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House Calendar

THURSDAY, MAY 3,2007

121st DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

House Convenes at 9:30  A  M

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                               Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

     Third Reading

H. 546  Compensation and Retirement Benefits Certain Employees............... 1467

S. 143  Racing Fuel Containing MTBE or Other Gasoline Ethers................... 1467

Favorable with Amendment

S. 115  Transparency of Prescription Drug Pricing and Information............... 1467                                Rep. Copeland-Hanzas for Health Care

               Sharpe for Ways and Means.......................................................... 1487      

               Rep. Larson for Appropriations..................................................... 1487

               Rep. Hube Amendment................................................................. 1488

Favorable

J.R.H. 26  Urging Congress to Enact H. R. 676 Nat’l Ins. Act..................... 1489

               Rep. O’Donnell for Health Care

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H. 523  Moving Families out of Poverty....................................................... 1489

S.   78  Cost of Picking Up and Hauling Milk Paid by Purchaser................... 1541

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Amendment

S. 194  Firefighters and Cancer Caused by Employment............................... 1542

          Rep. Trombley for General, Housing and Military Affairs

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H.  99  Legislative Interim Committee on Public Libraries.............................. 1545

H. 294  Relating to Executive Branch Fees................................................... 1546

 

H. 449  Foster Care Services and Supports................................................. 1554

H. 520  Generation of Electricity by Use of Renewable Resources................ 1556

H. 531  Ensuring Success in Health Care Reforms........................................ 1602

H. 534  Relating to Prekindergarten Education.............................................. 1618

Report Committee of Conference

S.   37  Relating to Mosquito Control........................................................... 1621

CONSENT CALENDAR

(See Addendum to House and Senate Calendar)

H.C.R. 125  Congratulating Liz Stephen Competitive Nordic Skier.............. 1622

H.C.R. 126  In Memory of Former Representative J. Russell Carpenter....... 1622

H.C.R. 127  Congratulating Nursing Staff SVMC as  Magnet® Hospital...... 1622

H.C.R. 128  75th Anniversary of Green Mountain National Forest............... 1622

H.C.R. 129  Honoring State Employees / Public Recognition Week............. 1622

H.C.R. 130  Honoring VT Adaptive Ski and Sports Athletes Ski Team........ 1623

H.C.R. 131  Congratulating VT Business Roundtable / 20th Anniversary...... 1623

H.C.R. 132  Honoring Dan Collins  for 40 Years Public Service................... 1623

H.C.R. 133  Honoring Northfield Fire chief William C. Lyon........................ 1623

H.C.R. 134  Honoring Sandra Kingsley’s 32 Year Career at Norwich......... 1623

H.C.R. 135  Community HS of VT Earning Accreditation from NEASC...... 1623

H.C.R. 136  Congratulating Collin Bigras All-American Trapshooting........... 1623

H.C.R. 137  Honoring Foster Parents During Foster Parents Month............. 1623

H.C.R. 138  Congratulating Thomas Secoy VT Arbor Day Poster............... 1623

H.C.R. 139  Commemorating 25th Anniversary Vietnam Vets Memorial...... 1623

H.C.R. 140  Welcoming FISA’s  2007 International Rowing Tour .............. 1623

H.C.R. 141  Congratulating Route 100 Byway Committee........................... 1623

S.C.R.   22  Commending State House Cafeteria Mgmt and Staff................. 1623


 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

     Third Reading

H. 546

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

S. 143

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

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)

Amendment to proposal of amendment to be offered by Rep. Hube of Londonderry to S. 115

     Moves the amend the proposal of amendment in Sec. 24a (b) by striking the following: “$300,000.00” and by inserting in lieu thereof the amount of “$200,000.00”, and by adding a new subsection (d) to read:

(d) The sum of $100,000.00 is appropriated to the department of health for advertising and outreach with the following objectives:

(1)  to increase the number of Vermonters enrolled in the I-Save Rx program from 302 enrolled over the past two years to 2,500 enrolled over the next two years;

(2)  to increase the number of orders placed by Vermonters through the I-Save Rx program from 809 over the last two years to a minimum of 7,500 over the next two years;

(3) to increase the savings achieved by Vermonters through the program to at least one-half of the savings estimated when the general assembly elected to join the state of Illinois-sponsored program two years ago.

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

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. 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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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 )

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Amendment

S. 194

An act relating to firefighters and cancer caused by employment.

Rep. Trombley of Grand Isle, for the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, 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.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS

The general assembly finds the following:

(1)  In the course of fighting fires, firefighters are frequently exposed to many different products of combustion, diesel smoke, hydrocarbons, cyanides, plastics, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), benzene, chloroform, soot, styrene, and formaldehyde, all of which are known carcinogens.  Firefighters may also be exposed to heavy metals, carcinogenic chemicals, volatile gases, minerals, and other substances with acute toxic effects.

(2)  Scientific studies performed both nationally and internationally have recognized that firefighters have significantly greater incidents of certain cancers than the general population.

(3)  Gathering and establishing evidence of work-related causation for such cancers is difficult and costly and requires significant expert testimony.

(4)  Approximately 28 states and the provinces of Canada have adopted legislation creating a presumption that certain cancers suffered by eligible firefighters are caused by exposure during their employment as firefighters.  Vermont adopts this rebuttable presumption to protect the safety and well-being of its firefighters.

(5)  The Vermont league of cities and towns (VCLT) in its March 23, 2007 report hypothesized that this act would result in a significant increase in workers’ compensation premium for firefighters.  A subsequent economic analysis questioned the VLCT’s projected premium rate increase because it failed to take into consideration the five conditions precedent before a firefighter may take advantage of the rebuttable presumption.  Further, the medical data used was outdated; was for only one year, rather than the average of several years; and used cost figures for all members regardless of age or types of cancer rather then the median cost of treating adult males with the limited number of cancers identified in this act.

(6)  The VLCT analysis relied on birth-to-death probability statistics from the National Cancer Institute and did not acknowledge that men 70 years of age or older in the general population are three times more likely than men between the ages of 60 and 69 to contract cancer.  This is significant because Vermont firefighters over the age of 65 cannot take advantage of the rebuttable presumption created by this act.

(7)  The increased cancer risks for firefighters should motivate the VLCT and its member municipalities to develop and improve safe firefighting practices, including the purchase and use of improved protective equipment, which will reduce the frequency and extent of firefighters’ exposure to carcinogenic materials, thereby reducing the incidents of cancer for Vermont’s firefighters.

(8)  Any firefighter seeking to avail himself or herself of the rebuttable presumption created by this act will necessarily be required to live a healthier lifestyle, thereby reducing the overall cost of health care in Vermont, regardless of whether these costs are paid by a private health insurer, the VLCT health insurance trust, or workers’ compensation insurance carriers.

Sec. 2.  21 V.S.A. § 601(11)(E), (F), and (G) are added to read:

(E)  In the case of a firefighter, as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 3151(3) and (4), who suffers death or disability from a cancer listed in subdivision (iv) of this subdivision (11 E), the firefighter shall be presumed to have suffered the cancer as a result of exposure to conditions in the line of duty, unless it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the cancer was caused by non‑service‑connected risk factors or non‑service‑connected exposure, provided:

(i)  The firefighter completed an initial and any subsequent cancer screening evaluations as recommended by the American Cancer Society based on the age and sex of the firefighter prior to becoming a firefighter or within two years of the effective date of this act, and the evaluation indicated no evidence of cancer.

(ii)  The firefighter was engaged in firefighting duties or other hazardous activities over a period of at least five years in Vermont prior to the diagnosis.

(iii)  The presumption shall not apply to any firefighter who has used tobacco products at any time within ten years of the date of diagnosis.

(iv)  The disabling cancer shall be limited to leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma, and cancers originating in the bladder, brain, colon, gastrointestinal tract, kidney, liver, pancreas, skin, or testicles.

(v)  The firefighter is under the age of 65.

(F)  A firefighter who is diagnosed with cancer within ten years of the last active date of employment as a firefighter shall be eligible for benefits under this subdivision.  The date of injury shall be the date of the last injurious exposure as a firefighter. 

(G)  It is recommended that fire departments maintain incident report records for at least ten years.

(Committee vote: 8-0-0)

(For text see Senate Journal April 4, 2007 – P. 370 )

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H. 99

     An act relating to legislative interim study committee on public libraries.

     The Senate proposes to the House to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE STAFF STUDY OF LIBRARIES IN OTHER STATES 

(a)  The joint fiscal office (JFO) and the legislative council (LC) shall identify other states that are comparable to Vermont in terms of population or population density.  Once identified, the JFO and LC, in consultation with the Vermont department of libraries and the Vermont library association, shall examine those states regarding:

(1)  The number of public libraries per capita. 

(2)  The funding mechanisms for libraries.

(3)  The governance structures of libraries. 

(4)  The services provided to libraries from the state library.

(b)  After acquiring information regarding libraries in states of comparable population, the JFO and LC shall:

(1)  Determine the number of public libraries operating in Vermont.

(2)  Examine the demand for the services provided by  public libraries , including circulation of materials, use of electronic resources, prevalence of literacy programs, and interlibrary loan transactions,.

(3)  Examine the current and potential involvement of public libraries in providing adult education.

(4)  Explore the current and potential role of public libraries in connection with workforce training and development.

(5)  Compare the level of state funding provided to public libraries in Vermont to state funding provided to public libraries in states of similar population.

(6)  Identify the additional funding that will be required to meet the growing demand for services from public libraries in Vermont and maintain the quality of their operations.

(7)  Identify those libraries in the state at which existing toilet facilities are not accessible and determine the total cost of making necessary accessibility improvements to them.

(8)  Identify the number of incorporated libraries in the state that do not have the ability to install toilet facilities; explore the implications of providing them with exemptions to existing law to enable installation; and make recommendations to facilitate a solution.

(c)  The JFO and LC shall submit a report detailing the results of their study to the general assembly by January 15, 2008.

(For text see House Journal March 23, 2007 – P. 409-411; March 27 – P. 428)

H. 294

     An act relating to executive branch fees.

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

* * * Department of Health * * *

      First:  By adding two new sections to be numbered Secs. 11a and 11b to read as follows:

Sec. 11a.  18 V.S.A. § 1752(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The commissioner shall certify risk assessors, designers, laboratories, inspectors, lead-safe renovation contractors, lead contractors, supervisors, abatement workers, and other persons engaged in lead-based paint activities when such persons have successfully completed an accredited training program and met such other requirements as the secretary may, by rule, impose.

Sec. 11b.  18 V.S.A. § 1753 is amended to read:

§ 1753.  ACCREDITATION AND LICENSE FEES

(a)  The commissioner shall assess fees for accrediting training programs and for certifications, licenses, and license renewals issued in accordance with this chapter.  Fees shall not be imposed on any state or local government or nonprofit training program and may be waived for the purpose of training state employees.

(b)  Each accredited training program and licensee shall be subject to the following fees:

Training courses                          $400.00 $480.00 per year

Lead contractors                                     $500.00 $600.00 per year

Lead workers                                         $ 50.00 $60.00 per year

Supervisors                                             $100.00 $120.00 per year

Inspectors                                               $150.00 $180.00 per year

Risk assessors                                         $150.00 $180.00 per year

Designers                                                $150.00 $180.00 per year

Laboratories                                           $500.00 $600.00 per year

Lead-safe renovation contractors $50.00 per year

(c)  Each lead abatement permitted project shall be subject to the following fees:

(1)  Lead abatement permit fee                $50.00

(2)  Lead abatement permit revision         $25.00

(d)  Fees imposed by this section shall be deposited into the lead paint abatement accreditation and licensing special fund.  Monies in the fund may be used by the commissioner only to support departmental accreditation, certification, and licensing activities related to this chapter.  The fund shall be subject to the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32.

* * * Department of Labor * * *

      Second:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 22a to read as follows:

Sec. 22a.  33 V.S.A. § 504(a)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  Federally funded vocational rehabilitation and independent living services for persons with disabilities in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act.  The division of vocational rehabilitation may contract with clients at up to $51.00 per year per employee, or may charge up to $70.00 per hour, for services rendered by the employee assistance program.  The division shall charge $160.00 for each injured worker screening defined in the department of labor rules.  Fees shall be retained by the division.

* * *BISHCA* * *

      Third:  By striking out Sec. 23 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 23 to read as follows:

Sec. 23.  9 V.S.A. § 5302 is amended to read:

§ 5302.  NOTICE FILING

(a)  With respect to a federal covered security, as defined in 15 U.S.C. § 77r(b)(2), that is not otherwise exempt under sections 5201 through 5203 of this chapter, a rule adopted or an order issued under this chapter may require the filing of any or all of the following records:

(1)  before the initial offer of a federal covered security in this state, all records that are part of a federal registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under 15 U.S.C. § 77a et seq. and a consent to service of process complying with section 5611 of this chapter signed by the issuer and the payment of a registration fee as set forth in subsection (d)(e) of this section;

(2)  after the initial offer of the federal covered security in this state, all records that are part of an amendment to a federal registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under 15 U.S.C. § 77a et seq.; and

(3)  to the extent necessary or appropriate to compute fees, a report of the value of the federal covered securities sold or offered to persons present in this state in such form and at such time as the commissioner may prescribe if the state‑specific sales data are not included and available in records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

(b)  A notice filing under subsection (a) of this section is effective for one year from the date the notice filing is accepted as complete by the office of the commissioner.  On or before expiration, the issuer may renew a notice filing by filing a copy of those records filed by the issuer with the Securities and Exchange Commission that are required by rule or order under this chapter to be filed and by paying an annual renewal fee as set forth in subsection (d)(e) of this section.  A previously filed consent to service of process complying with section 5611 of this chapter may be incorporated by reference in a renewal.  A renewed notice filing becomes effective upon the expiration of the filing being renewed.

(c)  With respect to a security that is a federal covered security under 15 U.S.C. § 77r(b)(4)(D), a rule under this chapter may require a notice filing by or on behalf of an issuer to include a copy of Form D, including the Appendix, as promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and a consent to service of process complying with section 5611 of this chapter signed by the issuer not later than 15 days after the first sale of the federal covered security in this state and the payment of a fee as set forth in subsection (d)(e) of this section.

(d)  Subject to the provisions of 15 U.S.C. § 77r(c)(2) and any rules adopted thereunder, with respect to any security that is a federal covered security under 15 U.S.C. § 77r(b)(3) or (4)(A)–(C) and that is not otherwise exempt under sections 5201–5203 of this chapter, a rule adopted or order issued under this chapter may require any or all of the following with respect to such federal covered securities, at such time as the commissioner may deem appropriate:

(1)  the filing of documents as deemed appropriate by the commissioner;

(2)  the filing of a consent to service of process complying with section 5611 of this chapter; and

(3)  the payment of fees as set forth in subsection (e) of this section, including but not limited to fees for renewal of a notice filing, as appropriate.  The notice filing shall be effective for one year from the date the notice filing is accepted as complete by the office of the commissioner.   

(e)  At the time of the filing of the information prescribed in subsections (a), (b), or (c), or (d) of this section, the issuer shall pay to the commissioner a fee of $1.00 for each $1,000.00 of the aggregate amount of the offering of the securities to be sold in this state for which the issuer is seeking to perfect a notice filing under this section, but in no case shall such fee be less than $400.00 nor more than $1,250.00.  If the notice filing is withdrawn or otherwise terminated, the commissioner shall retain the fee paid.  Open‑end investment companies subject to 15 U.S.C. § 80a‑1 et seq. shall pay an initial notice filing fee and annual renewal fee for each portfolio or class of investment company securities for which a notice filing is submitted. 

(e)(f)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the notice filing or payment of notice filing fees with respect to variable annuities or variable life insurance products.

(f)(g)  Except with respect to a federal covered security under 15 U.S.C.

§ 77r(b)(1), if the commissioner finds that there is a failure to comply with a notice or fee requirement of this section, the commissioner may issue a stop order suspending the offer and sale of a federal covered security in this state.  If the deficiency is corrected, the stop order is void as of the time of its issuance and no penalty may be imposed by the commissioner.

      Fourth:  In Sec. 26 by striking out all after the first sentence and inserting in lieu thereof: “The tuition shall be $175.00.” and by adding a new Sec. 26a to read as follows:

Sec. 26a.  10 V.S.A. §4132(e) is amended to read:

(e) The commissioner, subject to the direction and approval of the secretary, shall adopt and publish regulations in the name of the agency for reasonable fees or charges for the use of the lands, roads, buildings, and other property, and the use of a tuition for the Green Mountain Conservation Camps, notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 603. Fees collected for the use of fish and wildlife lands and properties shall be deposited in the fish and wildlife fund.

* * * DEC * * *

      Fifth:  By striking out Secs. 30a and 30b in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new section to be numbered Sec. 30a to read as follows:

Sec. 30a. 3 V.S.A. § 2822(i) is amended to read:

(i)  The secretary shall not process an application for which the applicable fee has not been paid unless the secretary specifies that the fee may be paid at a different time or unless the person applying for the permit is exempt from the permit fee requirements pursuant to section 710 of Title 32.  In addition, the persons who are exempt under section 710 of Title 32 are also exempt from the application fees for stormwater operating permits specified in subdivisions (j)(2)(A)(iii)(I) and (II) of this section if they otherwise meet the requirements of section 710.  Municipalities shall be exempt from the payment of fees under this section except for those fees prescribed in subdivisions (j)(1), (2), (7), (8), (14), and (15) of this section for which a municipality may recover its costs by charging a user fee to those who use the permitted services, except that a municipality shall also be exempt from those fees for orphan stormwater systems prescribed in subdivision (j)(2)(A)(iii) of this section when the municipality agrees to become an applicant or co-applicant for an orphan stormwater system under section 1246c of title 10.  Applicants operating under SIC codes 2411, 2421, 2426, and 2429 shall be exempt from administrative processing fees pursuant to subdivision  (j)(2) of this section and application review fees pursuant to subdivision  (j)(2)(A)(iii)(IV) of this section.

* * * Vermont Criminal Information Center * * *

      Sixth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33b to read as follows:

Sec. 33b.  20 V.S.A. § 2063 is amended to read:

§ 2063.  CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD FEES; CRIMINAL HISTORY   RECORD CHECK FUND

* * *

(b)  Requests made by criminal justice agencies for criminal justice purposes or other purposes authorized by state or federal law shall be exempt from all record check fees.  The following types of requests shall be exempt from the Vermont criminal record check fee:

* * *

(4)  Requests made by the Vermont state housing authority and other public housing authorities pursuant to 24 V.S.A § 4010(c).

* * *

* * * Agency of Transportation * * *

      Seventh:  By adding two new sections to be numbered Secs. 33c and 33d to read as follows:

Sec. 33c.  23 V.S.A. § 3502(b) is amended to read:

(b)  An all-terrain vehicle registration shall become void two years from the first day of the month following the month of issue  The provisions of section 305 of this title shall apply to a registration, except the registration of a vehicle registered under subsection 3504(b) of this title shall become void on the last day of February next following the date of issue.  The provisions of section 305 of this title shall apply to a registration.

Sec. 33d.  23 V.S.A. § 3504(a) is amended to read:

§ 3504.  REGISTRATION FEES AND PLATES

(a)  The registration fee for all-terrain vehicles other than as provided for in subsection (b) of this section is $35.00 $25.00.  Duplicate registration certificates may be obtained upon payment of $5.00 to the department.

* * * Department of Corrections * * *

      Eighth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33e to read as follows:

Sec. 33e.  28 V.S.A. § 102(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The commissioner is charged with the following responsibilities:

* * *

(21)  The commissioner is authorized to contract for payment processing services for receiving deposits to inmate financial accounts.  The department, directly or through a processing agent, may assess a fee for deposits to each account so long as the fee does not exceed the costs incurred.

* * * Town Clerk Fees * * *

      Ninth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33f to read as follows:

Sec. 33f.  32 V.S.A. § 1712(5) is amended to read:

(5)  $9.50 for each certified copy of birth, death, civil union, or marriage certificate Fees for vital records shall be equivalent to those received by the commissioner of health or the commissioner of buildings and general services pursuant to subsection 1715(a) of this title.

* * * Judiciary * * *

Tenth:  By adding three new sections to be numbered Secs. 33g, 33h and 33i to read as follows:

Sec. 33g.  4 V.S.A. § 1105(b) is amended to read:

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

Sec. 33h.  4 V.S.A. § 1109(b) is added to read:

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

Sec. 33i.  DEBT COLLECTION BY JUDICIARY

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

Eleventh:  By adding a new Sec. 33j to read as follows:

Sec. 33j.  SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE LICENSE PLATES

(a)  Legislative intent.  The general assembly intends this section to allow the design, purchase, sale, and display of specialty motor vehicle license plates commemorating an organization or special interest.

(b)  Authority.  Organizations are authorized to design, produce, purchase, distribute, and sell commemorative motor vehicle plates as described in subsection (a) of this section.  Plates shall not be produced, sold, distributed, or displayed unless approved by the commissioner of the department of motor vehicles.  An organization applying for a special plate under this subsection shall present the commissioner with a name and emblem that is not obscene, offensive, or confusing to the general public and does not promote, advertise, or endorse a product, brand, or service provided for sale, or promote any specific religious belief or political party.  The organization's name and emblem must not infringe or violate trademarks, trade names, service marks, copyrights, or other proprietary or property rights, and the organization must have the right to use the name and emblem.  An organization may have only one design, regardless of the number of individual organizational units within the state.   Requests which are received during the course of the calendar year will be approved for distribution in the following calendar year.

(c)  Fee.  Pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 603, the commissioner may set and charge a fee to each organization applying for a specialty plate under subsection (b) of this section.  

(d)  Use.  Residents of the state of Vermont may display one approved commemorative plate on the front of any registered motor vehicle.  The commemorative plates shall not replace regular registration plates, nor are they required to be displayed on a motor vehicle.  The commemorative plate may be displayed on a motor vehicle registered as a pleasure car or a motor truck registered for less than 26,001 pounds, excluding vehicles registered under the International Registration Plan by covering the front registration plate with the commemorative plate for the period January 1 of the year issued through December 31 of the following year.  The regular front registration plate shall not be removed.  The rear registration plate shall be in place and clearly visible at all times. 

(e)  Price.  The retail price shall be established by the issuing organization.

TwelfthBy adding a new Sec. 33k to read as follows:

Sec. 33k.  28 V.S.A. § 801 is amended to read:

§ 801.  MEDICAL CARE OF INMATES

* * *

(d)  The department is authorized to deduct a fee of up to $5.00 from inmate accounts for each request for sick call by an inmate.  This fee shall not be imposed for scheduled medical interventions or follow-ups.  The department shall establish a sliding scale for indigent inmates based on the balance in their accounts.  The fee shall be deposited in a special fund administered pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, to be used only for costs related to providing medical services.

(e)  Before enacting a fee system pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, the department shall, in consultation with the department of health, review alternative strategies for distinguishing between inmates inappropriately using the department’s healthcare system and those with legitimate healthcare needs.

(f)  The department shall establish and maintain policies for the delivery of health care in accordance with the above standards in this section.

Thirteenth:  By adding a new Sec. 33l to read as follows:

Sec. 33l.  32 V.S.A. § 1671(a)(6) is amended to read:

(6)  For Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, for the recording or filing, or both, of any document that is to become a matter of public record in the town clerk's office, or for any certified copy of such document, a fee of $7.00 $8.00 per page shall be charged;

      Fourteenth:  By striking out Sec. 34 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 34 to read as follows:

Sec. 34.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  This section and Secs. 1, 9, 22a, 23, 24, 25, and 33e shall take effect on passage.

(b)  Secs. 26, 27, 28, and 29 shall take effect on January 1, 2008.

(For text see House Journal February 16, 2007 – P. 207)

H. 449

     An act relating to foster care services and supports.

     The Senate proposes to the House to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  33 V.S.A. § 4901 is amended to read:

§ 4901.  STATEMENT OF PURPOSES

The department may cooperate with the appropriate federal agency for the purpose of establishing, extending, and strengthening services which supplement or substitute for parental care and supervision including:

(1)  Preventing, remedying, or assisting in the solution of problems which may result in neglect, abuse, exploitation, or delinquency of children.

(2)  Protecting and caring for homeless, dependent or neglected children.

(3)  Protecting and promoting the welfare of children of working parents.

(4) Otherwise protecting and promoting the welfare of children, including the strengthening of their homes where possible or, where needed, providing adequate care away from their homes in child-care facilities.

(5)  Assisting youth in a successful transition to an independent adulthood, including the avoidance of homelessness, incarceration, and substance abuse.

Sec. 2.  33 V.S.A. § 4904 is added to read:

§ 4904.  FOSTER CARE; TRANSITIONAL YOUTH SERVICES

(a)  For purposes of this section, “youth” means a person between 18 and 22 years of age who either:

(1)  attained his or her 18th birthday while in the custody of the commissioner for children and families; or

(2)  while he or she was between 10 and 18 years of age, spent at least five of those years in the custody of the commissioner for children and families.

(b)(1)  The department shall provide foster care services as described in subsection (c) of this section to:

(A) any youth who elects to continue receiving such services after attaining the age of 18.

(B)  any individual under the age of 22 who leaves state custody after the age of 16 and at or before the age of 18 or any youth provided he or she voluntarily requests additional support services.

(2)  The department shall require a youth receiving services under this section to be employed or to attend an educational or vocational program, and, if the youth is working, require that he or she contribute to the cost of services based on a sliding scale, unless the youth meets the criteria for an exception to the employment and educational or vocational program requirements of this section based on a disability or other good cause.  The department shall establish rules for the requirements and exceptions under this subdivision.

(c)  The commissioner shall establish by rule a program to provide a range of age-appropriate services for youth to ensure a successful transition to adulthood, including foster care and other services provided under this chapter to children as appropriate, housing assistance, transportation, case management services, assistance with obtaining and retaining health insurance or employment, and other services.

(d)  The commissioner shall establish a method for measuring, evaluating, and reporting the outcomes of transitional services provided under this section to the house committee on human services and the senate committee on health and welfare annually on January 15.

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

(For text see House Journal March 27, 2007 – P. 423-427; March 28 – P. 431)

H. 520

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

     The Senate proposes to the House to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  DESIGNATION OF ACT

This act shall be referred to as “Vermont’s sustainable future: efficiency and energy act.”

Sec. 2.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Global climate change, which is threatening our environment and perhaps ultimately our existence, has been caused in part by an energy policy that is largely dependent on the burning of fossil fuels.

(2)  In order to slow or stop climate change, it is essential that we reduce or eliminate our dependency on fossil fuels by significantly improving energy efficiency and shifting to nonpolluting benign forms of energy such as wind, sun, and water power.

(3)  In order for Vermont to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals set by the conference of the New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers’ climate change action plan, Vermont needs to provide effective weatherization services, energy audits, green building practices, and installation of renewable energy systems.

(4)  The “Vermont energy efficiency potential study for non-regulated fuels” recently completed by the department of public service indicates that Vermont has cost-effective potential energy savings of $486 million over the next ten years with 63 percent of those savings from building shell improvements.  In order to meet these savings goals, a ten-fold expansion of capabilities to deliver services to as many as 10,000 buildings a year is essential to meet these savings goals.

(5)  Workforce development in the field of green building, renewable energy, and energy efficiency an essential component of the battle to combat global climate change, has not kept pace with the growth of this industry.  New business are being created, innovated energy systems are being designed and manufactured, but there are few trained applicants to fill the new well-paying jobs being created in this field.

(6)  Next generation report stated that Vermont must implement strategies to expand its skilled workforce and approach the future by integrating economic development, workforce development, and education policies.

* * * Renewable Energy Goal * * *

Sec. 3.  10 V.S.A. § 579 is added to read:

§ 579.  25 BY 25 STATE GOAL

(a)  It is a goal of the state, by the year 2025, to produce 25 percent of the energy consumed within the state through the use of renewable energy sources, particularly from Vermont’s farms and forests.

(b)  By no later than January 15, 2008, the commissioner of public service, in consultation with the secretary of agriculture, food and markets and the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation, shall present to the committees on agriculture and natural resources and energy of the general assembly a plan for attaining this goal.  Plan updates shall be presented no less frequently than every three years, thereafter, and a progress report shall be due annually on January 15.

(c)  By no later than January 15, 2008, the department of public service shall present to the legislative committees on natural resources and energy an updated comprehensive energy plan which shall give due consideration to the public engagement process required under 30 V.S.A. § 254 and under Sec. 2 of No. 208 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006).  By that time, the department of public service shall incorporate plans adopted under this section into the state comprehensive energy plan adopted under 30 V.S.A. § 202b.

* * * Act 250 Definition of Farming * * *

Sec. 4.  10 V.S.A. § 6001(22) is amended to read:

(22)  “Farming” means:

(A)  the cultivation or other use of land for growing food, fiber, Christmas trees, maple sap, or horticultural and orchard crops; or

(B)  the raising, feeding, or management of livestock, poultry, fish, or bees; or

(C)  the operation of greenhouses; or

(D)  the production of maple syrup; or

(E)  the on‑site storage, preparation and sale of agricultural products principally produced on the farm; or

(F)  the on‑site production and sale of fuel or power from agricultural products or wastes principally produced on the farm; or

(G)  the raising, feeding, or management of four or more equines owned or boarded by the farmer, including training, showing, and providing instruction and lessons in riding, training, and the management of equines.

* * * Agriculture Development Funds * * *

Sec. 5.  6 V.S.A. § 4710(g)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  Assistance from the agricultural economic development special account shall be available for:

(A)  Business and technical assistance for research and planning to aid a farmer or a group of farmers in developing business enterprises that harvest biomass, convert biomass to energy, or produce biofuel;

(B)  Implementation Cost‑effective implementation assistance to leverage other sources of capital to assist a farmer or group of farmers in purchasing equipment, technology, or other assistance to produce agricultural energy, harvest biomass, or convert biomass into energy, or enable installation and usage of wind, solar, or other technology that relies on a resource that is being consumed at a harvest rate at or below its natural regeneration rate pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 8002(2); and

* * *

* * * Commercial Building Energy Standards * * *

Sec. 6.  21 V.S.A. § 268 is amended to read:

§ 268.  COMMERCIAL BUILDING ENERGY STANDARDS

(a)  Definitions.  For purposes of this subchapter, “commercial buildings” means all buildings that are not residential buildings as defined in subdivision 266(a)(2) of this title or farm structures as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 4413.

(1)  The following commercial buildings, or portions of those buildings, separated from the remainder of the building by thermal envelope assemblies complying with this section shall be exempt from the building thermal envelope provisions of the standards:

(A)  Those that do not contain conditioned space.

(B)  Those with a peak design rate of energy usage less than an amount specified in the commercial building energy standards (CBES) adopted under subsection (b) of this section.

(2)  These standards shall not apply to equipment or portions of building energy systems that use energy primarily to provide for industrial, or manufacturing, or commercial processes.

(b)  Adoption of commercial building energy standards.  Commercial building construction with respect to which no state or any local building permit application or application for construction plan approval by the commissioner of public safety pursuant to 20 V.S.A. chapter 173 has been submitted on or after January 1, 2007 shall be designed and constructed in substantial compliance with the standards contained in the 2005 Vermont Guidelines for Energy Efficient Commercial Construction, as those standards may be amended by administrative rule adopted by the commissioner of public service.

(c)  Revision and interpretation of energy standards.  On or about January 1, 2009, and at least every three years thereafter, the commissioner of public service shall amend and update the CBES by means of administrative rules adopted in accordance with 3 V.S.A. chapter 25.  At least a year prior to final adoption of each required revision of the CBES, the department of public service shall convene an advisory committee to include one or more mortgage lenders,; builders,; building designers,; architects; civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers; utility representatives,; and other persons with experience and expertise, such as consumer advocates and energy conservation experts.  The advisory committee may provide the commissioner of public service with additional recommendations for revision of the CBES.

(1)  Any amendments to the CBES shall be:

(A)  Consistent with duly adopted state energy policy, as specified in 30 V.S.A. § 202a.

(B)  Evaluated relative to their technical applicability and reliability.

(2)  Each time the CBES are amended by the commissioner of public service, the amended CBES shall become effective upon a date specified in the adopted rule, a date that shall not be less than three months after the date of adoption.  Persons submitting an application for any state or local permit authorizing commercial construction, or an application for construction plan approval by the commissioner of public safety pursuant to 20 V.S.A. chapter 173, before the effective date of the amended CBES shall have the option of complying with the applicable provisions of the earlier or the amended CBES.  After the effective date of the original or the amended CBES, any person submitting such an application for any state or local permit authorizing commercial construction in an area subject to the CBES shall comply with the most recent version of the CBES.

(3)  The advisory committee convened under this subsection, in preparing for the CBES updates, shall advise the department of public service with respect to the coordination of the CBES amendments with existing and proposed demand‑side management programs offered in the state.

(4)  The commissioner of public service is authorized to adopt rules interpreting and implementing the CBES.

(5)  The commissioner of public service may grant written variances or exemptions from the CBES or rules adopted under this section where strict compliance would entail practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship, or is otherwise found unwarranted, provided that:

(A)  Any such variance or exemption shall be consistent with state energy policy, as specified in 30 V.S.A. § 202a.

(B)  Any petitioner for such a variance or exemption can demonstrate that the methods, means, or practices proposed to be taken in lieu of compliance with the rule or rules provide, in the opinion of the commissioner, equal energy efficiency to that attained by compliance with the rule or rules.

(C)  A copy of any such variance or exemption shall be recorded by the petitioner in the land records of the city or town in which the building is located.

(D)  A record of each variance or exemption shall be maintained by the commissioner, together with the certifications received by the commissioner.

(d)  Certification requirement.  Commercial

(1)  The design of commercial buildings shall be certified by the primary designer as compliant with CBES in accordance with this subsection.  A except as compliance is excused by a variance or exemption issued under subdivision (c)(5) of this section.  If applicable law requires that the primary designer be a licensed professional engineer, licensed architect, or other licensed professional, a member of a pertinent licensed profession shall issue this certification.  Otherwise, a certification may be issued by a builder, a licensed professional engineer, or a licensed architect.  If certification is not issued by a licensed professional engineer or a licensed architect, it shall be issued by the builder.  Any certification shall be accompanied by an affidavit and shall certify that the designer acted in accordance with the designer’s professional duty of care in designing the building, and that the commercial construction meets building was designed in substantial compliance with the requirements of the CBES.  The department of public service will develop and make available to the public a certificate that lists key features requirements of the CBES, sets forth certifying language in accordance with this subdivision and requires disclosure of persons relied upon by the primary designer who have contracted to indemnify the primary designer for damages arising out of that reliance.  Any person certifying under this subdivision shall use this certificate or one substantially like it to certify compliance with CBES satisfy these certification obligations.  Certification shall be issued by completing and signing a certificate and permanently affixing it to the outside of the heating or cooling equipment, to the electrical service panel located inside the building, or in a visible location in the vicinity of one of these three areas.  The certificate shall certify that the building has been constructed in compliance with the requirements of the CBES.  The person certifying under this subsection shall provide a copy of each certificate to the department of public service and shall assure that a certificate is recorded and indexed in the town land records.  A builder may contract with a licensed professional engineer or a licensed architect to issue certification and to indemnify the builder from any liability to the owner of the commercial construction caused by noncompliance with the CBES.  In certifying under this subsection, the certifying person may reasonably rely on one or more supporting affidavits received from other persons that contributed to the design affirming that the portions of the design produced by them were properly certifiable under this subsection.  The certifying person may contract for indemnification from those on which the person relies pursuant to this subdivision (1) against damages arising out of that reliance.  This indemnification shall not limit any rights of action of an aggrieved party.

(2)  The construction of a commercial building shall be certified as compliant with CBES in accordance with this subsection, except as compliance is excused by a variance or exemption issued under subdivision (c)(5) of this section.  This certification shall be issued by the general contractor, construction manager, or other party having primary responsibility for coordinating the construction of the subject building, or in the absence of such a person, by the owner of the building.  Any certification shall be accompanied by an affidavit and shall certify that the subject commercial building was constructed in accordance with the ordinary standard of care applicable to the participating construction trades, and that the subject commercial building was constructed substantially in accordance with the construction documents including the plans and specifications certified under subdivision (1) of this subsection for that building.  The department of public service will develop and make available to the public a certificate that sets forth certifying language in accordance with this subdivision, and that requires disclosure of persons who have been relied upon by the person with primary responsibility for coordinating the construction of the building and who have contracted to indemnify that person for damages arising out of that reliance.  The person certifying under this subdivision shall use that certificate or one substantially like it to satisfy these certification obligations.  Certification shall be issued by completing and signing a certificate and permanently affixing it to the outside of the heating or cooling equipment, to the electrical service panel located inside the building, or in a visible location in the vicinity of one of these three areas.  In certifying under this subdivision, the certifying person may reasonably rely on one or more supporting affidavits received from subcontractors or others engaged in the construction of the subject commercial building affirming that the portions of the building constructed by them were properly certifiable under this subdivision.  The certifying person may contract for indemnification from those on which the person relies pursuant to this subdivision (2) against damages arising out of that reliance. This indemnification shall not limit any rights of action of an aggrieved party.

(3)  Any person certifying under this subsection shall provide a copy of the person’s certificate and any accompanying affidavit to the department of public service.

(4)  A certificate issued pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection and a certificate issued pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be conditions precedent to issuance by the commissioner of public safety (or a municipal official acting under 20 V.S.A. § 2736) of any final occupancy permit required by the rules of the commissioner of public safety for use or occupancy of a commercial building that is also a public building as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2730(a).

(e)  Action Private right of action for damages against a certifier.

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a person aggrieved by noncompliance with this section another person’s breach of that other person’s representations contained in a certification or supporting affidavit issued or received as provided under subsection (d) of this section, within ten years after the earlier of completion of construction or occupancy of the affected commercial building or portion of that building, may bring a civil action in superior court against a person who has the an obligation of certifying compliance under subsection (d) of this section alleging breach of the representations contained in that person’s certification.  This action may seek injunctive relief, damages arising from the aggrieved party’s reliance on the accuracy of those representations, court costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees in an amount to be determined by the court.  As used in this subdivision, “damages” means:

(A)  includes costs incidental to increased energy consumption; and

(B)  labor, materials, and other expenses associated with bringing the structure into compliance with CBES in effect on the date construction was commenced.

(2)  A person’s failure to affix the certification as required by this section shall not be an affirmative defense in such an action against the person.

(3)  The rights and remedies created by this section shall not be construed to limit any rights and remedies otherwise provided by law.

(4)  The right of action established in this subsection may not be waived by contract or other agreement.

(5)  It shall be a defense to an action under this subsection that either at the time of completion or at any time thereafter, the commercial building or portion of building covered by a certificate under subsection (d) of this section, as actually constructed, met or exceeded the overall performance standards established in the CBES in effect on the date construction was commenced.

(f)  Violation of section State or local enforcements.  Any person who falsely certifies knowingly makes a false certification under subsection (d) of this section, or any builder party who fails to certify under subsection (d) of this section when required to do so, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $250.00 per day, up to $10,000.00 for each year the violation continuesEach violation shall constitute a separate offense, and each day that the violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.

(g)  Title validity not affected.  A defect in marketable title shall not be created by a failure to record a variance or exemption pursuant to subdivision (c)(5) of this section, by a failure to issue certification or a certificate, as required under subsection (d) of this section, or by a failure under that subsection to:  affix a certificate; or provide a copy of a certificate to the department of public service; or record and index a certificate in the town records.

* * * Smart Metering * * *

Sec. 7.  SMART METERING INVESTIGATION

(a)  The public service board shall investigate opportunities for Vermont electric utilities cost‑effectively to install advanced “smart” metering equipment capable of sending two‑way signals and sufficient to support advanced time‑of‑use pricing during periods of critical peaks or hourly differentiated time‑of‑use pricing. 

(b)  The scope of the investigation shall include the following:

(1)  The current status of implementing either advanced time‑of‑use rate designs or advanced metering by Vermont utilities.

(2)  Analysis of experience from other state jurisdictions and individual utility experience in planning and implementing programs that promote advanced time‑of‑use rate designs or advanced metering.

(3)  Opportunities for exploring ways to design pilot programs and share experience among Vermont utilities with the deployment of advanced meters and rate designs.

(4)  Analysis of all costs and benefits of installing advanced metering equipment, giving due consideration to the circumstances that differentiate Vermont utilities.

(5)  Analysis of opportunities for reducing rates in the short and long term or mitigating rate impacts of investments in advanced metering and ancillary equipment through advanced time‑of‑use rate designs enabled by these investments.

(6)  Analysis of constraints or barriers to implementing this subsection, or opportunities presented by further deferring plans or commitments toward advanced metering equipment or rates.

(7)  Analysis of all supporting and ancillary equipment, equipment standards, and efficiency programs necessary to ensure that customers are adequately and effectively empowered to use and respond cost‑effectively to price signals made possible through advanced metering equipment.

(c)  After investigation, in utility territories where the board concludes it appropriate and cost‑effective, the board shall require each Vermont utility to file plans for investment and deployment of appropriate technologies and plans and strategies for implementing advanced pricing with a goal of ensuring that all ratepayer classes have an opportunity to receive and participate effectively in advanced time‑of‑use pricing plans.

(d)  By January 15, 2008, the public service board shall report to the senate and house committees on natural resources and energy with regard to interim progress in its investigation and measures already implemented under this section.

(e)  By June 15, 2008, the board shall issue a final report and plan for implementation. 

* * * Conservation Rates * * *

Sec. 8.  30 V.S.A. § 218(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The department of public service shall propose, and the board through the establishment of rates of return, rates, tolls, charges, or schedules shall encourage the implementation by electric and gas utilities of energy‑efficiency and load management measures which will be cost‑effective for the utilities and their customers on a life cycle cost basis.  The board shall approve rate designs to encourage the efficient use of natural gas and electricity, including consideration of the creation of an inclining block rate structure for residential rate customers with an initial block of low‑cost power available to all residences. 

(1)  To implement the requirements of this subsection, the public service board shall host one or more workshops to examine the following:

(A)  the parameters for residential inclining block rate designs;

(B)  alternative rate designs, such as critical peak pricing programs or more widespread use of time‑of‑day rates, that would encourage more efficient use of electricity;

(C)  the possible inclusion of exemptions from otherwise applicable inclining block rates or rate designs to encourage efficiency for situations in which special health needs or another extraordinary situation presents such a significant demand for electricity that the board determines use of those rates would cause undue financial hardship for the customer;

(2)  By June 15, 2008, the board shall issue a report and plan for implementation based upon the results of its investigation.  The plan shall require each retail company to upgrade its rates as necessary to implement  new rate designs appropriate to encourage efficient energy use, which shall include residential inclining block rates, if the board determines that those rates would be appropriate, by a specified date, or as part of its next rate‑related appearance before the board, or according to a timetable otherwise specified by the board.  In implementing these rate designs, the board shall consider the appropriateness of phasing in the rate design changes to allow large users of energy a reasonable opportunity to employ methods of conservation and energy efficiency in advance of the full effect of the changes.

* * * Net Metering * * *

Sec. 9.  30 V.S.A. § 219a is amended to read:

§ 219a.  SELF‑GENERATION AND NET METERING

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Customer” means a retail electric consumer who uses a net metering system.

(2)  “Net metering” means measuring the difference between the electricity supplied to a customer and the electricity fed back by a net metering system during the customer’s billing period:

(A)  using a single, nondemand meter or such other meter that would otherwise be applicable to the customer’s usage but for the use of net metering; or

(B)  on farm or group systems, using multiple meters as specified in this chapter.  The calculation will be made by converting all meters to a nondemand, nontime‑of‑day meter, and equalizing them to the tariffed kilowatt‑hour rate.

* * *

(4)  “Farm system” means a facility of no more than 150 250 kilowatts (AC) output capacity, except as provided in subdivision (k)(5) of this section, that generates electric energy on a farm operated by a person principally engaged in the business of farming, as that term is defined in Regulation 1.175‑3 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, from the anaerobic digestion of agricultural products, byproducts, or wastes, or other renewable sources as defined in subdivision (3)(E) of this subsection, intended to offset the meters designated under subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section on the farm or has entered into a contract as specified in subsection (k) of this section.

(b)  A customer shall pay the same rates, fees, or other payments and be subject to the same conditions and requirements as all other purchasers from the electric company in the same rate‑class, except as provided for in this section, and except for appropriate and necessary conditions approved by the board for the safety and reliability of the electric distribution system.

* * *

(f)  Consistent with the other provisions of this title, electric energy measurement for net metering farm or group net metering systems shall be calculated in the following manner:

(1)  Net metering customers that are farm or group net metering systems may credit on‑site generation against all meters designated to the farm system or group net metering system under subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section.

(2)  Electric energy measurement for farm or group net metering systems shall be calculated by subtracting total usage of all meters included in the farm or group net metering system from total generation by the farm or group net metering system.  If the electricity generated by the farm or group net metering system is less than the total usage of all meters included in the farm or group net metering system during the billing period, the farm or group net metering system shall be credited for any accumulated kilowatt‑hour credit and then billed for the net electricity supplied by the electric company, in accordance with the procedures in subsection (g) of this section.

(3)  If electricity generated by the farm or group net metering system exceeds the electricity supplied by the electric company:

(A)  The farm or group net metering system shall be billed for the appropriate charges for each meter for that month, in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.

(B)  Excess kilowatt‑hours generated during the billing period shall be added to the accumulated balance with this kilowatt‑hour credit appearing on the bill for the following billing period.

(C)  Any accumulated kilowatt‑hour credits shall be used within 12 months or shall revert to the electric company without any compensation to the farm or group net metering system.  Power reverting to the electric company under this subdivision (3) shall be considered SPEED resources under section 8005 of this title.

(g)(1)  In addition to any other requirements of section 248 of this title and this section and board rules thereunder, before a net metering farm or group net metering system including more than one meter may be formed and served by an electric company, the proposed net metering farm or group net metering system shall file with the board, with copies to the department and the serving electric company, the following information:

(A)  the meters to be included in the farm or group net metering system, which shall be associated with the farm buildings and residences owned or occupied by the person operating the farm or group net metering system, or the person’s family or farm employees, or other members of the group, identified by account number and location;

(B)  a method for adding and removing meters included in the farm or group net metering system;

(C)  a designated person responsible for all communications from the farm or group net metering system to the serving electric company, for receiving and paying bills for any service provided by the serving electric company for the farm or group net metering system, and for receiving any other communications regarding the farm or group net metering system net metering; and

(D)  a binding process for the resolution of any disputes within the farm or group net metering system relating to net metering that does not rely on the serving electric company, the board, or the department.

(2)  The farm or group net metering system shall, at all times, maintain a written designation to the serving electric company of a person who shall be the sole person authorized to receive and pay bills for any service provided by the serving electric company, and for receiving to receive any other communications regarding the farm system, the group net metering system, or net metering.

(3)  The serving utility shall implement appropriate changes to the farm system or group net metering system within 30 days after receiving written notification from the designated person.  However, written notification of a change in the person designated under subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be effective upon receipt by the serving utility.  The serving utility shall not be liable for action based on such notification, but shall make any necessary corrections and bill adjustments to implement revised notifications.

(4)  Pursuant to subsection 231(a) of this title, after such notice and opportunity for hearing as the board may require, the board may revoke a certificate of public good issued to a farm or group net metering system.

(5)  A group net metering system may consist only of customers that are located within the service area of the same electric company.  Various buildings owned by a municipality may constitute a group net metering system.  If it determines that it would promote the general good, the board shall permit a noncontiguous group of net metering customers to comprise a group net metering system.

(h)(1)  An electric company:

(A)  Shall make net metering available to any customer using a net metering system, group net metering system, or farm system on a first‑come, first‑served basis until the cumulative output capacity of net metering systems equals 1.0 2.0 percent of the distribution company’s peak demand during 1996; or the peak demand during the most recent full calendar year, whichever is greater.  The board may raise the 1.0 2.0 percent cap.  In determining whether to raise the cap, the board shall consider the following:

(i)  the costs and benefits of net metering systems already connected to the system; and

(ii)  the potential costs and benefits of exceeding the cap, including potential short and long‑term impacts on rates, distribution system costs and benefits, reliability and diversification costs and benefits;

(B)  Shall allow net metering systems to be interconnected using a kilowatt‑hour meter capable of registering the flow of electricity in two directions or such other comparably equipped meter that would otherwise be applicable to the customer’s usage but for the use of net metering;

(C)  May, at its own expense, and with the written consent of the customer, install one or more additional meters to monitor the flow of electricity in each direction;

(D)  Shall Except as otherwise provided in this section, shall charge the customer a minimum monthly fee that is the same as for other customers of the electric distribution company in the same rate class, but shall not charge the customer any additional standby, capacity, interconnection, or other fee or charge;

(E)  May require a customer to comply with generation interconnection, safety, and reliability requirements, as determined by the public service board by rule or order, and may charge reasonable fees for interconnection, establishment, special metering, meter reading, accounting, account correcting, and account maintenance of net metering arrangements of greater than 15 kilowatt (AC) capacity;

(F)  May charge, if the capacity of the distribution system is insufficient for the designed generation, subject to determination by the board, a reasonable fee to cover the cost of electric company improvements necessary to distribute power;

(G)  May require that all meters included within a farm or group net metering system be read on the same billing cycle;

(H)  May book and defer, with carrying costs, additional incremental costs, to the extent that such costs are not recovered through charges, authorized in subdivisions (D), (E), and (F) of this subdivision (1), directly related to implementing net metering of greater than 15 kilowatt (AC) capacity;

(I)  Shall receive from a farm system, which is designed to produce less energy than the total annual load of the meters identified in subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section, any tradeable renewable credits for which the farm  system is eligible.  All other farm systems shall retain any tradeable renewable credits for which the farm is eligible;.

(2)  All such requirements shall be pursuant to and governed by a tariff approved by the board and any applicable board rule, which tariffs and rules shall be designed in a manner reasonably likely to facilitate net metering.

* * *

(j)  Notwithstanding the provisions of this section that define a net metering system as being of no more than 15 kilowatts (AC) capacity, the board may allow net metering for up to ten 15 systems per year for customers that produce more than 15 kilowatts (AC) capacity, but do not produce more than 150 250 kilowatts of power and are not farm systems.

(k)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (f) and (g) of this section, an electric company may contract to purchase all or a portion of the output products from a farm or group net metering system, provided:

(1)  the farm or group net metering system obtains a certificate of public good under the terms of subsections (c) and (d) of this section;

(2)  any contracted power shall be subject to the limitations set forth in subdivision (h)(1) of this section;

(3)  any contract shall be subject to interconnection and metering requirements in subdivisions (h)(1)(C) and (i)(2) and (3) of this section;

(4)  any contract may permit all or a portion of the tradeable renewable energy credits for which the farm or group net metering system is eligible to be transferred to the electric company;

(5)  the output capacity of a system may exceed 150 250 kilowatts, provided:

(A)  the contract assigns the amount of power to be net metered;

(B)  the net metered amount does not exceed 150 250 kilowatts; and

(C)  only the amount assigned to net metering is assessed to the cap provided in subdivision (h)(1)(A) of this section.

* * * Temporary Meteorological Stations * * *

Sec. 10.  30 V.S.A. § 246 is added to read:

§ 246.  TEMPORARY SITING OF METEOROLOGICAL STATIONS

(a)  For purposes of this section, a “meteorological station” consists of one temporary tower, which may include guy wires, and attached instrumentation to collect and record wind speed, wind direction, and atmospheric conditions.

(b)  The public service board shall establish by rule or order standards and procedures governing application for, and issuance or revocation of, a certificate of public good for the temporary installation of one or more meteorological stations under the provisions of section 248 of this title.  A meteorological station shall be deemed to promote the public good of the state if it is in compliance with the criteria of this section and the board rules or orders.  An applicant for a certificate of public good for a meteorological station shall be exempt from the requirements of subsection 202(f) of this title.

(c)  In developing rules or orders, the board:

(1)  Shall develop a simple application form and shall require that completed applications be filed with the board, the department of public service, the agency of natural resources, and the municipality in which the meteorological station is proposed to be located.

(2)  Shall require that if no objections are filed within 30 days of the board’s receipt of a complete application and the board determines that the applicant has met all of the requirements of section 248 of this title, the certificate of public good shall be issued for a period that the board finds reasonable, but in no event for more than five years.  Upon request of an applicant, the board may renew a certificate of public good.  Upon expiration of the certificate, the meteorological station and all associated structures and material shall be removed, and the site shall be restored substantially to its preconstruction condition.

(3)  May waive the requirements of section 248 of this title that are not applicable to meteorological stations, including criteria that are generally applicable to public service companies as defined in this title.  The board shall not waive review regarding whether construction will have an undue adverse effect on esthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment, and the public health and safety.

(4)  Shall seek to simplify the application and review process, as appropriate, in conformance with this section.

(d)  A proposal for decision shall be issued within five months of when the board receives a completed application for a certificate of public good for the temporary installation of one or more meteorological stations under the provisions of section 248 of this title.

* * * Renewable Energy Pricing and Portfolio Standards * * *

Sec. 11.  30 V.S.A. § 8002(4) is amended to read:

(4)  “New renewable energy” means renewable energy produced by a generating resource coming into service after December 31, 2004.  This may include the additional energy from an existing renewable facility retrofitted with advanced technologies or otherwise operated, modified, or expanded to increase the kwh output of the facility in excess of an historical baseline established by calculating the average output of that facility for the 10‑year period that ended December 31, 2004.  If the production of new renewable energy through retrofitting expansion involves combustion of the resource, the system also must result in an incrementally higher level of energy conversion efficiency or significantly reduced emissions.  For the purposes of this chapter, renewable energy refers to either “existing renewable energy” or “new renewable energy.”

Sec. 12.  30 V.S.A. § 8003 is amended to read:

§ 8003.  RENEWABLE ENERGY PRICING

(a)  Upon petition of an electric company subject to this title, upon request of the department of public service, or on its own initiative, the public service board may approve one or more renewable pricing programs for one or more electric utilities; provided, however, in the case of a municipal plant or department formed under local charter or chapter 79 of this title, or an electric cooperative formed under chapter 81 of this title, any renewable pricing program approved by the board shall also be approved by a majority of the voters of a municipality or cooperative voting upon the question at a duly warned annual or special meeting held for that purpose.  Unless the board finds good cause to exempt a utility, by no later than July 1, 2008, each electric utility, municipal department formed under local charter or chapter 79 of this title, and each electric cooperative formed under chapter 81 of this title shall implement a renewable energy pricing program under this section for its customers, or shall offer customers the option of making a voluntary contribution to the Vermont clean energy development fund established under 10 V.S.A. § 6523.  Such renewable energy pricing programs may include, but are not limited to, tariffs, standard special contracts, or other arrangements whose purpose is to increase the company’s reliance on, or the customer’s support of, renewable sources of energy or the type and quantity of renewable energy resources available.

* * *

(f)  Renewable pricing programs offered by a company shall be available to such customer classes as the board may determine.

(g)  The board shall consider the following factors in deciding whether and upon what conditions to approve a proposed renewable energy pricing program:

(1)  minimization of marketing and administrative expenses;

(2)  auditing or certification of sources of energy or tradeable renewable energy credits;

(3)  marketing and promotion plans;

(4)  effectiveness of the program in meeting the goals of promoting renewable energy generation and public understanding of renewable energy sources in Vermont;

(5)  retention by the program of renewable energy production incentives, tax incentives and other incentives earned or otherwise obtained by energy resources acquired pursuant to or as part of a renewable energy pricing program approved under this section to reduce the cost of any premiums paid under this section; and

(6)  costs imposed on nonparticipating customers arising on account of the implementation of the voluntary renewable energy pricing program.

Sec. 13.  30 V.S.A. § 8004(e) is amended to read:

(e)  In lieu of, or in addition to purchasing tradeable renewable energy credits to satisfy the portfolio requirements of this section, a retail electricity provider in this state may pay to a renewable energy fund established by the public service board the Vermont clean energy development fund established under 10 V.S.A. § 6523 an amount per kilowatt hour as established by the board.  As an alternative, the board may require any proportion of this amount to be paid to the energy conservation fund established under subsection 209(d) of this title.

* * * SPEED Program * * *

Sec. 14.  30 V.S.A. § 8005 is amended to read:

§ 8005.  SUSTAINABLY PRICED ENERGY ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT (SPEED) PROGRAM

* * *

(b)  The SPEED program shall be established, by rule, order, or contract, by the public service board by January 1, 2007.  As part of the SPEED program, the public service board may, and in the case of subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection shall:

* * *

(2)  allow the developer of a facility that is one megawatt or less, and is a qualifying SPEED resource or a nonqualifying SPEED resource, to sell that power under a long term contract that is established at a specified margin below the hourly spot market price determined by the board to be adequate to promote SPEED resource development while remaining consistent with the principles of least‑cost energy services under section 218c of this title.  For purposes of this section, a long‑term contract should be 15 years or greater unless the board finds good cause for a shorter term;

(3)  encourage Vermont’s retail electricity providers to secure long‑term  contracts, at stable prices, for renewable energy that are anticipated to be below the long‑term market price, over the lives of the projects qualifying SPEED resources.  The board shall create a standard contract price, or a set of maximum and minimum provisions, or both, for qualifying SPEED resources over 1 MW of capacity.  In setting a standard contract price for a qualifying SPEED resource, the board shall consider the goal of developing qualified SPEED resources, least cost provision of energy service under section 218c, and the impact on electric rates.  The board may create a competitive bid process through which to select a portion of those contracts;

* * *

(d)(1)  The public service board shall meet on or before January 1, 2012, and open a proceeding, and issue findings determining to determine the total amount of qualifying SPEED resources that have come into service or are projected to come into service during the period of time between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2013 been supplied to Vermont retail electricity providers or have been issued a certificate of public good.  If the board finds that the amount of qualifying SPEED resources coming into service during that time or having been issued a certificate of public good after January 1, 2005 and before July 1, 2012 equals or exceeds total statewide growth in electric energy usage retail sales during the period of time between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2012 that time, and in addition, at least five percent of the 2005 total statewide electric retail sales is provided by qualified SPEED resources, or if it finds that the amount of qualifying SPEED resources equals or exceeds 10 percent of total statewide electric energy usage retail sales for calendar year 2005, the portfolio standards established under this chapter shall not be in force.  The board shall make its determination by July 1, 2012 January 1, 2013.  If the board finds that the goal established has not been met, one year after the board’s determination the portfolio standards established under subsection 8004(b) of this title shall take effect.

(2)  A state goal is to assure that 20 percent of total statewide electric retail sales before July 1, 2017 shall be generated by speed resources.  The public service board shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy and to the joint energy committee by December 15, 2012 with regard to the state’s progress in meeting this goal.  In addition, the board shall report to the  house and senate committees on natural resources and energy and to the joint energy committee by December 15, 2014 with regard to the state’s progress in meeting this goal and, if necessary, shall include any appropriate recommendations for measures that will make attaining the goal more likely.

(3)  For the purposes of the determination to be made under this subsection, electricity produced at all facilities owned by or under long-term contract to Vermont retail electricity providers, whether it is generated inside or outside Vermont, that is new renewable energy shall be counted in the calculations under subdivision subdivisions (d)(1) and (2) of this section.

* * *

* * * Assistance * * *

Sec. 15.  REPORTS ON OMBUDSMAN AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FOR COMMUNITIES

Technical assistance.  By no later than January 15, 2008, the public service department, after consultation with the public service board and the clean energy development fund investment committee established under 10 V.S.A. § 6523(e)(1)(B), shall report to the legislative committees on natural resources and energy with a recommended program by which the state may best:

(1)  Establish and fund an office of ombudsman, which would be charged with assisting those who desire to develop renewable energy projects in dealing with the regulatory process.  In developing the proposal, the department shall consult with the agency of natural resources with respect to how to assist individuals seeking a certificate of public good for a  small hydroelectric facility and those seeking water quality certification, and shall consider how best to coordinate services with the ombudsman for renewable energy at the agency of agriculture, food and markets.

(2)  Establish and fund a program to provide communities with assistance in assessing their renewable energy resources and the potential for development of those resources, and in evaluating, selecting, and implementing reasonable alternatives for financing the construction of those renewable energy resources.

* * * Unanticipated Revenues Surcharge * * *

Sec. 16.  32 VSA §8664 and 8665 are added to read:

§8664 UNANTICIPATED REVENUES SURCHARGE

(a) The General Assembly finds that forces in the electric power market have resulted in unanticipated revenues and benefits to certain generators of electric power not all related to the efficiency of plant operation and management. Changes in market conditions, including large increases in total power sale and revenues due to plant uprates, have increased the profitability of power generators.. The overall rise in the price of fossil fuels provides additional revenues to non-fossil fuel generators.  The new forward capacity market mechanism provides a substantial source of new revenues to power producers.  Across the board increases in wholesale power revenues are likely to be realized from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon cap program to be launched in this region.

(b) The General Assembly further finds that energy users in Vermont have experienced dramatic increases in energy costs and should share equitably in the unanticipated revenues accruing to generators of power in the state.

(c)  It is therefore the purpose of the General Assembly to secure benefits for Vermonters through the creation and funding of an energy affordability investment fund consistent with state energy policy set forth in Section 202a of Title 30.

(d) There is assessed upon electric generating plants in the state having a name plate generating capacity of 100,000 kilowatts, or more, a surcharge upon unanticipated revenues from electric energy generated in the state. 

(e) The amount of the surcharge shall be equal to thirty-five percent of the gross revenues received in each quarter of calendar years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 that is in excess of the amount of gross revenues received in each corresponding quarter of calendar year 2003.  In calendar year 2007, the charge shall be thirty-five percent of the gross revenues received in the third and fourth quarters of the calendar in excess of the amount of gross revenues received in the corresponding quarters of calendar year 2003.  In calendar year 2012, the charge shall be thirty-five percent of the gross revenues received in the period from January 1, 2012 to March 21, 2012 in excess of the amount of gross revenues received in the corresponding period of calendar year 2003.

(f) The unanticipated revenue surcharge imposed by this section shall be paid to and collected by the commissioner of taxes.  Payments shall be made on a quarterly basis, and are due and payable on the last day of the month following the end of each quarter or period.  A person or corporation failing to make returns or pay the charge imposed by this section within the time required shall be subject to and governed by the provisions of sections 3202 and 3203 and subchapters 8 and 9 of chapter 151 of  this title.

(g)  The unanticipated revenue surcharge assessed by this section is in addition to any other state or local tax or charge, including all state and local property taxes, general fund and education fund megawatt taxes, and revenues due pursuant to 10 VSA 6522.

(h) Revenues received from the unanticipated revenues surcharge assessed by this section shall be deposited by the commissioner of  taxes in the Vermont energy affordability investment fund established by section 8665 of this title.

§8665.  VERMONT ENERGY AFFORDABILITY INVESTMENT FUND

     (a)  There is established the Vermont energy affordability investment fund as a special fund to be managed pursuant to the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of title 32.

(b)  The fund shall contain all revenues received by the state from the unanticipated revenue surcharge assessed by section 8664 of this title.

(c) Interest and revenues in the fund shall not revert at the conclusion of any fiscal year, but remain in the fund for future fiscal years.

(d) Monies in the fund may be expended only upon appropriation by the General Assembly for purposes consistent with the energy policy of the state set forth in section 202a of Title 30.  

* * * Wind‑Powered Electric Generating Facilities * * *

Sec. 17.  32 V.S.A. § 5401(10)(J) is added to read:

(10)  “Nonresidential property” means all property except:

* * *

(J)  Buildings and fixtures subject to the tax on wind-powered electric generating facilities under section 5402c of this title.

Sec. 18.  32 V.S.A. § 5402c is added to read:

§ 5402c.  WIND-POWERED ELECTRIC GENERATING FACILITIES TAX

(a)  Beginning three years after the facility commences to generate electricity, a facility certified by the commissioner of public service as a facility which produces electrical energy for resale, generated solely from wind power, which has an installed capacity of at least five megawatts, which was placed in service after January 1, 2007, and which holds a valid certificate of public good issued under 30 V.S.A. § 248, shall be assessed an alternative education property tax on its buildings and fixtures used directly and exclusively in generation of electrical energy from wind power.  The tax shall be imposed at a rate of $0.003 per kWh of electrical energy produced by the certified facility, as determined by the public service department for the six months ending April 30 and the six months ending October 31 each year, but in no case shall the tax imposed for any six month period be less than an amount equal to the rate per kWh imposed by this subsection multiplied by the number of kWh that would be generated if the facility operated at a 15% capacity factor.  Until a facility is certified under this subsection, it shall remain subject to taxation under section 5402 of this title.

(b)  The tax imposed by this section shall be paid to the commissioner of taxes by the person or entity then owning or operating the certified facility, by December 1 for the period ending October 31 and by June 1 for the period ending April 30, for deposit into the education fund.  A person or entity failing to make returns or pay the tax imposed by this section within the time required shall be subject to and governed by the provisions of sections 3202 and 3203 and subchapters 8 and 9 of chapter 151 of this title.

(c)  Buildings and fixtures subject to the education property tax under this section shall not be taken into account in determining the common level of appraisal for the municipality.

Sec. 19.  MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAXES UNAFFECTED

Application of alternative education property tax to a wind-powered electric generating facility under 32 V.S.A. § 5402c shall have no effect upon the assessment of municipal taxes upon that facility by any municipality in this state.

* * * Business Energy Credit * * *

Sec. 20.  32 V.S.A. § 5822(c)(1)(B) and (d) are amended to read:

(c)  The amount of tax determined under subsection (a) of this section shall be:

(1)  increased by 24 percent of the taxpayer’s federal tax liability for the taxable year for the following:

* * *

(B)  recapture of federal investment tax credit the Vermont‑property portion of the business energy credit component of the federal investment tax credit recapture for the taxable year; this shall be computed based on the federal investment tax credit as it existed in taxable year 2007;

(d)  A taxpayer shall be entitled to a credit against the tax imposed under this section of 24 percent of each of the credits allowed against the taxpayer’s federal income tax for the taxable year as follows:  elderly and permanently totally disabled credit, investment tax credit the Vermont‑property portion of the business energy credit component of the federal investment tax credit, and child care and dependent care credits. 

Sec. 21.  32 V.S.A. § 5930z is added to read:

§ 5930z.  Pass‑Through of Federal Energy Credit for Corporations

(a)  A taxpayer of this state shall be eligible for a credit against the tax imposed under section 5832 of this title in an amount equal to 24% of the Vermont‑property portion of the business energy credit component of the federal investment tax credit allowed against the taxpayer’s federal income tax for the taxable year under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code;

(b)  Any taxpayer who has received a credit under subsection (a) of this section in any prior year shall increase its corporate income tax under this chapter by the amount of 24% of the Vermont‑property portion of the business energy credit component of the federal investment tax credit recapture for the taxable year.

Sec. 22.  EFFECTIVE DATE OF BUSINESS ENERGY TAX CREDITS; PSB REPORT

(a) Secs. 20 and 21 of this act (business energy tax credits) shall apply to taxable years 2008 and after.

(b) By January 15, 2010, the Public Service Board shall report to the General Assembly regarding:

     (1) the utilization and effectiveness of the solar tax credit in promoting the installation by commercial properties in Vermont of customer owned, on site solar electric power, and

     (2) recommendations on any changes to the solar tax credit, including whether it should be restructured to a production based credit, and how many revisions they recommend would be implemented. 

* * * Small Hydro Reports * * *

Sec. 23.  PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD REPORT ON PERMITTING SMALL HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS

Prior to December 15, 2007, the public service board shall report to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on natural resources and energy with a recommendation for a simple, predictable, and environmentally sound process, other than the process set forth in subsection 248(j) of Title 30, for issuing a certificate of public good under section 248 of Title 30 for small hydroelectric projects that are not eligible for a net metering permit under public service board rule 5.100.  The report shall:

(1)  Recommend criteria for determining what constitutes a small hydroelectric facility, including the allowable maximum amount of output capacity at the facility and the type of eligible facilities, natural features, or other sites.

(2)  Address permit application requirements, including ownership of the facility, interconnection, and structural safety of the small hydroelectric project.

(3)  Address additional uses of the small hydroelectric project such as flood control; fish and wildlife habitat; recreation; water supply; historic resource; and structural grade control for infrastructure, roads, bridges, and houses.

Sec. 24.  AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES REPORT ON WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION FOR SMALL HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS

Prior to December 15, 2007, the secretary of natural resources shall report to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on natural resources and energy with a recommendation for a simple, predictable, and environmentally sound procedure for completing a water quality certification review, as required by Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act, of small hydroelectric projects that are not subject to net metering.  The report shall:

(1)  Recommend, after consultation with the public service board, criteria for determining what constitutes a small hydroelectric facility, including the allowable maximum amount of output capacity at the facility and the type of eligible facilities, natural features, or other sites;

(2)  Address bypass flows for small hydroelectric projects.

(3)  Address the need for monitoring of dissolved oxygen at small hydroelectric facilities.

(4)  Address seasonal flows in bypasses at run‑of‑river facilities. 

(5)  Address the need for new fish or flow studies for small hydroelectric projects. 

(6)  Address the use of flashboards to increase upstream flooding.

(7)  Address measures to prevent fish from entering turbines and penstocks.

(8)  Address the size of authorized diversions and penstocks.

(9)  Include an analysis of the existing permitting process for small hydro projects.

Sec. 24a.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS; EXISTING OUTDOOR WOOD BOILERS GRANDFATHERED; IMPROPER USE; NEW RULE 05-P41 EFFECTIVE MARCH 31, 2008

The general assembly finds:

(1)  confusion and misinformation has caused some current owners of outdoor wood boilers to incorrectly conclude that they may be unable to use their units when Rule 05-P41 goes into effect;

(2)  Rule 05-P41, recently adopted by the agency of natural resources, raises emission standard requirements for new outdoor wood boilers purchased after March 31, 2008, and does not in any way affect Vermonters who currently own outdoor wood boilers, the proper use of which will be grandfathered unless a nuisance is created;

(3)  Rule 05-P41 for new outdoor wood boilers does not take effect until March 31, 2008, thereby giving fair warning to dealers and manufacturers;

(4)  Rule 05-P41 and 10 V.S.A. § 561 (variances) authorizes the secretary of natural resources, on application from an affected party, to extend the implementation date of the rule if the available technology cannot satisfy the air quality standards in the rule; and

(5)  it is unlawful for a person to use an outdoor wood boiler, as it is for other wood-burning equipment, to burn rubber, tires, plastics, common household waste, or hazardous waste of any kind, which when combusted often cause high levels of toxins to be emitted into our communities, in turn resulting in dirty and toxic air with complaints to municipal and state governments, and demands for stricter air quality rules.  See 24 V.S.A. § 2201 (relating to enforcement of solid waste law violations and municipal enforcement) and 10 V.S.A. Chapters 23 and 159 and the rules adopted thereunder (relating to the definitions of solid waste).

Sec. 25.  PILOT PROJECTS FOR SMALL HYDROELECTRIC GENERATORS

In order to promote the timely development of environmentally sound small community hydro projects, and to help inform efforts to develop new permitting processes, the public service board and the agency of natural resources shall work with communities that are seeking to develop small hydro projects, to facilitate those projects through the existing permit processes.  These projects shall not have more than 2 MW of name-plate capacity, shall have the support and involvement of the communities in which they are located, and shall not include the construction of a new dam.

Sec. 26.  REPORT ON STATUS OF SPEED PROGRAM

By no later than January 15, 2008, the public service board shall report to the legislative committees on natural resources and energy with an evaluation of the likelihood of qualifying SPEED resources coming into service in time to meet the standards established in 30 V.S.A. § 8005(d), as amended by this act.

* * * Plumbing * * *

Sec. 27 [Deleted]

Sec. 28.  26 V.S.A. § 2192a (b) is amended to read:

(b)  Specialty fields include the following:

* * *

     (4) Solar System Specialist:  Installation, replacement and repair of residential, industrial or commercial domestic solar heating systems for use as a supplemental or pre-heat source.  Systems shall include; passive or active design, collectors, storage tanks, heat exchangers, piping, safety devices and related materials.  The Solar System Specialist shall only connect to new or existing domestic hot water supply tanks, including instantaneous heaters, as well as tanks or heat exchangers supplementing hydronic space heating systems.  At no time shall a Solar System Specialist install, replace and repair any other part of a domestic hot water supply or hydronic space heating system.

* * *Affordability * * *

Sec. 29.  30 V.S.A. § 218(e) is added to read:

(e)  Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, the board may approve a rate schedule, tariff, agreement, contract, or settlement that provides reduced rates for low income electric utility consumers to better assure affordability.  For the purposes of this subsection, “low income electric utility consumer” means a customer who has a household income at or below 150 percent of the current federal poverty level.  When considering whether to approve a rate schedule, tariff, agreement, contract, or settlement for low income electric utility consumers, the board may take into account the potential impact on, and cost-shifting to, other utility customers.

* * * Energy Efficiency Services Fund * * *

Sec. 30.  30 V.S.A. § 203a is added to read:

§ 203a.  ENERGY EFFICIENCY SERVICES

(a)  Purpose.  The general assembly finds and determines that:

(1)  it is the policy of the state to assure the efficient use of energy resources and cost‑effective demand management, as specified in section 202a of this title;

(2)  a comprehensive state energy plan, as is specified in section 202b of this title, must be developed to implement this state energy policy;

(3)  it is appropriate to build upon the work in reducing energy costs for Vermonters already done by the existing efficiency utility established under the authority of section 209 of this title, and to integrate that work into a broader program implemented through an expanded energy efficiency utility that will serve the needs of the people of the state in an even better manner;

(4)  current energy efficiency programs are not designed to meet fully the thermal efficiency needs of consumers who rely on heating oil, kerosene, propane, and coal, as they are funded through efficiency charges that are currently assessed only on electricity and natural gas providers regulated by the board;

(5)  with the scientific consensus that global climate change is caused in significant part by human activities that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it is particularly important to reduce the extent to which these emissions result from the inefficient use of carbon‑containing fuels, regardless of the nature of the source;

(6)  it is desirable for the state to lower the risk of high fuel prices and vulnerable supplies, while at the same time strengthening the Vermont economy by establishing a system to promote all forms of energy end‑use efficiency, comprehensive sustainable building design, and integrated renewable energy installations.

 (b)  Non-electric energy efficiency fund.  The public service board shall establish an energy affordability investment fund to be managed by a fund administrator appointed by the board under this section and subdivision 209(d)(3) of this title.  The fund shall contain such sums as appropriated by the general assembly or as otherwise provided by law.  Balances in the fund and interest earned shall be carried forward and remain in the fund at the end of each fiscal year.

(c)  Use of the fund.  The non-electric energy efficiency services fund shall be used to support the delivery of energy efficiency services to Vermont heating and process fuel consumers of oil, kerosene, propane, coal, and wood; and to carry out cost‑effective efficiency measures and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from sectors other than, or in addition to, the regulated electricity and natural gas use sectors.  These energy efficiency services shall be provided by the energy efficiency utility appointed by the board under subsection 209(d) of this title and operating in accordance with section 209  of this title.

(d)  Review of adequacy of the fund. 

(1) On or before January 15, 2011, the public service board shall report to the legislature on the expenditure of funds from the non-electric energy efficiency services fund to meet the public’s needs for energy efficiency services.

(2)  The report shall include a funding adequacy evaluation and funding recommendations which shall be developed through a collaborative process involving representatives of heating fuel dealers, electric and gas utilities, the expanded energy efficiency utility, the department of public service, residential and business consumer representatives, environmental advocates, the building industry, entities currently engaged in delivering weatherization services, and other stakeholders identified by the board. 

(3)  The funding adequacy evaluation shall address:  the need for and availability of alternative revenue sources that may be dedicated to the non‑electric energy efficiency fund; the resources dedicated to energy efficiency purposes provided through electric and natural gas rates; an evaluation of potential cost‑effective energy efficiency investments and programs designed to meet the need for energy services through efficiency or conservation in all customer classes and areas of opportunity; the amount of funding necessary in order to realize all reasonably available, cost‑effective energy efficiency savings; and other factors to assure consistency with the purposes of this section and the goals of section 202a of this title.

(4)  The funding recommendations shall be developed in a manner that accords an appropriate balance among the following objectives:  reducing the size of future heating and process-fuel purchases; reducing the generation of greenhouse gases; providing efficiency and conservation as a part of a comprehensive resource supply strategy; providing the opportunity for all Vermonters to participate in efficiency and conservation programs; providing that residential and commercial sector benefits generally shall be proportional to sector contributions to the extent such proportion can be determined; and targeting efficiency and conservation efforts to locations, markets, or customers where they may provide the greatest value.

 * * * Revised Efficiency Utility Structure * * *

Sec. 31.  REPORT ON REVISED STRUCTURE FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY UTILITY

By no later than December 15, 2007, the public service board shall present a report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy, the senate committee on finance, and the house committee on ways and means that contains a proposed revised energy efficiency utility structure, together with any proposed legislative changes that in its judgment will assist in the effective implementation of the revised efficiency utility.  The  board shall develop the proposal in a manner consistent with the provisions of 30 V.S.A. § 209 and in collaboration with representatives from heating fuel dealers, electric and gas utilities, the energy efficiency utility, the department of public service, consumer representatives, environmental advocates, the building industry, entities currently engaged in delivering weatherization services, and other stakeholders identified by the board.  The report shall include options for ongoing funding of the expanded fossil fuel efficiency responsibilities of the energy efficiency utility.

* * * Existing Efficiency Utility * * *

Sec. 32.  30 V.S.A. § 209 is amended to read:

§ 209.  JURISDICTION; GENERAL SCOPE

* * *

(d)(1)  The public service department, any entity appointed by the board under subdivision (2) of this subsection, all gas and electric utility companies, and the board upon its own motion, are encouraged to propose, develop, solicit, and monitor energy efficiency and conservation programs and measures, including appropriate combined heat and power systems that result in the conservation and efficient use of energy and meet the applicable agency of natural resources' air quality standards.  Such programs and meas­ures, and their implementation, may be approved by the board if it determines they will be beneficial to the ratepayers of the companies after such notice and hearings as the board may require by order or by rule.

(2)  In place of utility‑specific programs developed pursuant to section 218c of this title, the board may shall, after notice and opportunity for hearing, provide for the development, implementation, and monitoring of gas and electric energy efficiency and conservation programs and measures including programs and measures delivered in multiple service territories, by appointing one or more entities appointed by the board for these purposes a qualified entity as an energy efficiency utility.  An appointment of an energy efficiency utility shall be made under this section and section 203a of this title, on a schedule that provides the energy efficiency utility adequate time to prepare for the delivery of relevant services no later than January 1, 2009.  Despite this appointment, however, the board may allow the Burlington Electric Department and the Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., and any successors in interest, to continue to provide efficiency services within their respective service territoriesThe As part of this appointment, the board may shall include as eligible measures appropriate combined heat and power systems that result in the conservation and efficient use of energy and meet the applicable agency of natural resources’ air quality standards.  The Except with regard to a transmission company, the board may specify that the implementation of these programs and measures appointment of an energy efficiency utility to deliver services within an electric utility’s service territory satisfies a that electric utility’s corresponding obligations, in whole or in part, under section 218c of this title and under any prior orders of the board.

(3)  In addition to its existing authority, the board may establish by order or rule a volumetric charge to customers for the support of energy efficiency programs that meet the requirements of section 218c of this title.  The charge shall be known as the energy efficiency charge, shall be shown separately on each customer's bill, and shall be paid to a fund administrator appointed by the board and deposited into an electric efficiency fund.  When such a charge is shown, notice as to how to obtain information about energy efficiency programs approved under this section shall be provided in a manner directed by the board.  This notice shall include, at a minimum, a toll free telephone number, and to the extent feasible shall be on the customer's bill and near the energy efficiency charge.  Balances in the electric efficiency fund shall be ratepayer funds, shall be used to support the activities authorized in this subdivision, and shall be carried forward and remain in the fund at the end of each fiscal year.  These monies shall not be available to meet the general obligations of the state.  Interest earned shall remain in the fund.  The board will annually provide the legislature with a report detailing the revenues collected and the expenditures made for energy efficiency programs under this section.

(4)  The charge established by the board pursuant to subdivision (3) of this subsection shall be in an amount determined by the board by rule or order that is consistent with the principles of least cost integrated planning as defined in section 218c of this title. As circumstances and programs evolve, the amount of the charge shall be reviewed for unrealized energy efficiency potential and shall be adjusted as necessary in order to realize all reasonably available, cost-effective energy efficiency savings. In setting the amount of the charge and its allocation, the board shall determine an appropriate balance among the following objectives; provided, however, that particular emphasis shall be accorded to the first four of these objectives: reducing the size of future power purchases; reducing the generation of greenhouse gases; limiting the need to upgrade the state's transmission and distribution infrastructure; minimizing the costs of electricity; providing efficiency and conservation as a part of a comprehensive resource supply strategy; providing the opportunity for all Vermonters to participate in efficiency and conservation programs; and the value of targeting efficiency and conservation efforts to locations, markets or customers where they may provide the greatest value.  The board, by rule or order, shall establish a process by which a customer may apply to the board for an exemption from some or all of the charges assessed under this subdivision. The board shall establish criteria by which these applications shall be measured. Any such exemption shall extend for a period of time not to exceed one year. In addition, the board may authorize exemptions only if, at a minimum, a customer demonstrates that, during the preceding year, it implemented an extraordinary amount of cost-effective energy efficiency at the customer's own expense or incurred extraordinary costs on those measures and the customer did not and will not receive reimbursement for those measures from the entity designated by the board under this section.

(5)  Effective January 1, 2009, an energy efficiency utility shall have the same unrestricted term of appointment and process for termination of appointment as is most common for electric and gas utilities in the state.

(e)  The board shall:

(1)  Ensure that all retail consumers, regardless of retail electricity or, gas, or heating or process fuel provider, will have an opportunity to participate in and benefit from a comprehensive set of cost‑effective energy efficiency programs and initiatives designed to overcome barriers to participation.

(2)  Require that continued or improved efficiencies be made in the production, delivery, and use of energy efficiency services, including the use of compensation mechanisms for any energy efficiency utility that are based upon verified savings in energy usage and demand, and other performance targets specified by the board.  The linkage between compensation and verified savings in energy usage and demand (and other performance targets) shall be reviewed and adjusted not less than triennially by the board.

(3)  Build on the energy efficiency expertise and capabilities that have developed or may develop in the state.

(4)  Promote program initiatives and market strategies that address the needs of persons or businesses facing the most significant barriers to participation.

(5)  Promote coordinated program delivery, including coordination with low income weatherization programs, other efficiency programs, and utility programs.

(6)  Consider innovative approaches to delivering energy efficiency, including strategies to encourage third party financing and customer contributions to the cost of efficiency measures.

(7)  Provide a reasonably stable multiyear budget and planning cycle and in order to promote program improvement, program stability, enhanced access to capital and personnel, improved integration of program designs with the budgets of regulated companies providing energy services, and maturation of programs and delivery resources.    

(8)  Approve programs, measures, and delivery mechanisms that reasonably reflect current and projected market conditions, technological options, and environmental benefits.

(9)  Provide for delivery of these programs as rapidly as possible, taking into consideration the need for these services, and cost-effective delivery mechanisms.

(10)  Provide for the independent evaluation of programs delivered under subsection (d) of this section and those delivered under section 203a of this title.

(11)  Require that any entity approved appointed by the board under subsection (d) of this section deliver board‑approved programs in an effective, efficient, timely, and competent manner and meet standards that are consistent with those in section 218c of this title, the board’s orders in public service board docket 5270, and any relevant board orders in subsequent energy efficiency proceedings.

(12)  Require verification, on or before January 1, 2003, and every three years thereafter, by an independent auditor of the reported energy and capacity savings and cost-effectiveness of programs delivered by any entity appointed by the board to deliver energy efficiency programs under subdivision (d)(2) of this section and under section 203a of this title.

(13)  Ensure that any energy efficiency program approved by the board shall be reasonable and cost-effective.

(14)  Consider the impact on retail electric rates and bills of programs delivered under subsection (d) of this section and the impact on fuel prices and bills of programs delivered under section 203a of this title.

(15)  Ensure that the energy efficiency utility promotes strategies that shall be designed to make continuous progress by promoting all forms of energy end‑use efficiency and comprehensive sustainable building design. The program may utilize performance‑based compensation.  The program administrator may secure and administer revenue from other sources.

(f)  Appointment of, oversight of, and revenue determinations for such an energy efficiency utility shall fall within the regulatory powers and jurisdiction of the board and, as is the case regarding the regulation of the revenues, terms, and conditions of service and compensation of gas and electric utilities, shall not be considered a contractual activity of the state.

 (g)  No later than January 1, 2009, consistent with the provisions of subsections (d),(e), and (f) of this section, the board shall adopt a revised structure for an efficiency utility in order to:

(1)  establish processes for the appointment and revocation of  appointment to serve as the energy efficiency utility similar to those in effect for regulated utilities in Vermont;

(2)  provide for regulatory oversight by the board and the department of public service that is appropriate to the structure and purpose of the expanded energy efficiency utility;

(3)  base some of the expanded energy efficiency utility’s compensation on verified savings in energy usage and demand and on other performance targets specified by the board and consistent with the provisions of section 202a of this title;

(4)  clarify the relationship between the energy efficiency utility and the City of Burlington Electric Department and Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., or any successors in interest, under which the city and the Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., or any successors in interest, may continue to provide some or all energy efficiency services in their respective service territories if approved by the board;

(5)  continue the delivery of electric efficiency programs consistent with the relevant provisions of subsection (e) of this section;

(6)  expand the energy efficiency utility’s responsibilities to include thermal efficiency and the development of comprehensive building efficiency strategies to promote all forms of energy end-use efficiency and comprehensive sustainable building design;

(7)  provide for appropriate notice to customers on means to obtain information about energy efficiency programs approved under this section;

(8)  determine what, if any, regulatory authority over fuel dealers that the board or department of public service, or both, may require in order to implement the expansion of the energy efficiency utility’s responsibilities set forth in this section and section 203a of this title; and

(9)  permit the energy efficiency utility independently to report and recommend to the board, the general assembly, and the public measures and policies intended to achieve the purposes of section 202a of this title, and, more generally, the purposes of this title.

(h)  The public service board may prescribe, by rule or order, standards for the labeling of electricity delivered or intended for delivery to ultimate consumers as to price, terms, sources and objective environmental impacts, along with such procedures as it deems necessary for verification of information contained in such labels.  The public service board may prescribe, by rule or by order, standards and criteria for the substantiation of such labeling or of any claims regarding the price, terms, sources and environmental impacts of electricity delivered or intended for delivery to ultimate consumers in Vermont, along with enforcement procedures and penalties.  When establishing standards for the labeling of electricity, the board shall weigh the cost, as well as the benefits, of compliance with such standards.  With respect to companies distributing electricity to ultimate consumers, the board may order disclosure and publication, not to occur more than once each year, of any labeling required pursuant to the standards established by this subsection. Standards established under this subsection may include provisions for:

* * *

* * * Coordination with Efficiency Utility * * *

Sec. 33.  30 V.S.A. § 218c(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Each regulated electric or gas company shall prepare and implement a least cost integrated plan for the provision of energy services to its Vermont customers.  In preparing the efficiency portion of an integrated plan, a regulated company shall consult with any entity appointed by the board to deliver energy efficiency services under subdivision 209(d)(2) of this title or under section 203a of this title.  Proposed plans shall be submitted to the department of public service and the public service board.  The board, after notice and opportunity for hearing, may approve a company’s least cost integrated plan if it determines that the company’s plan complies with the requirements of subdivision (a)(1) of this section.

* * * Forward Capacity Market Revenues * * *

Sec. 33a.  FORWARD CAPACITY MARKET REVENUES; ENERGY EFFICIENCY UTILITY

Forward capacity market revenues resulting from the activities of the energy efficiency utility of the state (EEU), designated under subsection 209 (d) of Title 30, shall go to the EEU to be used to further the ability to undertake cost effective energy efficiency activities as authorized under that section.

* * * Low Income Weatherization * * *

Sec. 34.  33 V.S.A. § 2501(d)–(i) are added to read:

(d)  This fund shall be used solely for the purpose of funding weatherization services to low income Vermonters.  Borrowing from the fund to provide cash flow assistance to LIHEAP, or enhancement of the LIHEAP program if unmet need is determined to be critical, may be authorized by the general assembly if it is determined that such borrowing will not affect cash flow to the weatherization contractors.  Provisions for repayment of borrowed funds must be made by the end of the fiscal year in which they were borrowed.

(e)  A full annual accounting of the revenues and expenditures of the weatherization trust fund will be provided by the agency of administration to the house and senate committees on appropriations and on natural resources and energy.

(f)  The low income weatherization program will be guided by a five‑year plan that is drafted with the specific purpose of improving continuously the comfort, safety, and affordability in low income housing and to reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas generation in that housing.  The plan shall describe a five‑year strategy, with a three‑year detailed work plan.  Each year, the strategy and the work plan shall be updated by one year.  The initial plan and subsequent updates will be developed by a weatherization oversight committee, working cooperatively with the office of economic opportunity.  The weatherization oversight committee will be composed of:  three representatives, including two representatives of weatherization contractors and one director of a community action program appointed by the Vermont community action directors association; a representative appointed by the energy efficiency utility provided for in 30 V.S.A. § 209; a low income representative appointed by the Vermont low income advocacy council; a representative appointed by the Vermont housing finance agency; a representative of the department of public service; a representative of a local or regional nonprofit land trust that develops affordable housing appointed by the housing and conservation board; a representative from the office of home heating assistance; a member of the Vermont house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house; a member of the senate, appointed by the committee on committees of the senate; a representative of renewable energy installers, to be appointed by renewable energy Vermont; a representative with expertise in climate change reduction appointed by the joint energy committee; a representative of the workforce development council; and a representative of the office of economic opportunity.  The office of economic opportunity shall provide support and full drafting assistance to the weatherization oversight committee in the production of this plan and required updates.  

(g)  The initial plan shall be completed and provided to the general assembly by December 20, 2007.  The plan shall include the following:

(1)  A five‑year strategy to ensure stable financing and capacity‑building in the regional weatherization programs, including a plan for ramp‑up of services consistent with sound management practices.

(2)  A full examination of the effect of the federal Department of Energy rules guiding the federal portion of weatherization funds that now also guide the use of state funds, and steps that could be taken with the state funds to expand the number of units served, the comprehensiveness of services offered, and the greenhouse gas reduction effect of the program.  This will include, where appropriate, the potential for revisions in eligibility, both statewide and by region.

(3)  A comprehensive strategy to use the weatherization program to reduce the rapidly increasing annual requirements for LIHEAP funds.

(4)  A full discussion of efficiencies and improved services to be gained in continuing coordination with Efficiency Vermont, with energy efficiency programs of the Burlington electric department and Vermont Gas Systems, Inc., and any successors in interest, and with any other partnerships that could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the program.

(5)  Full consideration of strategies and documentation that may be required to secure any greenhouse gas cap‑and‑trade revenues for furtherance of the program.

(6)  Strategies for appropriate use of renewable energy technologies to secure long‑term affordability for low income households.

(7)  Financing strategies that might leverage other funds to increase efficiency and renewable energy investment in low income housing.

(8)  Estimation of job training requirements to implement the plan, how they may be met, and the role of weatherization programs in providing training for their own programs and for the expanded efficiency utility program as well.

(9)  A comprehensive plan for evaluation of the program, documentation of savings and other benefits, and regular reporting to the general assembly.

(h)  On or before January 30 of each year, the office of economic opportunity shall make a report to the house and senate committees on appropriations and on natural resources and energy utilizing existing resources within state government available in the office of economic opportunity’s weatherization data management system that compiles performance data available on households weatherized in the past year to include: 

(1)  number of households weatherized;

(2)  average program expenditure per household for energy efficiency;

(3)  average percent energy savings;

(4)  energy and nonenergy benefits combined;

(5)  benefits saved for every dollar spent;

(6)  average savings per unit for heating fuels;

(7)  gallons of oil saved related to equivalent number of homes heated;

(8)  projected number of households to be weatherized in the current program year; and

(9)  projected program expenditures for the current program year ending March 31.

(i)  The office of economic opportunity may implement administrative changes to the operation of the low income weatherization program that are within its authority to make, prior to submitting the plan.  All such changes will be described in the plan.

* * * Energy Planning * * *

Sec. 35.  30 V.S.A. § 202 is amended to read:

§ 202.  ELECTRICAL ENERGY PLANNING

(a)  The department of public service, through the director for regulated utility planning, shall constitute the responsible utility planning agency of the state for the purpose of obtaining for all consumers in the state proper utility service at minimum cost under efficient and economical management consistent with other public policy of the state.  The director shall be responsible for the provision of plans for meeting emerging trends related to electrical energy demand, supply, safety and, conservation, environmental impacts, and continuing reductions in the generation of greenhouse gases in the production or use of energy.

(b)  The department, through the director, shall prepare an electrical energy plan for the state.  The plan shall be for a 20‑year period and shall serve as a basis for state electrical energy policy.  The electric energy plan shall be based on the principles of “least cost integrated planning” set out in and developed under section 218c of this title.  The plan shall include at a minimum:

(1)  an overview, looking twenty 20 years ahead, of statewide growth and development as they relate to future requirements for electrical energy, including patterns of urban expansion, statewide and service area economic growth, shifts in transportation modes, modifications in housing types and design, conservation, environmental impacts, the increasing global importance of continual reductions in the generation of greenhouse gases, and other trends and factors which, as determined by the director, will significantly affect state electrical energy policy and programs;

(2)  an assessment of all energy resources available to the state for electrical generation or to supply electrical power, including among others, fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro‑electric, biomass, wind, fuel cells, and solar energy and strategies for minimizing the economic and environmental costs of energy supply, including the production of pollutants and greenhouse gases, by means of efficiency and emission improvements, fuel shifting, and other appropriate means;

(3)  estimates of the projected level of electrical energy demand, the projected level of pollution, and the projected level of greenhouse gases generated as a byproduct of the generation of electrical energy;

(4)  a detailed exposition, including capital requirements and the estimated cost to consumers, of how such demand shall be met and how the generation of pollutants, including greenhouse gases, may be continually reduced, based on the assumptions made in subdivision (1) of this subsection and the policies set out in subsection (c) of this section; and

(5)  specific strategies for reducing electric rates and for reducing the generation of pollution including greenhouse gases to the greatest extent possible in Vermont over the most immediate five‑year period, for the next succeeding five‑year period, and long‑term sustainable strategies for achieving and maintaining the lowest possible electric rates and generation of pollution including greenhouse gases over the full 20‑year planning horizon consistent with the goal of maintaining a financially stable electric utility industry in Vermont.

(c)  In developing the plan, the department shall take into account the protection of public health and safety; preservation of environmental quality; the potential for reduction of rates paid by all retail electricity customers; the potential for reduction of electrical demand through conservation, including alternative utility rate structures; use of load management technologies; efficiency of electrical usage; utilization of waste heat from generation; and utility assistance to consumers in energy conservation.  The department shall place a premium upon continuing reductions in the generation of pollution, including greenhouse gases.

(d)  In establishing plans, the director shall:

(1)  Consult with:

* * *

(J)  an entity designated to meet the public’s need for energy efficiency services under subdivision 218c(a)(2) of this title or designated under section 203a of this title;

* * *

(2)  To the extent necessary, include in the plan surveys to determine needed and desirable plant improvements and extensions and coordination between utility systems, joint construction of facilities by two or more utilities, methods of operations, and any change that will produce better service or, reduce costs, or reduce pollution, including the generation of greenhouse gases.  To this end, the director may require the submission of data by each company subject to supervision, of its anticipated electrical demand, including load fluctuation, supplies, costs, the generation of pollution including greenhouse gases, and its plan to meet that demand and reduce that pollution including greenhouse gas emissions, together with such other information as the director deems desirable.

(3)  Work in conjunction with the energy efficiency utility designated under subsection 209(d) of this title or under section 203a of this title to develop 20‑year projections for efficiency programs administered by that utility and to incorporate those projections into the state electrical energy plan.

* * *

(f)  After adoption by the department of a final plan, any company seeking board authority to make investments, to finance, to site or construct a generation or transmission facility or to purchase electricity or rights to future electricity, shall notify the department of the proposed action and request a determination by the department whether the proposed action is consistent with the plan.  In its determination whether to permit the proposed action, the board shall consider the department’s determination of its consistency with the plan along with all other factors required by law or relevant to the board’s decision on the proposed action.  If the proposed action is inconsistent with the plan, the board may nevertheless authorize the proposed action if it finds that there is good cause to do so.  To the extent that the inconsistency entails an excessive generation of greenhouse gases, the board may authorize the proposed action only if it finds that there is compelling reason to do so.  The department shall be a party to any proceeding on the proposed action, except that this section shall not be construed to require a hearing if not otherwise required by law.

* * *

Sec. 36.  30 V.S.A. § 202a is amended to read:

§ 202a.  STATE ENERGY POLICY

It is the general policy of the state of Vermont:

(1)  To assure, to the greatest extent practicable, that Vermont can meet its energy service needs in a manner that is adequate, reliable, secure, and sustainable; that assures affordability and encourages the state’s economic vitality, continuing and substantial reductions in the generation of pollution including greenhouse gases, the efficient use of energy resources and cost effective cost‑effective demand side management; and that is environmentally sound.

(2)  To identify and evaluate on an ongoing basis, resources that will meet Vermont’s energy service needs in accordance with the principles of least cost integrated planning; including efficiency, conservation and load management alternatives, wise use of renewable resources, continuing and substantial reductions in the generation of pollution including greenhouse gases, and environmentally sound energy supply.

Sec. 37.  30 V.S.A. § 202b is amended to read:

§ 202b.  STATE COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY PLAN

(a)  The department of public service, in conjunction with other state agencies designated by the governor, shall prepare a comprehensive state energy plan covering at least a 20‑year period.  The plan shall seek to implement the state energy policy set forth in section 202a of this title.  The plan shall include:

(1)  A comprehensive analysis and projections regarding the use, cost, supply, and environmental effects of all forms of energy resources used within Vermont and regarding all pollution including greenhouse gases generated within the state, including the state’s progress in meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals established in 10 V.S.A. § 578.

(2)  Recommendations for state implementation actions, regulation, legislation, and other public and private action to carry out the comprehensive energy plan.

* * *

  * * * Biodiesel * * *

Sec. 38.  USE OF BIODIESEL IN STATE OFFICE BUILDINGS, STATE GARAGES, AND THE STATE VEHICLE FLEET

(a)  Definitions.  As used in this section:

(1)  “Biodiesel blend” means a blend of biodiesel fuel and petroleum diesel fuel or petroleum heating fuel that contains at least two percent biodiesel fuel by volume.

(2)  “Biodiesel fuel” means a renewable, biodegradable, mono alkyl ester combustible liquid fuel derived from vegetable oil or animal fat which meets the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specification D6751‑02 for Biodiesel Fuel (B100) Blend Stock for Distillate Fuel.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2008, the department of buildings and general services, department of public service, and agency of transportation jointly shall submit a report to the house and senate committees on institutions, the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy, the house and senate committees on transportation, the house and senate committees on agriculture, the house committee on commerce, the house committee on ways and means, and the senate committee on finance with recommendations on increasing the use of biodiesel blends in state office buildings, state garages, and in the state transportation fleet. 

(1)  The portion of the report prepared by the department of buildings and general services shall contain:

(A)  A summary of the current use of biodiesel blends in state office buildings.

(B)  Recommendations on how to increase the use of biodiesel blends in all state office buildings, wherever feasible, to at least five percent biodiesel (B5) by December 31, 2008, and to at least 10 percent biodiesel (B10) by 2012.

(C)  A summary of any obstacles to increasing biodiesel use in state buildings.

(D)  A proposed work plan to increase biodiesel use.

(2)  The portion of the report prepared by the department of public service shall contain:

(A)  A summary of the biodiesel fuel production capacity, storage facilities, and distribution facilities currently available in Vermont.

(B)  Recommendations for increasing biodiesel fuel production, storage facilities, and distribution facilities.

(C)  A summary of current information on the performance of biodiesel blends for use as heating fuel and as a motor vehicle fuel.

(D)  A summary of the national and regional quality assurance and quality control measures in use for blending biodiesel fuel.

(E)  A proposed work plan to increase biodiesel use.

(3)  The portion of the report prepared by the agency of transportation shall contain:

(A)  A summary of the current use of biodiesel blends in state garages and the state transportation fleet.

(B)  Recommendations on how to increase the use of biodiesel blends in state garages and in the state transportation fleet, wherever feasible, to at least five percent biodiesel (B5) by December 31, 2008, and to at least 10 percent biodiesel (B10) by 2012.

(C)  A summary of any obstacles to increasing biodiesel use in state garages and the state transportation fleet.

(D)  A proposed work plan to increase biodiesel use.

(c)  The department of public service, with representatives of the department of buildings and general services and the agency of transportation present, shall conduct at least one public hearing to review the draft report and to solicit comments prior to finalizing the report.

* * * Energy Efficiency Mortgages * * *

Sec. 39.  ENERGY EFFICIENCY MORTGAGES

On or before January 15, 2008, the Vermont housing finance agency and the Vermont economic development authority, respectively, shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy, the house committee on commerce, and the senate committee on finance regarding the feasibility of establishing programs to support energy efficiency residential and commercial building mortgages of up to 15 percent of the appraised value of a dwelling or commercial building for energy saving improvements, weatherization, or energy efficiency for which the monthly mortgage or loan payment does not exceed the likely reduction in utility and heating costs for the dwelling or commercial building.

* * * Act 250 * * *

Sec. 40.  10 V.S.A. § 6025(f) is added to read:

(f)  The land use panel, in consultation with the efficiency utility established under 30 V.S.A. § 209(d) or § 203a shall adopt rules that update the requirements of subdivision 6086(a)(9)(F) of this title to respond to the evolution of planning in response to climate change and other factors, the development of new and more efficient designs, and increases in fuel prices that lead to shorter payback periods for efficiency measures, and shall thereby assure the updated identification of the best available technology for efficient use or recovery of energy.  Rules adopted under this subsection shall complement building standards accorded presumptive weight under this chapter and shall address areas not covered by those standards.

* * * Transportation * * *

Sec. 41.  STUDY ON INCENTIVES FOR EFFICIENT TRANSPORTATION

(a)  There is established a study committee on incentives for efficient transportation.  The committee shall include a member of the house appointed by the speaker, and a member of the senate appointed by the committee on committees, who jointly shall convene the committee.  In addition, the speaker of the house and the committee on committees shall each appoint a representative of an environmental group.  The governor shall appoint two automobile dealers, one specializing in American‑made automobiles, one specializing in foreign‑made automobiles.  Other members shall include individuals appointed by the governor to represent the tax department, the department of motor vehicles, the tourism industry, a regional transportation organization, a Vermont small business that relies heavily on the use of motor vehicles for its livelihood, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Association, and a Vermont member of the association of automotive engineers.

(b)  By December 15, 2007, the committee shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy and on transportation, to the house committee on ways and means, and to the senate committee on finance with:

(1)  Recommendations regarding the use of tax and fee incentives and disincentives among and within vehicle weight classes for consumers to purchase fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.

(2)  Recommendations regarding the use of cash subsidies for efficient motor vehicle operation behavior.

(3)  Recommendations regarding state purchase of motor vehicles that favor fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.

(4)  Recommendations for public education regarding efficient transportation.

(5)  Other recommendations regarding the efficient use of transportation services. 

(c)  The committee shall be entitled to administrative support from the  agency of transportation.

(d)  Legislative members shall be entitled to compensation as provided in 2 V.S.A. § 406.  The committee may meet up to four times.

* * * Right to Conserve Energy * * *

Sec. 42.  9 V.S.A. chapter 138 is added to read:

Chapter 138.  Right to CONSERVE ENERGY

§ 4481.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

The general assembly finds that prohibiting or limiting the ability of people voluntarily to conserve energy is contrary to the public interest.  It is the purpose of this chapter to encourage energy conservation by discouraging governmental regulations and practices and private contracts which restrict the use of solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy saving devices, or that impede non-motorized transportation on state and town highways. 

§ 4482.  TRIENNIAL REPORT ON LIMITATIONS ON RIGHT TO CONSERVE ENERGY

By no later than January 1, 2008, and triennially thereafter, the commissioner of housing and community affairs shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy regarding the extent to which private covenants within the state restrict the use of solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy saving devices, together with any related recommendations on that issue.

* * * Green Building, Efficiency, and

Renewable Energy Workforce Development * * *

Sec. 43.  GREEN BUILDING, EFFICIENCY, AND RENEWABLE ENERGY WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PLAN

(a)  Legislative Findings.  Vermont must implement a comprehensive green building, energy efficiency, and renewable energy workforce development plan in order to fill the well-paying jobs that will stay in Vermont and are essential to meeting the needs of the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry in order to meet our goals in regard to global climate change. 

(b) Workforce development plan.  The commissioner of labor shall develop a green building, energy efficiency, and renewable energy workforce development plan, in consultation with representatives to include the following:  the apprenticeship program; the building trades; the Vermont workforce development council; the association of weatherization contractors; Efficiency Vermont; Vermont Technical College; the association of general contractors; associated industries of Vermont; Vermont businesses for social responsibility; Vermont fuel dealers association; the coalition for workforce solutions; Renewable Energy Vermont; Vermont small business development centers; the  association of vocational-technical schools; the association of adult service coordinators; Vermont green building network; and the green institute for the advancement of sustainability.   

(c)  Contents of plan.  The plan developed under this section shall be included in a written report that shall be presented on or before March 1, 2008 to the house committees on commerce and on ways and means and to the senate committees on economic development, housing and general affairs and on finance.  The plan shall include:

(1)  Comprehensive recommendations for recruiting and training individuals for employment in the green building and renewable energy and energy efficiency fields.  The recommendations shall include goals for secondary and post-secondary schools, other educational institutions, workforce development organizations, and apprenticeship programs.

(2)  Recommendations for expanding certification programs for green builders and designers and installers of energy efficiency and renewable energy devices and systems.

(3)  Recommendations for incorporating energy efficiency and renewable energy training into apprenticeship and other training programs for electricians, plumbers, and other skilled trades persons.

(4)  Curricula for business development training and technical assistance for businesses that include green builders, energy efficiency designers and developers, and manufacturers of renewable energy and energy efficiency products.

(5)  Enhanced training programs for green builders and designers and weatherization professionals, including how to utilize state-of-the-art tools and materials.

Sec. 44.  COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY PLAN UPDATE

As part of the next update to the state comprehensive energy plan required by 30 V.S.A. § 202b, the department of public service shall evaluate and make specific recommendations on:

(1)  How to increase the energy efficiency of Vermont’s built environment, including strategies to increase the efficiency of new and existing residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, including industrial processes.

(2)  How to assure or facilitate the installation of appropriate and substantial weatherization, particularly with regard to multiple dwellings, rental property, and other instances in which the owner may lack incentives to weatherize because energy costs are paid by a tenant; including the advisability of creating weatherization requirements that must be met at the time of sale.

(3)  How to encourage or require better disclosure of building energy efficiency and weatherization leading up to the time of sale of the  building.

(For text see House Journal April 4, 2007 – P. 527; April 5 – P. 533-536)

H. 531

     An act relating to ensuring success in health care reform.

     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:

* * * Increasing Access to Affordable Health Care Coverage * * *

Sec. 1.  OUTREACH AND ENROLLMENT PRINCIPLES

In order to achieve the general assembly’s goal that 96 percent of Vermonters have health insurance by 2010, as expressed in subdivision 902(a)(3)(D) of Title 2, an aggressive and innovative outreach and enrollment plan based on the following principles will be necessary and should be applied in all outreach and enrollment efforts conducted for Catamount Health and state health care benefit programs, including premium assistance programs.  

(1)  Outreach for all health care programs, including Catamount Health and state health care benefit programs, should be coordinated throughout state government and be a priority for all agencies that administer such programs.

(2)  Outreach activities should proactively identify potentially eligible Vermonters, and use web‑based tools, an inquiry tracking system establishing a case file for potential applicants at the first point of contact, and professional staff, community volunteers, and organizations to assist with individualized screening, counseling, and application assistance. 

Sec. 2.  ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS

(a)  The agency of human services shall make available to health care professionals, at the point of health care service or treatment, the necessary information, forms, access to eligibility or enrollment computer systems, and billing procedures to facilitate enrollment for individuals eligible for Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, Dr. Dynasaur, any Global Commitment for Health waiver program, any state‑funded pharmacy program, Catamount Health, Catamount Health Assistance, or the employer‑sponsored‑insurance assistance program. 

(b)  No later than October 2007, the agency shall provide a single, uniform, simplified form to enable individuals to assess their potential eligibility for Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, Dr. Dynasaur, any state‑funded pharmacy program, Catamount Health Assistance, or the employer‑sponsored‑insurance assistance programs.  Within a reasonable time frame, the agency shall develop web‑based application tools to ensure that any individual eligible for these programs has the opportunity to apply easily.  The agency shall determine if the individual is eligible and in which program the individual should be enrolled.  The agency shall refer applications for Catamount Health as appropriate. 

(c)  After submission of the application, the agency shall determine if the applicant meets full eligibility requirements.  Beginning January 1, 2008, if the individual is found eligible for the Vermont health access plan, the agency shall, subject to approval from the center for Medicare and Medicaid services, provide payment for any services received by the individual beginning with the date the application was received by the agency. 

Sec. 3.  33 V.S.A. § 1984 is amended to read:

§ 1984.  INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS

(a)  The agency shall provide assistance to individuals eligible under this subchapter to purchase Catamount Health.  The For the lowest cost plan, the amount of the assistance shall be the difference between the premium for the lowest cost Catamount Health plan and the individual’s contribution as defined in this section subdivision (c)(1) of this section.  For plans other than the lowest cost plan, the assistance shall be the difference between the premium for the lowest cost plan and the individual’s contribution as set out in subdivision (c)(1) of this section.  

(b)  Subject to amendment in the fiscal year 2008 budget, the agency of administration or designee shall establish individual and family contribution amounts for Catamount Health under this subchapter for the first year as established in this section and shall index the contributions in future years to the overall growth in spending per enrollee in Catamount Health as established in section 4080f of Title 8.  The agency shall establish family contributions by income bracket based on the individual contribution amounts and the average family size.  In fiscal year 2008, for the lowest‑cost Catamount Health plan offered by all carriers, the individual’s contribution shall be as established in subsection (c) of this section.  The agency shall determine the percentages that the amounts in subsection (c) are of the lowest‑cost plan and set the individual’s contribution for any other plan at the percentage for that income level.  In future years, after adjusting the individual premiums in subsection (c) of this section, the same methodology shall be used to determine the individual premiums for any other plans.

(c)(1)  An For the lowest cost plan, an individual’s contribution shall be:

(1)(A)  Income less than or equal to 200 percent of FPL:  $60.00 per month.

(2)(B)  Income greater than 200 percent and less than or equal to 225 percent of FPL: $90.00 per month.

(3)(C)  Income greater than 225 percent and less than or equal to 250 percent of FPL:  $110.00 per month.

(4)(D)  Income greater than 250 percent and less than or equal to 275 percent of FPL:  $125.00 per month.

(5)(E)  Income greater than 275 percent and less than or equal to 300 percent of FPL:  $135.00 per month.

(6)(F)  Income greater than 300 percent of FPL:  the actual cost of Catamount Health.

(2)  For plans other than the lowest cost plan, an individual’s contribution shall be the sum of:

(A)  the applicable contribution as set out in subdivision (1) of this subsection; and

(B)  the difference between the premium for the lowest cost plan and the premium for the plan in which the individual is enrolled.  

* * * Blueprint * * *

Sec. 4.  DIRECTOR OF THE BLUEPRINT

In fiscal year 2008, there is established in the agency of administration one (1) new exempt position, to be titled the director of the blueprint for health, who shall report directly to the secretary or designee.  

Sec. 5.  18 V.S.A. § 702 is amended to read:

§ 702.  BLUEPRINT FOR HEALTH; STRATEGIC PLAN

(a)  As used in this section, “health insurer” shall have the same meaning as in section 9402 of this title.

(b)  In coordination with the secretary of administration under section 2222a of Title 3 the commissioner of health shall be responsible for The director of the blueprint, in collaboration with the commissioner of health, shall oversee the development and implementation of the blueprint for health, including the five‑year strategic plan.  Whenever private health insurers are concerned, the director shall collaborate with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration.

(b)(c)(1)  The commissioner secretary shall establish an executive committee to advise the commissioner director of the blueprint on creating and implementing a strategic plan for the development of the statewide system of chronic care and prevention as described under this section.  The executive committee shall consist of no fewer than 10 individuals, including the commissioner of health, a representative from the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration; the office of Vermont health access; the Vermont medical society; the Vermont program for quality in health care a statewide quality assurance organization; the Vermont association of hospitals and health systems; two representatives of private health insurers; consumer; a representative of the complementary and alternative medicine profession; and a primary care professional serving low income or uninsured Vermonters; and a representative of the state employees’ health plan, who shall be designated by the director of human resources and who may be an employee of the third party administrator contracting to provide services to the state employees’ health plan.  In addition, the director of the commission on health care reform shall be a nonvoting member of the executive committee.

(2)  The executive committee shall engage a broad range of health care professionals who provide services as defined under section 4080f of Title 18, health insurance plans, professional organizations, community and nonprofit groups, consumers, businesses, school districts, and state and local government in developing and implementing a five‑year strategic plan.

(c)(1)(d)  The blueprint shall be developed and implemented to further the following principles:

(1)  the primary care provider should serve a central role in the coordination of care and shall be compensated appropriately for this effort;

(2)  use of information technology will be maximized;

(3)  local service providers should be used and supported, whenever possible;

(4)  transition plans should be developed by all involved parties to ensure a smooth and timely transition from the current model to the blueprint model of health care delivery and payment;

(5)  implementation of the blueprint in communities across the state should be accompanied by payment to providers sufficient to support care management activities consistent with the blueprint, recognizing that interim or temporary payment measures may be necessary during early and transitional phases of implementation; and

(6)  interventions designed to prevent chronic disease and improve outcomes for persons with chronic disease should be maximized, should target specific chronic disease risk factors, and should address changes in individual behavior, the physical and social environment, and health care policies and systems. 

(e)(1)  The strategic plan shall include:

(A)  a description of the Vermont blueprint for health model, which includes general, standard elements established in section 1903a of Title 33, patient self‑management, community initiatives, and health system and information technology reform, to be used uniformly statewide by private insurers, third party administrators, and public programs;

(B)  a description of prevention programs and how these programs are integrated into communities, with chronic care management, and the blueprint for health model;

(C)  a plan to develop and implement reimbursement systems aligned with the goal of managing the care for individuals with or at risk for conditions in order to improve outcomes and the quality of care;

(D)  the involvement of public and private groups, health care professionals, insurers, third party administrators, associations, and firms to facilitate and assure the sustainability of a new system of care;

(E)  the involvement of community and consumer groups to facilitate and assure the sustainability of health services supporting healthy behaviors and good patient self‑management for the prevention and management of chronic conditions;

(F)  alignment of any information technology needs with other health care information technology initiatives;

(G)  the use and development of outcome measures and reporting requirements, aligned with existing outcome measures within the agency of human services, to assess and evaluate the system of chronic care;

(H)  target timelines for inclusion of specific chronic conditions to be included in the chronic care infrastructure and for statewide implementation of the blueprint for health;

(I)  identification of resource needs for implementation and sustaining the blueprint for health and strategies to meet the needs; and

(J)  a strategy for ensuring statewide participation no later than January 1, 2009 2011 by health insurers, third‑party administrators, health care professionals, hospitals and other professionals, and consumers in the chronic care management plan, including common outcome measures, best practices and protocols, data reporting requirements, payment methodologies, and other standards.  In addition, the strategy should ensure that all communities statewide will have implemented at least one component of the blueprint by January 1, 2009. 

(2)  The strategic plan shall be reviewed biennially and amended as necessary to reflect changes in priorities.  Amendments to the plan shall be reported to the general assembly included in the report established under subsection (d)(i) of this section.

(f)  The director of the blueprint shall facilitate timely progress in adoption and implementation of clinical quality and performance measures as indicated by the following benchmarks:

(1)  by July 1, 2007, clinical quality and performance measures are adopted for each of the chronic conditions included in the Medicaid Chronic Care Management Program.  These conditions include, but are not limited to, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.

(2)  at least one set of clinical quality and performance measures will be added each year and a uniform set of clinical quality and performance measures for all chronic conditions to be addressed by the blueprint will be available for use by health insurers and health care providers by January 1, 2010. 

(3)  in accordance with a schedule established by the blueprint executive committee, all clinical quality and performance measures are reviewed for consistency with those used by the Medicare program and updated, if appropriate. 

(g)  The director of the blueprint shall facilitate timely progress in coordination of chronic care management as indicated by the following benchmarks:

(1)  by October 1, 2007, risk stratification strategies are used to identify individuals with or at risk for chronic disease and to assist in the determination of the severity of the chronic disease or risk thereof, as well as the appropriate type and level of care management services needed to manage those chronic conditions.

(2)  by January 1, 2009, guidelines for promoting greater commonality, consistency, and coordination across health insurers in care management programs and systems are developed in consultation with employers, consumers, health insurers, and health care providers.  

(3)  beginning July 1, 2009, and each year thereafter, health insurers, in collaboration with health care providers, report to the secretary on evaluation of their disease management programs and the progress made toward aligning their care management program initiatives with the blueprint guidelines. 

(h)(1)  No later than January 1, 2009, the director shall, in consultation with employers, consumers, health insurers, and health care providers, complete a comprehensive analysis of sustainable payment mechanisms.  No later than January 1, 2009, the director shall report to the health care reform commission and other stakeholders, his or her recommendations for sustainable payment mechanisms and related changes needed to support achievement of blueprint goals for health care improvement, including the essential elements of high quality chronic care, such as care coordination, effective use of health care information by physicians and other health care providers and patients, and patient self‑management education and skill development. 

(2)  By January 1, 2009, and each year thereafter, health insurers will participate in a coordinated effort to determine satisfaction levels of physicians and other health care providers participating in the blueprint care management initiatives, and will report on these satisfaction levels to the director and in the report established under subsection (i) of this section.

(d)(1)(i)  The commissioner of health director shall report annually, no later than January 1, on the status of implementation of the Vermont blueprint for health for the prior calendar year, and shall provide the report to the house committee on health care, the senate committee on health and welfare, the health access oversight committee, and the commission on health care reform.  The report shall include the number of participating insurers, health care professionals and patients; the progress for achieving statewide participation in the chronic care management plan, including the measures established under subsection (c)(e) of this section; the expenditures and savings for the period; the results of health care professional and patient satisfaction surveys; the progress toward creation and implementation of privacy and security protocols; information on the progress made toward the requirements in subsections (g) and (h) of this section; and other information as requested by the committees.  The surveys shall be developed in collaboration with the executive committee established under subsection (b)(c) of this section.

(2)  If statewide participation in the blueprint for health is not achieved by January 1, 2009, the commissioner shall evaluate the blueprint for health and recommend to the general assembly changes necessary to create alternative measures to ensure statewide participation by health insurers, third party administrators, and health care professionals.

(j)  It is the intent of the general assembly that health insurers shall participate in the blueprint for health no later than January 1, 2009 and shall engage health care providers in the transition to full participation in the blueprint. 

Sec. 6.  Blueprint for Health: Plan for Regulatory Enforcement

(a)  Findings:

(1)  The blueprint for health is based on a voluntary collaborative approach which has to date achieved significant progress toward its goals. 

(2)  If, based on the  director’s annual report required by subsection 702(i) of Title 18, it appears that a voluntary approach is unlikely to meet the goal set forth in subsection 702(j) of Title 18, a regulatory approach will become necessary. 

(b)  The commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration is directed to prepare an implementation plan, including recommendations for enhanced authority, outlining the steps necessary to ensure that health insurers will successfully implement the blueprint by January 1, 2009.  The implementation plan need not address Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, Dr. Dynasaur, any Global Commitment for Health waiver program, any state‑funded pharmacy program, Catamount Health Assistance, or the employer‑sponsored‑insurance assistance program.  This plan should be delivered to the senate committee on health and welfare, the house committee on health care, and the commission on health care reform by January 1, 2008.

* * * Integrating Care Coordination and
Payment Reform into the Blueprint * * *

Sec. 7.  INTEGRATED EARLY IMPLEMENTATION OF BLUEPRINT PROGRAMS

(a)(1)  Findings.

(A)  A core goal of the blueprint for health is to create a greater degree of cohesiveness in the delivery of care to people with chronic conditions.

(B)  Given the complexity of the health care delivery system, it is necessary to test, within a small number of early implementation communities, how to integrate the various key components of the chronic care model.

(C)  Health insurers currently assume the costs (both in claims costs and administrative expenses for existing disease management programs) for care coordination and for provider payment.

(2)  Purpose and intent.  It is the intent of the general assembly that all health insurers, including those who offer the state employees’ health plan or who administer chronic care management for state health benefits programs, shall voluntarily participate in early implementation projects.

(b)  The director shall establish early implementation projects necessary to demonstrate and evaluate best practices in the integration and delivery of chronic care as part of the blueprint for health.  Projects shall include those listed in subsections (e), (f), and (g) of this section.  The director shall develop the projects using the medical home project as the baseline and shall consider the options for community‑based care coordination described in subsection (f) and the options for payment reform described in subsection (g) of this section as options for the final design of the early implementation projects.  The director shall, in designing these early implementation projects, integrate the other components of the blueprint such as patient self‑management, the use of decision support tools such as the chronic care information system, and the development of community resources. 

(c)  Early implementation projects shall meet the following criteria:

(1)  Communities.  The implementation should occur concurrently within one or more of the existing blueprint communities and, if the director approves, in the Vermont rural health alliance.   

(2)  Timetable.  The program design, integration and implementation plan, and selection of the initial community for the early implementation projects should be completed by October 1, 2007.  Implementation in the initial community should be commenced by January 1, 2008.  Implementation into at least one additional community should begin by July 1, 2008. 

(3)  Evaluation.  The implementation plan should include ongoing structured feedback from the major stakeholders to help inform the implementation while it is occurring, and, as part of the annual report required by 18 V.S.A. § 702(i), a more formal evaluation after one year of operation.  During implementation, the director shall consult with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration to determine whether statewide implementation of the early implementation projects would have an impact on health insurance premium rates, and the extent to which implementation costs would be offset by reduced administration costs or savings in medical claims.  

(d)  For fiscal year 2008, the department of health shall provide a grant to the Vermont rural health alliance for the early implementation projects described in this section upon the approval by the commissioner and upon receipt by the alliance of $185,000.00 of federal grant or other matching funds. 

(e)  Medical home project chronic care management systems integration.

(1)  The director, with assistance from the commissioner of health, the director of the office of Vermont health access, the commissioner of human resources, and the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, shall establish a medical home project for use with Medicaid beneficiaries, Catamount Health, and the state employees’ health plan.  The director shall also encourage other health insurers to participate in the project and adopt and pay similar care management fees.

(2)  The project shall facilitate provision of accessible, continuous, and coordinated family‑centered care to high‑need populations.  The project shall ensure that:

(A)  Medicaid, Catamount Health carriers, and the state employees’ health plan pay care management fees to primary care providers providing care management under the project and in compliance with subsection (e) of this section;

(B)  incentive payments for demonstrated compliance with established clinical protocols are paid to primary care providers participating in practices that provide services as a medical home.

(3)  The director, with assistance from the commissioner of health, the director of the office of Vermont health access, the commissioner of human resources, and the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, shall develop a care management fee schedule and shall determine the amount of care management and incentive payments. 

(4)  A primary care provider participating in the project shall:

(A)  Provide ongoing support, oversight, and guidance to implement a plan of care that provides an integrated, coherent, cross‑discipline plan for ongoing medical care developed in partnership with patients and including all other physicians furnishing care to the patient.  

(B)  Use evidence‑based medicine and clinical decision support tools to guide decision‑making at the point of care based on patient‑specific factors.

(C)  Use health information technology, which may include remote monitoring and patient registries, to monitor and track the health status of patients and to provide patients with enhanced and convenient access to health care services.

(D)  Encourage patients to engage in the management of their own health through education and community support systems, including the blueprint healthier living workshops or similar evidence‑based, self‑management tools. 

(5)  The director shall include an evaluation of this project for the previous calendar year, with recommendations for expansion of the project, in the annual report required by 18 V.S.A. § 702(i). 

(6)  To the extent that it is not inconsistent with provisions herein, this section shall be construed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109‑432, § 204, 120 Stat 2922, 2987–89 (2006) (Medicare Medical Home Demonstration Project). 

(7)  For purposes of this subsection:

(A)  “Coordinated care management” is a system that includes at least the following components:

(i)  population identification processes;

(ii)  evidence‑based practice guidelines;

(iii)  collaborative practice models to include physician and support‑service providers;

(iv)  patient self‑management education, which may include primary prevention, behavior modification programs, and compliance surveillance;

(v)  process and outcome measurement, evaluation, and management; and

(vi)  routine reporting and sharing of information among the patient, primary care provider, ancillary providers, and health insurers.

(B)  “Health insurer” shall have the same meaning as in section 9402 of this title.

(C)  “High‑need population” means individuals with chronic illnesses that require regular medical monitoring, advising, or treatment areas.

(D)  “Medical home” means a primary care provider practice that is responsible for:

(i)  targeting patients for participation in the project; and

(ii)  providing safe and secure technology to promote patient access to personal health information;

(iii)  developing a health assessment tool for the individuals targeted; and

(iv)  providing training programs for personnel involved in the coordination of care.

(E)  “Primary care provider” means a health care provider who:

(i)  is board certified, if applicable;

(ii)  provides first contact and continuous care for individuals under his or her care; and

(iii)  has staff and resources sufficient to manage the comprehensive and coordinated health care of each such individual.

(f)  Community‑based care coordination.

(1)  The director shall encourage the development of community‑based care coordination teams, which will provide local support to primary care providers in a community, particularly those serving as medical homes to patients with chronic conditions.  Such teams will collaborate with the medical home practices to:

(A)  Devise care plans through assessment of current treatments, services, and resources that directly address patients’ needs.

(B)  Ensure patient compliance with the care plan and monitor appropriate emergency room use, hospitalizations, length of stay, and discharge planning.

(C)  Strive to enhance the relationship between the patient and his or her medical home, and to educate patients on how to become more proactive in meeting their own health care needs.

(D)  Utilize community‑based resources, where feasible, to support the formation of care plans, to ensure compliance with such care plans, and to enhance patient education.

(2)  The director, supported by the commissioner of health, the director of the office of Vermont health access, and the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, and in collaboration with health insurers, as defined in section 9402 of Title 18, shall examine methods of funding, including the use of funds from existing disease management programs, to support community based care coordination teams.

(g)  Chronic care payment reform.  In addition to the care management fee and incentive payments to be made pursuant to the medical home project required by subsection (e) of this section, the director should consider other payment reforms in the early implementation of blueprint programs, such as: 

(1)  A bundled payment provided on a monthly basis that includes 90 percent of the cost associated with providing all evidence‑based preventive services for the applicable chronic disease state, as developed in the blueprint.  Additional payments of up to 10 percent could be provided in cases where all of the recommended evidence‑based preventive services are provided.

(2)  Separate fee‑for‑service payments for office visits (Payments for care management services that fall outside the office visit should not result in a reduction in payments for office visits.).

(3)  Other projects designed to set payment based on the quality of the outcome, which may include projects such as shared savings for reductions in hospitalizations associated with physician‑coordinated care management in the office setting.

* * * Support for Primary Care Providers * * *

Sec. 8.  PRIMARY CARE PROVIDERS; NURSE AUTHORITY STUDY; AHEC APPROPRIATION

(a)  Findings:

(1)  Primary care providers are essential to the success of the blueprint.

(2)  Loan repayment is an essential component of recruiting and retaining a strong primary care provider workforce. 

(b)  No later than September 1, 2007, the commissioner of health, the director of the office of professional regulation, and the board of nursing shall establish a work group to study and make recommendations on the advisability of eliminating the requirement for an advance practice nurse to work in a collaborative practice with a licensed physician, with the goal of evaluating whether advance practice nurses might serve a greater role as primary care providers who provide essential chronic care management.  The work group shall include a representative of the Vermont Nurse practitioner association and a representative of the medical practice board.  The work group shall make its recommendations in a report delivered to the house committee on health care, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the commission on health care reform no later than January 15, 2008. 

Sec. 9.  18 V.S.A. § 9409a is added to read: 

§ 9409a.  Health care insurance reimbursement survey

In order to understand the impact of reimbursement on access to health care, the cost shift, the workforce shortages and recruitment and retention of health care professionals, the commissioner shall annually survey health insurers to determine the reimbursement paid for the ten most common billing codes for primary care health services.  Each insurer shall report the average reimbursement paid for a specific service.  The survey shall be managed by the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, and any public reports shall be sufficiently aggregated so that they would not enable readers to determine the amount of reimbursement paid for specific services to any particular provider or facility.  No provider‑specific or facility‑specific reimbursement information shall be included in the public survey reports, or be available through public records requests.  When published, survey data will be at least 90 days old.  Only the department will have access to the underlying survey responses.  The department shall provide a copy of the survey results to the house committee on health care and the senate committee on health and welfare.

Sec. 10.  3 V.S.A. § 631 is amended to read:

§ 631.  GROUP INSURANCE FOR STATE EMPLOYEES; SALARY DEDUCTIONS FOR INSURANCE, SAVINGS PLANS, AND CREDIT UNIONS

(a)(1)  The secretary of administration may contract on behalf of the state with any insurance company or nonprofit association doing business in this state to secure the benefits of franchise or group insurance.  Beginning July 1, 1978, the terms of coverage under the policy shall be determined under section 904 of this title, but it may include:

(A)  life, disability, health, and accident insurance and benefits for any class or classes of state employees; and

(B)  hospital, surgical, and medical benefits for any class or classes of state employees or for those employees and any class or classes of their dependents.

* * *

(c)(1)  At least every five years, the secretary of administration shall advertise for bids on the insurance contracts and shall award the contract to the person whose bid or quotation is in the best interest of the state.  The secretary of administration may reject any bids or quotations and may request additional bids.  Upon publication of the request for proposals, health care professional and trade associations may register with the secretary of administration to be provided a list of bidders.  Such associations may then submit information about the business practices of the bidders for the secretary of administration to consider in the course of evaluating bids and request meetings with the secretary to discuss the information. 

(2)  Annually, the secretary of administration shall submit a report to the house committee on health care and the senate committee on health and welfare that includes:

(A)  an assessment of the status of alignment between chronic care management programs provided to state employees through the health coverage benefit and the Vermont blueprint for health strategic plan developed under section 702 of Title 18;

(B)  the results of provider satisfaction assessments, developed in consultation with health care professional and trade associations, the blueprint director, and the commissioner of health, which assessments shall be designed to evaluate whether the contractor for administrative services for health benefits has created and maintained adequate provider networks and has entered into participating provider agreements designed to effectively and efficiently compensate providers for delivering services in a manner consistent with the blueprint for health principles.

(C)  if the secretary determines that provider satisfaction levels are creating a barrier to successful implementation of the blueprint for health for the state employees health plan, an action plan to improve provider satisfaction relative to the blueprint implementation and institute changes to the chronic care management program.  Prior to the secretary’s determination, health care professional and trade associations may request the opportunity to meet with the secretary to review and discuss the results of the provider satisfaction assessments.

(3)  At least annually, the secretary shall hold discussions with established health care professional and trade associations in regard to provider regulation, provider reimbursement, or quality of health care. 

* * *

* * * Other Provisions * * *

Sec. 11.  33 V.S.A. § 1986(d) is amended to read:

(d)  All monies received by or generated to the fund shall be used only as allowed by appropriation of the general assembly for the administration and delivery of the Catamount Health assistance program under this subchapter, employer‑sponsored insurance premium assistance under section 1974 of this title, immunizations under section 1130 of Title 18, development and implementation of the blueprint for health under section 702 of title 18, and the nongroup health insurance market assistance under section 4062d of Title 8, and for transfers to the state health care resources fund established in section 1901d of this title as approved by the general assembly.

Sec. 12.  33 V.S.A. § 1974(c)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  The premium assistance program under this subsection shall provide a subsidy of premiums or cost-sharing amounts based on the household income of the eligible individual, with greater amounts of financial assistance provided to eligible individuals with lower household income and lesser amounts of assistance provided to eligible individuals with higher household income.  Until an approved employer-sponsored plan is required to meet the standard in subdivision (4)(B)(ii) of this subsection, the subsidy shall include premium assistance and assistance to cover all cost-sharing amounts for chronic care health services covered by the Vermont health access plan that are related to evidence-based guidelines for ongoing prevention and clinical management of the chronic condition specified in the blueprint for health in section 702 of Title 18.  

Sec. 13.  8 V.S.A. § 4080f(f)(1) is amended to read:

(f)(1)  Except as provided for in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the carrier shall pay health care professionals the least of contracted rates for such professionals, billed charges, or, using the Medicare payment methodologies, at a level ten percent greater than for levels paid under the Medicare program in 2006.  Payments based on Medicare payment methodologies under this subsection shall be indexed to the Medicare economic index developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sec. 14.  REPEAL

18 V.S.A. § 9417 (health information technology) is repealed.

Sec. 15.  EFFECTIVE DATE

     Secs. 4 and 15 of this act shall take effect upon passage.  All other sections shall take effect July 1, 2007. 

(For text see House Journal April 5, 2007 – P. 565)

H. 534

     An act relating to prekindergarten education.

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

First:  In Sec. 2, § 11(a)(31), after the words not eligible for by inserting the words or enrolled in

Second:  By striking out Sec. 3 in its entirety and inserting a new Sec. 3 to read:

Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. § 829 is added to read:

§ 829.  PREKINDERGARTEN EDUCATION; RULES

The board of education, in consultation with the secretary of human services, shall adopt rules under chapter 25 of Title 3:

(1)  To ensure that, before a school district begins a prekindergarten education program or expands a prekindergarten education program by adding three-year-old children to a program established to serve four-year-old children and intends to enroll students who are included in its average daily membership, the district engage the community in a collaborative process that includes an assessment of the need for the program in the community and an inventory of the existing service providers.

(2)  To ensure that, if a school district begins a prekindergarten education program or expands a prekindergarten education program by adding three-year-old children to a program established to serve four-year-old children and intends to include any of the students in its average daily membership, the district shall use existing qualified service providers to the extent that existing qualified service providers have the capacity to meet the district’s needs effectively and efficiently.

(3)  To require that the school district provides opportunities for effective parental participation in the prekindergarten education program. 

(4)  To establish a process by which a parent or guardian residing in the district or a provider, or both, may request a school district to enter into a contract with a provider located in or outside the district. 

(5)  To identify the services and other items for which state funds may be expended when prekindergarten children are counted for purposes of average daily membership, such as tuition reduction, quality improvements, or professional development for school staff or private providers.

(6)  To ensure transparency and accountability by requiring private providers under contract with a school district to report costs for prekindergarten programs to the school district and by requiring school districts to report these costs to the commissioner of education.

(7)  To require school districts to include identifiable costs for prekindergarten programs and essential early education services in their annual budgets and reports to the community.

(8)  To provide an appeal process for:

(A)  A parent, guardian, or provider to challenge an action of the school district when the appellant believes that the district is in violation of state statute or rules regarding prekindergarten education.

(B)  A school district to challenge an action of a state agency, department, or board if the district believes the state entity has acted in violation of state statute or rules regarding prekindergarten education. 

(9)  To establish the minimum quality standards necessary for a district to include prekindergarten children within its average daily membership.  At a minimum, the standards shall include the following requirements:

(A)  A provider must have received:

(i)  National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation; or

(ii)  At least four stars in the department for children and families STARS system with at least two points in each of the five arenas; or

(iii)  Three stars in the STARS system if the provider has developed a plan, approved by the commissioner for children and families and the commissioner of education, to achieve four or more stars within three years with at least two points in each of the five arenas, and the provider has met intermediate milestones; and

(B)  A licensed center shall employ or contract for the services of at least one teacher who is licensed and endorsed in early childhood education or in early childhood special education under chapter 51 of this title; and

(C)  A registered home shall receive regular, active supervision and training from a teacher who is licensed and endorsed in early childhood education or in early childhood special education under chapter 51 of this title.

(10)  To establish a process for documenting the progress of children enrolled in prekindergarten programs and to require public and private providers to use the process to collect and report child progress data to the commissioner of education on an annual basis.

Third:  In Sec. 6, § 4001, subdivision (1)(C), by striking out the following:  Although there is no limit on the total number of children who may be enrolled in prekindergarten education or who receive essential early education services, the total number of prekindergarten children that a district may include within its average daily membership shall be limited as follows:” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  “Although the total number of prekindergarten children that a district may include within its average daily membership shall be limited as set forth in subdivisions (i) and (ii) below, there is no limit on the total number of children who may be enrolled in prekindergarten education or who receive essential early education services.  Each school district shall have sole discretion regarding the manner in which it limits total enrollment.

Fourth:  In Sec, 7, § 4010, subdivision (c)(3), by striking out the numeral “1.25” and inserting in lieu thereof the numeral 1.13

Fifth:  In Sec. 10, subdivision (3), after the words The statewide cost by inserting the following:  , including the cost to the education fund,

Sixth:  In Sec. 10, by adding three new subdivisions to be subdivisions (7) through (9) to read:

(7)  The measurable positive and negative effects that the prekindergarten programs covered by this act have had on the early development and learning experiences of young children in Vermont, including the programs’ effectiveness in addressing the extreme behavioral needs of young children.

(8)  The effect that the limits on the number of prekindergarten children that may be included within a district’s ADM established in Sec. 6 of this act have had on the ability to serve the needs of young children.

(9)  The advisability of eliminating or amending the ADM limits established in Sec. 6 of this act, including:

(A) An analysis of whether the elimination of the limits would effectively be a requirement that all districts provide prekindergarten education programs.

(B)  An analysis of the effect that elimination or amendment of the limits would be likely to have on the education fund.  

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

Sec. 11.  TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

Any district that offered prekindergarten education during the 2006–2007 academic year shall not be affected by the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(C) in Sec. 6 of this act that limit the total number of prekindergarten children who may be counted within the district’s average daily membership; rather, the district may instead choose to include within its average daily membership the total number of prekindergarten children enrolled in its program, provided that the number does not exceed the highest number of prekindergarten children enrolled in any one of the following three academic years: 2004-2005, 2005-2006, or 2006-2007.  If, at any time, the district elects to determine its average daily membership of prekindergarten children based on the limitations in 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(C), the decision shall be final, and the district shall at all times be bound by that subdivision. 

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

Sec. 12.  CONSTRUCTION

Nothing in this act shall be construed to require a school district to provide a prekindergarten education program.

(For text see House Journal April 3, 2007 – P. 485; April 4 – P. 509)

Report Committee of Conference

S.37

TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

The Committee of Conference, to which were referred the disagreeing votes of the two Houses upon Senate Bill, entitled:

S.37.  AN ACT RELATING TO MOSQUITO CONTROL.

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the Senate accede to the House’s proposal of amendment and that the bill be further amended in Sec. 2a by striking both instances of the phrase “and the department of health

John Malcolm

Christopher Bray

Kristy Spengler

Committee on the part of the House

Harold Giard

Hull Maynard

Robert Starr

Committee on the part of the Senate

CONSENT CALENDAR

Concurrent Resolutions for Notice under Joint Rule 16

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

H.C.R.  125

House concurrent resolution congratulating Liz Stephen on her accomplishments as a competitive Nordic skier

H.C.R.  126

House concurrent resolution in memory of former Representative J. Russell Carpenter and of M. Ellen Carpenter

H.C.R.  127

House concurrent resolution congratulating the nursing staff at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center on the center’s second designation as a Magnet® hospital

H.C.R.  128

House concurrent resolution commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Green Mountain National Forest

H.C.R.  129

House concurrent resolution honoring state employees during Public Service Recognition Week

H.C.R.  130

House concurrent resolution honoring Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports and the participating athletes on its Sugarbush ski team

H.C.R.  131

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Vermont Business Roundtable on its 20th anniversary

H.C.R.  132

House concurrent resolution honoring Dan Collins for over 40 years of superb service as a public educator

H.C.R.  133

 House concurrent resolution honoring Northfield fire chief William C. Lyon

H.C.R. 134

House concurrent resolution honoring Sandra Demasi Kingsley for her outstanding 32‑year career on the administrative staff at Norwich University

H.C.R. 135

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Community High School of Vermont on earning accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges

H.C.R. 136

House concurrent resolution congratulating Collin Bigras on being named to the 2007 Sub-Junior All-American Trapshooting First Team

 

H.C.R.  137

House concurrent resolution honoring the role of foster parents during foster parent month

H.C.R.  138

House concurrent resolution congratulating Thomas Secoy on winning the 2007 Vermont Arbor Day poster contest

 

H.C.R.  139

House concurrent resolution commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, “The Wall,” in Washington, D.C. and all Vietnam War Veterans

H.C.R.  140

House concurrent resolution welcoming the FISA’s 2007 international rowing tour on the Connecticut River

H.C.R.  141

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Route 100B Byway Committee on the designation of the Mad River Byway

S.C.R.   22. 

Senate concurrent resolution commending the State House cafeteria management and staff for their outstanding work during the first year of the 2007-2008 biennium.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us