improved conditions; and the number of participating families involved in training programs; and whether the support services and incentives assist in keeping families employed.

(3)  A description of the case management system and the training of case managers.

(4)(3)  Data about the food stamp participation of households who have left Reach Up the programs during the last fiscal year, including the number of households, adults and children participating in the food stamp program three months after termination of their Reach Up benefits leaving the applicable program, broken down by reason for Reach Up termination or leaving, and the department’s plan to identify and assist eligible households to apply for food stamps.

(5)(4)  Data about the enrollment of individuals who have left Reach Up the programs during the last fiscal year in a health care assistance program, including the number of adults and children enrolled in a health care assistance program three months after termination of their Reach Up benefits leaving the applicable program, broken down by reason for Reach Up termination or leaving, and the department’s plan to identify and assist eligible households to apply for health care assistance.

(6)(5)  A summary of all interim and final reports submitted by independent evaluation contractors to the agency or the department relating to the Reach Up program programs.

(6)  A description of the work participation rates, including the method of calculating the caseload reduction credit, for the most recent federal fiscal year.

(7) A description of the current basic needs budget and housing allowance, the current maximum grant amounts, and the basic needs budget and housing allowance adjusted to reflect an annual cost‑of‑living increase.

(8)  A summary of the analysis done under subsection (b) of this section. 

(b)  On or before January 15, 2001, the commissioner of education, with the assistance of the commissioner, the commissioner of disabilities, aging, and independent living, and the commissioner of labor shall report to the senate and house committees on health and welfare and education the progress they have achieved in developing and implementing the comparable and reciprocally recognized literacy assessment protocols as described in subsection 1107(e) of this title.  On or before January 15, 2010 for the analysis of Reach First and on or before January 15, 2012 for the analysis of all programs, the department shall analyze the effectiveness of the programs and shall consider the following indicators:

(1)  For Reach First, the types of crises presented by applicants; the type and duration of case management necessary to respond to a crisis; and the impact of the services on the family, including the actual and perceived outcomes and material indicators of stability.

(2)  For Reach Up, the type and duration of case management provided; and the impact of the services on the family; the family’s achievement of the goals in the family development plan; the types of employment engaged in by families; the duration of employment; and actual and perceived outcomes and material indicators of stability and well‑being.

(3)  For Reach Ahead, the types of employment engaged in by families; the duration of employment; the type and duration of services necessary to maintain employment; the duration of time the family received food assistance and services in the program; and the impact of the services on the family, including the actual and perceived well‑being of the family and material indicators of well‑being.

(4)  Whether the programs are effectively integrated and transitions between programs are simple, and the number of families who choose not to participate, and why.

(c)  [Repealed.]

(d)  On or before January 15, 2005, January 15, 2006, and January 15, 2007, the commissioner shall report to the house and senate committees on health and welfare and appropriations on families’ receipt of aid authorized by this chapter.  Such reports shall include:

(1)  For the report due on or before January 15, 2005, from among all families receiving TANF‑funded aid during the period from July 1, 2001, through September 30, 2004, the number of families that received such aid for no more than six cumulative months, more than six but no more than 12 cumulative months, more than 12 but no more than 18 cumulative months, more than 18 but no more than 24 cumulative months, more than 24 but no more than 30 cumulative months, and more than 30 cumulative months.

(2)  For the report due on or before January 15, 2006, from among all families receiving TANF‑funded aid during the period from July 1, 2001, through September 30, 2005, the number of families that received such aid for no more than six cumulative months, more than six but no more than 12 cumulative months, more than 12 but no more than 18 cumulative months, more than 18 but no more than 24 cumulative months, more than 24 but no more than 30 cumulative months, more than 30 but no more than 36 cumulative months, more than 36 but no more than 42 cumulative months, and more than 42 cumulative months.

(3)  For the report due on or before January 15, 2007, from among all families receiving TANF‑funded aid during the period from July 1, 2001, through September 30, 2006, the number of families that received such aid for no more than six cumulative months, more than six but no more than 12 cumulative months, more than 12 but no more than 18 cumulative months, more than 18 but no more than 24 cumulative months, more than 24 but no more than 30 cumulative months, more than 30 but no more than 36 cumulative months, more than 36 but no more than 42 cumulative months, more than 42 but no more than 48 cumulative months, more than 48 but no more than 54 cumulative months, and more than 54 cumulative months.

(4)  For each report, an estimate, for federal fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010, of the average proportion of the monthly TANF‑funded caseload that will include an adult family member who has received TANF‑funded aid, as an adult, 60 or more months in his or her lifetime.

(5)  When such proportion exceeds 20 percent, an assessment, based on an assumption of level funding in future years, of whether general funds will be sufficient in federal fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010, to support aid authorized by this chapter to fund aid for those families in excess of 20 percent while, at the same time, providing aid and services, supported solely by general funds, to other families as authorized by this act.

(6)  When such assessment is that general funds will be insufficient to fund aid for all such families, the modifications in policy, appropriated general funds, or combination thereof that the commissioner recommends to support families receiving aid under this chapter in their achievement of self‑sufficiency and to protect the children in these families.

(e)(c)  Beginning on or before January 15, 2008, and annually thereafter, the commissioner shall report to the house committees on human services and appropriations and senate committees on health and welfare and appropriations on families’ long‑term receipt of aid financial assistance authorized by this chapter.  Such reports shall include:

(1)  the number of families receiving aid financial assistance in the most recent federal fiscal year that included an adult family member who has received TANF‑funded aid financial assistance, as an adult, 60 or more months in his or her lifetime;

(2)  the average proportion of the monthly TANF‑funded caseload during the same fiscal year that such families represent;

(3)  when such proportion exceeds 20 percent, the sufficiency of general funds appropriated to support aid financial assistance authorized by this chapter to fund aid financial assistance for those families in excess of 20 percent while, at the same time, providing aid financial assistance and services, supported solely by general funds, to other families as authorized by this chapter; and

(4)  when appropriated general funds are insufficient to fund aid financial assistance for all such families, the modifications in policy, appropriated general funds, or combination thereof that the commissioner recommends to support families receiving aid financial assistance under this chapter in their achievement of self‑sufficiency and to protect the children in these families.

* * * Reach Ahead * * *

Sec. 18.  33 V.S.A. chapter 12 is added to read:

Chapter 12.  Reach Ahead

Subchapter 1.  Eligibility and Assistance

§ 1201.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Adult” means an individual who:

(A)  is 18 years of age or older, and not a dependent child; or

(B)  is under 18 years of age and:

(i)  is pregnant; or

(ii)  is a parent who is the caretaker for a dependent child.

(2)  “Barrier” means any physical, emotional, or mental condition, any lack of an educational, vocational, or other skill or ability, and any lack of transportation, child care, housing, medical assistance or other services or resources, domestic violence circumstances, caretaker responsibilities, or other conditions or circumstances that prevent an individual from engaging in employment or other work activity.

(3)  “Caretaker” means an individual age 18 or older who is fulfilling a parental role in caring for a dependent child by providing physical care, guidance, and decision‑making related to the child’s health, school, medical care, and discipline.

(4)  “Commissioner” means the commissioner of the department for children and families, or his or her designee.

(5)  “Department” means the department for children and families.

(6)  “Dependent child” means a child who is a resident of this state and:

(A)  is under the age of 18 years; or

(B)  is 18 years of age or older who is a full‑time student in a secondary school, or attending an equivalent level of vocational or technical training, and is reasonably expected to complete the educational program before reaching the age of 19 or is not expected to complete the educational program before reaching age 19 solely due to a documented disability.

(7)  “Eligible family” means a family that meets the requirements in section 1203 of this chapter.

(8)  “Family” means:

(A)  one or more dependent children living with one or both parents or a relative or caretaker of such children; or

(B)  a pregnant individual.

(9)  “Food assistance” means a monthly benefit to supplement the family’s food stamp benefit as determined under section 1204 of this chapter.

(10)  “Living with a relative or caretaker” means living with a caretaker or relative in a residence maintained by the caretaker or one or more relatives at his or her or their home.

(11)  “Parent” means a biological parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, or pregnant individual.

(12)  “Participant” or “participating adult” means an adult member of a participating family.

(13)  “Participating family” means an eligible family that participates in the Reach Ahead program.

(14)  “Reach Ahead services” means the service component of the Reach Ahead program consisting of case management services, support services, and referrals provided to eligible families to assist them in maintaining

self‑sufficiency.

(15)  “Reach First” means the program established under chapter 10 of this title.

(16)  “Reach Up” means the program established under chapter 11 of this title.

(17)  “Relative” means a person related to a dependent child, as defined by the department by rule.

(18)  “Temporary Assistance to Needy Families” or “TANF” means the block grant provided to this state and established in accordance with Part A of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act, as amended, and the regulations promulgated pursuant thereto by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

§ 1202.  Purpose

(a)  The purpose of the Reach Ahead program is:

(1)  To assist families who have become recently employed to maintain employment by providing work supports and incentives to maximize the opportunity of the family to remain employed and not return to Reach Up.

(2)  To provide families with information and referrals to workforce development options in order to ensure financial stability for the family.  

(3)  To support parental responsibility and positive parental role models, both custodial and noncustodial.

(4)  To improve the well‑being of children by providing time‑limited work supports and food assistance to their families.

(5)  To conserve state and public financial resources by operating the system of aid in a manner that is efficient and avoids federal fiscal sanctions.

(6)  To conform to the federal TANF law.

(b)  The critical elements of developing a work support program that assists families to maintain self‑sufficiency are:

(1)  if necessary, individualized case management that addresses each individual’s situation and barriers to self‑sufficiency and assists that family in maintaining employment;

(2)  food assistance and support services of a limited duration to provide work support for the family;

(3)  easy transition to other programs, such as Reach Up or Reach First, if needed to ensure the families well‑being and success to reaching

self‑sufficiency.

§ 1203.  Eligibility

A family shall be eligible for Reach Ahead if the family resides in Vermont and:

(1)  has left Reach Up or the postsecondary education program within the prior six months for unsubsidized employment that meets the work requirements for the Reach Up program for the family’s size and composition and meets the financial eligibility guidelines for the Vermont Health Access Program;

(2)  is receiving food stamps and has unsubsidized employment that meets the work requirements for Reach Up for the family’s size and composition; or

(3)  is an individual under 21, has a child, is ineligible for food stamps solely because the individual resides with the individual’s parent, and has unsubsidized employment that meets the work requirements for Reach Up for the family’s size and composition.

§ 1204.  Food Assistance

(a)  An eligible family shall receive monthly food assistance equal to $100.00 to be applied to the family’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) food account for the first six months after the family has become eligible for Reach Ahead.  For the seventh though 12th months, the family shall receive a monthly food assistance of $50.00.

(b)  Food assistance may be used only to purchase eligible food items as defined in the food stamp federal rules and shall be disregarded as income for the purposes of determining food stamp eligibility and the amount of the food stamp benefits.

(c)  An eligible family shall not be required to assign child support to the department, and all child support received by the family shall be disregarded as income.

§ 1205.  Required services to participating families

The commissioner shall provide participating families Reach Ahead services, case management services if necessary, and referral to any agencies or programs, including workforce development, that provide the services needed by participating families to improve the family’s prospects for employment retention.  Reach Ahead services shall be provided for 12 months.

§ 1206.  Case management; family development plans; coordinated services

The commissioner may provide Reach Ahead services to participating families through a case management model.  If a family needs case management, the commissioner may develop a family development plan as provided for in chapters 10 and 11 of this title.  If a case manager is assigned to the participating family who has been transferred from Reach First or Reach Up, if practicable, the case manager shall be the same case manager the family was assigned previously.

Subchapter 2.  Administrative Provisions

§ 1211.  Recertification

A family’s income and hours of employment and other countable work activities shall be verified every six months to determine continuing eligibility for the program.  To the extent possible for families receiving food stamps, income verification may be done at the same time as the food stamps recertification.

§ 1212.  Transition to other programs

If a family loses unsubsidized employment meeting or exceeding the work requirements for Reach Up for the family’s size and composition and is financially eligible for Reach Up, the family shall be transferred to Reach First or Reach Up without an additional application process, unless the family chooses not to participate.  Verification of income or other documentation may be required as provided for by rule. 

§ 1213.  Notice and Appeal

A participant may appeal decisions in accordance with section 3091 of Title 3.  The commissioner shall provide notice to each participant of the standards and procedures applicable to such appeals.  All federal and agency of human services rules regarding conciliation, notice, hearing, and appeal shall be followed in connection with such appeals.

* * * Financial Assistance Amounts * * *

Sec. 19.  STUDY ON CHILD SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE LEVELS TO CERTAIN FAMILIES

(a)  The department for children and families, economic services division and the office of child support shall analyze whether the state should implement the option for  increasing the amount of child support disregarded for families receiving Reach First and Reach Up allowed under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.  The analysis shall identify the cost to the state of implementing the option, the amount of additional income that would be provided to families, and the effect the additional income to the family would have on the amount or eligibility for any other public assistance or benefits received by the family.

(b)  The division and office shall report to the house committees on human services and appropriations, and the senate committees on health and welfare and appropriations no later than November 30, 2007.

* * * Asset Building * * *

Sec. 20.  ASSET BUILDING; STUDY

The agency of human services shall study how to unify the asset limitations across public assistance programs, including Reach Up, separate state and solely state‑funded programs under chapter 11 of Title 33, general assistance, emergency assistance, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, low income heating assistance program (LIHEAP), food stamps, and any subsidized housing programs with asset limitations, with the purpose of encouraging low income individuals and families to have a modest savings for emergencies, postsecondary education, the purchase of a home, starting a business, or retirement.  The agency shall report on any waivers of federal law available and necessary to allow individuals to build assets without becoming ineligible for public assistance programs.  The report shall be presented to the house committees on appropriations and human services and the senate committees on appropriations and health and welfare no later than December 15, 2007.    

* * * Child Care * * *

Sec. 21.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS; CHILD CARE

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Today’s young children are tomorrow’s Vermont.  Recent science on early child development shows that there is much we can do today to ensure that all Vermont children grow into solid members of our communities tomorrow.  We now know that early experiences build the architecture of a child’s developing brain, and the quality of those experiences establishes either a sturdy or fragile foundation for all development that follows.  Nurturing, responsive, individualized interactions with caring adults are essential to establishing a sturdy foundation.  Child development is community development as well as economic development, as healthy, capable children are the building blocks of a solid and productive society.

(2)  Vermont’s child care industry plays a significant role in Vermont’s economy.

(A)  The total economic impact of the child care industry in Vermont is approximately $426 million annually.  Every dollar spent on child care in Vermont stays in the Vermont economy.

(B)  It is estimated that the child care industry employs approximately 5,000 people in Vermont and contributes to the creation or support of 2,232 indirect jobs.

(3)  Economic conditions in the United States require that both parents in many families work outside the home.  Nationally, 61 percent of married couples with children under six years of age had both parents in the workforce in 2000.  In 2002, 80 percent of Vermont women with children under the age of six were employed outside the home.

(4)  National studies consistently show a high return on public investment in early childhood development.  For example, every $1.00 spent on quality early childhood services saves in later education, criminal justice, welfare, foster care, and other social services costs.  Estimates of savings range from $2.00 to over $7.00 for each $1.00 spent on quality early childhood services.

(5)  National experts recommend that families spend no more than 10 percent of household income on child care in order to ensure that other basic needs are met.

(6)  For a Vermont family of four with two working parents and two preschool‑age children (ages three and four and one‑half), with a median household income of $62,331.00 the cost of child care, using a registered family child care home, equals $13,000.00 and represents 21 percent of the family’s household budget.

(7)  For a single parent earning $13,500.00 a year, with two preschool age children (ages three and four and one‑half), the same cost of child care ($13,000.00) would represent 96 percent of the household budget if there were no state subsidy.  Child care costs after being reduced by the maximum available child care subsidy would still leave a co‑pay of $3,984.00, which equals 29.5 percent of this single parent’s budget.  Among working families who pay for child care, more than 27 percent of low and middle income families spend more than one‑fifth of their earnings on child care.

(8)  Vermont’s child care subsidy program, administered by the department for children and families, provides financial assistance to low and middle income families for purchasing child care.  The financial assistance is in the form of a subsidy paid to approved child care programs on behalf of eligible families.

(9)  Income eligibility guidelines for the child care subsidy program are based on the 1999 federal poverty guidelines and state median income.  This means that families, who are not currently eligible for the program, would be eligible for financial assistance if the eligibility guidelines were based on current federal poverty and state median income standards.

(10)  According to the department for children and families, there is a significant gap between the current state child care subsidy rates and the prevailing market rates for care for all types of care and all age groups.

(A)  A family earning $28,000.00 with a four‑year‑old child in full‑time child care has a shortfall of $130.00–$200.00 each month, even with a subsidy.

(B)  The monthly maximum income levels for a family to be eligible for subsidy assistance are $2,586.00 for a family of three, $3,115.00 for a family of four, $3,645.00 for a family of five, and $4,176.00 for a family of six or more.  These income levels have not increased since 1999.

(C)  If the eligibility guidelines for the subsidy program were set using current federal poverty guidelines and state median income, the monthly maximum income levels for a family to be eligible for subsidy assistance would be $3,850.00 for a family of three, $4,529.00 for a family of four, $5,208.00 for a family of five, and $5,989.00 for a family of six or more.

(D)  The average weekly state child care subsidy rates are $21.40 a week less than the average statewide weekly market rates for registered family home child care and are $20.77 a week less than the statewide average weekly market rates for care at licensed child care centers.  This discrepancy results in co‑payments for families that are receiving the full subsidy benefit, including families eligible for Reach Up.  These co‑payments are cost prohibitive for many families.

(E)  The federal Child Care Bureau has established a standard for states to consider when setting their child care subsidy rates at the 75th percentile of market rates.  The purpose of the standard is to ensure eligible families access to most of the care in a community without prohibitive co‑payments.  The discrepancy between the state’s current weekly subsidy rates compared to the statewide average market rates at the 75th percentile is even greater.  The average weekly state subsidy rates are $32.66 a week less than the statewide average weekly market rate at the 75th percentile for registered family home child care and $31.07 a week less than the statewide average weekly market rate at the 75th percentile for licensed child care centers.  While there have been small incremental increases in funding for the child care subsidy program to increase rates by one‑two percent a year for the past four years, it has not been sufficient to establish the state subsidy rates at a level that ensures access to care for eligible families.

(11)  Recent increases in the federal temporary aid to needy families (TANF) work requirements without concomitant federal resources are putting additional pressures on the state’s child care subsidy program.

(12)  As a result:

(A)  working families who need help paying for child care are not eligible for assistance or get far less than they would be eligible for if the income guidelines were updated.  As a result, the ability of some parents to enter the workforce or to select quality, state‑regulated care for their children is undermined;

(B)  child care providers are more and more reluctant to accept children on subsidy because the subsidy rates lag so far behind market rates; and

(C)  families who have to make up the difference between what the state pays and what providers charge often fall behind in co‑pays.  This results in providers having to absorb losses until they can no longer afford to do so, at which point children end up with disruptions in care while parents struggle to find lower cost care or are forced to stop working.

Sec. 22.  CHILD CARE REPORT

(a)  No later than November 1, 2007, the department for children and families shall report to the house committees on human services and on appropriations and the senate committees on health and welfare and on appropriations with an estimate of the funding needed to bring income eligibility guidelines to current levels; an estimate of the funding needed to bring Vermont into compliance with federal guidelines, suggesting that subsidies should be at least 75 percent of the market rate; an assessment of the positive and negative outcomes from modifying the current statewide subsidy rate to differential rates based on the market rate for the area; and an analysis of possible inflation factors with a recommendation on which factors to use once target funding levels have been met.

(b)  No later than November 1, 2007, the legislative council and joint fiscal office shall provide a summary of innovative ideas from other states for funding investments in quality child care and of any available cost‑benefit analyses of such investments.

Sec. 23.  33 V.S.A. § 3512(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The subsidy authorized by this section shall be on a sliding scale basis. The scale shall be established by the commissioner, by rule, and shall bear a reasonable relationship to income and family size.  The lower limit of the fee scale shall include families whose gross income is up to and including 100 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.  The upper income limit of the fee scale shall be neither less than 80 82.5 percent nor more than 100 percent of the state median income, adjusted for the size of the family.  The scale shall be structured so that it encourages employment.

* * * Technical Provisions * * *

Sec. 24.  RULES

The department for children and families are authorized to adopt rules necessary to implement the provisions of this act.

Sec. 25.  IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

(a)  The department for children and families shall develop a three‑year implementation plan with the goal of establishing Reach First on April 1, 2008, establishing Reach Ahead for families who leave Reach Up as provided for in 33 V.S.A. § 1203(3) on April 1, 2009, and establishing Reach Ahead for all other families as provided for in 33 V.S.A. § 1203 no later than July 1, 2009.

(b)  The plan shall include the estimated amount of appropriations necessary to fund the programs established under this act; an assessment of the information technology requirements and modifications necessary to implement the provisions of this act, including the costs; the operational issues and a time frame for the necessary information technology and other solutions; and target dates for adopting rules or rule modifications necessary to implement the changes in this act.  The plan shall make recommendations where applicable for additional resources and describe the consequences of not providing additional funding to enable the successful implementation of the provisions of this act.

(c)  The plan shall be submitted to the house committees on appropriations and human services, the senate committees on appropriations and health and welfare, and the joint fiscal committee no later than September 15, 2007.  

Sec. 26.  EFFECTIVE DATES; IMPLEMENTATION

(a)  This act shall take effect upon passage for the purposes of adopting rules and rule modifications.

(b)  The amendments to 33 V.S.A. chapter 11 contained in Secs. 2‑13 (Reach Up), 14 (solely state‑funded programs), and 16 (Reach Up Transitions) of this act shall take effect immediately when the rule changes necessary to implement the sections become final, but no later than April 1, 2008.  Until the time that the rule modifications are final, the Reach Up program shall operate under current law.  Any provisions in these sections relating to Reach Ahead shall take effect on April 1, 2009.

(c)(1)  The modifications to the postsecondary education program in Sec. 15 of this act, shall take effect when the rules become final, but no later than April 1, 2008Beginning with the postsecondary education participants for the fall 2007 semester, the department may provide participants with financial assistance in lieu of a stipend, using the rules applicable to calculating financial assistance in the Reach Up program. 

(2)  Participants receiving stipends under the postsecondary education program shall be notified of program changes, including the modified calculation of the financial assistance amount.  The calculation change shall be implemented for that participant after adequate notice and on the anniversary of the date the participant commenced the program.

(3)  Participants receiving a stipend on April 1, 2007 who are continuing in the postsecondary education program shall have the financial assistance amount calculated in the same manner as Reach Up financial assistance, unless there is a reduction in benefits based solely on changing from a stipend to a monthly assistance amount.  Current participants whose financial assistance would be reduced solely due to the change from a stipend to a monthly assistance amount shall be held harmless and shall receive financial assistance at the previous level.  

(d)  Reach First established in Sec. 1 of this act shall be implemented no later than April 1, 2008.  Reach Ahead established in Sec. 18 shall be implemented for families who leave Reach Up as provided for in 33 V.S.A. § 1203(3) no later than April 1, 2009.  Reach Ahead shall be implemented for all other families as provided for in 33 V.S.A. § 1203 no later than July 1, 2009.

(e)  Secs. 19 (child support study), 20 (assets study), 21 and 22 (child care report), 23 (child care technical change), 24 (rules), 25 (implementation plan), and 26 (effective dates) shall take effect upon passage.

(For text see House Journal April 12, 2007 – P. 601-602)

Senate Proposal of Amendment to House Proposal of Amendment

S. 78

     An act relating to having the cost of picking up and hauling milk paid by the purchaser.

     The Senate has concurred in the House proposal of amendment with further amendment by striking out Sec. 5 and by adding new Secs. 5, 6, and 7 to read as follows:

Sec. 5.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

(1)  6 V.S.A. § 2676 dictates that the ownership of milk passes from the farmer to the buyer when the milk is transferred from a farm tank to a tank truck.

(2)  Historically the conventional dairy farmer has sold the milk from the farm wholesale, purchased necessary supplies retail, and paid shipping charges on everything.

(3)  The 2005 average price for class III milk used to make cheese was $11.88, the exact same price paid in 1980.

(4)  The impact of this legislation will likely transfer an estimated cost of $14,466,000.00 from dairy producers to processors and retailers, allowing the dairy producer to keep an additional $0.60 per hundredweight of milk production.

Sec. 6.  VERMONT MILK COMMISSION ESTABLISHMENT OF A

MINIMUM PRODUCER PRICE

The Vermont milk commission shall establish by emergency rule pursuant to its authority under chapter 161 of Title 6 a minimum producer price that ensures the cost of picking up the milk and hauling the milk from the farm to the purchaser will be paid by the purchaser.  Hauling and stop charges of milk loaded at the farm shall not be charged back to the selling dairy farmer.  No additional charges shall be made, no costs may be shifted from other benefits the farmer receives to contravene the purpose of this act.  Nor shall any funds be transferred away from the farmer in paid producer differentials or any premiums the farmer would receive, but for this act.

Sec. 7.  EFFECTIVE DATE; RULE; EMERGENCY RULE

(a)  This act shall take effect on passage.

(b)  The milk commission shall commence the rulemaking process necessary to implement the provisions of Sec. 3 of this act within 60 days of the effective date. The rule required shall take effect only if, by rule or legislation, New York and Pennsylvania have enacted substantially comparable provisions for their dairy farmers.

(c)  The milk commission shall adopt within 60 days of the effective date of this act an emergency rule to implement the provisions of Sec. 6 of this act. The emergency rule shall take effect when, by rule, legislation, or other agreement, two other states in Northeast Marketing Area, Federal Order 1, have accomplished the purpose of this act or on January 1, 2009, whichever comes first.

(d)  The milk commission shall report the progress being made on implementing this act to the house and senate committees on agriculture on or before November 1, 2007.

and that upon passage, the title shall read: “AN ACT RELATING TO THE VERMONT MILK COMMISSION ESTABLISHING AN OVER ORDER PREMIUM AND A MINIMUM PRODUCER PRICE”

(For text see House Journal April 20, 2007 – P. 665 )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us