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House Calendar

FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2007

122nd DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

House Convenes at 9:30 A M

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                               Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

     Unfinished Business of Thursday, May 3, 2007

Favorable

J.R.H. 26  Urging Congress to Enact H. R. 676 Nat’l Ins. Act..................... 1626

               Rep. O’Donnell for Health Care

Action Postponed Until Friday, May 4, 2007

Senate Proposal of Amendment to House Proposal of Amendment

S.   78  Cost of Picking Up and Hauling Milk Paid by Purchaser................... 1626

Third Reading

S. 115  Transparency of Prescription Drug Pricing and Information............... 1627

               Rep. Hube Amendment................................................................. 1628

Senate Proposals of Amendment

H. 520  Generation of Electricity by Use of Renewable Resources................ 1628

H. 531  Ensuring Success in Health Care Reforms........................................ 1674

 

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Amendment

S. 164  Relating to Campaign Finance.......................................................... 1689

               Rep. Sweaney for Government Operations

               Rep. Koch et al Amendment.......................................................... 1701

S. 167  Relating to Voter Registration........................................................... 1708

               Rep. Jerman for Government Operations

S. 177  Relating to Child Poverty in Vermont................................................ 1711

               Rep. Pugh for Human Services

Favorable

S.   27  Increasing the Minimum Tip Wage.................................................... 1712

               Rep. Head for General, Housing and Military Affairs

S. 170  Rights of Family Members, Funeral Directors, Crematory................. 1712

               Rep. Devereux of Mount Holly for Government Operations

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 248  VT Telecommunications Authority – Broadband and Wireless.......... 1712

Report Committee of Conference

H. 360  Employment Protection /Training for VT Nat’l Guard Members....... 1752

S.   13  Idling of Motor Vehicle Engines on School Property......................... 1752

 

CONSENT CALENDAR

(See Addendum to House and Senate Calendar)

H.C.R. 125  Congratulating Liz Stephen Competitive Nordic Skier.............. 1754

H.C.R. 126  In Memory of Former Representative J. Russell Carpenter....... 1754

H.C.R. 127  Congratulating Nursing Staff SVMC as  Magnet® Hospital...... 1754

H.C.R. 128  75th Anniversary of Green Mountain National Forest............... 1754

H.C.R. 129  Honoring State Employees / Public Recognition Week............. 1754

H.C.R. 130  Honoring VT Adaptive Ski and Sports Athletes Ski Team........ 1754

H.C.R. 131  Congratulating VT Business Roundtable / 20th Anniversary...... 1754

H.C.R. 132  Honoring Dan Collins  for 40 Years Public Service................... 1754

H.C.R. 133  Honoring Northfield Fire chief William C. Lyon........................ 1754

H.C.R. 134  Honoring Sandra Kingsley’s 32 Year Career at Norwich......... 1754

H.C.R. 135  Community HS of VT Earning Accreditation from NEASC...... 1754

H.C.R. 136  Congratulating Collin Bigras All-American Trapshooting........... 1754

H.C.R. 137  Honoring Foster Parents During Foster Parents Month............. 1755

H.C.R. 138  Congratulating Thomas Secoy VT Arbor Day Poster............... 1755

H.C.R. 139  Commemorating 25th Anniversary Vietnam Vets Memorial...... 1755

H.C.R. 140  Welcoming FISA’s  2007 International Rowing Tour .............. 1755

H.C.R. 141  Congratulating Route 100 Byway Committee........................... 1755

S.C.R.   22  Commending State House Cafeteria Mgmt and Staff................. 1755


 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

     Unfinished Business of Thursday, May 3, 2007

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)

Action Postponed Until Friday, May 4, 2007

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”

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

(For text see House Journal April 20, 2007 – P. 665 )

Third Reading

S. 115

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

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

Moves the bill as amended by the Committee on Appropriations be further amended in Sec. 24a [Appropriations], in subsection (b), by striking the amount of “$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.

Senate Proposals of Amendment

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)

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Amendment

S. 164

An act relating to campaign finance.

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Large campaign contributions reduce public confidence in the electoral process and increase the risk and the appearance that candidates and elected officials will not act in the best interests of all Vermont citizens.

(2)  Some candidates and elected officials, particularly when time is limited, respond and give access to contributors who make large contributions in preference to those who make small or no contributions.

(3)  In Vermont, contributions greater than the amounts specified in this act are considered by the general assembly, candidates, and elected officials to be large contributions.

(4)  In Vermont, contributions in the amounts permitted in this act adequately allow contributors to express their opinions, levels of support, and affiliations with respect to candidates, political committees, and political parties.

(5)  In Vermont, candidates can raise sufficient monies to fund effective campaigns from contributions no larger than the amounts specified in this act.

(6)  Limiting large contributions will encourage direct and small group contact between candidates and the electorate and will encourage the personal involvement of a larger number of citizens in campaigns, both of which are crucial to public confidence and the robust debate of issues.

(7)  In Vermont, campaign expenditures by persons who are not candidates have been increasing and public confidence is eroded when unidentified expenditures are made, particularly during the final days of a campaign.

(8)  Identification of persons who publish political advertisements and electioneering communications assists in enforcement of the campaign finance limitations established by this act.

(9)  Aggregate contributions limitations are necessary to limit the influence of a single source, political committee, or political party in an election.

(10)  There is an extensive record supporting the need for the regulation of campaign finance in Vermont that was compiled during the consideration of No. 64 of the Acts of 1997, and that was considered by the courts during the litigation of Landell v. Sorrell, 118 F.Supp. 459 (D.Vt. 2000), aff’d in part and vacated in part, 382 F.3d 91 (2d Cir. 2004), rev’d and remanded sub nom. Randall v. Sorrell, 126 S. Ct. 2479 (2006).

(11)  This act is necessary in order to implement more fully the provisions of Article 8 of Chapter I of the Constitution of the State of Vermont, which declares “That all elections ought to be free and without corruption, and that all voters, having a sufficient, evident, common interest with, and attachment to the community, have a right to elect officers, and be elected into `office, agreeably to the regulations made in this constitution.”

Sec. 2.  17 V.S.A. § 2801 is amended to read:

§ 2801.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Candidate” means an individual who has taken affirmative action to become a candidate for state, county, local, or legislative office in a primary, special, general, or local election.  An affirmative action shall include one or more of the following:

(A)  accepting contributions or making expenditures totalling $500.00 or more; or

(B)  filing the requisite petition for nomination under this title or being nominated by primary or caucus; or

(C)  announcing that he or she seeks an elected position as a state, county, or local officer or a position as representative or senator in the general assembly.

(2)  “Clearly identified,” with respect to a candidate, means that:

(A)  The name of the candidate appears;

(B)  A photograph or drawing of the candidate appears; or

(C)  The identity of the candidate is apparent by unambiguous reference.

(3)  “Contribution” means a payment, distribution, advance, deposit, loan, or gift of money or anything of value, paid or promised to be paid to a person for the purpose of influencing an election, advocating a position on a public question, or supporting or opposing one or more candidates in any election, but shall not include services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering their time on behalf of a candidate, political committee or political party.  For purposes of this chapter, “contribution” shall not include a personal loan from a lending institution any of the following:

(A)  a personal loan of money to a candidate from a lending institution made in the ordinary course of business;

(B)  services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering their time on behalf of a candidate, political committee, or political party;

(C)  unreimbursed travel expenses incurred within the state of Vermont and paid for by an individual who volunteers personal services to a candidate, if the cumulative amount of these expenses does not exceed $500.00 per election;

(D)  unreimbursed campaign‑related travel expenses incurred within the state of Vermont and paid for by the candidate or the candidate’s spouse or civil union partner;

(E)  the payment by a political party of the costs of preparation, display, or mailing or other distribution of a party candidate listing;

(F)  documents, in printed or electronic form, including party platforms, single copies of issue papers, information pertaining to the requirements of this title, lists of registered voters and voter identification information, created, obtained, or maintained by a political party for the general purpose of party building and provided to a candidate who is a member of that party or to another political party;

(G)  compensation paid by a political party to its employees whose job responsibilities are not for the specific and exclusive benefit of a single candidate in any election;

(H)  campaign training sessions provided to three or more candidates;

(I)  costs paid for by a political party in connection with a campaign event at which three or more candidates are present;

(J)  the use of offices, telephones, computers, and similar equipment when that use does not result in additional cost to the provider;

(K)  activity or communication designed to encourage individuals to register to vote or to vote if that activity or communication does not mention or depict a clearly identified candidate;

(L)  compensation paid by a political party to its employees or consultants for the purpose of providing assistance to another political party.

(3)(4)  “Expenditure” means a payment, disbursement, distribution, advance, deposit, loan, or gift of money or anything of value, paid or promised to be paid, for the purpose of influencing an election, advocating a position on a public question, or supporting or opposing one or more candidates.  For the purposes of this chapter, “expenditure” shall not include any of the following:

(A)  a personal loan of money to a candidate from a lending institution made in the ordinary course of business;

(B)  services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering their time on behalf of a candidate, political committee, or political party;

(C)  unreimbursed travel expenses incurred within the state of Vermont and paid for by an individual who volunteers personal services to a candidate, if the cumulative amount of these expenses does not exceed $500.00 per election;

(D)  unreimbursed campaign‑related travel expenses incurred within the state of Vermont and paid for by the candidate or the candidate’s spouse or civil union partner.

(5)  “Party candidate listing” means any communication by a political party that:

(A)  lists the names of at least three candidates for election to public office;

(B)  is distributed through public advertising such as broadcast stations, cable television, newspapers and similar media, or through direct mail, telephone, electronic mail, publicly accessible sites on the internet or personal delivery;

(C)  treats all candidates in the communication in a substantially similar manner; and

(D)  is limited to:

(i)  the identification of each candidate, with which pictures may be used;

(ii)  the offices sought;

(iii)  the offices currently held by the candidates;

(iv)  the party affiliation of the candidates and a brief statement about the party or the candidates’ positions, philosophy, goals, accomplishments, or biographies;

(v)  encouragement to vote for the candidates identified; and

(vi)  information about voting, such as voting hours and locations.

(4)(6)  “Political committee” or “political action committee” means any formal or informal committee of two or more individuals, or a corporation, labor organization, public interest group, or other entity, not including a political party, which receives contributions of more than $500.00 and makes expenditures of more than $500.00 in any one calendar year for the purpose of supporting or opposing one or more candidates, influencing an election, or advocating a position on a public question in any election or affecting the outcome of an election.

(5)(7)  “Political party” means a political party organized under chapter 45 of this title or and any committee established, financed, maintained, or controlled by the party, including any subsidiary, branch, or local unit thereof and including national or regional affiliates of the party and shall be considered a single, unified political party.  The national affiliate of the political party shall be considered a separate political party.

(6)(8)  “Single source” means an individual, partnership, corporation, association, labor organization, or any other organization or group of persons which is not a political committee or political party.

(7)(9)  “Election” means the procedure whereby the voters of this state or any of its political subdivisions select a person to be a candidate for public office or fill a public office, or to act on public questions including voting on constitutional amendments.  Each primary, general, special, run‑off, or local election shall constitute a separate election.

(8)(10)  “Public question” means an issue that is before the voters for a binding decision.

(9)(11)  “Two‑year general election cycle” means the 24‑month period that begins 38 days after a general election. Expenditures related to a previous campaign and contributions to retire a debt of a previous campaign shall be attributed to the earlier campaign cycle.

(10)(12)  “Full name” means an individual’s full first name, middle name or initial, if any, and full legal last name, making the identity of the person who made the contribution apparent by unambiguous reference.

(11)(13)  “Telephone bank” means more than 500 telephone calls of an identical or substantially similar nature that are made to the general public within any 30‑day period.

Sec. 3.  17 V.S.A. § 2801a is amended to read:

§ 2801a.  EXCEPTIONS

The definitions of “contribution,” “expenditure,” and “electioneering communication” shall not apply to:

(1)  any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication which has not been paid for, or such facilities are not owned or controlled, by any political party, committee, or candidate; and

(2)  any communication distributed through a public access television station if the communication complies with the laws and rules governing the station, and all candidates in the race have an equal opportunity to promote their candidacies through the station.

Sec. 4.  17 V.S.A. § 2805 is amended to read:

§ 2805.  LIMITATIONS OF CONTRIBUTIONS

(a)  A candidate for state representative or local office shall not accept contributions totaling more than $200.00 $250.00 from a single source, or political committee or political party in for any two‑year general election cycle.

(b)  A candidate for state senator or county office shall not accept contributions totaling more than $300.00 $500.00 from a single source, or political committee or political party in for any two‑year general election cycle.

(c)  A candidate for the office of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, auditor of accounts, or attorney general shall not accept contributions totaling more than $400.00 $750.00 from a single source, or political committee or political party in for any two‑year general election cycleA political committee, other than a political committee of a candidate, or a political party shall not accept contributions totaling more than $2,000.00 from a single source, political committee or political party in any two‑year general election cycle.

(d)  A candidate for the office of governor shall not accept contributions totaling more than $1,000.00 from a single source or political committee in any election.

(b)(e)  A single source, political committee or political party shall not contribute more to a candidate, political committee or political party than the candidate, political committee or political party is permitted to accept under subsection (a) of this section than $20,000.00 to all candidates in any two‑year general election cycle.  A single source shall not contribute more than $20,000.00 to all political committees and political parties in any two‑year general election cycle.

(c)(f)  A candidate, political party or political committee shall not accept, from a political party contributions totaling more than the following amounts in any two‑year general election cycle, more than 25 percent of total contributions from contributors who are not residents of the state of Vermont or from political committees or parties not organized in the state of Vermont:

(1)  For the office of governor, $30,000.00;

(2)  For the office of lieutenant governor, $10,000.00;

(3)  For the office of secretary of state, state treasurer, auditor of accounts, or attorney general, $5,000.00;

(4)  For the office of state senator or county office, $2,000.00;

(5)  For the office of state representative or local office, $1,000.00.

(g)  A single source, political committee, or political party shall not contribute more to a candidate, political committee, or political party than the candidate, political committee, or political party is permitted to accept under subsections (a) through (d) and (f) of this section.

(d)(h)  A candidate shall not accept a monetary contribution in excess of $50.00 unless made by check, credit or debit card, or other electronic transfer.

(e)(i)  A candidate, political party, or political committee shall not knowingly accept a contribution which is not directly from the contributor, but was transferred to the contributor by another person for the purpose of transferring the same to the candidate, or otherwise circumventing the provisions of this chapter.  It shall be a violation of this chapter for a person to make a contribution with the explicit or implicit understanding that the contribution will be transferred in violation of this subsection.

(f)(j)  This section shall not be interpreted to limit the amount a candidate or his or her immediate family may contribute to his or her own campaign.  For purposes of this subsection, “immediate family” means individuals related to the candidate in the first, second or third degree of consanguinity a candidate’s spouse or civil union partner, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sister, brother, stepparent, stepgrandparent, stepchild, stepgrandchild, stepsister, stepbrother, mother‑in‑law, father‑in‑law, brother‑in‑law, sister‑in‑law, son‑in‑law, daughter‑in‑law, guardian, or former guardian.

(g)(k)  The limitations on contributions established by this section shall not apply to contributions made for the purpose of advocating a position on a public question, including a constitutional amendment.

(h)(l)  For purposes of this section, the term “candidate” includes the candidate’s political committee.

(m)  The contribution limitations contained in this section shall be adjusted for inflation by increasing them based on the Consumer Price Index.  Increases shall be rounded up to the nearest $10.00.  Increases shall be effective for the first two‑year general election cycle beginning after the general election held in 2008.  On or before July 1, 2009, the secretary of state shall calculate and publish the amount of each limitation that will apply to the election cycle in which July 1, 2009 falls.  On July 1 of each subsequent odd‑numbered year, the secretary shall publish the amount of each limitation for the election cycle in which that publication falls.

(n)  Contributions accepted by candidates shall be treated as follows:

(1)  A candidate who accepts a contribution prior to the date of the primary election may designate the contribution, or portion of the contribution, as either a primary or general election contribution.  Once designated, a general election contribution accepted prior to the primary election shall be accounted for separately.

(2)  A contribution accepted by a candidate after the date of the primary election shall be a general election contribution.  A candidate may designate a contribution, or portion of the contribution, accepted after the date of the primary election as a primary election contribution only for the purpose of retiring debt incurred for the primary election.

(3)  Contributions that were accepted prior to the primary election may be used for the general election if all debt incurred for the primary election has been retired.

(4)  Expenditures related to a previous two-year general election cycle and contributions to retire a debt of a previous two-year general election cycle shall be attributed to the earlier two-year general election cycle.

(5)  Independent candidates and minor party candidates, who do not have primary elections, may accept contributions prior to the primary election date in the same manner and subject to the same limits as major party candidates.

(o)  A candidate accepts a contribution when the contribution is deposited in the candidate’s campaign account.

Sec. 5.  17 V.S.A. § 2805b is added to read:

§ 2805b.  LIMITATIONS ON CONTRIBUTIONS; POLITICAL

 COMMITTEES; POLITICAL PARTIES

(a)  In any two-year general election cycle:

(1)  A political committee, other than a political committee of a candidate, shall not accept contributions totaling more than $2,000.00 from a single source, political committee, or political party.

(2)  A political party shall not accept contributions totaling more than $2,000.00 from a single source or political committee.

(3)  A political party shall not accept contributions totaling more than $30,000.00 from another political party.

(b)  The contribution limitations contained in this section shall be adjusted for inflation by increasing them based on the Consumer Price Index.  Increases shall be rounded up to the nearest $10.00.  Increases shall be effective for the first two‑year general election cycle beginning after the general election held in 2008.  On or before July 1, 2009, the secretary of state shall calculate and publish the amount of each limitation that will apply to the election cycle in which July 1, 2009 falls.  On July 1 of each subsequent odd‑numbered year, the secretary shall publish the amount of each limitation for the election cycle in which that publication falls.

(c)  In any two-year general election cycle:

(1)  A single source, political committee, or political party shall not contribute more than $2,000.00 to a political committee, other than a political committee of a candidate. 

(2)  A single source or political committee shall not contribute more than $2,000.00 to a political party. 

(3)  A political party shall not contribute more than $30,000.00 to another political party. 

(d)  The limitations on contributions established by this section shall not apply to contributions made for the purpose of advocating a position on a public question, including a constitutional amendment.

Sec. 6.  17 V.S.A. § 2809 is amended to read:

§ 2809.  ACCOUNTABILITY FOR RELATED COORDINATED

EXPENDITURES

(a)  A related coordinated campaign expenditure made on a candidate’s behalf shall be considered a contribution to the candidate on whose behalf it was made.

(b)  A related coordinated campaign expenditure made on a candidate’s behalf shall be considered an expenditure by the candidate on whose behalf it was made.  However, if the expenditure did not exceed $50.00, the expenditure shall not be considered an expenditure by the candidate on whose behalf it was made.

(c)  For the purposes of this section, a “related coordinated campaign expenditure made on the candidate’s behalf” means any expenditure intended to promote the election of a specific candidate or group of candidates, or the defeat of an opposing candidate or group of candidates, if intentionally facilitated by, solicited by or approved by the candidate or the candidate’s political committee made by a single source, political committee, or political party in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, a candidate’s political committee or an agent, unless otherwise exempt under subdivision 2801(3) or (4) or section 2801a of this title.

(d)  An expenditure made by a political party or by a political committee that recruits or endorses candidates, that primarily benefits six or fewer candidates who are associated with the political party or political committee making the expenditure, is presumed to be a related expenditure made on behalf of those candidates.  An expenditure made by a political party or by a political committee that recruits or endorses candidates, that substantially benefits more than six candidates and facilitates party or political committee functions, voter turnout, platform promotion or organizational capacity shall not be presumed to be a related expenditure made on a candidate’s behalf.  In addition, an expenditure shall not be considered a “related campaign expenditure made on the candidate’s behalf” if all of the following apply:

(1)  The expenditures were made in connection with a campaign event whose purpose was to provide a group of voters with the opportunity to meet the candidate personally.

(2)  The expenditures were made only for refreshments and related supplies that were consumed at that event.

(3)  The amount of the expenditures for the event was less than $100.00.

For the purposes of this section, a “coordinated campaign expenditure made on the candidate’s behalf” does not mean:

(1)  the cost of invitations and postage and of food and beverages voluntarily provided by an individual to provide an opportunity for a group of voters to meet a candidate, if the cumulative value of these activities by the individual on behalf of any candidate does not exceed $500.00 per election;

(2)  the sale of any food or beverage by a vendor at a charge less than the normal comparable charge, for use at a campaign event providing an opportunity for a group of voters to meet a candidate, if the charge to the candidate is at least equal to the cost of the food or beverages to the vendor and if the cumulative value of the food or beverages does not exceed $500.00 per election; or

(3)  amounts expended by an association or a membership organization in compiling and disseminating a nonpartisan voter guide that includes reports of votes on legislation by, or answers to written questions directed to, all or substantially all of the candidates seeking election to the general assembly or to statewide office, about the candidates’ positions on issues of concern to the association or organization, if both of the following apply:

(A)  the association or organization identifies itself as the sponsor of the communication, and accepts no funding from a candidate, political committee, or political party to defray the costs of the voter guide;

(B)  the voter guide does not contain a phrase such as “vote for,” “re‑elect,” “support,” “cast your ballot for,” “(name of candidate) for Senate,” “(name of candidate) in (year),” “vote against,” “defeat,” or “reject,” or other material that refers to a clearly identified candidate for office and that promotes or supports a candidate for that office, or attacks or opposes a candidate for that office.

* * *

Sec. 7.  17 V.S.A. § 2893(b) is amended to read:

(b)  In addition to any other reports required to be filed under this chapter, a person who makes expenditures for any one mass media activity totaling $500.00 or more within 30 days of a primary or general election shall, for each activity, file a mass media report with the secretary of state and send a copy copies, by a verifiable method of sending, of the mass media report and the complete mass media activity in the same format as distributed to the public to each candidate whose name or likeness is included in the activity within 24 hours of the expenditure or activity, whichever occurs first at the same time as the release of the information contained in the mass media activity to the public.  For the purposes of this section, a person shall be treated as having made an expenditure if the person has executed a contract to make the expenditure.  The report shall identify the person who made the expenditure with the name of the candidate involved in the activity and any other information relating to the expenditure that is required to be disclosed under the provisions of subsections 2803(a) and (b) of this title.

Sec. 8.  EVALUATION OF 2008 PRIMARY AND GENERAL ELECTIONS

The house and senate committees on government operations shall evaluate the 2008 primary and general elections to determine whether the major provisions of this act are accomplishing their intended purposes.

Sec. 9.  REPEAL

17 V.S.A. § 2805a (campaign expenditure limitations) is repealed.

Sec. 10.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on July 17, 2007.

(Committee vote: 9-2-0)

Rep. Koch of Barre Town, Sunderland of Rutland Town and Flory of Pittsford, 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. 17 V.S.A. chapter 59A is added to read:

Chapter 59A. Campaign Finance

§ 2901. DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Candidate” means an individual who has taken affirmative action to become a candidate for state, county, local, or legislative office in a primary, special, general, or local election.  An affirmative action shall include one or more of the following:

(A)  accepting contributions or making expenditures totaling $500.00 or more; or

(B)  filing the requisite petition for nomination under this title or being nominated by primary or caucus; or

(C)  announcing that he or she seeks an elected position as a state, county, or local officer or a position as representative or senator in the general assembly.

(2)  “Clearly identified,” with respect to a candidate, means that:

(A)  The name of the candidate appears;

(B)  A photograph or drawing of the candidate appears; or

(C)  The identity of the candidate is apparent by unambiguous reference.

(3)  “Contribution” means a payment, distribution, advance, deposit, loan, or gift of money or anything of value, paid or promised to be paid to a person for the purpose of influencing an election, advocating a position on a public question, or supporting or opposing one or more candidates in any election.  For purposes of this chapter, “contribution” shall not include any of the following:

(A)  a personal loan of money to a candidate from a lending institution made in the ordinary course of business;

(B)  services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering their time on behalf of a candidate, political committee, or political party;

(C)  unreimbursed travel expenses incurred within the state of Vermont and paid for by an individual who volunteers personal services to a candidate, if the cumulative amount of these expenses does not exceed $500.00 per election;

(D)  unreimbursed campaign‑related travel expenses incurred within the state of Vermont and paid for by the candidate or the candidate’s spouse or civil union partner;

(E)  the payment by a political party of the costs of preparation, display, or mailing or other distribution of a party candidate listing;

(F)  documents, in printed or electronic form, including party platforms, single copies of issue papers, information pertaining to the requirements of this title, lists of registered voters and voter identification information, created, obtained, or maintained by a political party for the general purpose of party building and provided to a candidate who is a member of that party or to another political party;

(G)  compensation paid by a political party to its employees whose job responsibilities are not for the specific and exclusive benefit of a single candidate in any election;

(H)  campaign training sessions provided to three or more candidates;

(I)  costs paid for by a political party in connection with a campaign event at which three or more candidates are present;

(J)  the use of offices, telephones, computers, and similar equipment when that use does not result in additional cost to the provider;

(K)  activity or communication designed to encourage individuals to register to vote or to vote if that activity or communication does not mention or depict a clearly identified candidate;

(L)  compensation paid by a political party to its employees or consultants for the purpose of providing assistance to another political party.

(4)  “Expenditure” means a payment, disbursement, distribution, advance, deposit, loan, or gift of money or anything of value, paid or promised to be paid, for the purpose of influencing an election, advocating a position on a public question, or supporting or opposing one or more candidates.  For the purposes of this chapter, “expenditure” shall not include any of the following:

(A)  a personal loan of money to a candidate from a lending institution made in the ordinary course of business;

(B)  services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering their time on behalf of a candidate, political committee, or political party;

(C)  unreimbursed travel expenses incurred within the state of Vermont and paid for by an individual who volunteers personal services to a candidate, if the cumulative amount of these expenses does not exceed $500.00 per election;

(D)  unreimbursed campaign‑related travel expenses incurred within the state of Vermont and paid for by the candidate or the candidate’s spouse or civil union partner.

(5)  “Party candidate listing” means any communication by a political party that:

(A)  lists the names of at least three candidates for election to public office;

(B)  is distributed through public advertising such as broadcast stations, cable television, newspapers and similar media, or through direct mail, telephone, electronic mail, publicly accessible sites on the internet or personal delivery;

(C)  treats all candidates in the communication in a substantially similar manner; and

(D)  is limited to:

(i)  the identification of each candidate, with which pictures may be used;

(ii)  the offices sought;

(iii)  the offices currently held by the candidates;

(iv)  the party affiliation of the candidates and a brief statement about the party or the candidates’ positions, philosophy, goals, accomplishments, or biographies;

(v)  encouragement to vote for the candidates identified; and

(vi)  information about voting, such as voting hours and locations.

(6)  “Political committee” or “political action committee” means any formal or informal committee of two or more individuals, or a corporation, labor organization, public interest group, or other entity, not including a political party, which receives contributions of more than $500.00 and makes expenditures of more than $500.00 in any one calendar year for the purpose of supporting or opposing one or more candidates, influencing an election, or advocating a position on a public question in any election or affecting the outcome of an election.

(7)  “Political party” means a political party organized under chapter 45 of this title and any committee established, financed, maintained, or controlled by the party, including any subsidiary, branch, or local unit thereof and shall be considered a single, unified political party.  The national affiliate of the political party shall be considered a separate political party.

(8)  “Single source” means an individual, partnership, corporation, association, labor organization, or any other organization or group of persons which is not a political committee or political party.

(9)  “Election” means the procedure whereby the voters of this state or any of its political subdivisions select a person to be a candidate for public office or fill a public office, or to act on public questions including voting on constitutional amendments.  Each primary, general, special, run‑off, or local election shall constitute a separate election.

(10)  “Public question” means an issue that is before the voters for a binding decision.

(11)  “Two‑year general election cycle” means the 24‑month period that begins 38 days after a general election.

(12)  “Full name” means an individual’s full first name, middle name or initial, if any, and full legal last name, making the identity of the person who made the contribution apparent by unambiguous reference.

§ 2902. CHECKING ACCOUNT; CANDIDATES, POLITICAL

COMMITTEES AND POLITICAL PARTIES

(a) Candidates who have made expenditures or received contributions of $500.00 or more and political committees shall be subject to the following requirements:

(1) All expenditures shall be paid by check from a single checking account in a single bank publicly designated by the candidate or political committee.

(2) Each candidate and each political committee shall name a treasurer, who may be the candidate or spouse, who is responsible for maintaining the checking account.

(b) Within ten days of reaching the $500.00 threshold, each political committee and each political party which has accepted contributions or made expenditures of $500.00 or more shall register with the secretary of state stating its full name and address, the name of its treasurer, and the name of the bank in which it maintains its campaign checking account.

§ 2903. MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS

All monetary contributions in excess of $50.00 shall be made by check.

§ 2904. CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES TO BE REPORTED

(a) Each candidate for state or county office, each candidate for the general assembly, each political committee, and each political party required to register under section 2892 of this title shall report all expenditures made and contributions received as provided in this chapter.

(b) Each person required to report under this chapter shall file the information required under section 2895 with the secretary of state:

(1) within 72 hours of the time the contribution was received or the expenditure made; or

(2) if the contribution is received or the expenditure is made during the seven-day period immediately preceding the day of the election, within 24 hours of the time the contribution was received or the expenditure made.

(c) The secretary of state shall, without delay, post the information filed under this section on a website maintained by the secretary for this purpose.

(d) In addition, a political committee or political party which has accepted contributions or made expenditures of $500.00, or more, for the purpose of influencing a local election or supporting or opposing one or more candidates in a local election shall, in addition to other filings required by this chapter, file campaign finance reports ten days before and ten days after the local election with the clerk of the municipality in which the election is held and with the secretary of state.

§ 2905. FORM OF CAMPAIGN REPORT

(a) The secretary of state shall prescribe and provide a uniform reporting form for all campaign finance reports. The reporting form shall be designed to show the following information:

(1) if the contribution is in excess of $50.00, the full name, town of residence and mailing address of the contributor, the date of the contribution and the amount contributed;

(2) if the contribution is $50.00 or less, the total amount of the contribution and the total number of all such contributions;

(3) the amount, date, to whom paid and purpose of the expenditure;

(4) the amount contributed or loaned by the candidate to his or her own campaign; and

(5) the amount, date incurred, to whom owed and purpose of the debt or other obligation incurred.

(b) The form shall require the reporting of all contributions and expenditures accepted or spent during the last 72 hours or, during the week prior to the election, during the last 24 hours and during the campaign to date, and shall require full disclosure of the manner in which any indebtedness is discharged or forgiven. Contributions and expenditures for the reporting period and for the campaign to date also shall be totaled in an appropriate place on the form.

(c) The secretary of state shall make the reporting form available for downloading from the secretary’s website, and shall provide for electronic filing of the information required to be reported as an alternative to traditional hard-copy methods.

§ 2906. FINAL CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS; CANDIDATES FOR

STATE OFFICE, THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, COUNTY

OFFICE, POLITICAL COMMITTEES AND POLITICAL PARTIES

(a) At any time, but not later than 40 days following the general election, a candidate for state office and each candidate for county office or for the general assembly who has made expenditures or received contributions of $500.00 or more shall file with the secretary of state a "final report," which shall constitute the termination of his or her campaign activities. The report shall list a complete accounting of all contributions and expenditures, and disposition of any surplus.

(b) A political committee or political party shall file a campaign finance report not later than 40 days following the general election. At any time, a political committee or a political party may file a "final report," which shall constitute the termination of its campaign activities. The report shall list a complete accounting of all contributions and expenditures.

(c) Each candidate for county office or for the general assembly required to file a final campaign finance report under this section shall also file the report with the officer with whom his or her nomination papers were filed.

§ 2907. SURPLUS CAMPAIGN FUNDS

(a) No member of a political committee which has surplus funds after all campaign debts have been paid shall convert the surplus to personal use.

(b) No candidate who has surplus funds after all campaign debts have been paid shall convert the surplus to personal use, other than to reduce personal campaign debts.

(c) The "final report" of a candidate shall indicate the amount of the surplus and how it has been or is to be liquidated.

§ 2908. NEW CAMPAIGN ACCOUNTS

Candidates who choose to open a new campaign account for public office may close out their former campaign by filing a final report with the secretary of state, converting all debts and assets to the new campaign. This final report shall disclose all contributions and expenditures and the disposition of all debts and assets attributable to the former campaign as of the date of the filing of the final report.

§ 2909. CAMPAIGN REPORTS; LOCAL CANDIDATES

Each candidate for local office who has made expenditures or accepted contributions of $500.00 or more shall file campaign finance reports ten days before and ten days after the local election. The reports shall be filed with the officer with whom the candidate’s nomination papers are filed.

§ 2910. PENALTIES

(a) A person who violates a provision of this chapter shall be fined not more than $2,500.00 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

(b) A person who knowingly and intentionally violates a provision of this chapter shall be fined not more than $10,000.00 or imprisoned not more than two years and one day, or both.

(c) A person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000.00 for each violation, with interest calculated as of the date of the violation.

(d) In addition to the other penalties herein provided, a state’s attorney or the attorney general may institute any appropriate action, injunction, or other proceeding to prevent, restrain, correct or abate any violation of this chapter.

Sec. 2. TRANSFER OF FUNDS IN THE VERMONT CAMPAIGN FUND

On the effective date of this act, all assets in the Vermont campaign fund shall be transferred to a special account and held for a period of one year to meet outstanding claims on the fund, if any. After the one-year period has expired, all remaining assets of the Vermont campaign fund shall revert to the general fund.

Sec. 3. 32 V.S.A. § 586 is amended to read:

§ 586.  APPLICATION

The provisions of this subchapter shall not apply to funds established to account for proceeds from the sale of bonds, to the general fund, the transportation fund, the fish and wildlife fund, the tobacco litigation settlement fund, or to any federal revenue funds, trust funds, enterprise funds, internal service funds, or agency funds, or to public service enterprise funds established to implement provisions of sections 211 and 212a through 212f of Title 30; the budget stabilization reserves created by sections 308 and 308a of this title; the low-level radioactive waste fund created by section 7013 of Title 10; the Vermont campaign fund created by section 2856 of Title 17; the lands and facilities trust fund created by section 2807 of Title 3; the education fund created by section 4025 of Title 16; or the Vermont housing and conservation trust fund created by section 312 of Title 10. 

Sec. 4. REPEAL

Chapter 59 of Title 17, §§ 2801 through 2893, relating to campaign financing and 32 V.S.A. § 5862c (Vermont campaign fund add-on) are repealed.

S. 167

An act relating to voter registration.

Rep. Jerman of Essex, for the Committee on Government Operations, 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.  17 V.S.A. § 2144 is amended to read:

§ 2144.  DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS

(a)   The town clerk shall not accept applications for persons’ names to be placed on the checklist after 12:00 noon 5:00 p.m. on the second Monday Wednesday preceding the day of the election.  The town clerk’s office shall be kept open on the second Monday Wednesday preceding the day of the election from no later than 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m., for the purpose of receiving applications for addition to the checklist.  For purposes of this subsection, a mail application or an application submitted to the department of motor vehicles in connection with a motor vehicle driver’s license or an application accepted by a voter registration agency shall be considered to have met the filing deadline established by this subsection if the application is postmarked, submitted or accepted by 12:00 noon 5:00 p.m. of the second Monday Wednesday preceding the day of the election.

(b)  If a person is not eligible to register prior to the second Monday before the day of election voter registration deadline, but expects to be eligible on or before election day, he or she may file with the town clerk a written notice of intention to apply for addition of his or her name to the checklist.  The notice shall be filed prior to noon of the second Monday preceding the day of election the voter registration deadline, and the town clerk shall then accept the person's application at any time before the close of the polls on election day, and act upon the application forthwith.

(c)  If a person is not eligible to register prior to the second Monday before the day of the election voter registration deadline, and has submitted a written notice of intent to apply in accord with subsection (b) of this section, the clerk shall, upon application, allow the applicant to vote absentee. If the application is approved and the name added to the checklist prior to the close of the polls on election day, the early or absentee ballots cast by that voter shall be treated as other valid early or absentee ballots.

* * *

Sec. 2.  17 V.S.A. § 2351 is amended to read:

§ 2351.  PRIMARY ELECTION

A primary election shall be held on the second third Tuesday of September August in each even numbered even-numbered year for the nomination of candidates of major political parties for all offices to be voted for at the succeeding general election, except candidates for president and vice-president of the United States, their electors, and justices of the peace.

Sec. 3.  17 V.S.A. § 2353(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The name of any person shall be printed upon the primary ballot as a candidate for nomination by any major political party for any office indicated, if petitions containing the requisite number of signatures made by legal voters, in substantially the following form, are filed with the proper official, together with the person's written consent to having his name printed on the ballot:

STATE OF VERMONT  

County of  ............................... )          

       ss.

     City (town) of  .......................... )

I join in a petition to place on the primary ballot of the ............................................................... party the name of  ...................., whose residence is in the (city), (town) of  .................... in the county of ..............................., for the office of  .................... to be voted for on Tuesday, the  ............... day of September August, 20  .......; and I certify that I am at the present time a registered voter and am qualified to vote for a candidate for this office.

Sec. 4.  17 V.S.A. § 2369 is amended to read:

§ 2369.  DETERMINING WINNER; TIE VOTES

Persons who receive a plurality of all the votes cast by a party in a primary shall be candidates of that party for the office designated on the ballot.  If two or more candidates of the same party are tied for the same office, the choice among those tied shall be determined:

(1)  Upon five days' notice, by the state committee of a party, for a state or congressional office;

(2)  By run-off election for a county office, for a state senator, or for a representative to the general assembly.  The run-off election shall be held on the fourth second Tuesday of September and shall be conducted in the same manner as the primary election.

Sec. 5.  17 V.S.A. § 2413(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The party members in each town, on or before the first third Tuesday of September August in each even numbered even-numbered year, upon the call of the town committee, may meet in caucus and nominate candidates for justice of the peace.  The committee shall give notice of the caucus as provided in subsection (d) of this section and the chairman and secretary shall file the statements required in sections 2385 through 2387 of this title.

Sec. 6.  17 V.S.A. § 2532 is amended to read:

§ 2532.  APPLICATIONS; FORM

* * *

(b)  A person temporarily residing in a foreign country who is eligible to register to vote in this state, or a military service absentee voter who is eligible to register to vote in this state, may apply for early voter absentee ballots in the same manner and within the same time limits that apply for other early or absentee voters.  An official federal postcard application shall suffice as a simultaneous request for an application for addition to the checklist and for an early voter absentee ballot, when properly submitted. Any other person also may make a simultaneous request for an application for addition to the checklist and for an early voter absentee ballot.  The provisions of this section shall apply to anyone who is not eligible to register prior to the second Monday before the day of election, but expects to be eligible on or before election day.

(c)  If the request is received by the town clerk not later than noon on the second Monday before the election prior to the voter registration deadline set forth in subsection 2144(a) of this title, the town clerk shall mail a blank application for addition to the checklist, together with a full set of early voter absentee ballots, to the person who has applied for early voter absentee ballots. All such applications for addition to the checklist which are returned to the town clerk before the close of the polls on election day shall be considered and acted upon by the board of civil authority before the ballots are counted. If the application is approved and the name added to the checklist, the early voter absentee ballots cast by that voter shall be treated as other valid early voter absentee ballots.

* * *

(Committee vote: 10-1-0)

(No Senate Amendments)

S. 177

An act relating to child poverty in Vermont.

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

First:  In Sec. 1, by striking subdivision (b)(1) in its entirety and by inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(b)(1)  The council shall consist of the following members or their designees:

(A) the president pro tempore of the senate;

(B)  the speaker of the house of representatives;

(C)  the chair of the senate committee on health and welfare;

(D)  the chair of the house committee on human services;

(E)  the chair of the senate committee on education;

(F)  the chair of the house committee on education;

(G)  the commissioners for children and families; health; education; and labor; and

(H)  one representative each from Voices for Vermont’s Children, the Vermont low income advocacy council, Vermont Legal Aid, and the Vermont superintendents’ association. 

Second:  In Sec. 1, by striking subdivision (b)(3) in its entirety and by inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(3)  The council shall meet up to six times while the general assembly is not in session to perform its functions under this section.  In addition, during the 2007 legislative interim, the council shall hold 14 public hearings as required under subsection (d) of this section.

Third:  In Sec. 1, by striking subsection (d) in its entirety and by inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(d)  In developing the working plan, the council shall first consult with experts, with parents of children living in poverty, and with providers of services to children and families living in poverty.  The council shall hold one public hearing in each of the 14 counties.

Fourth:  In Sec. 1, by striking subsection (f) in its entirety and by inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(f)  Not later than January 1, 2008, the council shall submit the working plan to the house committees on appropriations and human services and the senate committees on appropriations and health and welfare.  On January 1, 2009, and annually thereafter, until January 1, 2018, the council shall report to these committees on yearly progress toward benchmarks, updates to the plan, and recommendations for budgetary and policy changes in order to accomplish the goals of this act.

(Committee vote: 8-3-0)

(For text see Senate Journal April 4, 2007 P. 372; April 5 – P. 405 )

Favorable

S. 27

An act relating to increasing the minimum tip wage.

Rep. Head of South Burlington, for the Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, recommends that the bill ought to pass in concurrence.

(Committee Vote: 8-0-0)

(For text see Senate Journal March 20, 2007 P. 259; March 21 P. 269 )

S. 170

An act relating to the rights of family members, funeral directors and crematory operators concerning the disposition of bodily remains and funeral goods and services.

Rep. Devereux, for the Committee on Government Operations, recommends that the bill ought to pass in concurrence.

(Committee Vote:11-0-0)

(For text see Senate Journal March 27, 2007 – P.305; March 28 P. 321 )

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 248

     An act relating to establishing the Vermont telecommunications authority to advance broadband and wireless communications infrastructure throughout the state.

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:

* * * Vermont Telecommunications Authority * * *

Sec. 1.  30 V.S.A. chapter 91 is added to read:

CHAPTER 91.  VERMONT TELECOMMUNICATIONS AUTHORITY

§ 8060.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds that:

(1)  The availability of mobile telecommunications and broadband services is essential for promoting the economic development of the state, the education of its young people and life-long learning, the delivery of cost-effective health care, the public safety, and the ability of citizens to participate fully in society and civic life.

(2)  Private entities have brought mobile telecommunications and broadband services to many households, businesses and locations in the state, but significant gaps remain.

(3)  A new level of creative and innovative strategies (including partnerships and collaborations among and between state entities, nonprofit organizations, municipalities, the federal government, and the private sector) is necessary to extend and complete broadband coverage in the state, and to ensure that Vermont maintains a telecommunications infrastructure that allows residents and businesses to compete fairly in the national and global economy.

          (4)  When such partnerships and collaborations fail to achieve the goal of providing high-quality broadband access and service to all areas and households, or when some areas of the state fall behind significantly in the variety and quality of services readily available in the state, it is necessary for an authority of the state to support and facilitate the construction of infrastructure and access to broadband service through financial and other incentives.

(5)  Small broadband enterprises now offering broadband service in Vermont have limited access to financial capital necessary for expansion of broadband service to unserved areas of the state.  The general assembly recognizes these locally based broadband providers for their contributions to date in providing broadband service to unserved areas despite the limitations on their financial resources.

(6)  The universal availability of adequate mobile telecommunications and broadband services promotes the general good of the state.

     (b)  Therefore, it is the goal of the general assembly to ensure:

(1)  that all residences and business in all regions of the state have access to affordable broadband services not later than the end of the year 2010;

(2)  the ubiquitous availability of mobile telecommunication services including voice and high-speed data throughout the state by the end of the year 2010; and

(3)  the investment in telecommunications infrastructure in the state which will support the best available and economically feasible service capabilities.

(4)  that telecommunications and broadband infrastructure in all areas of the state is continuously upgraded to reflect the rapid evolution in the capabilities of available mobile telecommunications and broadband technologies, and in the capabilities of mobile telecommunications and  broadband services needed by persons, businesses, and institutions in the state.

(5)  the most efficient use of both public and private resources through state policies by encouraging the development of open access telecommunications infrastructure that can be shared by multiple service providers.

§ 8061.  ESTABLISHMENT OF AUTHORITY; ORGANIZATION

(a)  The Vermont telecommunications authority is hereby created and established as a body corporate and politic and a public instrumentality of the state.  The exercise by the authority of the powers conferred upon it in this chapter constitutes the performance of essential governmental functions.

(b) The authority shall have a board of directors of 11 members selected as follows:

(1)  the state treasurer or his or her designee;

(2)  the executive director of the Vermont economic development Authority or his or her designee;

(3)  the secretary of administration or his or her designee;

(4) one representative appointed by the board of the Vermont league of cities and towns; provided that the person appointed may not be a resident of a municipality owning communications plant or operating a communications service authorized by Chapter 54 of Title 24;

(5) three at-large members appointed by the speaker of the house, who may not be members of the general assembly at the time of appointment;

(6)  three at-large members appointed by the committee on committees of the senate, who may not be members of the general assembly at the time of appointment; and

     (7)  one member appointed jointly by the governor, the speaker of the house, and the president pro tempore of the senate, who shall be chair of the board of directors, and who need not be a member of the general assembly or an employee or officer of the state at the time of appointment.

     (c)  The authority’s powers are vested in the board of directors, and a quorum shall consist of seven members.  No action of the authority shall be considered valid unless the action is supported by a majority vote of the members present and voting and then only if at least six members vote in favor of the action.

(d)  In making appointments of at-large members and the chair, the appointing authorities shall give consideration to citizens of the state with knowledge of telecommunications technology, telecommunications regulatory law, transportation rights-of-way and infrastructure, finance, and environmental permitting. However, the six at-large members and the chair may not be persons with a financial interest in or owners or employees of an enterprise that provides broadband or cellular service or that is seeking in-kind or financial support from the authority.  The six at-large members and the chair shall serve terms of four years beginning July 1 of the year of appointment.  However, two of the at-large members first appointed by the speaker, and two of the at-large members first appointed by the committee on committees shall serve an initial term of two years.  Any vacancy occurring among the at-large members or the chair shall be filled by the respective appointing authority and be filled for the balance of the unexpired term.  A member may be reappointed.

(e)  The authority shall hire and employ an executive director who shall serve as the authority’s chief administrative officer and shall direct and supervise the authority’s administrative affairs and technical activities in accordance with any rules, regulations, and policies set forth by the authority.  In addition to any other duties, the executive director shall:

(1)  Attend all meetings of the authority, act as its secretary, and keep minutes of its proceedings;

(2)  Approve all accounts of the authority, including but not limited to accounts for salaries, per diems, and allowable expenses of any employee or consultant thereof and expenses incidental to the operation of the authority;

(3)  Make an annual report to the authority documenting the actions of the authority and such other reports as the authority may request;

(4)  Perform such other duties as may be directed by the authority in the carrying out of the purposes of this chapter.

(f)  Except for those members otherwise regularly employed by the state, the compensation of the authority’s members shall be the same as that provided by 32 V.S.A. § 1010(a).  All members of the authority, including those members otherwise regularly employed by the state, shall receive their actual and necessary expenses when away from home or office upon their official duties.

§ 8062.  PURPOSE; POWERS AND DUTIES

(a)  To achieve the goals under section 8060 (b) of this title:

(1)  from information reasonably available after public notice to and written requests made of mobile telecommunications and broadband service providers, to develop and maintain an inventory of locations at which mobile telecommunications and broadband services are not available within the state, develop and maintain an inventory of infrastructure that is available or reasonably likely to be available to support provision of services to areas unserved, and develop and maintain an inventory of infrastructure necessary for provision of these services to the areas unserved;

(2)  to identify the types and locations of infrastructure and services needed to accomplish the goals of this chapter;

(3)  to coordinate the agencies of the state to make public resources available to support the extension of mobile telecommunications and broadband infrastructure and services to all unserved areas;

(4)  to coordinate and establish public-private partnerships to extend availability of mobile telecommunications and broadband services, and to promote development of the infrastructure that enables the provision of these services;

(5)  to support and facilitate local initiatives to extend the availability of mobile telecommunications and broadband services, and to promote development of the infrastructure that enables the provision of these services;

          (6)  to provide resources to local, regional, public and private entities in the form of loans, grants, and other incentives funded through bonded capital and other resources;

(7)  to solicit and consider input from local municipal authorities, districts designated by the federal economic development administration, regional planning commissions, and metropolitan planning organizations on specific projects the authority plans to undertake;

(8)  to inventory and assess the potential to use federal radio frequency licenses held by instrumentalities of the state to enable broadband service in unserved areas of the state; take whatever steps are consistent with the powers granted the authority under this chapter to promote the use of those licensed radio frequencies for that purpose; and recommend to the general assembly any further legislative measures with respect to ownership, management, and utilization of these licenses as would promote the general good of the state; and

(9)  to the extent not inconsistent with the goals of this chapter, to promote utilization of existing buildings and structures, historic or otherwise, as sites for visually-neutral placement of mobile telecommunications and wireless broadband antenna facilities.

(b)  The authority shall have the following powers, which shall be exercised to further the authority’s purpose, and shall have all other powers necessary to carry out the duties imposed on the authority by law:

(1)  to establish partnerships and contracts with providers of telecommunications services and related facilities to serve unserved people and areas of the state; and to provide financial and other assistance to providers who agree in return to provide mobile telecommunications or broadband services to unserved people and areas of the state; and to facilitate directly or indirectly the efforts of other entities to advance the availability of mobile voice and high speed data or broadband services.

(2)  to provide financial assistance in the form of loans, grants, guarantees, other financial instruments, or, in accordance with section 8064 of this title, to issue bonds backed by project revenues, the state, or its political subdivisions, or both, for the purpose of building infrastructure capable of delivering mobile telecommunications and broadband services to all Vermonters;

(3)  to consult, contract, or partner with the Vermont economic development authority and the Vermont municipal bond bank to provide financial assistance for purposes authorized by this chapter;

(4) to coordinate access to and pursue regional and local revolving loan funding and all state, federal, and private funding that is available for telecommunications infrastructure, including financial assistance that may be available to rural economic area partnership (REAP) zones, as designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and to contract with financial assistance providers;

(5)  to receive and accept grants, gifts, loans, or contributions from any source subject to the provisions of 32 V.S.A. § 5.

(6)  to incorporate one or more nonprofit corporations in Vermont to fulfill the goals of this chapter.  Such corporations shall be empowered to borrow money and to receive and accept gifts, grants, or contributions from any source, subject to the provisions of 32 V.S.A. § 5.  The board of directors of any nonprofit corporation created under this subsection shall be the board of directors of the authority.  The corporation shall be organized and operate under the nonprofit corporation laws of the state of Vermont.  The authority may contract with the corporation to provide staff and management needs of the corporation;

(7)  to aggregate and broker access at reduced prices to services and facilities required to provide wireless telecommunications and broadband services;  and to waive or reduce state fees for access to state‑owned rights‑of‑way in exchange for comparable value to the state, unless payment for use is otherwise required by federal law;

(8)  to own, acquire, sell, trade, and lease equipment, facilities, and other infrastructure that could be accessed and used by multiple service providers, the state and local governments, including fiber optic cables, towers, shelters, easements, rights of way, and wireless spectrum of frequencies; provided that any agreement by the authority to sell infrastructure that is capable of use by more than one service provider shall contain conditions that will ensure continued shared use or co-location at reasonable rates; and provided further, that any agreement by the authority to sell or divest such infrastructure shall be subject to the approval of the emergency board of the state established in subchapter 2 of chapter 3 of title 32;

(9)  in collaboration with the Vermont municipal bond bank, to act as agent and advisor for municipalities that wish to offer municipally backed financial assistance, consistent with chapter 53 of Title 24, to develop telecommunications infrastructure or services in their communities;

(10)  to apply for and obtain required permits for the construction of telecommunications infrastructure;

(11)  in collaboration with the agency of administration, to lead the management of marketing of state properties to encourage and expedite collocation of infrastructure;

(12)  to consult with agencies and departments on establishing charges or payments for use by wireless telecommunications and broadband service providers of state property, easements, and rights‑of‑way to the extent such charges or payments are required by law, and establish the criteria for waiver of such charges or payments when providers offer to furnish comparable value to the state to meet the public good;

(13)  to sue and be sued in its own name and plead and be impleaded;

(14)  to administer its own funds and to invest or deposit funds which are not needed currently to meet the obligations of the authority; and

(15)  to borrow money and give other evidence of indebtedness or obligations and security consistent with the authority’s purpose and needs.

(c)  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to grant power to the authority to offer the sale of telecommunications services to the public. 

§ 8063.  INTERAGENCY COOPERATION AND ASSISTANCE

(a)  Other departments and agencies of state government shall assist and cooperate with the authority and shall make available to it information and data as needed to assist the authority in carrying out its duties. The secretary of administration shall establish protocols and agreements among the authority and departments and agencies of the state for this purpose.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to waive any privilege or protection otherwise afforded to the data and information under exemptions to the public records act or under other laws due solely to the fact that the information or data is shared with the authority pursuant to this section. 

(b)  With the consent of the governor, and under terms and conditions of transfer approved by the governor, a state agency shall transfer ownership and control to the authority of the agency’s interest in any telecommunications facility designated by the authority as appropriate to assist the authority in meeting its statutory purposes.  “Telecommunications facility” includes antennae, towers and other support structures, wires and cables, and other equipment.

(c)  To the extent that the authority issues loans, it shall consult with the Vermont economic development authority to ensure that the lending activities and programs of each are coordinated and are not in competition.  The authority shall, through contract or agreement, engage the assistance of the Vermont economic development Authority in planning and administering lending activities and in evaluating credit worthiness of the borrower for purposes of this chapter.

(d)  The authority shall also strive to identify, consult with, and coordinate lending programs with the administrators of local and regional revolving loan funds in order to leverage the lending capacity of the authority and the regional and local funds, and to ensure that the lending activities of the authority and the revolving loan funds are not in competition.

(e)  No instrumentality of the state shall sell, lease, or otherwise divest itself of ownership or control of radio frequency spectrum without prior notice to and approval of the authority.  

§ 8064.  BONDS AND NOTES

(a)(1)  The authority may issue its negotiable notes and bonds in such principal amount as the authority determines to be necessary to provide sufficient funds for achieving any of its corporate purposes, including the payment of interest on notes and bonds of the authority, establishment of reserves to secure the notes and bonds including the reserve funds created under section 8065 of this title, and all other expenditures of the authority incident to and necessary or convenient to carry out its corporate purposes and powers.  However, the bonds or notes of the authority outstanding at any one time shall not exceed $40,000,000.00.  No bonds shall be issued under this section without the prior approval of the governor and the state treasurer or their respective designees.  In addition, before the authority may initially exercise its bonding authority granted by this section, it shall submit to the emergency board of the state a current business plan including an explanation of the bond issue or issues initially proposed and obtain the approval of the emergency board for the issuance.

(2)  The authority shall have the power, from time to time, to issue bonds and notes, to renew, defease, and refund notes and bonds to pay bonds and notes, including the interest thereon, and, whenever it deems refunding expedient, to refund any bonds by the issuance of new bonds, whether the bonds and notes to be refunded have or have not matured, and to issue bonds and notes partly to refund bonds then outstanding and partly for any of its corporate purposes.

(3)  Except as may otherwise be expressly provided by resolution of the authority, every issue of its notes and bonds shall be general obligations of the authority payable out of any revenues or moneys of the authority, subject only to any agreements with the holders of particular notes or bonds pledging any particular revenues.

(b)  The notes and bonds shall be authorized by resolution or resolutions of the authority, shall bear such date or dates and shall mature at such time or times as the resolution or resolutions may provide, except that no bond shall mature more than 30 years from the date of its issue.  The bonds may be issued as serial bonds or as term bonds or as a combination thereof.  The notes and bonds shall bear interest at such rate or rates or the manner of determining such rate or rates, as provided in sections 1881-1887 of Title 24, be in such denominations, be in such form, carry such registration privileges, be executed in such manner, be payable in such medium of payment, at such place or places within or without the state, and be subject to such terms of redemption as the resolution or resolutions may provide; provided, however, that at the time of the authorization of the issuance of such bonds or notes the authority determines in such resolution that the authority will derive receipts, revenues, or other income from the facilities or projects to be financed with the proceeds of such bonds or notes sufficient to provide, together with all other available receipts, revenues, and income of the authority, for the payment of such bonds or notes and the payment of all costs and expenses incurred by the authority with respect to the program or purpose for which such bonds or notes are issued and all other expenses of the authority incurred under this title.  The notes and bonds of the authority may be sold by the authority at public or private sale, at such price or prices as the authority shall determine.

(c)  Any resolution or resolutions authorizing any notes or bonds or any issue thereof may contain provisions, which shall be a part of the contract or contracts with the holders thereof, as to:

(1)  pledging all or any part of the revenues of the authority to secure the payment of the notes or bonds or of any issue thereof, subject to such agreements with note holders or bondholders as may then exist;

(2)  pledging all or any part of the assets of the authority to secure the payment of the notes or bonds or of any issue of notes or bonds, subject to such agreements with note holders or bondholders as may then exist;

(3)  the use and disposition of the revenues of the authority and payments upon other obligations held by the authority;

(4)  the setting aside of reserves or sinking funds and the regulation and disposition thereof;

(5)  limitations on the purpose to which the proceeds of sale of notes or bonds may be applied and pledging the proceeds to secure the payment of the notes or bonds or of any issue thereof;

(6)  limitations on the issuance of additional notes or bonds; the terms upon which additional notes or bonds may be issued and secured; and the refunding of outstanding or other notes or bonds;

(7)  the procedure, if any, by which the terms of any contract with note holders or bondholders may be amended or abrogated, the amount of notes or bonds the holders of which must consent thereto, and the manner in which consent may be given;

(8)  limitations on the amount of moneys to be expended by the authority for operating expenses of the authority;

(9)  vesting in a trustee or trustees, within or without the state, such property, rights, powers, and duties in trust as the authority may determine, which may include any or all of the rights, powers, and duties of the trustee appointed by the bondholders pursuant to this chapter and limiting or abrogating the right of the bondholders to appoint a trustee under this chapter or limiting the rights, powers, and duties of the trustee;

(10)  defining the acts or omissions to act that shall constitute a default in the obligations and duties of the authority to the holders of the notes or bonds and providing for the rights and remedies of the holders of the notes or bonds in the event of such default, including as a matter of right the appointment of a receiver; provided, however, that the rights and remedies shall not be inconsistent with the general laws of the state and other provisions of this chapter; and

(11)  any other matters, of like or different character, which in any way affect the security or protection of the holders of the notes or bonds.

(d)  Any pledge made by the authority shall be valid and binding from the time when the pledge is made; the revenues, moneys, or property so pledged and thereafter received by the authority shall immediately be subject to the lien of such pledge without any physical delivery thereof or further act; and such pledge shall be valid and binding as against all parties having claims of any kind in tort, contract, or otherwise against the authority, irrespective of whether such parties have notice thereof.

(e)  Bonds, notes, and other obligations authorized under this chapter may, in the discretion of the authority, be issued with such terms as will cause the interest thereon to be subject to federal income taxation.  To the extent required for the sale of the obligations, the authority may register such obligations under applicable federal and state securities laws.  No person executing any bonds, notes, and other obligations issued by the authority or others under authority of this chapter shall be subject to any personal liability or accountability by reason of the issuance thereof.  The authority shall indemnify any person who shall have served as a member, officer, or employee of the authority against financial loss or litigation expense arising out of or in connection with any claim or suit involving allegations that pecuniary harm has been sustained as a result of any transaction authorized by this chapter, unless such person is found by a final judicial determination not to have acted in good faith and for a purpose that the person reasonably believed to be lawful and in the best interest of the authority.

(f)  The authority, subject to such agreements with note holders or bondholders as may then exist, shall have power out of any funds available therefore to purchase notes or bonds of the authority, which shall thereupon be cancelled, at a price not exceeding:

(1)  if the notes or bonds are then redeemable, the redemption price then applicable plus accrued interest to the next interest payment thereon; or

(2)  if the notes or bonds are not then redeemable, the redemption price applicable on the first date after such purchase upon which the notes or bonds become subject to redemption plus accrued interest to such date.

(g)  In the discretion of the authority, the notes or bonds may be secured by a trust indenture by and between the authority and a corporate trustee, which may be any trust company or bank having the power of a trust company within or without the state.  The trust indenture may contain such provisions for protecting and enforcing the rights and remedies of the note holders or bondholders as may be reasonable and proper and not in violation of law, including covenants setting forth the duties of the authority in relation to the exercise of its corporate powers and the custody, safeguarding, and application of all moneys.  The authority may provide by such trust indenture for the payment of the proceeds of the notes or bonds and the revenues to the trustee under such trust indenture or other depository and for the method of disbursement thereof, with such safeguards and restrictions as it may determine.  All expenses incurred in carrying out the trust indenture may be treated as a part of the operating expenses of the authority.  If the notes or bonds shall be secured by a trust indenture, the note holders and bondholders shall have no authority to appoint a separate trustee to represent them.

(h)  Any law to the contrary notwithstanding, a bond or note issued under this chapter is fully negotiable for all purposes of sections 1–101 et seq. of Title 9A, and each holder or owner of a bond or note or of any coupon appurtenant thereto, by accepting the bond or note or coupon, shall be conclusively deemed to have agreed that the bond, note, or coupon is fully negotiable for those purposes.

(i)  Any provision of this chapter or of any other law or any recitals in any bonds or notes issued under this chapter to the contrary notwithstanding, all bonds, notes, and interest coupons appertaining thereto issued by the authority shall have and are hereby declared to have all the qualities and incidents, including negotiability, of investment securities under sections 1–101 et seq. of Title 9A, but no provision of those sections respecting the filing of a financing statement to perfect a security interest shall be applicable to any security interest created in connection with the issuance of the bonds, notes, or coupons.

(j)  In case any of the members, executive director, or officers of the authority whose signatures appear on any notes or bonds or coupons shall cease to be members, executive director, or officers before the delivery of such notes or bonds, the signatures shall, nevertheless, be valid and sufficient for all purposes, the same as if such members, executive director, or officers had remained in office until such delivery.

(k)  The authority may enter into one or more agreements for the exchange of interest rates, cash flows, or payments to reduce net borrowing costs, to achieve desirable net effective interest rates in connection with its issuance and sale of debt obligations, and to provide for an efficient means of debt management.

§ 8065.  RESERVE FUNDS

(a)  The authority may create and establish one or more special funds, herein referred to as “debt service reserve funds,” and shall pay into each such debt service reserve fund:

(1)  any moneys appropriated and made available by the state for the purpose of such fund;

(2)  any proceeds of the sale of notes or bonds, to the extent provided in the resolution or resolutions of the authority authorizing the issuance thereof; and

(3)  any other moneys which may be made available to the authority for the purpose of such fund from any other source or sources.

(b)  All moneys held in any debt service reserve fund, except as hereinafter provided, shall be used, as required, solely for the payment of the principal of bonds secured in whole or in part by such fund or of the sinking fund payments hereinafter mentioned with respect to such bonds, the purchase or redemption of such bonds, the payment of interest on such bonds or the payment of any redemption premium required to be paid when such bonds are redeemed prior to maturity; provided, however, that moneys in any such fund shall not be withdrawn therefrom at any time in such amount as would reduce the amount of such fund to less than the debt service reserve requirement established by resolution of the authority for such fund as hereafter provided except for the purpose of making with respect to bonds secured in whole or in part by such fund payments, when due, of principal, interest, redemption premiums, and the sinking fund payments hereinafter mentioned for the payment of which other moneys of the authority are not available.  Any income or interest earned by, or increment to, any debt service reserve fund due to the investment thereof may be transferred by the authority to other funds or accounts of the authority to the extent it does not reduce the amount of such debt service reserve fund below the debt service reserve requirement for such fund.

(c)  The authority shall not at any time issue bonds or notes secured in whole or in part by a debt service reserve fund if upon the issuance of such bonds or notes the amount in such debt service reserve fund will be less than the debt service reserve requirement established by resolution of the authority for such fund, unless the authority at the time of issuance of such bonds shall deposit in such fund from the proceeds of the bonds or notes so to be issued, or from other sources, an amount that, together with the amount then in such fund, will not be less than the debt service reserve requirement established for such fund.  The debt service reserve requirement for any debt service reserve fund shall be established by resolution of the authority prior to the issuance of any bonds or notes secured in whole or in part by such fund and shall not be required to exceed “maximum debt service.”  For the purposes of this section, the term “maximum debt service” shall mean, as of any particular date of computation, an amount of money equal to the greatest of the respective amounts, for the then current or any future fiscal year of the authority, of annual debt service on the bonds of the authority secured or to be secured in whole or in part by such debt service reserve fund, such annual debt service for any fiscal year being the amount of money equal to the aggregate of:

(1)  all interest payable during such fiscal year on all bonds secured in whole or in part by such debt service reserve fund outstanding on the date of computation; plus

(2)  the principal amount of all such bonds outstanding on such date of computation that mature during such fiscal year; plus

(3)  all amounts specified in any resolution of the authority authorizing such bonds as payable during such fiscal year as a sinking fund payment with respect to any of such bonds that mature after such fiscal year.

(d)  In computing the amount of the debt service reserve funds for the purpose of this section, securities in which all or a portion of such funds shall be invested shall be valued at par if purchased at par or at amortized value, as such term is defined by resolution of the authority, if purchased at other than par.

(e)  In order to assure the maintenance of the debt service reserve requirement in each debt service reserve fund established by the authority, there may be appropriated annually and paid to the authority for deposit in each such fund such sum as shall be certified by the chair of the authority to the governor, the president of the senate, and the speaker of the house as is necessary to restore each such debt service reserve fund to an amount equal to the debt service reserve requirement for such fund.  The chair shall annually, on or about February 1, make and deliver to the governor, the president of the senate, and the speaker of the house his or her certificate stating the sum required to restore each such debt service reserve fund to the amount aforesaid, and the sum so certified may be appropriated, and if appropriated, shall be paid to the authority during the then current state fiscal year.  The principal amount of bonds or notes outstanding at any one time and secured in whole or in part by a debt service reserve fund to which state funds may be appropriated pursuant to this subsection shall not exceed $40,000,000.00, provided that the foregoing shall not impair the obligation of any contract or contracts entered into by the authority in contravention of the Constitution of the United States of America.

(f)  The authority shall create and establish such other fund or funds as may be necessary or desirable for its corporate purposes.

§ 8066.  REFUNDING OBLIGATIONS – ISSUANCE AND SALE

(a)  The authority may provide for the issuance of refunding obligations for the purpose of refunding any obligations then outstanding that have been issued under the provisions of this chapter, including the payment of any redemption premium thereon and any interest accrued or to accrue to the date of redemption of such obligations and for any corporate purpose of the authority.  The issuance of such obligations, the maturities and other details thereof, the rights of the holders thereof, and the rights, duties, and obligations of the authority in respect of the same shall be governed by the provisions of this chapter that relate to the issuance of obligations, insofar as those provisions may be appropriate. 

(b)  Refunding obligations issued as provided in this section may be sold or exchanged for outstanding obligations issued under this chapter and, if sold, the proceeds thereof may be applied, in addition to any other authorized purposes, to the purchase, redemption, or payment of such outstanding obligations.  Pending the application of the proceeds of any refunding obligations, with any other available funds, to the payment of the principal, accrued interest and any redemption premium on the obligations being refunded, and, if so provided or permitted in the resolution authorizing the issuance of such refunding obligations or in the trust agreement securing them to the payment of any interest on such refunding obligations and any expenses in connection with such refunding, such proceeds may be invested in direct obligations of, or obligations the principal of and the interest on which are unconditionally guaranteed by, the United States of America, and which shall mature or which shall be subject to redemption by the holders thereof, at the option of such holders, not later than the respective dates when the proceeds, together with the interest accruing thereon will be required for the purposes intended.

§ 8067.  REMEDIES OF BONDHOLDERS AND NOTE HOLDERS

(a)  In the event that the authority defaults in the payment of principal or of interest on any bonds or notes issued under this chapter after they become due, whether at maturity or upon call for redemption, and the default continues for a period of 30 days, or in the event that the authority fails or refuses to comply with the provisions of this chapter or defaults in any agreement made with the holders of an issue of bonds or notes of the authority, the holders of 25 percent in aggregate principal amount of the bonds or notes of such issue then outstanding, by instrument or instruments filed in the office of the secretary of state and proved or acknowledged in the same manner as a deed to be recorded, may appoint a trustee to represent the holders of such bonds or notes for the purposes herein provided.

(b)  Such trustee may, and upon written request of the holders of 25 percent in principal amount of such bonds or notes then outstanding shall, in his or her or its own name:

(1)  enforce all rights of the bondholders or note holders, including the right to require the authority to carry out any agreements with the holders of such bonds or notes and to perform its duties under this chapter;

(2)  enforce all rights of the bondholders or note holders, including the right to collect and enforce the payment of amounts due to the authority, so as to carry out any contract as to, or pledge of revenues, and to require the authority to carry out and perform the terms of any contract with the holders of such bonds or notes or its duties under this chapter;

(3)  bring suit upon all or any part of such bonds or notes;

(4)  by action or suit, require the authority to account as if it were the trustee of an express trust for the holders of such bonds or notes;

(5)  by action or suit, enjoin any acts or things that may be unlawful or in violation of the rights of the holders of such bonds or notes;

(6)  declare all such bonds or notes due and payable, and, if all defaults shall be made good, with the consent of the holders of 25 percent of the principal amount of such bonds or notes then outstanding to annul the declaration and its consequences.

(c)  The trustee shall in addition to the foregoing have and possess all the powers necessary or appropriate for the exercise of any functions specifically set forth herein or incident to the general representation of bondholders or note holders in the enforcement and protection of their rights.

(d)  Before declaring the principal of bonds or notes due and payable, the trustee shall first give 30 days’ notice in writing to the governor, to the authority, and to the attorney general of the state.

(e)  The superior courts or courts with equity jurisdiction shall have jurisdiction of any suit, action, or proceeding by the trustee on behalf of bondholders or note holders.

§ 8068.  PLEDGE OF THE STATE

The state does hereby pledge to and agree with the holders of the notes and bonds issued under this chapter that the state will not limit or restrict the rights hereby vested in the authority to perform its obligations and to fulfill the terms of any agreement made with the holders of its bonds or notes or in any way impair the rights and remedies of the holders until the notes and bonds, together with interest thereon, and interest on any unpaid installments of interest, are fully met, paid, and discharged.  The authority is authorized to execute this pledge and agreement of the state in any agreement with the holders of the notes or bonds.

§ 8069.  SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY; CREDIT OF STATE NOT PLEDGED

The authority shall have the benefit of sovereign immunity to the same extent as the state of Vermont.  Members, officers, employees, and the executive director of the authority shall be deemed employees of the state for purposes of 12 V.S.A. chapter 189 (tort claims against state) and 3 V.S.A. chapter 29 (claims against state employees).  Notwithstanding the foregoing, obligations issued under the provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to constitute a debt or liability or obligation of the state or of any political subdivision thereof or a pledge of the faith and credit of the state or of any political subdivision but shall be payable solely from the revenues or assets of the authority.  Each obligation issued under this chapter shall contain on the face thereof a statement to the effect that the authority shall not be obligated to pay the same nor the interest thereon except from the revenues or assets pledged therefor and that neither the faith and credit nor the taxing power of the state or of any political subdivision thereof is pledged to the payment of the principal of or the interest on such obligations.

§ 8070.  NOTES AND BONDS AS LEGAL INVESTMENTS

Notwithstanding any other law, the state and all public officers, governmental units, and agencies thereof, all banks, trust companies, savings banks and institutions, building and loan associations, savings and loan associations, investment companies, and other persons carrying on a banking business, all insurance companies, insurance associations and other persons carrying on an insurance business, all credit unions, and all executors, administrators, guardians, trustees, and other fiduciaries may legally invest any sinking funds, moneys, or other funds belonging to them or within their control in any bonds or notes issued under this chapter, and the bonds or notes are authorized security for any and all public deposits.

§ 8071.  ANNUAL REPORTS; AUDIT

(a)  On or before the last day of January of each calendar year, the authority shall submit a report of its activities for the preceding fiscal year to the governor and to the general assembly.  Each report shall set forth a complete operating and financial statement covering its operations during the year.  The authority shall cause an audit of its books and accounts to be made at least once in each year by certified public accountants; the cost shall be considered an expense of the authority and a copy shall be filed with the state treasurer. 

(b)  The auditor of accounts of the state and his or her duly authorized representatives may at any time examine the accounts and books of the authority including its receipts, disbursements, contracts, sinking funds, investments, and any other matters relating to its financial statements.

§ 8072.  ANNUAL OVERSIGHT REPORTS

In addition to the annual and audit reports required by section 8071 of this title, the authority shall provide annual oversight reports to the general assembly on or before January 1 each year.  Each annual oversight report shall contain:;

(1)  An inventory of the locations within the state in which mobile telecommunications and broadband service are currently available.

(2) A report of the progress made to date by the authority in developing its capabilities to undertake or sponsor projects that expand the availability of mobile telecommunications and broadband service.

(3)  A projected outlook on progress by the authority, including:

(A)  An assessment of the authority’s capabilities to perform the powers granted the authority, and to contribute to the improvement of broadband service availability and mobile telecommunications service coverage in the state; and

(B)  An assessment of the foreseeable extent of broadband service availability and mobile telecommunications service coverage in the state.

(C) An assessment of the actual and foreseeable land use impacts associated with broadband service availability and mobile telecommunications service coverage in the state.

(4)  A summary of the status and results of any competitive solicitation processes undertaken or planned for the purpose of increasing broadband service availability and mobile telecommunications coverage in the state, including:

(A)  an assessment of the level of interest among potential service providers;

(B)  a summary of the numbers and types of entities participating;

(C)  a description of measures taken or under consideration by the authority to enhance the level of interest among potential bidders; and

(D)  terms of any arrangements entered between the authority and service providers.

(5)  A description of all authority activities to develop or facilitate development of telecommunications infrastructure that furthers the objective of this chapter.

(6)  Financial statements of the authority, a summary of expenditures by the authority since inception, and a forecast of expenditures.

          (7)  A summary of any financial commitments made by the authority.

          (8) A list and summary of all contracts and agreements entered into by the authority, and a list and summary of any rail right-of-way agreements entered into by the authority including any waivers of charges for comparable value to the state granted under 19 V.S.A. § 26a.

(9)  A summary of any and all instances in which service providers that have entered into contracts or binding commitments with the authority have materially defaulted, been unable to fulfill their commitments, or have requested or been granted relief from contractual or binding commitments.

          (10)  A current business plan for the authority, including an explanation of significant changes subsequent to the most recent previous report.

          (11)  A list and description of all actions taken by the authority to transfer control of state-owned telecommunications facilities to the authority.

          (12)  A description of the extent of the authority’s assistance to and participation in proceedings before local zoning and development review boards, district environmental commissions, or project applicants seeking to construct or alter communications facilities located in the state.

          (13)  Recommendations, if any, for further legislative action to promote the objectives of this chapter.

§ 8073.  AUTHORIZATION TO ACCEPT APPROPRIATED MONIES

The authority is authorized to accept and expend such monies as may be appropriated or approved from time to time by the general assembly for effectuating its corporate purposes including, without limitation, the payment of the initial expenses of administration and operation and the establishment of reserves or contingency funds to be available for the payment of the principal of and the interest on any bonds, notes, or other obligations of the authority.

§ 8074.  TAX EXEMPTION

(a)  All property of the authority is public property devoted to an essential public and governmental function and purpose and is exempt from all taxes, franchise fees, and special assessments of whatever nature of the state or any subdivision.  All bonds or notes issued by the authority or a municipality under this chapter are issued by a body corporate and public of this state and for an essential public and governmental purpose, and those bonds and notes and the interest thereon and the income therefrom and all activities of the authority and fees, charges, funds, revenues, incomes, and other moneys of the authority, whether or not pledged or available to pay or secure the payment of those bonds or notes, or interest thereon, are exempt from all taxation, franchise fees, or special assessments of whatever kind except for transfer, inheritance, and estate taxes. This section shall not prevent a municipality from assessing and collecting from the authority any excavation or construction fees otherwise charged by the municipality.

(b)  The authority is not required to make or file any reports, statements, or informational returns required of any other bodies corporate except as provided in this chapter.

(c) Any property of the authority exempted from property taxation under this section shall be considered “state owned property” for the purposes of the state payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) provisions of subchapter 4 of chapter 123 of Title 32.

§ 8075.  LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION

Neither this chapter nor anything herein contained is or shall be construed as a restriction or limitation upon any powers that the authority might otherwise have under any laws of this state, and this chapter is cumulative to any such powers.  This chapter does and shall be construed to provide a complete, additional, and alternative method for the doing of the things authorized thereby and shall be regarded as supplemental and additional to powers conferred by other laws.

§ 8076.  INCONSISTENT PROVISIONS IN OTHER LAWS SUPERSEDED

Insofar as the provisions of sections 8064 through 8074 of this title are inconsistent with the provisions of any other law, general, special, or local, the provisions of this chapter shall be controlling.

§ 8077.  ESTABLISHMENT OF MINIMUM TECHNICAL SERVICE CHARACTERISTIC OBJECTIVES

(a)  The department of public service, shall, as part of the state telecommunications plan prepared pursuant to section 202d of this title, identify minimum technical service characteristics which ought to be available as part of broadband services commonly sold to residential and small business users throughout the state.  For the purposes of this chapter, “broadband” means high speed internet access.  The department shall consider the performance characteristics of broadband services needed to support current and emerging applications of broadband services. 

(b)  The authority shall give priority in its activities toward projects which expand the availability of broadband services that meet the minimum technical services characteristics established by the state telecommunications plan.

(c)  Until the department of public service adopts a revision to the state telecommunications plan, the authority shall give priority to the expansion of broadband services which deploy equipment capable of a data transmission rate of not less than 3 megabits per second and offer a service plan with a data transmission rate of not less than 1.5 megabits per second in at least one direction to unserved areas. 

§ 8078.  SELECTION OF PROPOSALS TO PROVIDE SERVICE; COMPETITIVE  PROCESS

(a)  Broadband service; competitive process.

(1)  For the purposes of this chapter, a premise is “served” with broadband service if it has access to mass-market broadband services meeting the minimum technical characteristics identified pursuant to section 8077 of this title.  For the purposes of this chapter, with respect to broadband service, “unserved area” shall mean a contiguous geographic area of the state, without regard to municipal boundaries or size of geographic area, which contains premises that can obtain basic telephone service but are not served.

(2)  By not later than December 1, 2007, the authority shall identify all served and unserved areas within the state.  The authority may rely on readily and publicly available information to estimate the extent of these areas.

(3)  The authority shall seek to enable the development of networks and telecommunications infrastructure necessary to support provision of

mass-market broadband services, in all unserved areas of the state, which meet or exceed the minimum technical characteristics identified pursuant to section 8077 of this title.

(4)  The authority shall establish and utilize an open and competitive process to solicit proposals to eliminate unserved areas by the end of the year 2010 through the development of telecommunications facilities or through binding commitments from service providers to offer broadband service to all unserved areas in a given region.  For the purposes of this process, the authority may divide the state into one or more regions.  The authority shall undertake substantial efforts to complete the process of competitively soliciting proposals by January 31, 2008.  The authority shall solicit and accept broadband service expansion commitments in a manner that allows small locally based broadband providers a reasonable opportunity to contribute toward realization of the policy objectives of this chapter. In evaluating proposals, the authority shall consider:

(A)  the proposed data transfer rates and other data transmission characteristics of services which would be available to consumers;

(B)  the price to consumers of services;

(C)  the proposed cost to consumers of any new construction, equipment installation service, or facility required to obtain service;

(D)  whether the proposal would utilize the best available technology which is economically feasible; and

(E)  the ability to achieve the authority’s objectives in the most

cost-effective manner.

(5)  The authority may support or undertake projects that enable provision of broadband service in geographic areas currently served; provided that:

(A)  such projects are the most cost-effective method for providing broadband services in nearby unserved areas; and

     (B)  before undertaking such projects, the authority makes reasonable effort to distinguish served areas and populations from unserved areas and populations within the geographic area that the project would serve, including recognition and consideration of known or probable service extensions or upgrades.

(b)  Cellular service, competitive process.

(1)  The authority shall seek to eliminate areas without access to commercial mobile radio service licensed by the Federal Communications Commission by 2010 through the construction of facilities and binding commitments from commercial mobile radio service providers. 

(2)  The authority shall seek to expand access to all services that utilize the technical standards which are commonly in use for providing voice and data services through commercial mobile radio service.

(3)  The authority shall establish and utilize an open and competitive process to solicit proposals to eliminate areas without coverage from a provider of commercial mobile radio services within the state of Vermont by 2010 through the development of telecommunications facilities and through binding commitments from service providers to expand service, including all unserved areas in a given region.  For the purposes of this process, the authority may divide the state into one or more regions.  The authority shall undertake substantial efforts to complete the process of competitively soliciting proposals by January 31, 2008.  In evaluating proposals, the authority shall consider the extent to which a proposal meets coverage objectives while limiting environmental impact and providing opportunities for future development of wireless communications services.

* * * Appropriation; North-Link  * **

Sec. 1a.  APPROPRIATION; NORTHLINK

It is the intention of the general assembly to appropriate the amount of $500,000 in each of fiscal years 2009 and 2010 for construction and advancement of the North-Link project of Northern Enterprises, Inc. for the purposes of this act.

* * * Broadband Grant Program * * *

Sec. 3.  BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT GRANT PROGRAM

(a)  Such sums as are appropriated by the general assembly may be utilized by the Vermont telecommunications authority to fund broadband development grants as authorized by this section.

(b)  The authority may award grants to municipalities, telecommunications infrastructure developers, and service providers in an amount not to exceed $100,000.00 for any project. 

(c)  The authority shall select projects that will provide broadband service in areas of the state that do not currently have broadband service or projects that provide one or more Wi‑Fi hotspots in municipalities without a Wi‑Fi hotspot located in area open to and commonly frequented by members of the general public.  If appropriated funds are available, the authority shall grant at least $50,000.00 annually to projects that provide one or more Wi-Fi hotspots.  The authority shall select projects that:

(1)  Provide availability of broadband service to all residents and businesses throughout a logical and contiguous service area; or

(2)  Provide for the establishment of new Wi‑Fi hotspots available to the general public. 

(d)  The authority shall use a competitive application process to award grants.  When evaluating proposals to provide broadband service throughout an unserved area, the authority shall consider the proposed price to consumers for the service, the proposed data transfer rates, the cost to the consumers of any new construction, equipment installation service, or facility required for the connection, and the degree to which the grant is required to make the project financially sustainable.  When evaluating proposals to establish new Wi‑Fi hotspots, the authority shall give preference to Wi‑Fi hotspot proposals which provide at least limited free usage to the public.  When evaluating proposals to provide broadband service throughout an unserved area, the authority shall give preference to applications from service providers which provide broadband service in Vermont and have fewer than 125 employees at the time of the application and which demonstrate that their proposed project is technically feasible and economically viable with the assistance of the program.

(e)  The authority may award grants in one or more rounds, including separate rounds to fund Wi‑Fi hotspots and expansion of broadband service.  The authority may combine the award of a grant provided under this section with any other financial assistance that the authority is authorized to provide under section 8061 of Title 30.  In lieu of a grant to an applicant, the authority may transfer funds to:

(1)  the Vermont economic development authority to be used to guarantee a loan made by the Vermont economic development authority to the applicant under the technology infrastructure financing program adopted pursuant to subchapter 10 of chapter 12 of Title 10; or

(2)  the Vermont municipal bond bank to be used to guarantee a loan made by the Vermont municipal bond bank to the applicant pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 119 of Title 24 for the purpose of constructing or acquiring communications infrastructure necessary for the provision of broadband service.

(f)  Each applicant shall identify the equipment, facilities, or services to be purchased with the grant.  The authority shall establish award contracts with each recipient specifying performance requirements.  For failure to perform during the specified period or for failure to provide service for the minimum period, the authority may, after notice and opportunity to correct the failure, take ownership of any equipment or facilities for which grant funds were used to purchase.

* * * Public Safety Pilot Project * * *

Sec. 3a.  SATELLITE ENABLED COMMUNICATIONS; PILOT PROJECT; NORTHEAST KINGDOM, NEW HAMPSHIRE, AND CANADA

(a) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the department of public safety, with input from interested economic development districts and public safety providers in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, western New Hampshire, and the Province of Quebec in Canada, is hereby authorized and directed to develop a pilot project to identify the cost, obstacles and effectiveness of a satellite-enabled public safety communication system serving interested public safety providers located in northeastern Vermont, northwestern New Hampshire, and the southern portions of the Province of Quebec.  To accomplish this purpose, the department is authorized to accept in kind contributions and grants from providers capable of deploying this technology, to utilize federal funds from any source as authorized by the funding source, and to expend a portion of its budget to develop the necessary terrestrial infrastructure to support satellite enabled communications. 

(b)  The Commissioner of the department of public safety shall report the status of the pilot project to the senate committee on economic development and the house committee on commerce on or before January 15, 2008, and annually thereafter until such time as the demonstration project is complete.  

* * * Municipal Communications plant and service ***

Sec. 4.  Chapter 54 of Title 24 is added to read:

Chapter 54.  Communications plant and service

§ 1911.  DEFINITIONS

The following terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meaning:

(1)  “Acquire” shall mean to purchase, to acquire by eminent domain, to hire, to lease, to construct, to reconstruct, or to replace.

(2)  “Communications plant” shall mean any and all parts of any communications system owned by the municipality, whether using wires, cables, fiber optics, wireless, other technologies, or a combination thereof, and used for the purpose of transporting or storing information, in whatever forms, directions, and media, together with any improvements thereto hereafter constructed or acquired, and all other facilities, equipment, and appurtenances necessary or appropriate to such system. However, the term “communications plant” and any regulatory implications or any restrictions under this chapter regarding either “communications plant” or “communications service” shall not apply to facilities or portions of any communications facilities intended for use by, and solely used by, the municipality and the municipality’s own officers and employees in the operation of municipal departments or systems of which such communications are merely an ancillary component.

(3) “Communications service” shall include ownership, operation, and utilization of a communications plant within or without the corporate limits of the municipality to transport or store information in any form and medium.

(4)  “Improve” shall mean to acquire or construct any improvement, whether consisting of real or personal property.

(5)  “Improvement” shall mean any extension, betterment, addition, alteration, reconstruction, and extraordinary repair, equipping, or reequipping of the communications plant of the municipality.

§ 1912   COMMUNICATIONS PLANT; AUTHORITY TO ACQUIRE, CONSTRUCT, OPERATE, IMPROVE, EXTEND, AND BETTER.

(a)  A municipality is authorized and empowered to own, maintain, operate, improve, and extend, or otherwise acquire, and to sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of, in accordance with and in any situation or manner not prohibited by law, its communications plant for the furnishing of communications services within or without the corporate limits of the municipality, for public, domestic, commercial, and industrial use, and for the provision of communications service.  For the aforesaid purposes, the municipality may hire, lease, purchase, own, hold, and acquire by contract, agreement, or eminent domain proceedings any buildings, land, rights-of-way, and any other real property necessary or convenient to the operation of the communications plant, and may use any public highway over which it may be necessary or desirable to pass with the poles and wire of the same, provided that the use of such public highway for the purpose of public travel is not thereby unnecessarily impaired.  These powers may be exercised through a taking by eminent domain in the manner prescribed by law.  All of the foregoing powers are in addition to and not in substitution for or in limitation of any other powers conferred by law.

(b)  Before a municipality may sell any service using its communications plant subject to public service board jurisdiction and for which a certificate of public good is required under chapter 5 or 13 of Title 30, it shall obtain a certificate of public good for such service.  Each such certificate of public good shall be nonexclusive and shall not contain terms or conditions more favorable than those imposed on existing certificate holders authorized to serve the municipality. 

§ 1913.  COMMUNICATIONS PLANT; OPERATION AND REGULATION

(a)  A municipality shall operate its communications plant in accordance with the applicable state and federal law and regulation, and chapter 53 of Title 24, relating to municipal indebtedness, with regard to the financing, improvements, expansion, and disposal of the municipal communications plant and its operations.  However, the powers conferred by such provisions of law shall be supplemental to, construed in harmony with, and not in restriction of, the powers conferred in this chapter.

(b)  A municipality’s operation of any communications plant shall be supported solely by the revenues derived from the operation of such communications plant, except that portion which is used for its own municipal purposes.

(c)  A municipality may finance any capital improvement related to its operation of such communications plant for the benefit of the people of the municipality in accordance with the provisions of chapter 53 of Title 24, provided that revenue-backed bonds shall be paid from net revenues derived from the operation of the communications plant.

(d)  Any restriction regarding the maximum outstanding debt that may be issued in the form of general obligation bonds shall not restrict the issuance of any bonds issued by a municipality and payable out of the net revenues from the operation of a public utility project under chapter 53 of subchapter 2 of Title 24.

(e)  To the extent that a municipality constructs communication infrastructure with the intent of providing communications services, whether wholesale or retail, the municipality shall ensure that any and all losses from these businesses, or in the event these businesses are abandoned or curtailed, any and all costs associated with the investment in communications infrastructure, are not borne by the municipality’s taxpayers.

§ 1914.  VALIDATION OF BONDS VOTED FOR COMMUNICATIONS CONSTRUCTION

     No action shall be brought directly or indirectly attacking, questioning or in any manner contesting the legality or validity of bonds, issued or unissued, voted by any municipality, after six months from the date upon which voters in such municipal entity met pursuant to warning and voting affirmatively to issue bonds to defray costs of communications improvements or upon vote of a question of rescission thereof, whichever occurs later.  This section shall be liberally construed to effect the legislative purpose to validate and make certain the validity of bonds issued or authorized by municipalities for communications system purposes, and to bar every right to question in any manner the validity of bonds voted for such purposes, and to bar every remedy therefore, notwithstanding any defects or irregularities, jurisdictional, or otherwise, after the expiration of the six-month period.

Sec. 5.  24 V.S.A. § 1789 is added to read:

§1789.  ALTERNATIVE FINANCING OF ASSETS

(a)  A municipality, including a fire district, either singly or as a participant in an interlocal contract entered into under sections 4901 and 4902 of this title, may acquire personal property, fixtures, technology and intellectual property by means of leases, lease-purchase agreements, installment sales agreements, and similar agreements wherein payment and performance on the part of the municipality is conditioned expressly upon the annual approval by the municipality of an appropriation sufficient to pay when next due rents, charges, and other payments accruing under such leases and agreements.    

(b)  The legislative body of the municipality shall enter into leases and agreements identified in subsection (a) of this section on behalf of the municipality and under such terms as it deems to be in the best interest of the municipality.

(c)  The undertaking of a municipality to make payments under a lease or agreement identified in subsection (a) of this section shall not be a general or special obligation of the municipality, but shall be treated as a current operating expense.  Payments made or to be made under such lease or agreement shall not be taken into account in calculating the debt limit of a municipality for any purpose. 

* * * Cable Line Extension Requirements * * *

Sec. 5a.  30 V.S.A. § 517 is added to read:

§ 517.  LINE EXTENSIONS

(a) A company may enter into agreements under this section with government, nonprofit, or private entities, including but not limited to projects authorized or affiliated with the Vermont telecommunications authority, a municipality or fire district pursuant to section 2601 of Title 20, or a regional aggregation and deployment project, to satisfy cable television line extension requirements.

(b)  Upon petition of a company, the board shall modify the line extensions that a company would otherwise be required to construct if the company agrees to undertake alternative actions including but not limited to the extension of facilities that support alternative technologies for delivering broadband to users.  Copies of the petition shall be filed with the department and the Vermont telecommunications authority.  The board shall approve such alternative methods of satisfying line extension requirements after notice and opportunity for hearing if it finds the petition promotes the general good of the state.  In reaching its determination, the board shall consider whether the company’s proposal:

(1)  is consistent with the activities and initiatives of the Vermont telecommunications authority;

(2)  is likely to provide broadband access to a greater number of unserved consumers than would the foregone cable television line extension requirements;

(3)  supports the expansion of broadband services at prices and service levels comparable to those commonly available throughout the state, but not less than the minimum technical service characteristics required by section 8077 of this title;

(4)  provides a fair balancing of the benefits to the public compared to benefits realized by the company; and

(5)  the modified line-extension obligations will not unreasonably affect the time at which customers to whom a company would otherwise be obligated to extend cable services will have access to broadband services.

(c)  This section shall not apply to line extensions previously identified and planned for construction as of the effective date of this section.

(d)  The board shall not require a company to overbuild another company, or provide cable television service to locations served by another company or to which another company is required to extend cable television service.

(e)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the board may require the construction of cable television line extensions when a company receives a bona fide request for service from a reasonable number of verified customers or with reasonable contributions in aid of construction from customers.

(f)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the line extension construction obligation for additional miles identified in Paragraph 41 of Comcast Communication’s certificate of public good, granted by the public service board, of September 27, 2006, may be modified only with the approval of the board.

Sec. 5b.  REVISIONS TO CABLE LINE EXTENSION POLICIES

The public service board shall, in consultation with interested parties, revise its cable television line extension requirements no later than December 1, 2008.  In so revising, the board shall consider:

(1)  the effect of the establishment of the Vermont telecommunications authority and the other changes in law and policy contained in this act;

(2)  the convergence of technologies and the availability of different modes of delivery for video programming and broadband services;

(3)  fair treatment for competing providers of services; and

(4)  the public interest in making a broad range of cable television services available to customers.

* * * Board Rules on Pole Attachments * * *

Sec. 6.  30 V.S.A. § 209(g) is added to read:

(g)  For the purposes of board rules on attachments to poles owned by companies subject to regulation under this title, broadband service providers shall be considered “attaching entities” with equivalent rights to attach facilities as those provided to “attaching entities” in the rules, regardless of whether such broadband providers offer a service subject to the jurisdiction of the board.  The board shall adopt rules in accordance with chapter 25 of Title 3 to further implement this section.  The rules shall be aimed at furthering the state’s interest in ubiquitous deployment of mobile telecommunications and broadband services within the state.

* * * Rights-of-Way Usage * * *

Sec. 7.  30 V.S.A. § 2513 is amended to read:

§ 2513.  LINES ALONG RAILROAD TRACKS; WIRELESS AND OTHER  TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES

(a)  A company subject to the jurisdiction of the public service board may erect and maintain its telecommunications or electric transmission and distribution lines and facilities along the sides of railroad tracks within the limits of lands owned or held by a railroad on paying reasonable compensation to the railroad.  If they cannot agree upon the amount of reasonable compensation, it shall be determined by the transportation board which shall ascertain the compensation.

(b)  Wireless telecommunications and broadband facilities may be erected and maintained within the limits of lands owned or held by a railroad in the same manner as other utility facilities.

(c)  For purposes of this section, “broadband” shall have the same definition as in the rules adopted by the public service board for purposes of attachment to utility poles. 

Sec. 8.  5 V.S.A. § 3431 is amended to read:

§ 3431.  RAILROAD RIGHTS‑OF‑WAY

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 213 of Title 1, when railroad operations cease on railroad rights‑of‑way owned by the state or municipality the title or interest held by the state or municipality in such rights‑of‑way shall be retained by the state or municipality for future transportation purposes and such other purposes as are not inconsistent with future transportation purposes; except that such rights‑of‑way shall not be used by members of the general public without permission of the state or municipality.  The state or municipality shall allow abutting farm operations to use the land over which the rights‑of‑way pass for agricultural purposes.  Unless use and occupancy of railroad rights‑of‑way adversely affect railroad safety, broadband facilities and wireless and other telecommunications facilities that are installed along or within the railroad right‑of‑way in compliance with applicable operations and safety standards at the time of installation are consistent with existing and future transportation purposes. 

Sec. 9.  30 V.S.A. § 2502 is amended to read:

§ 2502.  LINES OR WIRES ALONG HIGHWAYS; WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES; BROADBAND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION; RESTRICTION

Lines of telegraph, telephone, and electric wires, as well as two‑way wireless telecommunications facilities and broadband facilities, may, subject to the provisions of section 1111 of Title 19, be constructed and maintained by a person or corporation upon or under a highway, in such manner as not to interfere with repairs of such highway or the public convenience in traveling upon or using the same.

Sec. 10.  19 V.S.A. § 26a is amended to read:

§ 26a.  DETERMINATION OF RENT TO BE CHARGED FOR LEASING OR LICENSING STATE‑OWNED PROPERTY UNDER THE AGENCY’S JURISDICTION

(a)  Except as otherwise provided by subsection (b) of this section, or as otherwise provided by law, leases or licenses negotiated by the agency under sections 204 and 3405 of Title 5 and section 26 of this title ordinarily shall require the payment of fair market value rent, as determined by the prevailing area market prices for comparable space or property.  However, the agency may lease or license state‑owned property under its jurisdiction for less than fair market value when the agency determines that the proposed occupancy or use serves a public purpose or that there exist other relevant factors, such as a prior course of dealing between the parties, that justify setting rent at less than fair market value.

(b)  Unless otherwise required by federal law, the agency shall assess, collect and deposit in the transportation fund a reasonable charge or payment with respect to leases or licenses for access to or use of state‑owned rights‑of‑way by providers of broadband or wireless communications facilities or services.  The Vermont telecommunications authority, established by chapter 91 of Title 30, may waive such charge or payment in whole or in part if the provider offers to provide comparable value to the state so as to meet the public good as determined by the authority.  For the purposes of this section, the terms “comparable value to the state” shall be construed broadly to further the state’s interest in ubiquitous broadband and wireless service availability at reasonable cost.  Any waiver of charges or payments for comparable value to the state granted by the authority may not exceed five years.  Thereafter, the authority may extend any waiver granted for an additional period not to exceed five years if the authority makes affirmative written findings demonstrating  that the state has received and will continue to receive value that is comparable to the value to the provider of the waiver, or it may revise the terms of the waiver in order to do so.  The authority, in consultation with the agency of transportation, shall adopt rules under chapter 25 of Title 3 to implement this section.

(c) Nothing in this section shall authorize the agency to impose a charge or payment for the use of a highway right-of-way which is not otherwise authorized or required by state or federal law.

(d)  Nothing in this section or in Sec. 10 of this act shall be construed to impair any contractual rights existing on the effective date of this act.  The state shall have no authority under this section or Sec. 10 of this act to waive any sums due to a railroad.  The state shall also not offer any grants or waivers of charges for any new broadband installations in segments of rail corridor where an operating railroad has installed or allowed installation of fiber optic facilities prior to the effective date of this act unless the state offers equivalent terms and conditions to the owner or owners of existing fiber optic facilities. 

Sec. 11 [DELETED]

* * * Act 250, Sec. 248, and Municipal Permitting * * *

Sec. 12.  10 V.S.A. § 6001c is amended to read: 

§ 6001c.  JURISDICTION OVER BROADCAST AND COMMUNICATION  SUPPORT STRUCTURES and related improvements

In addition to other applicable law, any support structure proposed for construction, which is primarily for communication or broadcast purposes and which will extend vertically 20 feet, or more, above the highest point of an attached existing structure or 50 feet, or more, above ground level in the case of a proposed new support structure, in order to transmit or receive communication signals for commercial, industrial, municipal, county, or state purposes, shall be a development under this chapter, independent of the acreage involved.  If jurisdiction is triggered for such a support structure, then jurisdiction will also extend to the construction of improvements ancillary to the support structure, including buildings, broadcast or communication equipment, foundation pads, cables, wires, antennas or hardware, and all means of ingress and egress to the support structure.  To the extent that future improvements are not ancillary to the support structure and do not involve an additional support structure, those improvements shall not be considered a development, unless they would be considered a development under this chapter in the absence of this section.  The criteria and procedures for obtaining a permit under this section shall be the same as for any other development.

Sec. 13.  10 V.S.A. § 6001(26) is amended to read:

(26)  “Telecommunications facility” means a support structure which is primarily for communication or broadcast purposes and which will extend vertically 20 feet, or more, above the highest point of an attached existing structure or 50 feet or more above ground level in the case of a proposed new support structure, in order to transmit or receive communication signals for commercial, industrial, municipal, county or state purposes. 

Sec. 14.  24 V.S.A. § 2291 is amended to read:

§ 2291.  ENUMERATION OF POWERS

For the purpose of promoting the public health, safety, welfare, and convenience, a town, city, or incorporated village shall have the following powers:

* * *

(19)  To regulate the construction, alteration, development, and decommissioning or dismantling of wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements where the city, town, or village has not adopted zoning or where those activities are not regulated pursuant to a duly adopted zoning bylaw.  Regulations regarding the decommissioning or dismantling of telecommunications facilities and ancillary structures may include requirements that bond be posted, or other security acceptable to the legislative body, in order to finance facility decommissioning or dismantling activities.  These regulations are not intended to prohibit seamless coverage of wireless telecommunications services.  With respect to the construction or alteration of wireless telecommunications facilities subject to regulation granted in this section, the town, city, or incorporated village shall vest in its local regulatory authority the power to determine whether the installation of a wireless telecommunications facility, whatever its size, will impose no impact or merely a de minimis impact on the surrounding area and the overall pattern of land development, and if the local regulatory authority, originally or on appeal, determines that the facility will impose no impact or a de minimis impact, it shall issue a permit.  No ordinance authorized by this section, except to the extent structured to protect historic landmarks and structures listed on the state or national register of historic places may have the purpose or effect of limiting or prohibiting a property owner’s ability to place or allow placement of antennae used to transmit, receive, or transmit and receive communications signals on that property owner’s premises if the aggregate area of the largest faces of the antennae is not more than eight square feet, and if the antennae and the mast to which they are attached do not extend more than 12 feet above the roof of that portion of the building to which they are attached.

Sec. 15.  24 V.S.A. § 4412(6) is amended and (8) and (9) are added to read as follows:

(6) Heights of certain structures. The height of antenna structures, wind turbines with blades less than 20 feet in diameter, or rooftop solar collectors less than 10 feet high, any of which are mounted on complying structures, shall not be regulated unless the bylaws provide specific standards for regulation.  In addition, the regulation of antennae that are part of a telecommunications facility, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 248a, may be exempt from review under this chapter according to the provisions of that section. However, if an antenna structure is less than 20 feet in height and its primary function is to transmit or receive communication signals for commercial, industrial, municipal, county, or state purposes, it shall not be regulated under this chapter if it is located on a structure located within the boundaries of a downhill ski area and permitted under this chapter. For the purposes of this subdivision, "downhill ski area" means an area with trails for downhill skiing served by one or more ski lifts and any other areas within the boundaries of the ski area and open to the public for winter sports.

(8)  Antennae exemption.  No bylaw authorized by this chapter, except to the extent structured to protect historic landmarks and structures listed on the state or national register of historic places, may have the purpose or effect of limiting or prohibiting a property owner’s ability to place or allow placement of antennae used to transmit, receive, or transmit and receive communications signals on that property owner’s premises if the aggregate area of the largest faces of the antennae is not more than eight square feet, and if the antennae and the mast to which they are attached do not extend more than 12 feet above the roof of that portion of the building to which they are attached.

(9)  Minor telecommunications facilities.  Bylaws shall provide for permitted use classification of minor facilities used for telecommunications.

Sec. 15a.  24 V.S.A. § 4414 is amended to read:

§ 4414. ZONING; PERMISSIBLE TYPES OF REGULATIONS

Any of the following types of regulations may be adopted by a municipality in its bylaws in conformance with the plan and for the purposes established in section 4302 of this title.

* * *

(12) Wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements. A municipality may adopt bylaws to regulate wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements in a manner consistent with state or federal law. These bylaws may include requiring the decommissioning or dismantling of wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements, and may establish requirements that a bond be posted, or other security acceptable to the legislative body, in order to finance facility decommissioning or dismantling activities.

Sec. 16.  30 V.S.A. § 248(n) is added to read:

(n)(1)  No company as defined in section 201 of this title and no person as defined in 10 V.S.A. § 6001(14) may place or allow the placement of wireless communications facilities on an electric transmission or generation facility located in this state, including a net‑metered system, without receiving a certificate of public good from the public service board pursuant to this subsection.  The public service board may issue a certificate of public good for the placement of wireless communications facilities on electric transmission and generation facilities if such placement is in compliance with the criteria of this section and board rules or orders implementing this section.  In developing such rules and orders the board:

(A)  may waive the requirements of this section that are not applicable to wireless telecommunication facilities, including but not limited to criteria that are generally applicable to public service companies as defined in this title;

(B)  may modify notice and hearing requirements of this title as it deems appropriate;

(C)  shall seek to simplify the application and review process as appropriate; and

(D)  shall be aimed at furthering the state’s interest in ubiquitous mobile telecommunications and broadband service in the state.

(2)  Notwithstanding subdivision (1)(B) of this subsection, if the board finds that a petition filed pursuant to this subsection does not raise a significant issue with respect to the criteria enumerated in subdivisions (b)(1), (3), (4), (5) and (8) of this section, the board shall issue a certificate of public good without a hearing.  If the board fails to issue a final decision or identify a significant issue with regard to a completed petition made under this section within 60 days of its filing with the clerk of the board and service to the director of public advocacy for the department of public service, the petition is deemed approved by operation of law. The rules required by this subsection shall be adopted within six months of the effective date of this section, and rules under this section may be adopted on an emergency basis to comply with the dates required by this section.  For purposes of this subsection, “wireless communication facilities” include antennae, related equipment, and equipment shelter. 

Sec. 17.  30 V.S.A. § 248a is added to read:

§ 248a.  CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC GOOD FOR MULTIPLE TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES

(a)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the  applicant  in a single application seeks approval for the construction or installation within three years of three or more telecommunications facilities as part of an interconnected network the   applicant  may obtain a certificate of public good issued by the public service board under this section, which the board may grant if it finds that the facilities will promote the general good of the state consistent with subsection 202c(b) of this title. 

(b)  For the purposes of this section:

     (1)  “Telecommunications facility” means any support structure extending more than 50 feet above the ground that is proposed for construction or installation which is primarily for communications purposes and which supports facilities that transmit and receive communications signals for commercial, industrial, municipal, county, or state purposes.

          (2)  Telecommunications facilities are “part of an interconnected network” if those facilities would allow one or more communications services to be provided throughout a contiguous area of coverage created by means of the proposed facilities or by means of the proposed facilities in combination with other facilities already in existence.

(c)  Before the public service board issues a certificate of public good under this section, it shall find that:

(1)  the proposed facilities, in the aggregate, will not have an undue adverse effect on aesthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment, and the public health and safety, with due consideration having been given to the relevant criteria specified in subsection 1424a(d) and subdivisions 6086(a)(1) through (8) and (9)(K) of Title 10;

(2) unless there is good cause to find otherwise, substantial deference in determinations under this subsection have been given to the recommendations of the municipal and regional planning commissions, the recommendations of the municipal legislative bodies, and the plan of any affected municipality;

(3) the proposed facilities are in conformance with the regional plan.

(d)  When issuing a certificate of public good under this section, the board shall give due consideration to all conditions in an existing state or local permit and shall harmonize the conditions in the certificate of public good with the existing permit conditions to the extent feasible.  

(e)  No less than 45 days prior to filing a petition for a certificate of public good under this section, the applicant shall serve written notice of an application to be filed with the board pursuant to this section to the legislative bodies and municipal and regional planning commissions in the communities in which the applicant proposes to construct or install facilities; the secretary of the agency of natural resources; the commissioner of the department of public service and its director for public advocacy; and the landowners of record of property adjoining the project sites.  In addition, at least one copy of each application shall be filed with each of these municipal and regional planning commissions.  Upon motion or otherwise, the public service board shall direct that further public or personal notice be provided if the board finds that such further notice will not unduly delay consideration of the merits and that additional notice is necessary for fair consideration of the application. 

(f)  Unless the public service board identifies that an application raises a substantial issue, the board shall issue a final determination on an application filed pursuant to this section within 90 days of its filing or, if the original filing did not substantially comply with the public service board’s rules, within 90 days of the date on which the clerk of the board notifies the applicant that the filing is complete.  If the board rules that an application  raises a substantial issue, it shall issue a final determination on an application filed pursuant to this section within 180 days of its filing or, if the original filing did not substantially comply with the public service board’s rules, within 180 days of the date on which the clerk of the board notifies the applicant that the filing is complete.  

(g)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an applicant from executing a letter of intent or entering into a contract before the issuance of a certificate of public good under this section, provided that the obligations under that letter of intent or contract are made subject to compliance with the requirements of this section.

(h)  An applicant using the procedures provided in this section shall not be required to obtain a local zoning permit or a permit under the provisions of chapter 151 of Title 10 for the facilities subject to the application or to a certificate of public good issued pursuant to this section.  Ordinances adopted pursuant to subdivision 2291(19) of Title 24 or a municipal charter that would otherwise apply to the construction or installation of facilities subject to this section are preempted.  Disputes over jurisdiction under this section shall be resolved by the public service board, subject to appeal as provided by section 12 of this title. 

Sec. 17a.  30 V.S.A. § 227d(b)(5) is amended to read:

(5)  The carrier shall limit its prices as follows:

(A)  the carrier shall not increase its price for basic exchange telecommunications service during the first year following such election and, during the second and third years following the end of the year in which the carrier has made such election, the carrier shall not increase its price for basic exchange telecommunications service by more than nine percent or by $1.50, whichever is less;

(B)  the carrier shall not increase its prices for local measured service during the first two years following such election;

(C)  the carrier shall not increase its price for nonbasic telecommunications services by more than nine percent during the first two years following such election; provided that, for the purposes of this section, nonbasic telecommunications services shall mean any optional telecommunications services other than basic exchange telecommunications services and local measured service that were included in the carrier's intrastate tariff at the time of the election;

(D)  the carrier shall not increase its intrastate switched access rates for the three years following the end of the year in which the carrier has made such election.

Sec. 17b.  Sec. 2 of No. 73 of the Acts of 2005 (repeal of section 227d of Title 30) is amended to read:

Sec. 2.  REPEAL

30 V.S.A. § 227d shall be repealed on July 1 December 31, 2008.

* * * Role of Electric Utilities * * *

Sec. 18.  ROLE OF VERMONT’S ELECTRIC UTILITIES TO FURTHER TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEPLOYMENT THROUGHOUT VERMONT

The public service board shall convene a proceeding within 60 days of the effective date of this act to examine regulatory policy regarding the use or role of Vermont’s electric utilities to facilitate deployment of telecommunications infrastructure and services, whether wireless, broadband, or otherwise, throughout the state and take whatever action the board finds is consistent with the public good and within its existing authority. The board shall provide notice of the proceeding to the state’s electric utilities and certificated telecommunications carriers.  The department of public service shall provide a report to the general assembly by January 15, 2008 with the department’s recommendations for any necessary legislative action. 

Sec. 18a.  NETWORK EVOLUTION AND MODERNIZATION

(a)  The department of public service and public service board, in investigating the petition of Verizon New England Inc. for the transfer of its telecommunication plant, shall, in addition to reviewing the proposed transaction pursuant to other provisions of Title 30, assess:    

(1)  Whether it is the intention and within the capabilities of an acquiring company to sufficiently contribute to the timely advancement of the goals of the general assembly, as expressed in section 8060 of Title 30, and, if so, how the acquiring company intends to do so.  In this assessment, the board shall presume that regular reevaluation of the definition of “broadband” under Chapter 91 of Title 30 will call for increasing speed and capacity at a rapid rate during the coming decades.  In this context, the board shall evaluate:

(A)  whether and how the acquiring company will utilize its current and proposed infrastructure and investments to keep pace with rapidly increasing needs;

(B)  whether there are any inherent limits on the geographic scope, capacity and speed of the infrastructure the acquiring company will acquire and that it intends to construct; and, if so, how the telecommunications services necessary to support broadband beyond those limits will be provided when required.   

(2)  Whether the acquiring company will have the requisite financial resources to sufficiently contribute to the timely advancement of the goals of the general assembly, and, if not, how it intends to obtain the necessary resources.

(3)  Whether the resources available to the acquiring company to continuously upgrade the Vermont infrastructure will be greater or less than those available to Verizon New England Inc.

(b)  The board shall either condition its approval of the proposed transactions as necessary to enable favorable findings with respect to each of subdivisions (a)(1), (2), and (3) of this section, or deny the petition.  The department shall make its recommendation to the board in accordance with these same standards.

(c)  This section shall not be construed to waive or reduce other existing standards for review established under Title 30 that are applicable to this petition.

Sec. 19.  DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS

     Effective July 1, 2010, no new applications for certificates of public good under 30 V.S.A. § 248a may be considered by the board.

Sec. 20.  STUDY OF EFFECT ON LAND USE LAW

(a) There is established a study committee on broadband and mobile telecommunications facilities, to consist of the following, who shall be experts in municipal and regional planning and development: a representative of the natural resources board, a municipal official designated by the league of cities and towns, a representative of a regional planning commission designated by the Vermont association of planning and development agencies, a representative of the department of public service, and one representative each of the broadband and the mobile telecommunications businesses appointed by the governor.

(b)  The study committee shall review the pertinent parts of the state’s municipal, regional, and state-level regulatory and planning processes that are involved in making broadband and mobile telecommunications services available to all the citizens of the state and shall develop recommendations that will allow the expeditious deployment of broadband and mobile telecommunications services in a manner acceptable to the communities of the state.  As part of this review, the committee shall consider and evaluate the likely effects of enactment of this act.

(c)  The committee shall be entitled to the administrative services of the department of public service.  By no later than January 15, 2008, the study committee shall present its recommendations together with any appropriate suggestions for legislative change to the House and Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Energy, the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, and the House Committee on Commerce.

Sec. 21.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect from passage.

(For text see House Journal March 30, 2007 P. 471-477)

Reports Committees of Conference

H. 360

TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

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

H.360.  AN ACT RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT PROTECTION AND TRAINING PERIOD FOR VERMONT NATIONAL GUARD MEMBERS.

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the House accede to the Senate proposal of amendment and that the bill be amended further in Sec. 1, 21 V.S.A. § 491(a), in the third sentence, by striking “full-time” and inserting in lieu thereof “permanent

Jeanette White

George Coppenrath

William Doyle

Committee on the part of the Senate

Helen Head

Richard Howrigan

Leo Valliere

Committee on the part of the House

S.13

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.13.  AN ACT RELATING TO THE IDLING OF MOTOR VEHICLE ENGINES ON SCHOOL PROPERTY .

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the House recede from its proposals of amendment and that the bill as approved by the Senate be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  23 V.S.A. § 1282(f) is added to read:

(f)  Subject to state board of education rules, which may provide for limited idling, the operator of a school bus shall not idle the engine while waiting for children to board or to exit the vehicle at a school and shall not start the engine until ready to leave the school premises.  The board, in consultation with the agency of natural resources, the department of health, and the department of motor vehicles, shall adopt rules to implement this subsection.  The rules shall set forth periods or circumstances that reasonably require the idling of the engine, including periods when it is necessary to operate defrosting, heating, or cooling equipment to ensure the health or safety of the driver or passengers or to operate auxiliary equipment; and periods when the engine is undergoing maintenance or inspection.

Sec. 2.  SCHOOL BOARDS; VEHICULAR IDLING

Nothing in this act or in department of education rules shall prevent a school board from adopting idling policies for motor vehicles other than school buses when present on school premises.  By January 1, 2008, the department of education shall develop a model policy relating to idling of vehicles other than school buses to be distributed to schools for their use.

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on passage.  The rules required by this act shall take effect during the 2007–2008 academic year. 

Carol R. Hosford

Peter Peltz

Jim McCullough

Committee on the part of the House

Robert A. Starr

William t. Doyle

Harold Giard

Committee on the part of the Senate

CONSENT CALENDAR

Concurrent Resolutions for Action 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
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Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us