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House Calendar

FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2008

116th DAY OF ADJOURNED SESSION

House Convenes at 9:30 A M

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                               Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

     Action Postponed Until Friday, May 2, 2008

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 402  Health Benefits Group F Members VT Retirement System............... 2919

          Rep. Sweaney Amendment................................................................. 2920

Third Reading

J.R.S. 63  Coordinate Future Policy for Local Food Growth........................ 2921

Favorable with Amendment

J.R.S. 60  Request AG to Initiate Legal Action Re Price Fixing, Etc............. 2921

          Rep. Botzow for Commerce

For Action Under Rule 52

J.R.H. 66  Urging Congress to Adopt H. R. 5473....................................... 2922

J.R.H. 68  Requesting Businesses to Refrain from Increasing Costs.............. 2922

NOTICE CALENDAR

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 267  Relating to Industrial Hemp.............................................................. 2923

Reports Committees of Conference

H.   11  Relating to the Commissioner of Health............................................ 2926

H. 290.  Relating to Underground Utility Damage Prevention System............ 2926

H. 432  Establishing Junteenth National Freedom Day.................................. 2929

H. 636.  Relating to Embezzlement by a Public Official.................................. 2930

H. 709.  Relating to Campgrounds............................................................... 2932

H. 865.  Relating to Vermont Milk Commission............................................ 2933

H. 870.  Relating to the Regulations of Professions and Occupations............. 2940

S. 107  Mapping Town Highways - Trails/Discontinuance of Unmapped....... 2940

S. 246  Electronic Access to Criminal and Family Court Records.................. 2942

S. 250  Cocaine and Heroin Drug Trafficking Penalties................................. 2949

S. 281  Relating to End-of-Life Care and Management................................. 2951

S. 322  Relating to the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council............................. 2953

S. 345  Cost of Workers’ Compensation Insurance...................................... 2961

 

CONSENT CALENDAR

(See Addendum to House and Senate Calendar)

H.C.R. 294  Honoring Virginia Catone for Dedicated Service...................... 2974

H.C.R. 295  Congratulating Catamount Rotary - 20th Anniversary............... 2974

H.C.R. 296  Honoring John Kennedy Jr. of North Bennington...................... 2975

H.C.R. 297  Congratulating Trust for Wildlife on 25th Anniversary............... 2975

H.C.R. 298  Congratulating Bennington Cty Industrial Corporation............... 2975

H.C.R. 299  Congratulating NSK Steering Systems America, Inc ................ 2975

H.C.R. 300  Congratulating American Chestnut Foundation on 25th............. 2975

H.C.R. 301  Dedication of Portrait of  General Wallace Green, Jr................ 2975

H.C.R. 302  Honoring Rev. Barbara Purinton for Dedicated Service............ 2975

H.C.R. 303  Congratulating Wesley Carpenter and Shelby Miller................. 2975

H.C.R. 304  In Memory of Private First Class Adam Muller........................ 2975

H.C.R. 305  Honoring Peaslee’s VT Potatoes Among Finest....................... 2975

H.C.R. 306  In  Memory of Larry Solsaa of South Strafford........................ 2975

H.C.R. 307  Congratulating ‘We the People..’ Essex HS Class................... 2975

H.C.R. 308  Honoring VT State Health Insurance Ass’t Program................. 2975

H.C.R. 309  In Memory of Steven Hall of Hyde Park.................................. 2975

H.C.R. 310  Congratulating Caleb Hastings ‘Out Loud’ Poetry ................... 2976

H.C.R. 311  Congratulating Eileen Hyde  ‘Nat’l Hunger Fellow’.................. 2976

H.C.R. 312  Recognizing VT Institutes Contributions to Education............... 2976

H.C.R. 313  Congratulating June Hier 60 Yr. Waitress at Seward’s............. 2976

H.C.R. 314  Congratulating First Junior Iron Chef Competition.................... 2976

H.C.R. 315  Congratulating Lindsay Johnson Nat’l Music Victories.............. 2976

H.C.R. 316  Congratulating David Luce VLCT Achievement Award ........... 2976

H.C.R. 317  Honoring J.J.Cioffi Outstanding VT Sports Broadcaster........... 2976

H.C.R. 318  Congratulating Sheriff William Graham & Wife on 50th ........... 2976

H.C.R. 319  Congratulating 2008 Prudential Spirit Community Awards........ 2976

H.C.R. 320  Monique Simpson Boys & Girls Club Youth of Year ............... 2976

H.C.R. 321  Belinda Hall Boys & Girls Club Youth of Year......................... 2976

H.C.R. 322  Raymond G. Frey Induction-VT Principals Hall of Fame.......... 2976

H.C.R. 323  Layne Higgs Induction-VT Principals Hall of Fame................... 2976

H.C.R. 324  John Cunavelis Induction-VT Principals Hall of Fame............... 2976

H.C.R. 325  Honoring Dale Guertin for Leadership in Richford.................... 2976

H.C.R. 326  Congratulating Pownal Rescue Squad...................................... 2976

H.C.R. 327  Honoring Christopher Dutton Career at GMPC....................... 2976

H.C.R. 328  Honoring George Hooker for Contributions to Education......... 2976

H.C.R. 329  In Memory of Castleton Professor Pei-heng Chiang................. 2977

H.C.R. 330  Commending Outreach Activities of Uncommon Alliance.......... 2977

H.C.R. 331   UVM & Middlebury College Graduates in Peace Corps......... 2977

H.C.R. 332  Honoring William Russell  Service to General Assembly........... 2977

S.C.R.   53  US Army Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers in VT – 100th..................... 2977

S.C.R.    54  Rohrig Twins for 1000 Basketball Points at Black River........... 2977

S.C.R.    55  Congratulating State of Israel on 60th Anniversary................... 2977

S.C.R.    56  In Memory of Mary Davis Tope of Ludlow............................. 2977

S.C.R.    57  Honoring W. John Mitchell Retirement System Trustee ........... 2977

S.C.R.   58  Lamoille Cty & VT River Management - 10th Anniversary........ 2977

S.C.R.   59  Recognizing Outstanding Works of Public Servers.................... 2977

 

 

 


 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

     Action Postponed Until Friday, May 2, 2008

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 402

     An act relating to recapture of health insurance benefits by Group F members of the Vermont state retirement system.

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.  3 V.S.A. § 459(d) is amended to read:

(d) Early retirement allowance.

* * *

(4) Notwithstanding subdivisions (d)(1) and (2) of this subsection, an elected county sheriff, an employee of the department of fish and wildlife assigned to law enforcement duties, an employee of the military department assigned to airport firefighting duties or a group C member shall upon early retirement receive an early retirement allowance which shall be equal to his or her normal retirement allowance computed under subsection (b) of this section.

Sec. 2.  3 V.S.A. § 500 is amended to read:

§ 500. DEFINED CONTRIBUTION RETIREMENT PLAN

* * *

(f)  An employee who has elected to participate in the defined contribution plan and, after having accrued a minimum of five years of service, becomes disabled as determined by the social security administration or by a state purchased disability insurance policy while currently employed by the state, shall be entitled to continue the same health and dental benefits that are available to members of the Vermont state retirement system who qualify for disability retirement benefits.

(g)  Upon retirement, employees who elect to participate in the defined contribution retirement plan shall be entitled to the same life, dental, and health insurance benefits available to members of the Vermont state retirement system.

(g)(h) The state treasurer shall certify to the governor or governor-elect a statement of the percentage of the payroll of all participating employees sufficient to fund all operating expenses of the defined contribution retirement plan and all contributions of the state which will become due and payable during the next biennium. Contributions by the state shall be charged to the departmental appropriation from which the employees' salaries are paid and shall be included in each departmental budgetary request.

(h)(i) The plan shall be administered by the state treasurer who shall adopt rules necessary to implement and administer the provisions of this chapter.

Amendment to be offered by Rep. Sweaney of Windsor to Senate Proposal of Amendment to H. 402

Moves the House concur with the Senate proposal of amendment when further amended by adding Secs. 3 and 4 to read as follows:

Sec. 3.  3 V.S.A. § 455(a)(9)(B) is amended to read:

(B)  any regular officer or employee of the department of public safety assigned to police and law enforcement duties, including the commissioner of public safety appointed before July 1, 2001; but, irrespective of the member’s classification, shall not include any member of the general assembly as such, any person who is covered by the Vermont teachers’ retirement system, any person engaged under retainer or special agreement or C beneficiary employed by the department of public safety for not more than 208 hours per year, or any person whose principal source of income is other than state employment.  In all cases of doubt, the retirement board shall determine whether any person is an employee as defined in this subchapter.  Also included under this subdivision are employees of the department of liquor control who exercise law enforcement powers, employees of the department of fish and wildlife assigned to law enforcement duties, motor vehicle inspectors, full-time deputy sheriffs employed by the state of Vermont, full-time members of the capitol police force, investigators employed by the criminal division of the office of the attorney general, department of state’s attorneys, department of health, or office of the secretary of state, who have attained full-time certification from the Vermont criminal justice training council, who are required to perform law enforcement duties as the primary function of their employment, and who may be subject to mandatory retirement permissible under 29 U.S.C. section 623(j), who are first included in membership of the system on or after July 1, 2000.  Also included under this subdivision are full‑time firefighters employed by the state of Vermont.

Sec. 4.  GROUP C PARTICIPATION; CAPITOL POLICE; TRANSFER;
 EFFECTIVE DATE

Members of the capitol police force who participate in a state retirement plan other than the group C plan shall have the option to transfer to the group C plan.  Election to join the group C plan shall be made by June 30, 2009 to be effective on July 1, 2009 and shall be irrevocable.  All past service accrued through the date of transfer shall be calculated based upon the plan in which the service accrued with all appropriate provisions and penalties applied.

Third Reading

J. R. S. 63

Joint resolution requesting the sustainable agriculture council to establish a locally grown collaborative to coordinate future policy pertaining to local food growth initiatives in Vermont.

Favorable with Amendment

J. R. S. 60

Joint resolution requesting the Attorney General of Vermont to initiate legal action on behalf of the state and its citizens to seek reimbursement for the costs of illegal price-fixing, price-gouging, and conspiracy to restrain trade in retail gasoline and diesel fuel..

Rep. Botzow of Pownal, for the Committee on Commerce, recommends the House propose to the Senate to amend the resolution by striking it in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Whereas, the prices of crude oil, and in turn gasoline, have skyrocketed to historically high levels, and

Whereas, these high prices are impacting Vermonters’ daily lives in extremely negative ways and forcing them to make difficult and painful personal life choices, and

Whereas, the continuing escalation in gasoline prices is intolerable and requires decisive federal and state actions to reverse this economic crisis, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges that, with respect to gasoline prices:

1)     the U.S. Department of Energy organize a national energy summit;

2)     the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and

the Vermont attorney general in cooperation with other state attorney generals launch federal and state investigations related to gasoline pricing to determine whether there are instances of price gouging, price fixing, collusion, and violations of the antitrust laws;

3)     Congress enact legislation further restricting the ability for price

speculation to occur in the energy trading markets, especially with regard to electronic trading;

4)     the President issue an executive order or, in the alternative, Congress

enact legislation to suspend temporarily the flow of oil into the strategic petroleum reserve;

5)     the President launch a new diplomatic bargaining initiative with

OPEC to reduce the price per barrel for crude oil;

6)     Congress enact a new excess profits tax on the oil companies with the

proceeds directed to the Low Income Heating Assistance Program; and

7)   investigate the creation of appropriate initiatives such as tax credits to stimulate the creation of innovative, alternative energy technologies to reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.S. Attorney General, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission, the Vermont congressional delegation, and the Vermont attorney general.

     And when so amended the House proposes to amend the title as follows:

     Joint resolution urging state, federal, and international actions to reduce gasoline prices.

For Action Under Rule 52

J. R. H. 66

     Joint resolution urging Congress to adopt H. R. 5473, “The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Fill Suspension and consumer Protection Act of 2008.

J. R. H. 68

     Joint resolution requesting that all financial institutions, insurance companies, health care facilities, public service board regulated utilities, and public water systems refrain temporarily from increasing any consumer costs.

(For text see House Journal May 1, 2008)


NOTICE CALENDAR

Senate Proposal of Amendment

H. 267

     An act relating to industrial hemp.

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

Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

(1)  Industrial hemp is a suitable crop for Vermont, and its production will contribute to the future viability of Vermont agriculture.

(2)  Allowing industrial hemp production will provide farmers an opportunity to sell their products to a marketplace that pays them a reasonable rate of return for their labor and capital investments.  Farmers in Canada report an $800.00 per‑acre return for the crop.

(3)  The infrastructure needed to process industrial hemp will result in increased business opportunities and new jobs in our communities.

(4)  As a food crop, industrial hemp seeds and oil produced from the seeds have high nutritional value, including healthy fats and protein.

(5)  As a fiber crop, industrial hemp can be used in the manufacture of products such as clothing, building supplies, and animal bedding.

(6)  As a fuel crop, industrial hemp seeds can be processed into biodiesel, and stalks can be pelletized or flaked for burning or processed for cellulosic ethanol.  Industrial hemp also expands opportunities for on-farm renewable energy production.

(7)  The production of industrial hemp can play a useful agronomic role in farm land management as part of a crop rotation system.

Sec. 2.  6 V.S.A. chapter 34 is added to read:

CHAPTER 34.  INDUSTRIAL HEMP

§ 561.  INTENT

     The intent of this act is to establish policy and procedures for growing industrial hemp in Vermont so that farmers and other businesses in the Vermont agricultural industry can take advantage of this market opportunity when federal regulations permit.

§ 562.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Grower” means any person or business entity licensed under this chapter by the secretary as an industrial hemp grower.

(2)  “Hemp products” means all products made from industrial hemp, including but not limited to cloth, cordage, fiber, food, fuel, paint, paper, particle board, plastics, seed, seed meal, seed oil, and certified seed for cultivation if such seeds originate from industrial hemp varieties.

(3)  “Industrial hemp” means varieties of the plant cannabis sativa having no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, whether growing or not, that are cultivated or possessed by a licensed grower in compliance with this chapter.

(4)  “Secretary” means the secretary of agriculture, food and markets.

§ 563.  INDUSTRIAL HEMP:  AN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT

Industrial hemp is an agricultural product which may be grown, produced, possessed, and commercially traded in Vermont pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

§ 564.  LICENSING; APPLICATION

(a)  Any person or business entity wishing to engage in the production of industrial hemp must be licensed as an industrial hemp grower by the secretary.  A license from the secretary shall authorize industrial hemp production only at a site or sites specified by the license.

(b)  A license from the secretary shall be valid for 24 months from the date of issuance and may be renewed but shall not be transferable.

(c)(1)  The secretary shall obtain from the Vermont criminal information center a record of convictions in Vermont and other jurisdictions for any applicant for a license who has given written authorization on the application form.  The secretary shall file a user's agreement with the center.  The user's agreement shall require the secretary to comply with all statutes, rules, and policies regulating the release of criminal conviction records and the protection of individual privacy.  Conviction records provided to the secretary under this section are confidential and shall be used only to determine the applicant’s eligibility for licensure.

(2)  A person who has been convicted in Vermont of a felony offense or a comparable offense in another jurisdiction shall not be eligible for a license under this chapter.

(d)  When applying for a license from the secretary, an applicant shall provide information sufficient to demonstrate to the secretary that the applicant intends to grow and is capable of growing industrial hemp in accordance with this chapter, which at a minimum shall include:

(1)  Filing with the secretary a set of classifiable fingerprints and written authorization permitting the Vermont criminal information center to generate a record of convictions as required by subdivision (c)(1) of this section.

(2)  Filing with the secretary documentation certifying that the seeds obtained for planting are of a type and variety compliant with the maximum concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol set forth in subdivision 560(3) of this chapter.

(3)  Filing with the secretary the location and acreage of all parcels sown and other field reference information as may be required by the secretary.

(e)  To qualify for a license from the secretary, an applicant shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the secretary that the applicant has adopted methods to ensure the legal production of industrial hemp, which at a minimum shall include:

(1)  Ensuring that all parts of the industrial hemp plant that do not enter the stream of commerce as hemp products are destroyed, incorporated into the soil, or otherwise properly disposed of.

(2)  Maintaining records that reflect compliance with the provisions of this chapter and with all other state laws regulating the planting and cultivation of industrial hemp.

(f)  Every grower shall maintain all production and sales records for at least three years.

(g)  Every grower shall allow industrial hemp crops, throughout sowing, growing season, harvest, storage, and processing, to be inspected by and at the discretion of the secretary or his or her designee.

§ 565.  REVOCATION AND SUSPENSION OF LICENSE;

             ENFORCEMENT

(a)  The secretary may deny, suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew the license of any grower who:

(1)  Makes a false statement or misrepresentation on an application for a license or renewal of a license.

(2)  Fails to comply with or violates any provision of this chapter or any rule adopted under it.

(b)  Revocation or suspension of a license may be in addition to any civil or criminal penalties imposed on a grower for a violation of any other state law.

§ 566.  RULEMAKING AUTHORITY

The secretary shall adopt rules to provide for the implementation of this chapter, which shall include rules to allow for the industrial hemp to be tested during growth for tetrahydrocannabinol levels and to allow for supervision of the industrial hemp during sowing, growing season, harvest, storage, and processing.

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage, except 6 V.S.A. § 566, which shall take effect at such time as the United States Congress amends the definition of "marihuana" for the purposes of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(16)) or the United States drug enforcement agency amends its interpretation of the existing definition in a manner affording an applicant a reasonable expectation that a permit to grow industrial hemp may be issued in accordance with part C of chapter 13 of Title 21 of the United States Code Annotated, or the drug enforcement agency takes affirmative steps to approve or deny a permit sought by the holder of a license to grow industrial hemp in another state.

Reports Committees of Conference

H. 11

 

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

H.11.  AN ACT RELATING TO THE COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH.

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the House accede to the Senate proposal of amendment

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF               COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

THE SENATE                                    THE HOUSE

Sen. Jeanette White                                        Rep. Norman McAllister

Sen. Ed Flanagan                                           Rep. Margaret Andrews

Sen. Douglas Racine                                      Rep. Ann Pugh

H. 290

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

H.290.  AN ACT RELATING TO THE UNDERGROUND UTILITY DAMAGE PREVENTION SYSTEM

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  30 V.S.A. § 7001(4) is amended and (11), (12), (13), and (14) are added to read:

(4)  “Excavation activities” means activities involving the removal of earth, rock or other materials in the ground, disturbing the subsurface of the earth, or the demolition of any structure, by the discharge of explosives or the use of powered or mechanized equipment, including but not limited to digging, trenching, blasting, boring, drilling, hammering, post driving, wrecking, razing, or tunneling, within 100 feet of an underground utility facility.  Excavation activities shall not include the tilling of the soil for agricultural purposes, routine home gardening with hand tools outside easement areas and public rights-of-way, activities relating to routine public highway maintenance, or the use of hand tools by a company, or the company’s agent or a contractor working under the agent’s direction, to locate or service the company’s facilities, provided the company has a written damage prevention program.

(11)  “Powered or mechanized equipment” means equipment that is powered or energized by any motor, engine, or hydraulic or pneumatic device and that is used for excavation or demolition work.

(12)  “Hand tools” means tools powered solely by human energy.

(13)  “Verified” means the location and depth have seen physically determined by hand digging.

(14)  “Damage prevention program” means a program established to ensure employees involved in excavation activities are aware of and utilize appropriate and safe excavating practices.

Sec. 2.  30 V.S.A. § 7004(e) is added to read:

(e)  Notice of excavation activities shall be valid for an excavation site until one of the following occurs:

(1)  The excavation is not completed within 30 days of the notification;

(2)  The markings become faded, illegible, or destroyed; or

(3)  The company installs new underground facilities in a marked area still under excavation.

Sec. 3.  30 V.S.A. § 7006b is amended to read:

§ 7006b.  EXCAVATION AREA PRECAUTIONS

Any person engaged in excavating activities in the approximate location of underground utility facilities marked pursuant to section 7006 of this title shall take reasonable precautions to avoid damage to underground utility facilities, including but not limited to any substantial weakening of the structural or lateral support of such facilities or penetration, severance or destruction of such facilities.  When excavation activities involve horizontal or directional boring, the person engaged in excavation activities shall expose underground facilities to verify their location and depth, in a safe manner, at each location where the work crosses will cross a facility and at reasonable intervals when paralleling an underground facility.  Powered or mechanized equipment may only be used within the approximate location where the facilities have been verified.

Sec. 4.  30 V.S.A. § 7008 is amended to read:

§ 7008.  PENALTIES

(a)  Vermont Digsafe Program.  Any person or company who violates any provisions of sections 7004, 7006, 7006a, 7006b, or 7007 of this title shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.00 not more than $500.00 for the first offense, not more than $1,000.00 for the second offense within one year of the date of the first offense, not more than $1,500.00 for the third offense within one year of the first offense, and not more than $5,000.00 for the fourth or subsequent offense within one year of the date of a previous offense, in addition to any other remedies or penalties provided by law or any liability for actual damages.  For the purposes of this subsection, “the date of the first offense” means the date on which the violation occurred, not the date on which the adjudication of the offense resulted.

(b)  Any company which does not mark the location of its underground facilities as required by section 7006 or 7006a of this title shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.00.

* * *

(e)  Any person who violates any provisions of sections 7004 through 7007 of this title as to an underground gas distribution or transmission facility shall also be subject to the civil penalties described in section 2816 of this title.  However, a person who has been assessed a civil penalty pursuant to section 2816 of this title shall not be subject to the payment of an assessed penalty under the provisions of this section for the same violation.

Sec. 5.  APPEAL PROCESS FOR PENALTIES FOR UNDERGROUND

      UTILITY DAMAGE PREVENTION SYSTEM VIOLATIONS

The department of public service, in collaboration with the public service board and companies and contractors using the underground utility damage prevention system, shall develop a streamlined appeal process before an independent adjudicator for the purpose of appealing fines assessed pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 7008(a). 

Sec. 6.  30 V.S.A. § 2816(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Gas Pipeline Safety Program.  Any person who violates any statute, rule, regulation, or order of the public service board relating to safety standards or safety practices applicable to transportation of gas through gas pipeline facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the public service board is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000.00 $100,000.00 for each violation for each day that the violation persists.  However, the maximum civil penalty shall not exceed $500,000.00 $1,000,000.00 for any related series of violations.  The penalty may be imposed by the board after notice to the offending person of the alleged violations and opportunity for hearing.

Sec. 7.  REPEAL

30 V.S.A. § 7004(d)(2) is repealed January 1, 2010.

and after passage, the title of the bill shall be:

     AN ACT RELATING TO THE VERMONT DIG SAFE PROGRAM AND THE FEDERAL GAS PIPELINE SAFETY PROGRAM

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF               COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                              THE HOUSE

Sen. Hilda Miller                                            Rep. Judith Livingston

Sen. Philip Scott                                             Rep. Michel Consejo

Sen. Vincent Illuzzi                                         Rep. Ernest Shand

H. 432

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

H.432. AN ACT ESTABLISHING JUNETEENTH NATIONAL FREEDOM DAY

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the Senate recede from its proposal of amendment and that the bill be further amended in Sec. 1, subdivision (4), by adding the word “commemorative” immediately preceding the phrase “state holiday

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF    COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                              THE HOUSE

Sen. Hilda Miller                                            Rep. Christopher Pearson

Sen. Bill Carris                                    Rep. Tim Jerman

Sen. Douglas Racine                                      Rep. Sandra Grenier

H. 636

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

H.636.  AN ACT RELATING TO EMBEZZLEMENT BY A PUBLIC OFFICIAL

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

Sec. 1.  13 V.S.A. § 2537 is amended to read:

§ 2537.  PERSON HOLDING PROPERTY IN OFFICIAL CAPACITY OR BELONGING TO THE STATE OR A MUNICIPALITY

A state, county, town, or municipal officer or other person who in his or her official capacity receives, collects, controls, or holds money, obligations, or securities belonging to a corporation, public or private, or to a private person, or other property, who embezzles or fraudulently converts to his or her own use any of such money, obligations or, securities, or other property, or a person who embezzles or fraudulently converts to his or her own use, money or other property belonging to the state or to a county or municipality, or a municipal corporation, or a special purpose district, shall be guilty of larceny and shall be imprisoned not more than ten years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

Sec. 2.  13 V.S.A. § 7554 is amended to read:

§ 7554.  RELEASE PRIOR TO TRIAL

(a)  Any person charged with an offense, other than a person held without bail under section 7553 or 7553a of this title, shall at his or her appearance before a judicial officer be ordered released pending trial in accordance with this section.

* * *

(2)  If the judicial officer determines that conditions of release imposed to assure appearance will not reasonably protect the public, the judicial officer may in addition impose the least restrictive of the following conditions or the least restrictive combination of the following conditions which will reasonably assure protection of the public:

(A)  Place the person in the custody of a designated person or organization agreeing to supervise him or her.

(B)  Place restrictions on the travel, association, or place of abode of the person during the period of release.

(C)  Require the person to participate in an alcohol or drug treatment program.  The judicial officer shall take into consideration the defendant’s ability to comply with an order of treatment and the availability of treatment resources.

(D)  Impose any other condition found reasonably necessary to protect the public, except that a physically restrictive condition may only be imposed in extraordinary circumstances.

(E)  If the person is a state, county, or municipal officer charged with violating section 2537 of this title, the court may suspend the officer’s duties in whole or in part, if the court finds that it is necessary to protect the public.

* * *

Sec. 3.  24 V.S.A. § 176 is amended to read:

§ 176.  DEPUTY CLERK

A county clerk may, subject to the approval of the assistant judges, appoint one or more deputies who may perform the duties of clerk for whose acts he or she shall be responsible and whose deputations he or she may revoke at pleasure.  A record of the appointments shall be made in the office of the clerk.  In case of the death of the clerk or his or her inability to act, the deputy or deputies in order of appointment shall perform the duties of the office until a clerk is appointed.  In case of the suspension of the clerk’s duties as a condition of release pending trial for violating 13 V.S.A. § 2537, the assistant judges of the county shall appoint a person to perform the duties of the office until the charge of violating 13 V.S.A. § 2537 is resolved.  If the assistant judges cannot agree upon appointing a person, the judge of the superior court of the county shall make the appointment.  The compensation for the deputy clerk shall be fixed by the assistant judges and paid for by the county.  Such compensation may include such employment benefits as are presently provided to state employees including, but not limited to, health insurance, life insurance, and pension plan, the expense for which shall be borne by the county and the employees.

Sec. 4.  24 V.S.A. § 211 is amended to read:

§ 211.  APPOINTMENT; VACANCY

Biennially, on February 1, the assistant judges of the superior court shall appoint a treasurer for the county who shall hold office for two years and until his or her successor is appointed and qualified.  If such treasurer dies or in the opinion of the assistant judges becomes disqualified, they may appoint a treasurer for the unexpired term.  If the treasurer has his or her duties suspended as a condition of release pending trial for violating 13 V.S.A. § 2537, the assistant judges of the county shall appoint a person to perform the duties of the treasurer until the charge of violating 13 V.S.A. § 2537 is resolved.  If the assistant judges cannot agree upon whom to appoint, the auditor of accounts shall make the appointment.

Sec. 5.  24 V.S.A. § 961 is amended to read:

§ 961.  VACANCY OR SUSPENSION OF OFFICER’S DUTIES

(a)  When a town officer resigns his or her office, or has been removed therefrom, or dies, or becomes insane or removes from town, such office shall become vacant.  Notice of this vacancy shall be posted by the legislative body in at least two public places in the town, and in and near the town clerk’s office, within 10 days of the creation of the vacancy.

(b)  In the event there are so many vacancies on the selectboard that a quorum cannot be achieved, the remaining selectperson or selectpersons shall be authorized to draw orders for payment of continuing obligations and necessary expenses until the vacancies are filled pursuant to section 963 of this title.

(c)  The legislative body of a county, municipality, or special purpose district may designate a person to perform the duties of an officer whose duties have been suspended as a condition of release pending trial for violating 13 V.S.A. § 2537.

Sec. 6.  32 V.S.A. § 167(b) is amended to read:

(b)  In connection with any of his or her duties, the auditor of accounts may administer oaths and may subpoena any person to appear before him or her. Such persons shall testify under oath and be subject to the penalties of perjury, and may be examined concerning any matter relating to the statutory duties of the auditor provided by section 163 of this title.  Nothing in this subsection shall limit a person’s fifth amendment rights against self‑incrimination.

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF               COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                              THE HOUSE

Sen. Kevin Mullin                                Rep. Margaret Flory

Sen. Richard Sears                                         Rep. Avis Gervais

Sen.  John Campbell                                      Rep. Kathy Pellett

H. 709

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

AN ACT RELATING TO CAMPGROUNDS.

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the House accede to the Senate proposal of amendment with further amendment in Sec. 3, 9 V.S.A. § 4470(b), by striking subdivision (2) in its entirety, renumbering the remaining subdivisions to be numerically correct and in the newly numbered subdivision (3), by adding at the end before the period “, which may include a rule that requires campers to respect the peace and quiet enjoyment of other campers and the owner, operator, or agent

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF               COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                              THE HOUSE

Sen. Vincent Illuzzi                                         Rep. Kurt Wright

Sen. Hinda Miller                                           Rep. Ira Trombley

Sen.  Bill Carris                                              Rep. Bill Botzow

H. 865

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

AN ACT RELATING TO THE VERMONT MILK COMMISSION

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the House accede to the Senate proposal of amendment with further amendment by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  Sec. 4 of No. 50 of the Acts of 2007 is amended to read:

Sec. 4.  VERMONT MILK COMMISSION ESTABLISHMENT OF A

              MINIMUM PRODUCER PRICE

(a)  The Vermont milk commission shall establish by rule order pursuant to its authority under chapter 161 of Title 6 a minimum producer price that is designed to achieve a price by which the cost of picking up the milk and hauling the milk from the farm to the purchaser will be paid by the purchaser reflect the cost of production

(b)  The cost of picking up the milk and hauling the milk from the farm to the purchaser will be paid by the purchaser.  Notwithstanding 6 V.S.A. § 2925(d), 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, and 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. 2.  Sec. 6(c) of No. 50 of the Acts of 2007 is amended to read:

(c)  The milk commission shall commence the rulemaking process necessary to implement the provisions of Sec. 4 of this act within 60 days of the effective date of this act.  The rule order shall take effect when, by rule, legislation, or other agreement, New York and one other state in the Northeast Marketing Area, Federal Order 1, have accomplished the purpose of Sec. 4 of this act or on January 15, 2009 July 1, 2010, whichever comes first.

Sec. 3.  6 V.S.A. § 2922 is amended to read:

§ 2922.  VERMONT MILK COMMISSION; MEMBERSHIP

(a)  There shall be a Vermont milk commission, to consist of seven nine members, one member of which shall be the secretary of agriculture, food and markets.  The secretary shall be chair of the commission and serve without compensation.  A quorum shall be a majority of the commission.  The commission shall act only by an affirmative vote of at least six members.  The remaining commission members shall serve for terms of three years, except for the legislative members who shall serve for the term of their election, and be chosen as follows:

* * *

(5)  One member from the house committee on agriculture chosen by the speaker and one member from the senate committee on agriculture chosen by the president pro tempore of the senate.  For attendance at a meeting when the general assembly is not in session, these two legislative members shall be entitled to the same per diem compensation and reimbursement of necessary expenses as provided members of standing committees under 2 V.S.A. § 406.

(b)  All expenditures under this subchapter shall be paid from the receipts hereunder.

Sec. 4.  6 V.S.A. § 2923 is amended to read:

§ 2923.  ADMINISTRATIVE WORK

The Vermont agency of agriculture, food and markets shall perform the administrative work of the commission as directed by the commission.  The commission shall may reimburse the agency of agriculture, food and markets for the cost of services performed by the department agency.  The commission may enter into contracts with and employ technical experts and authorize and retain legal counsel, and other such officers, agents, and employees as are necessary to effect the purposes of this chapter, and may fix their qualifications, duties, and compensation.  The contract remuneration and employment compensation shall be paid from the Vermont milk commission fund and shall be subject to the limitations of section 2924 of this chapter.

Sec. 5.  6 V.S.A. § 2924 is amended to read:

§ 2924.  POWERS AND DUTIES; PRICING AUTHORITY; PUBLIC

               HEARINGS

(a)  Authority over milk prices.  The commission may establish an equitable minimum or maximum price, or both, and the manner of payments, which shall be paid producers or associations of producers by handlers, and the prices charged consumers and others for fluid milk used in dairy products by distributors or handlers.

(b)  Equitable minimum producer prices.  The commission may establish by rule order after notice and hearing an equitable minimum price to be paid to dairy producers for milk produced in Vermont on the basis of the use thereof in the various classes, grades, and forms.  Because of the need to react immediately to changing market conditions and prices, an equitable minimum price may be established by emergency rule.  Prices so established which exceed federal order prices shall be collected by the commission from the handlers for distribution to dairy producers as a blend price.  The cost of the contracts and employment pursuant to section 2923 of this title and of administering the collection and distribution of these moneys shall be covered by such moneys, not to exceed $50,000.00 $100,000.00.

* * *

(c)  Public hearings.  In order to be informed of the status of the state's dairy industry, the commission shall hold a public hearing:

(1)  At least annually.

(2)  Whenever the price paid to producers in Vermont, including the federal market order price and any over-order premiums, on average, has been reduced $0.50 or more for the previous month, except when such increase is attributable to normal seasonal changes in price by five percent or more over the last month or by 10 percent or more over the last three months.

(3)  Whenever the retail price, on average, has increased by more than $0.08 10 percent per gallon within a three-month period or $0.32 15 percent per gallon within a 12-month period.

(4)  Whenever the cost of production increases by 10 percent or more within a period of 3 to 12 months.

(5)  Whenever a loss or substantial lessening of the supply of fluid dairy products of proper quality in a specified market has occurred or is likely to occur and that the public health is menaced, jeopardized, or likely to be impaired or deteriorated by the loss or substantial lessening of the supply of fluid dairy products of proper quality in a specified market.

* * *

(e)  Premiums on handlers and distributors for milk used in dairy products sold at retail in Vermont.  The commission may assess a premium on handlers and distributors for milk used in dairy products sold at retail in Vermont.  The premiums assessed and received shall be paid to the state treasury and deposited in the special fund established pursuant to section 2938 of this chapter.  The proceeds of the premium shall be distributed to dairy producers as a blend price.  Any applicable provision of subsections 2925(b)-(f) of this title shall apply to the assessment of such premiums.  In assessing these premiums, the commission shall also take into account any similar assessments made by other New England states.

Sec. 6.  6 V.S.A. § 2925 is amended to read:

§ 2925.  MINIMUM PRODUCER PRICE REGULATION

(a)  The commission may make, rescind, or amend a rule an order regulating minimum producer prices if the commission finds that the federal milk marketing order minimum price is adequate or inadequate as the case may be to ensure that the price paid to dairy producers will cover the costs of milk production and provide a reasonable economic return to dairy producers sufficient to ensure a stable milk production and distribution system in Vermont.  The commission may amend or rescind a rule without a public hearing when necessary to conform the price with an increase in the federal market order price.

(b)  Guidelines for setting prices.  In setting equitable minimum prices, the commission may investigate and ascertain what are reasonable costs and charges for producing, hauling, handling, processing and any other services performed in respect to fluid dairy products.  The board commission shall take into consideration the balance between production and consumption of milk dairy products, the costs of production and distribution, the purchasing power of the public and the price necessary to yield a reasonable return to the producer producers, handlers, and to the distributors.

* * *

(2)  Minimum retail prices should reflect the lowest price at which milk purchased from Vermont producers can be received, processed, packaged, and distributed by handlers and distributors at a just and reasonable return.

(3)  In establishing minimum producer and retail prices, the commission shall make applicable findings regarding the competitive position of Vermont producers and their costs, handler and distributor costs, and reasonable rates of return, and actual handler and distributor rates of return.

* * *

(e)  Purchases by or sales to authorized officials of any town or city charity or public welfare department or by charitable organizations approved by the city or town officials for charitable uses, and school lunch milk, shall be exempt from the price-fixing provisions of this chapter.

(f)  This chapter shall apply to milk produced outside the state subject to regulation by the state in the exercise of its constitutional police powers.  Any sale or purchase by distributors or handlers of such milk within this state at a price less than a regulated minimum price shall be unlawful.

(g)  This section shall not apply to a producer-handler with an annual production of one million pounds of milk or less.

Sec. 7.  6 V.S.A. § 2929 is amended to read:

§ 2929.  POWER TO MAKE ORDERS AND CONDUCT HEARINGS;

               REGULATIONS

(a)  In administering this section and sections 2675, 2725, 2726, 2921-2928, and 2931-2933 of this title chapter, the commission shall have the power to make orders hereunder, conduct hearings, subpoena, and examine under oath producers, handlers, and distributors, their books, records, documents, correspondence, and accounts, and any other person it deems necessary to carry out the purposes and intent of said sections this chapter.

(b)  Any order issued under this chapter shall only be made final after a public hearing and after publication of a proposed order for public review and comment for 30 days following the publication of the proposed order.

(1)  The commission shall provide notice of the hearing on the proposed order to interested persons in accordance with the applicable provisions of 3 V.S.A. § 809(b), and to the public by advertisement in the newspapers of record approved by the secretary of state under 3 V.S.A. § 839(d).  The notice shall include proposed regulatory procedures for administration of the pricing order, as appropriate, and otherwise provide sufficient notice and explanation of the potential operation and impact of the order, including proposed findings and conclusions consistent with the requirements of section 2925 of this chapter.

(2)  Interested persons shall not be considered “parties” and, except as otherwise specifically provided by subsection (c) of this section, the provisions of 3 V.S. A. chapter 25 relating to contested cases shall not apply to the procedure for the conduct of the hearing, the issuance of a proposed pricing order, or the promulgation of a final order.  The hearing on the proposed order shall be held in accordance with the applicable provisions of 3 V.S.A. § 840(c) and (d), other than the provisions therein relating to notice and the requirements of 3 V.S.A. § 832a.   The hearing procedure shall provide for the establishment of a formal record of sworn evidence received, matters officially noticed, questions and offers of proof submitted by interested persons, and any proposed findings presented.

(3)  The final order shall contain separate findings of fact and conclusions responsive to the requirements of section 2925 of this chapter and based exclusively on the evidence presented at the hearing and on matters officially noticed.  The final order shall also provide specific response to any submissions filed by interested persons, including proposed findings.  The final order shall be issued again in accordance with the procedural requirements of subdivision (1) of this subsection.

(4)  The commission shall hold at least one formal deliberative meeting before the issuance of a proposed or final order.  Except as provided in section 2299 of this chapter with respect to affirmative votes, a majority of the commission shall constitute a quorum for these deliberative meetings, as well as for any hearing conducted in accordance with this section.

(c)  The procedure relating to ex parte communications set forth in 3 V.S.A. § 813 shall apply as the commission deems appropriate to the development of a proposed order and to the deliberation and issuance of a final order.

(d)  The commission shall adopt rules of procedure for the conduct of a hearing and issuance of a proposed and final pricing order under this chapter. Such rules may be adopted as emergency rules in accordance with 3 V.S.A.  chapter 25.  The commission may adopt, promulgate and enforce such reasonable rules, and regulations and procedures as are deemed necessary to carry out the administration of the provisions of this section and sections 2675, 2725, 2726, 2921-2928 and 2931-2933 of this title chapter.

Sec. 8.  6 V.S.A. § 2931(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Within 20 days after any final order or decision has been made by the commission, any party to the action or proceeding before the commission, or any person directly affected thereby, may apply for a rehearing in respect to any matter determined in the action or proceeding, or covered or included in the order, specifying in the motion for rehearing the ground therefor.  The commission may grant such rehearing if in its opinion good reason therefore is stated in such motion.

Sec. 9.  6 V.S.A. § 2932 is amended to read:

§ 2932.  DETERMINATION OF MOTION FOR REHEARING

Upon the filing of a motion for rehearing, the commission shall within ten days, either grant or deny the motion, or suspend the order or decision complained of pending further consideration, and any order of suspension may be upon terms and conditions prescribed by the commission.

Sec. 10.  6 V.S.A. § 2938 is added to read:

§ 2938.  FUND ESTABLISHED

The Vermont milk commission fund is established in the state treasury and shall be administered by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned on the fund shall be retained in the fund.  Proceeds from this chapter shall be deposited into the fund.  The fund shall be used as necessary for the purposes of this chapter.  The treasurer shall distribute funds as directed by the commission.

Sec. 11.  6 V.S.A. § 2723a(a) is amended to read:

(a)  It shall be unlawful for any person to distribute fluid dairy products as a distributor, as defined in this chapter, without a license issued by the commissioner secretary.  The commissioner secretary shall license all distributors annually.  Application for the license shall be made to the commissioner secretary upon a form furnished by the commissioner secretary.  The application shall be accompanied by an annual license fee of $15.00 for one year or any part thereof.  The license period shall be from January 1 to December 31.

Sec. 12.  6 V.S.A. § 2981(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Each distributor handler shall pay the Vermont milk commission council each month two cents per hundredweight on all fluid milk sold for consumption within the state of Vermont.  Each distributor handler shall file a report and pay the distributor's handler’s hundredweight fee to the commission council on forms provided for that purpose, except that distributors handlers who sell less than 100 quarts of fluid milk per day may file reports and pay the prescribed hundredweight fees at the end of each three-month period.  In case the same fluid milk is handled by more than one distributor handler, the first distributor handler within the state dealing in or handling the fluid milk shall be the distributor handler within the meaning of this chapter.

Sec. 13.  REPEAL

6 V.S.A. §§ 2928, 2930, 2951, and 2987(b) are repealed.

Sec. 14.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on passage.

 

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF               COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                              THE HOUSE

Sen. Sara Kittell                                             Rep. John Malcolm

Sen. Robert Starr                                           Rep. Albert Perry

Sen. Harold Giard                               Rep. David Ainsworth

H. 870

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

H.870.  AN ACT RELATING TO THE REGULATION OF PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS.

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the House accede to the Senate’s first through third and fifth through eleventh proposals of amendment and that the Senate recede from its fourth proposal of amendment

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF               COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                               THE HOUSE

Sen. George Coppenrath                                Rep. Debbie Evans

Sen. Claire Ayer                                            Rep. Ann Manwaring

Sen. Ed Flanagan                                           Rep. Linda Martin

S. 107

 

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

S.107.  AN ACT RELATING TO MAPPING CLASS FOUR TOWN HIGHWAYS AND TRAILS AND MASS DISCONTINUANCES OF UNMAPPED TOWN HIGHWAYS.

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS; INTENT

(a)  The general assembly finds that:

(1)  it has been unclear whether a municipality may, pursuant to 19 V.S.A. § 305(h), discontinue all town highways that are not on the sworn certificate of the description and measurement of town highways, or whether a municipality may discontinue only all town highways that are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail;

(2)  when the general assembly enacted 19 V.S.A. § 305(h), it intended this provision to apply only to those town highways that are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail.

(b)  The general assembly intends that 19 V.S.A. § 305(h) is intended to apply only to those highways that are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail.

Sec. 2.  19 V.S.A. § 302(a)(6)(A) is amended to read:

(A)  Unidentified corridors are town highways that:

(i)  have been laid out as highways by proper authority through the process provided by law at the time they were created or by dedication and acceptance; and

(ii)  do not, as of July 1, 2009 2010, appear on the town highway map prepared pursuant to section 305 of this title; and

(iii)  are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail; and

(iv)  are not legal trails.

Sec. 3.  19 V.S.A. § 305(h) is amended to read:

(h)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subchapter 7 of chapter 7 of this title, on or before July 1, 2009 2010, a municipality's legislative body may vote to discontinue all town highways that are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail and that are not included as such on the sworn certificate of the description and measurement of town highways filed with the town clerk on February 10 of that year pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.  For the purposes of this section, a town highway shall be deemed to be included on the sworn certificate of the description and measurement of town highways if:

* * *

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF               COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                              THE HOUSE

Sen. Jeanette White                                        Rep. Sue Minter

Sen. Ed Flanagan                                 Rep. Dennis Devereux

Sen. William Doyle

 

 

 

 

S. 246

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

AN ACT RELATING TO electronic access to criminal and family court records

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 be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  12 V.S.A. § 5 is amended to read:

§ 5.  DISSEMINATION OF ELECTRONIC CASE RECORDS

(a)  The court shall not permit public access via the internet to criminal case records or family court case records.  The court may permit criminal justice agencies, as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2056a, Internet access to criminal case records for criminal justice purposes, as defined in section 2056a.

(b)  This section shall not be construed to prohibit the court from providing electronic access to:

(1)  court schedules of the district or family court, or opinions of the district court; or

(2)  state agencies in accordance with data dissemination contracts entered into under Rule 6 of the Vermont Rules of Electronic Access to Court Records.

Sec. 2.  20 V.S.A. § 2056b is amended to read:

§ 2056b.  DISSEMINATION OF CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS TO PERSONS CONDUCTING RESEARCH

(a)  The Vermont criminal information center may provide Vermont criminal history records as defined in section 2056a of this title to bona fide persons conducting research related to the administration of criminal justice, subject to conditions approved by the commissioner of public safety to assure the confidentiality of the information and the privacy of individuals to whom the information relates.  Bulk criminal history data may only be provided in a format that excludes the subject’s name and any unique numbers that may reference the identity of the subject, except that the state identification number may be provided.  Researchers must sign a user agreement which specifies data security requirements and restrictions on use of identifying information.

(b)  No person shall confirm the existence or nonexistence of criminal history record information to any person who would not be eligible to receive the information pursuant to this subchapter other than the subject and properly designated employees of an organization who have a documented need to know the contents of the record.

(c)  A person who violates the provisions of this section with respect to unauthorized disclosure of confidential criminal history record information obtained from the center under the authority of this section shall be fined not more than $5,000.00.  Each unauthorized disclosure shall constitute a separate civil violation.

Sec. 3.  20 V.S.A. § 2056c is amended to read:

§ 2056c.  DISSEMINATION OF CRIMINAL HISTORY CONVICTION RECORDS TO EMPLOYERS THE PUBLIC

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Applicant” means an individual seeking or being sought for employment, a volunteer position with an employer, or admission to a course of instruction offered by the Vermont criminal justice training council.

(2)  “Criminal conviction record” means the record of convictions in Vermont.

(3)  “Employer” means any individual, organization, or governmental body, including partnership, association, trustee, estate, corporation, joint stock company, insurance company, or legal representative, whether domestic or foreign, or the receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, trustee or successor thereof, and any common carrier by mail, motor, water, air, or express company or an authorized agent.  Authorized agent shall include a person who is licensed under chapter 59 of Title 26 to provide private investigative services.

(4)  “The center” means the Vermont criminal information center.

(b)(1)  An employer may obtain from the center a criminal conviction record for any applicant who has given written authorization on a release form provided by the center, provided that the employer has filed a user’s agreement with the center.  The user’s agreement shall require the employer to comply with all statutes, rules, and policies regulating the release of criminal conviction records and the protection of individual privacy.  The user’s agreement shall be signed and kept current by the employer.

(2)  An individual, organization, or governmental body doing business in Vermont which has one or more individuals performing services for it within this state and which is a qualified entity that provides care or services to children, the elderly, or persons with disabilities as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 5119c may obtain from the center an out-of-state criminal conviction record for any applicant who has given written authorization on a release form provided by the center, provided that the employer has filed a user’s agreement with the center and complies with all other provisions of this section.

(c)(1)  The employer may obtain a criminal conviction record only:

(A)  after the applicant has been given an offer of employment conditioned on the record check;

(B)  after a volunteer has been offered a position conditioned on the record check.

(2)  The Vermont criminal justice training council may obtain a criminal conviction record only after an applicant has been accepted into a course of instruction offered by the Vermont criminal justice training council conditioned on the record check.

(3)  An organization that receives a criminal conviction record pursuant to this section shall provide a free copy of such record to the record subject within ten days of receipt of the record.

(4)  An organization entitled to receive a criminal conviction record pursuant to this section shall not require an applicant to obtain or submit personally a copy of his or her criminal conviction record for purposes of employment or acceptance into a course offered by the Vermont criminal justice training council.

(d)(1)  Employers shall be provided with informational material by the center prior to authorization to request criminal conviction records.  The materials shall address the following topics:

(A)  Requirements of the user agreement.

(B)  How to obtain criminal conviction records from the center.

(C)  How to interpret criminal conviction records.

(D)  How to obtain source documents summarized in the criminal conviction records.

(E)  Misuse of criminal conviction records.

(2)  Employers shall certify on the user agreement that they have read and understood the materials prior to receiving authorization to request records from the center.

(e)  The release form shall contain the applicant’s name, signature, date of birth, place of birth, and the signature as attested to by a notary public.  The release form shall state that the applicant has the right to appeal the findings to the center, pursuant to rules adopted by the commissioner of public safety.

(f)(1)  Except as otherwise authorized by this chapter, no person shall confirm the existence or nonexistence of criminal conviction record information or disclose the contents of a criminal conviction record without the record subject’s permission to any person other than the applicant and properly designated employees of the employer who have a documented need to know the contents of the record.

(2)  An employer who receives criminal conviction records pursuant to this section shall maintain a confidential log of all record requests as specified by the center.  The employer shall confidentially retain records relating to requests for criminal conviction records for a period of three years.  At the end of the retention period, if logs and records are to be destroyed, they shall be shredded.

(g)  A person who violates subsection (f) of this section shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $5,000.00.  Each unauthorized disclosure shall constitute a separate civil violation.  The office of the attorney general shall have authority to enforce this section.

(h)  The center shall provide notice of the penalty for unauthorized disclosure on a form accompanying any report of a criminal conviction record to an employer.  The notice shall include, in boldface print, the following statements:  THE REQUESTOR AGREES TO USE CRIMINAL CONVICTION RECORD INFORMATION RECEIVED FROM THE VERMONT CRIMINAL INFORMATION CENTER FOR THE PURPOSES INTENDED BY LAW.  THE REQUESTOR AGREES NOT TO DISCLOSE THE CONTENTS OF ANY CRIMINAL CONVICTION RECORD WITHOUT THE APPLICANT’S PERMISSION TO ANY PERSON OTHER THAN THE APPLICANT AND PROPERLY DESIGNATED EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE A DOCUMENTED NEED TO KNOW THE CONTENTS OF THE RECORD. A VIOLATION MAY RESULT IN A CIVIL PENALTY OF UP TO $5,000.00. EACH UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE SHALL CONSTITUTE A SEPARATE CIVIL VIOLATION.

(i)  Nothing in this section shall create a statutory duty for an employer to perform a criminal conviction record check on every job applicant hired by the employer.  An employer’s failure to obtain a criminal conviction record on an employee who subsequently commits a criminal offense shall not be the sole factor in determining civil or criminal liability unless otherwise authorized by law.

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “The center” means the Vermont criminal information center.

(2)(A)  “Criminal conviction record” means the record of convictions in a Vermont district court.

(B)  Release of conviction records by the center pursuant to this section or pursuant to any other provision of state law which permits release of Vermont criminal records shall include only the charge for which the subject of the record was convicted, and shall not include docket numbers.

(b)  A person may obtain from the center a criminal conviction record for any purpose provided that the requestor has completed a user’s agreement with the center.  The user’s agreement shall prohibit the alteration of criminal records and shall require the requestor to comply with all statutes, rules, and policies regulating the release of criminal conviction records and the protection of individual privacy.  

(c)  Criminal conviction records shall be disseminated to the public by the center under the following conditions:

(1)  Public access to criminal conviction records shall be provided by a secure Internet site or other alternatives approved by the center. 

(2)  A requestor who wishes to receive criminal conviction records from the center shall accept the terms of a user agreement with the center.  The user agreement shall specify the conditions under which record information is being released and specify guidelines for the proper interpretation and use of the information.

(3)  Prior to receiving criminal conviction records using the center’s Internet site, a requestor shall establish a secure, online account with the center.  Issuance of the account is conditioned upon the requestor’s willingness to accept the terms of a user agreement with the center which specifies the conditions under which record information is being released and specifies guidelines for the proper interpretation and use of the information.

(4)  All queries shall be by name and date of birth of the subject.

(5)  Only “no record” responses and record responses which constitute an exact match to the query criteria shall be returned automatically online.  In the event that query criteria suggest a possible match, center staff will determine whether the query criteria match a record in the repository and shall return the result to the requestor.

(6)  An electronic log shall be kept of all transactions that shall indicate the name of the requestor, the date of the request, the purpose of the request, and the result of the request.  This log shall not be available to any person, other than center staff on a need-to-know basis, except pursuant to a court order. 

(7)  The center’s Internet site shall provide an electronic mechanism for users to notify the center of possible record errors.

(8)  The center’s Internet site shall provide links to center training information regarding best practices for the use of record checks as part of a complete background check process.

(9)  The center shall charge a fee of $20.00 for each criminal record check query pursuant to this section.

(10)  No person entitled to receive a criminal conviction record pursuant to this section shall require an applicant to obtain, submit personally, or pay for a copy of his or her criminal conviction record.

Sec. 4.  20 V.S.A. § 2063 is amended to read:

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

(a)  Except as otherwise provided for in this section, the cost of each check for a criminal history record as defined in section 2056a of this title or a criminal conviction record as defined in section 2056c of this title based on name and date of birth shall be $10.00 $20.00.  Out-of-state criminal history record checks shall include any additional fees charged by the state from which the record is requested.

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

(1)  Requests made by any individual, organization, or governmental body doing business in Vermont which has one or more individuals performing services for it within this state and which is a qualified entity that provides care or services to children, the elderly, or persons with disabilities as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 5119c.

(2)  Requests made by researchers approved by the Vermont criminal information center to conduct research related to the administration of criminal justice.  A fee, however, may be charged by the center which shall reflect the cost of generating the requested information.

(3)  Requests made by individuals to review their own record at the Vermont criminal information center; however, copies of the individual's record are not exempt from the record check fee.

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

(c)(1)  The criminal history record check fund is established and shall be managed by the commissioner of public safety in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32.  All The first $179,000.00 of fees paid each year under this section shall be placed in the fund and used for personnel and equipment related to the processing, maintenance, and dissemination of criminal history records.  The commissioner of finance and management may draw warrants for disbursements from this fund in anticipation of receipts.

(2)  After the first $179,000.00 of fees paid each year under this section are placed in the criminal history record check fund, all additional fees paid during that year under this section shall go to the general fund.

(d)  The department of public safety shall have the authority, with the approval of the secretary of administration, to establish limited service positions as are necessary to provide criminal record checks in a timely manner, provided that there are sufficient funds in the criminal history record check fund to pay for the costs of these positions.

Sec. 5.  20 V.S.A. § 2056c(c)(9) is amended to read:

(9)  The center shall charge a fee of $20.00 $30.00 for each criminal record check query pursuant to this section.

Sec. 6.  20 V.S.A. § 2063 is amended to read:

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

(a)  Except as otherwise provided for in this section, the cost of each check for a criminal history record as defined in section 2056a of this title or a criminal conviction record as defined in section 2056c of this title based on name and date of birth shall be $20.00 $30.00.  Out-of-state criminal history record checks shall include any additional fees charged by the state from which the record is requested.

* * *

(c)(1)  The criminal history record check fund is established and shall be managed by the commissioner of public safety in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32.  The first $179,000.00 $200,00.00 of fees paid each year under this section shall be placed in the fund and used for personnel and equipment related to the processing, maintenance, and dissemination of criminal history records.  The commissioner of finance and management may draw warrants for disbursements from this fund in anticipation of receipts.

(2)  After the first $179,000.00 $200,00.00 of fees paid each year under this section is are placed in the criminal history record check fund, all additional fees paid during that year under this section shall go to the general fund.

* * *

Sec. 7.  REPORT

On or before January 15, 2010, the joint fiscal office, in consultation with the judiciary and the Vermont crime information center, shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary on the fiscal impacts of the records request fees established by this act.

Sec. 8.  EFFECTIVE DATE

Secs. 5 and 6 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2009.

Sec. 9.  REPEALS

(a)  20 V.S.A. § 2056g (dissemination of criminal history records to licensed private investigators) is repealed.

(b)  20 V.S.A. § 20 V.S.A. §§ 2056c(c)(9) and 2063(a) and (c) (all relating to criminal history record check fees and the criminal history record check fund) shall be repealed effective July 1, 2010.

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF    COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE  SENATE                                                    THE HOUSE

Sen. John Campbell                                               Rep. Maxine Jo Grad

Sen. Kevin Mullin                                           Rep. Jim Condon

Sen. Alice Nitka                                                    Rep. Kathleen Keenan        

S. 250

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

AN ACT RELATING TO DECREASING THE AMOUNTS OF COCAINE AND HEROIN REQUIRED TO BE POSSESSED TO TRIGGER DRUG TRAFFICKING PENALTIES

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 be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  18 V.S.A. § 4231(c)(1) is amended to read:

(c)(1)  Trafficking.  A person knowingly and unlawfully possessing cocaine in an amount consisting of 300 150 grams or more of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing cocaine with the intent to sell or dispense the cocaine shall be imprisoned not more than 30 years or fined not more than $1,000,000.00, or both.  There shall be a permissive inference that a person who possesses cocaine in an amount consisting of 300 150 grams or more of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing cocaine intends to sell or dispense the cocaine.  The amount of possessed cocaine under this subdivision to sustain a charge of conspiracy under 13 V.S.A. § 1404 shall be no less than 800 400 grams in the aggregate.

Sec. 2.  18 V.S.A. § 4233(c) is amended to read:

(c)  Trafficking.  A person knowingly and unlawfully possessing heroin in an amount consisting of seven 3.5 grams or more of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing heroin with the intent to sell or dispense the heroin shall be imprisoned not more than 30 years or fined not more than $1,000,000.00, or both.  There shall be a permissive inference that a person who possesses heroin in an amount of seven 3.5 grams or more of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing heroin intends to sell or dispense the heroin.  The amount of possessed heroin under this subsection to sustain a charge of conspiracy under 13 V.S.A. § 1404 shall be no less than 20 10 grams in the aggregate.

Sec. 3.  18 V.S.A. § 4252 is added to read:

§ 4252.  PENALTIES FOR DISPENSING OR SELLING REGULATED

DRUGS IN A DWELLING

(a)  No person shall knowingly permit a dwelling, building, or structure owned by or under the control of the person to be used for the purpose of illegally dispensing or selling a regulated drug.

(b)  A landlord shall be in violation of subsection (a) of this section only if the landlord knew at the time he or she signed the lease agreement that the tenant intended to use the dwelling, building, or structure for the purpose of illegally dispensing or selling a regulated drug.

(c)  A person who violates this section shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00 or both.

Sec. 4.  SENTENCING COMMISSION DRUG POLICY STUDY

(a)(1)  The Vermont sentencing commission shall review current state practices regarding:

(A)  sentencing for drug offenses;

(B)  prevention and treatment of drug abuse; and

(C)  investigation, prosecution, and punishment for drug offenses. 

(2)  The commission shall determine whether Vermont laws are consistent with best practices, considering the costs and benefits to different approaches with best practices.  This review shall be given priority as the commission outlines its work for 2008 and 2009. 

(b)  The commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the senate and house committees on judiciary no later than March 30, 2009.  

(c)  In conducting the review, the committee shall have the assistance and cooperation of all state and local agencies and departments, including the department of public safety.

 

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF               COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                               THE HOUSE

Sen. Richard Sears                                         Rep. William Lippert

Sen. Kevin Mullin                                Rep. Maxine Jo Grad

Sen. Bill Carris                                    Rep. Margaret Flory

S. 281

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

S.281.  AN ACT RELATING TO END-OF-LIFE CARE AND PAIN MANAGEMENT

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

Sec. 1.  STUDY AND REPORT ON PALLIATIVE CARE, END-OF-LIFE
             CARE, AND PAIN MANAGEMENT

(a)  There is created a legislative study committee on palliative care,

end-of-life care, and pain management.  The study committee shall consist of three members of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house, and three members of the senate, appointed by the committee on committees.  The study committee shall discuss and make recommendations on legislative and nonlegislative solutions for improving palliative care, end-of-life care, management of chronic pain, and access to these services for children, in collaboration with:

(1)  the department of health;

(2)  the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living;

(3)  the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care;

(4)  the Hospice & Palliative Care Council of Vermont;

(5)  the Vermont health care ombudsman;

(6)  the Vermont long-term care ombudsman;

(7)  Patient Choices at End of Life – Vermont;

(8)  the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare;

(9)  the Community of Vermont Elders;

(10)  the Vermont Ethics Network;

(11)  the Vermont Health Care Association;

(12)  the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems;

(13)  the Vermont Medical Society;

(14)  the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights;

(15)  the American Cancer Society;

(16)  AARP Vermont; and

(17)  other interested stakeholders.

(b)  The study committee, at its first meeting, shall elect two legislative members as co-chairs.  The legislative council and the joint fiscal office shall provide staff support to the study committee.  Prior to the first meeting of the study committee, the legislative council staff shall collect from the department of health and the office of the attorney general existing data and background material relevant to the work of the committee.

(c)  The study committee shall consider:

(1)  recommendations for improving ongoing coordination of activities directed toward improving palliative care, end-of-life care, and pain management services throughout the state based on available data and studies from existing sources;

(2)  how best to protect the interests of persons who:

(A)  have a terminal illness;

(B)  are receiving hospice care; or

(C)  are suffering chronic pain;

(3)  how to advance the goal of improving health care services for children with painful or life-threatening medical conditions, including:

(A)  the current availability of insurance coverage for pediatric palliative care services and treatment for chronic pain; and

(B)  avenues for increasing children’s access to care;

(4)  recommendations for improving methods of informing consumers about options in this state for end-of-life care, palliative care, and management of chronic pain, and about the importance of having an advance directive; and

(5)  such other issues as the study committee determines to be necessary and appropriate.

(d)  No later than January 15, 2009, the study committee shall provide a written report on its findings and recommendations, including the appropriateness of an annual report card and future activities, to the house committees on human services and on health care and the senate committee on health and welfare. 

(e)  The study committee shall meet no more than four times and legislative members of the study committee shall be entitled to receive per diem compensation and reimbursement of expenses as provided in section 406 of

Title 2.

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF    COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                              THE HOUSE

Sen. Sara Kittell                                             Rep. William Frank

Sen. Ed Flanagan                                           Rep. Norman McAllister

Sen. Douglas Racine                                      Rep. Kathleen Keenan

S. 322

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

AN ACT RELATING TO THE VERMONT DAIRY PROMOTION COUNCIL

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND INTENT

(a)  The general assembly finds:

(1)  A viable agricultural sector in Vermont represents part of a secure regional food supply, which leads to energy and economic efficiencies.

(2)  The general public is increasingly interested in locally produced food.

(3)  Livestock raised on-farm for meat offers profit potential and economic opportunity for Vermont producers.

(4)  Meat from livestock raised on Vermont farms has an excellent reputation for quality and flavor.

(5)  In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the on-farm slaughter of animals for use by households for economic, ethnic, and humane reasons.

(6)  There are limited options for livestock slaughter in Vermont.

(7)  Historically, meat raised on Vermont farms has been safe and healthy; Vermont’s slaughtering and processing practices have excellent safety records.

(8)  The sustainability of Vermont’s local food systems depends on the relationship between the producer and the consumer.  Key aspects of such successful relationships include the producer’s integrity and the consumer’s interest in and knowledge of how the food is raised, harvested, and processed.

(9)  Community-supported agriculture programs can serve as models for meat producers interested in marketing directly to consumers.

(10)  Raising meat, fruits, and vegetables as close as possible to the kitchens of the end-user minimizes the carbon footprint of the entire food system.

(11)  The dairy promotion council should be required to report annually to the legislature, as well as the governor, on its activities, the amount of money received, and the expenditures thereof.

(b)  It is therefore the intent of the general assembly in enacting this legislation to:

(1)  Assure the continuance of a safe, local food supply.

(2)  Maintain the Vermont meat inspection service’s “at least equal to” status with the federal government’s USDA food safety inspection service.

(3)  Provide for collective ownership of animals raised and slaughtered on Vermont farms where the meat is distributed only to the owners.

(4)  Better understand the rules for building approved slaughter and processing facilities in Vermont and compare Vermont’s meat inspection regulations to other states.

(5)  Determine ways to build cost-effective slaughter and processing facilities and the feasibility of cooperative ownership.

(6)  Promote and encourage growth in Vermont’s livestock industry and the production of meat for local consumption by allowing for more on-farm slaughter and processing of livestock, creating opportunity for the development of more commercial slaughter and processing facilities, and by supporting those currently in the industry.

(7)  Provide more opportunities for Vermont livestock farmers and the supporting slaughter and processing industry to meet the growing demand for animals to be slaughtered and processed by ethnic and religious groups in accordance with their practices and beliefs.

* * * Dairy Promotion Council * * *

Sec. 2.  6 V.S.A. § 2972(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Included among the powers of the council in connection with the enforcement of this chapter are the powers to require reports from any person subject to this chapter; to adopt, rescind, modify, and amend all proper and necessary rules, regulations and orders to administer this chapter, which rules, regulations and orders shall be promulgated by publication in the manner prescribed therefor by the council and shall have the force and effect of law when not inconsistent with existing laws; to administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, take depositions, and certify to official acts; to require any dealer to keep such true and accurate records and to make such reports covering purchases, sales, and receipts of dairy products and related matters as the council deems reasonably necessary for effective administration, which records shall be open to inspection by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets at any reasonable time and as often as may be necessary, but information thus obtained shall not be published or be open to public inspection in any manner revealing any individual dealer’s identity, except as required in proceedings to enforce compliance; to keep accurate books, records, and accounts of all of its dealings, and to make annually a full report of its doings to the house and senate committees on agriculture and the governor, which shall show the amount of money received and the expenditures thereof.  The report shall be submitted on or before January 15.  The Vermont agency of agriculture, food and markets shall perform the administrative work of the council as directed by the council.  The council shall reimburse the agency of agriculture, food and markets for the cost of services performed by the agency.

Sec. 3.  LIVESTOCK STUDY

The legislative council shall consult with local producers, the Vermont congressional delegation, the agency of agriculture, food and markets, and the department of education and develop proposals for a Vermont locally produced meat-in-schools program.  The goals shall be to use existing resources to procure locally produced food products processed in Vermont and inspected by the Vermont agency of agriculture, food and markets to bolster the safety of the food in schools while supporting the Vermont agricultural industry.

Sec. 4.    AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND MARKETS;
               SLAUGHTER ON PREMISES STUDY

In consultation with interested parties, the agency of agriculture, food and markets shall study and recommend actions to meet the objectives set forth in Sec. 1(b) of this act.  The results of such study and any actions recommended shall be included in a report to the house and senate committees on agriculture on or before January 15, 2009.

Sec. 5.  6 V.S.A. § 3306(f) is amended to read:

(f)  Itinerant custom slaughterers, who slaughter solely at a person’s home or farm and who do not own, operate or work at a slaughtering plant shall be exempt from the licensing provisions of this section.  An itinerant custom slaughterer may slaughter livestock owned by an individual who has entered into a contract with a person to raise the livestock on the farm where it is intended to be slaughtered.

Sec. 6.  9 V.S.A. § 2465a is added to read:

§ 2465a.  DEFINITION OF LOCAL AND LOCALLY GROWN

For the purposes of this chapter and rules adopted pursuant to subsection 2453(c) of this chapter, “local,” “locally grown,” and any substantially similar term shall mean that the goods being advertised originated within Vermont or 30 miles of the place where they are sold, measured directly, point to point, except that the term “local” may be used in conjunction with a specific geographic location, such as “local to New England,” or a specific mile radius, such as “local–within 100 miles,” as long as the specific geographic location or mile radius appears as prominently as the term “local,” and the representation of origin is accurate.

Sec. 7.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  The forests of Vermont are integral to the economy, culture, beauty, and appeal of the state.

(2)  The annual contributions of forest-based manufacturing and

forest-related recreation and tourism contribute $1.5 billion to the Vermont economy annually.

(3)  Revenues from forest-related recreation and tourism activities totaled $485 million in 2005.

(4)  Forest-based manufacturing contributes approximately 10 percent of Vermont’s total manufacturing sales.

(5)  The forest-based manufacturing industry provides employment for 6,379 people and generates a payroll of over $207.4 million.

(6)  Forest-based recreation and tourism provide employment for over 6,300 people and generate payrolls of $93.0 million.

(7)  Each 1,000 acres of forest land in Vermont supports 1.4 forest-based manufacturing, forestry, and logging jobs and 1.4 forest-related tourism and recreation jobs.

(8)  Wood provides the energy for approximately six percent of electrical and heating use in Vermont.

(9)  The forests of Vermont help maintain the environment and health of Vermont by aiding the filtering of clean water and clean air and by providing wildlife habitat to a diversity of animals.

(10)  Despite the significant, unparalleled contributions of the forests, forest-based manufacturing, and forest-related recreation and tourism to the state’s economy, jobs, energy, and environment, the forestry and forest products industries receive considerably less support and financial assistance than those afforded other Vermont industries, such as agriculture.

Sec. 8.  10 V.S.A. chapter 85 is added to read:

CHAPTER 85.  VALUE-ADDED FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS

Subchapter 1.  General Provisions

§ 2701.  POLICY

It is the policy of the state to encourage the sustainable management and use of its forests and woodlands; to preserve the natural beauty of the state’s forests and woodlands; to protect its wildlife; to preserve and protect the forest environment and health; and to promote, foster, and encourage the forestry and forest products industries of the state.  To achieve these goals, the general assembly declares it to be in the best interests of the state to promote opportunities and markets for value-added forest products.  Fostering and enhancing the value-added forestry markets will help the state retain and expand the state’s forest products manufacturing sector, will retain manufacturing jobs within the state, and will protect the health and viability of the forest environment.

Subchapter 2.  Forestry and Forest Products Viability Program

§ 2721.  VERMONT FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS VIABILITY

               PROGRAM

(a)  The Vermont forestry and forest products viability program is a voluntary program established at the department of forests, parks and recreation to provide assistance to Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers to enhance the financial success and

long-term viability of the Vermont forest products industry.  In administering the program, the commissioner shall:

(1)  Collaborate with the Vermont housing and conservation board, the members of the Vermont wood products marketing council, the Vermont woodlands association, the Vermont loggers association, state agencies, federal agencies, private entities, and service groups to develop, coordinate, and provide technical and financial assistance to Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers.

(2)  Include teams of experts to assist timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers in areas such as assessing business resources and potential; researching, developing, and adopting new technologies; improving product quality; developing value-added products; finding and reaching new markets; improving and refining existing markets; and lowering costs of production for Vermont’s forest products sector.

(3)  Encourage economic development through investing in improvements to essential infrastructure and the promotion of timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers in Vermont.

(4)  Enter into agreements with private organizations or individuals or with any agency or instrumentality of the United States or of this state and employ technical experts to carry out the purposes of this section.

(5)  In consultation with the Vermont housing and conservation board, other state agencies, foresters, harvesters, and forest products manufacturers establish:

(A)  enrollment criteria for the forestry and forest products viability program created by this section;

(B)  criteria for awarding grants from the forestry and forest products viability program special fund created by subsection (b) of this section.  The grant criteria shall include at least the following requirements:

(i)  the grant recipients shall be enrolled in and committed to participating in the forestry and forest products viability program;

(ii)  the grant application is developed in consultation with timber harvesters, foresters, or forest products manufacturers;

(iii)  the use of the funds will improve the economic viability of a timber harvester, forester, or forest products manufacturer.

(C)  performance goals, evaluative measures, and other criteria to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the forestry and forest products viability program;

(b)(1)  The forestry and forest products viability program special fund is established in the state treasury and shall be administered by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned on the fund shall be retained in the fund.  The fund shall be used only for the purpose of implementing and effectuating the forestry and forest products viability program established by this section.  Any monies appropriated by the general assembly or received by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation for this program from any other source, public or private, shall be deposited in the fund.  The fund shall be used only for the purposes of:

(A)  providing funds for the forestry and forest products viability program as established in this section;

(B)  providing funds to enrolled timber harvesters, foresters, or forest products manufacturers;

(C)  providing funds to service providers for administrative expenses of the program; and

(D)  leveraging other competitive public and private funds, grants, and contributions for the forestry and forest products viability program.

(2)  The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation may solicit federal funds, grants, and private contributions for the forestry and forest products viability program.

(c)  The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall report in writing to the senate and house committees on agriculture and the senate and house committees on natural resources and energy on or before January 31 of each year on the activities and performance of the forestry and forest products viability program.  At a minimum, the report shall include:

(1)  an evaluation of the program utilizing the performance goals and evaluative measures established pursuant to subdivision (a)(5)(C) of this section;

(2)  a summary of the money received in the fund and expended from the fund;

(3)  an estimate of the financial impact of the Vermont forestry and forest products viability program on the forestry and forest products industries;

(4)  an assessment of the potential demand for the program over the succeeding three years; and

(5) a listing of individuals, trade associations, and other persons or entities consulted in preparation of the report.

Sec. 9.  DEPARTMENT OF FORESTS, PARKS AND RECREATION REPORT ON SUSTAINABLE CERTIFICATION OF STATE FOREST LANDS

On or before January 15, 2009, the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation, in consultation with Vermont timber harvesters, foresters, and forest products manufacturers, their respective trade associations; the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund; and others shall report to the house and senate committees on agriculture, and the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy regarding the feasibility of certifying the management of and sourcing of materials from state forests under the forest stewardship council (FSC) chain of custody, the sustainable forestry initiative (SFI), and the American tree farm system (ATFS) standards.  The report shall include:

(1)  A summary of the requirements for certification under the FSC, the SFI, and the ATFS standards;

(2)  An estimate of the economic value to the Vermont forestry and forest products industries of certification;

(3)  An estimate of the financial cost to the department of forests, parks and recreation to conduct certification of all state forest land;

(4)  An analysis of how certification standards could be of benefit in emerging carbon markets;

(5)  A recommendation as to whether the department of forests, parks and recreation should certify Vermont state forest land under the FSC, the SFI, and the ATFS standards; or

(6)  A recommendation as to whether the department should establish a program under which a certain percentage of timber sales from state forest lands will be reserved for sale to value-added forest products manufacturers in Vermont.

Sec. 10.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall be effective upon passage, except Sec. 5 which shall take effect April 15, 2009.

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF               COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF

 THE SENATE                                              THE HOUSE

Sen. Harold Giard                               Rep. David Zuckerman

Sen. Hull Maynard                                         Rep. Christopher Bray

Sen. Sara Kittell                                             Rep. James McNeil

S. 345

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

S.345. AN ACT RELATING TO LOWERING THE COST OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION INSURANCE

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the Senate accede to the House proposal of amendment and that the bill be further amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds the following:

(1)  The workers’ compensation program was established in 1915 to dispense with the concept of negligence by providing compensation to any employee who is injured on the job and to limit employers’ exposure to lawsuits for negligence in the workplace.  In addition, this program removed the need for injured employees to rely on tax-funded public assistance programs.

(2)  The National Council on Compensation Insurance, NCCI, the nation’s largest provider of workers’ compensation and employee injury data, recommends to the Vermont department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration proposed workers’ compensation voluntary market loss costs and assigned risk market rates by classification codes.

(3)  In March 2008, the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration approved an average 4.2 percent decrease in both the voluntary market loss costs and assigned risk market rates, representing the largest decrease in a decade.  This decrease provided many Vermont employers, including sawmill, logging, and carpentry operations, hospitals, restaurants, and ski areas, with a modest decrease in their workers’ compensation premiums.  Other Vermont employers with good safety records may enjoy even higher premium rate reductions.

(4)  The decrease is attributed mainly to a decline in workplace injuries.  Two major cost drivers of workers’ compensation premiums are the frequency of claims and the seriousness of claims.  Another cost driver is medical costs which are increasing more rapidly than the rate of inflation.  The duration of claims also adds to workers’ compensation costs.

(5)  Despite recent stability in workers’ compensation rates, the comparatively high cost of workers’ compensation insurance in Vermont remains an issue of great concern to many Vermont employers.

(6)  The increased implementation of safety training programs and measures by Vermont employers has reduced the frequency of workplace injuries, which is the most effective way to reduce workers’ compensation costs.

(7)  The fact that only 8.5 percent of the Vermont employers are in the residual market validates that workers’ compensation insurers perceive that the Vermont workers’ compensation program is working effectively.  The residual market is less than half the size it was five years ago indicating that many employers have found appropriate coverage in the voluntary market, in which employers can benefit from competition between carriers.  The lack of competition among carriers for certain industries such as dairy farming presents a disadvantage for those industries.

(8)  Workers’ compensation premiums for farmers are increasing while premiums for most other employer categories are going down. Farming is inherently more hazardous than many other industries, and the pool of farmers to spread the risk is small.  Agricultural workers have a higher frequency and suffer more serious work injuries than other workers, particularly those working on farms with hoofed animals.

(9)  It is important to provide incentives to improve farm safety through comprehensive training programs.  Extensive outreach and safety education will go a long way toward reducing workers’ compensation premium rates for farmers.  The Vermont farm bureau, the agency of agriculture, the U.S. department of agriculture, the university of Vermont extension service, and other organizations are working to develop enhanced farm safety training programs.

(10)  A significant number of employers are improperly classifying employees as “independent contractors” either due to a lack of understanding or knowingly to avoid legal obligations under federal and state labor and tax laws governing payment of wages, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and income and social security taxation.

(11)  Misclassification of employees as “independent contractors” adversely impacts the Vermont economy because it deprives workers of legal protections and benefits; reduces compliance with employment and safety standards; gives employers who misclassify an improper financial competitive advantage over law-abiding businesses; deprives the state of substantial revenue; and imposes indirect costs from decreased legitimate business activity and increased demand for social services.  A recent survey of workers’ compensation insurers conducted in compliance with No. 57 of the Acts of 2007 reveals that misclassification is a significant problem that may add 10 to 20 percent or more to the cost of workers’ compensation.

(12)  Historically, compliance and enforcement have been divided among various governmental entities, which reduce efficiency and effectiveness.  Improved cooperation, sharing information, and joint enforcement of serious violations would be effective approaches to reducing employer misclassification.

(13)  While a reduction in workers’ compensation benefits would lower workers’ compensation premiums across all class codes, this reduction would be at the expense of injured workers and provide little incentive for improving safety.

(14)  Significant delays in scheduling a hearing and issuing a decision after formal hearing in contested worker compensation cases have an adverse impact on injured workers, who are often without necessary medical benefits or income for up to two years; on health care providers, who do not receive timely payment of medical bills; and on insurers, who must maintain reserves on open and unresolved claims.

(b)  Therefore, it is the purpose of this act to address the problems of employee misclassification and miscoding, improve farm safety, and make other positive changes to the workers’ compensation laws that are intended to improve the efficiency of dispute resolution and reduce the cost of workers’ compensation.

Sec. 2.  DEFINITIONS

For the purposes of this act:

(1)  “Misclassification” means improperly classifying employees as independent contractors for the purposes of workers’ compensation insurance or unemployment insurance, as the context dictates.

(2)  “Miscoding” means the improper categorization of employees under the national council on compensation insurance (NCCI) worker classification codes, which account for varying levels of risk attributable to different job types for the purposes of determining workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

* * * Fraud and Misclassification * * *

Sec. 3.  8 V.S.A. § 4750(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The commissioner may require an insurer to file annually its anti-fraud plan with the department and an annual summary of the insurer’s anti-fraud activities and results, including misclassification and miscoding.  A workers’ compensation insurer shall file an anti-fraud plan with the department of labor, including information about fraud investigations, referrals, or prosecutions involving Vermont workers’ compensation claims, misclassifications, and miscoding, if requested by the commissioner of labor.  Information regarding fraud investigations and referrals shall not be public unless the commissioner of labor or the attorney general commences administrative or criminal proceedings.

Sec. 4.  13 V.S.A. § 2031 is amended to read:

§ 2031.  INSURANCE FRAUD

(a)  Definitions.  As used in this section:

* * *

(2)  “Insurance policy” has the same meaning as in 8 V.S.A. § 4722(3) and includes a workers’ compensation policy issued pursuant to chapter 9 of Title 21.

(3)  “Insurer” has the same meaning as in 8 V.S.A. § 4901(2) and includes a workers’ compensation insurer pursuant to chapter 9 of Title 21.

(4)  “Person” means a natural person, company, corporation, unincorporated association, partnership, professional corporation, agency of government, or any other entity.

* * *

(g)  This section shall not apply to workers’ compensation fraud. Cases involving workers’ compensation fraud shall be prosecuted under section 2024 of this title.

(h)  The public policy of this state is that the standards of this section shall not apply or be introduced into evidence in any civil or administrative proceeding, whether to argue public policy, materiality, or for any other purpose.

Sec. 5.  WORKERS’ COMPENSATION EMPLOYEE CLASSIFICATION,

             CODING AND FRAUD ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE

(a)  There is created a workers’ compensation employee classification, coding and fraud enforcement task force to be composed of ten members to include the following:

(1)  The commissioner of labor or designee.

(2)  The commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration or designee.

(3)  The attorney general or designee.

(4)  Two members of the house to be appointed by the speaker.

(5)  Two members of the senate to be appointed by the committee on committees.

(6)  A member from the insurance industry appointed by the American Insurance Association.

(7)  Two members appointed by the employer and employee members of the department of labor advisory counsel established in 21 V.S.A. § 1306 as follows:

(A)  One member who represents labor.

(B)  One member who represents management.

(b)  The task force shall meet as needed, and the legislative council shall provide administrative support.

(c)  For attendance at a meeting when the general assembly is not in session, the legislative members shall be entitled to the same per diem compensation and reimbursement of necessary expenses as provided to members of standing committees under 2 V.S.A. § 406.

(d)  The task force shall:

(1)  Investigate and analyze misclassification and miscoding of employees and occurrences of fraud in the workers’ compensation program and offer recommendations to address the following:

(A)  Coordination, speed, and efficiency of communication among appropriate governmental entities and law enforcement organizations in the prevention, investigation, and enforcement of actual and suspected fraud and employee misclassification and miscoding.

(B)  Ways to improve outreach to and public education for businesses and labor to promote wider understanding of and compliance with the requirements for classifying and coding employees.  This outreach and education shall identify costs associated with misclassification and miscoding, help businesses identify incidents of misclassification and miscoding, and encourage filing of complaints and identification of potential violators.

(C)   In consultation with the Vermont trial lawyers association and the Vermont bar association, ways to improve the effectiveness and enforcement of the current fraud statutes, including specific recommendations for improving enforcement, stimulating interagency cooperation, including information sharing, prosecution and creating a fraud unit with proposals for staffing, reporting, structure, and funding. 

(2)  The task force shall issue a progress report on or before February 15, 2009, and a final report on November 15, 2009.  Both reports shall be provided to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs.  The progress report shall outline the progress of the investigation, and the final report shall outline the task force’s findings and recommendations regarding the following:

(A)  A description of progress made by state government to reduce workers’ compensation fraud and the frequency of employee misclassification and miscoding, including the number of employers cited for violations, a description of the types of fraud, misclassification and miscoding cited, the approximate number of employees affected, and the amount of wages, premiums, taxes, and other payments or penalties collected.

(B)  Administrative, legislative, or regulatory changes designed to reduce fraud and employee misclassification and miscoding of by improving public and business education, sharing information, and increasing the cooperation and efficiency of enforcement of employee misclassification.

(C)  A consistent, workable, and fair method for determining independent contractor status both in regard to workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation.

(D)  Any other issue relevant to reducing the incidences of workers’ compensation fraud and employee misclassification and miscoding including a recommendation as to whether the task force should continue meeting and, if so, for how long.

* * * Evaluation of Permanent Impairment * * *

Sec. 6. 21 V.S.A. § 648(b) is amended to read: 

(b) Any determination of the existence and degree of permanent partial impairment shall be made only in accordance with the whole person determinations as set out in the most recent fifth edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. . In order to utilize any subsequent edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment or any other appropriate guides to the evaluation of permanent impairment, the commissioner, in consultation with the department of labor advisory council, shall adopt a rule.    The commissioner shall adopt a supplementary schedule for injuries that are not rated by the most recent edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment the impairment guide authorized for use by the department to determine permanent disability.

* * * Safety Incentives * * *

Sec. 7.  WORKERS’ COMPENSATION DISCOUNTS; IMPROVED
              EFFICIENCY AND SAFETY; STUDY; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR;
              DEPARTMENT OF BANKING, INSURANCE, SECURITIES, AND
              HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

(a)  The department of labor and the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration in consultation with the department of labor advisory council established in 21 V.S.A. § 1306 shall investigate and, as appropriate, propose specific legislation and administrative rules that effect the following:

(1)  Providing workers’ compensation premium discounts for employers whose employees have demonstrated the successful implementation and effectiveness of a workplace safety certification program.

(2)  Providing rate reductions for employers who implement an effective return-to-work program or a drug and alcohol prevention program, or both.

(3)  Reviewing the fairness of the distribution of workers’ compensation liability for preexisting conditions.

(4)   Surveying other state workplace safety discount programs to evaluate their effectiveness in improving workplace safety as well as their impact on premiums paid by nonparticipants.

(5)  Improving the rate of return to employment for claimants receiving permanent disability benefits by examining best practices for returning injured employees to work that have been used successfully by providers, employers, and relevant programs in Vermont and other jurisdictions.

(6)  Assuring the application of best practices to the vocational rehabilitation system in order to improve its functionality and effectiveness in increasing employability.

(7)  Identifying and facilitating the implementation of industry best practices and other methods designed to increase substantially workplace safety.   

(8) Impact on injured workers’ and workers’ compensation premiums of reducing the maximum weekly wage from 150 percent to 125 percent of the average weekly wage.

(b)  The department of labor shall issue a progress report on September 15, 2009, and a final report on February 1, 2010.  Both reports shall be provided to the governor, the house committee on commerce, and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs.  The progress report shall outline the department of labor’s advancement in its study, and the final report shall contain a comprehensive outline of the study, as well as suggestions for legislation and administrative rulemaking.

* * * First‑Aid‑Only Injuries and Deductible Policies * * *

Sec. 8.  21 V.S.A. § 640(e) is added to read:

(e)  In the case of a work‑related, first‑aid‑only injury, the employer shall file the first report of injury with the department of labor.  The employer shall file the first report of injury with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier or pay the medical bill within 30 days.  If the employer contests a claim, a first report of injury shall be forwarded to the department of labor and the insurer within five days of notice.  If additional treatment or medical visits are required or if the employee loses more than one day of work, the claim shall be promptly reported to the workers’ compensation insurer, which shall adjust the claim.  “Work‑related, first‑aid‑only‑treatment” means any one-time treatment that generates a bill for less than $750.00 and for which the employee loses no time from work except for the time for medical treatment and recovery not to exceed one day of absence from work.

Sec. 9.  21 V.S.A. § 687(e) is added to read:

(e)  All insurance carriers authorized to write workers’ compensation insurance coverage in Vermont shall make available, at the written request of the employer, a workers’ compensation insurance rate that contains a deductible provision that binds the employer to reimburse the workers’ compensation insurer for at least the first $500.00 of benefits, medical or indemnity, due to an injured employee.  Claims shall be adjusted and paid by the insurer, and the employer shall reimburse the insurer for the amount of the deductible.

* * * Workers’ Compensation Dispute Mediation * * *

Sec. 10.  21 V.S.A. §663a is added to read:

663a. WORKER’S COMPENSATION DISPUTE MEDIATION

    (a)  The commissioner shall require mediation in certain workers’ compensation disputes.  In each case, after a request for formal hearing has been filed,  in accordance with the rule, the commissioner may determine whether the disputed issue and the parties are appropriate for mediation prior to a formal hearing and whether mediation would speed resolution of the dispute without the time and expense of a hearing.  If the commissioner determines that mediation is appropriate, the commissioner shall order the parties to attend at least one mediation session prior to a scheduled hearing.  Referring a case to mediation shall not cause a delay in setting a date for the formal hearing.  The commissioner shall, by rule, determine the procedures by which cases are selected and scheduled for mediation. 

(b)  The costs of mediation shall be divided evenly between the claimant and the employer, unless the parties agree otherwise.  The cost of the mediation, up to the amount set by rule, shall be a cost recoverable by the claimant pursuant to section 678 of this Title. 

(c)  The commissioner shall select or make available a list of qualified individuals to act as mediators, which may include non attorneys provided they are experienced in workers’ compensation including former department employees and insurance adjusters.  The mediators shall be compensated at rates set by rule of the commissioner. 

(d)  Prior to implementing this section, the commissioner shall consult with the department of labor advisory council established by 21 V.S.A. § 1306, the worker compensation committees of the Vermont Bar Association and the Vermont Trial Lawyers Association, representatives of insurers who provide worker compensation coverage in Vermont, and with other appropriate parties. 

* * * Hearing Decisions * * *

Sec. 11.  21 V.S.A. §663 is amended to read:

§ 663. HEARINGS, WHERE HELD; DECISION

(a)  If the compensation is not fixed by agreement, either party may apply to the commissioner for hearing and award in the premises who shall set a time and place for hearing and give at least six days' notice thereof to the parties. Such The hearing shall be held at a place designated by the commissioner. No proposed findings of fact shall be required from the parties unless ordered by the commissioner.  If ordered, the proposed findings of fact shall be submitted within 30 days after conclusion of the hearing.

(b)  The decision may include abbreviated findings of fact or conclusions of law, or both, when appropriate.

* * * Computation of Average Weekly Wage and COLA Adjustment * * *

Sec. 12.  21 V.S.A. § 650(a) and (d) are amended to read:

(a)  Average weekly wages shall be computed in such manner as is best calculated to give the average weekly earnings of the worker during the 12 26 weeks preceding an injury; but where, by reason of the shortness of the time during which the worker has been in the employment, or the casual nature of the employment, or the terms of the employment, it is impracticable to compute the rate of remuneration, average weekly wages of the injured worker may be based on the average weekly earnings during the 12 26 weeks previous to the injury earned by a person in the same grade employed at the same or similar work by the employer of the injured worker, or if there is no comparable employee, by a person in the same grade employed in the same class of employment and in the same district.  If during the period of 12 26 weeks an injured employee has been absent from employment on account of sickness or suspension of work by the employer, then only the time during which the employee was able to work shall be used to determine the employee’s average weekly wage.  If the injured employee is employed in the concurrent service of more than one insured employer or self-insurer the total earnings from the several insured employers and self-insurers shall be combined in determining the employee’s average weekly wages, but insurance liability shall be exclusively upon the employer in whose employ the injury occurred.  The average weekly wage of a volunteer firefighter, volunteer rescue or ambulance worker, volunteer reserve police officer, or volunteer as set forth in subdivision 1101(b)(4) of Title 3, who is injured in the discharge of duties as a firefighter, rescue or ambulance worker, police officer, or state agency volunteer, shall be the employee’s average weekly wage in the employee’s regular employment or vocation but the provisions of section 642 of this title relative to maximum weekly compensation and weekly net income rates, shall apply.  For the purpose of calculating permanent total or permanent partial disability compensation, the provisions relating to the maximum and minimum weekly compensation rate shall apply.  In any event, if a worker at the time of the injury is regularly employed at a higher wage rate or in a higher grade of work than formerly during the 12 26 weeks preceding the injury and with larger regular wages, only the larger wages shall be taken into consideration in computing the worker’s average weekly wages.

(d)  Compensation computed pursuant to this section shall be adjusted annually on July 1, so that such compensation continues to bear the same percentage relationship to the average weekly wage in the state as computed under this chapter as it did at the time of injury.  Temporary total or temporary partial compensation shall first be adjusted on the first July 1 following the receipt of 26 weeks of benefits.

* * * Temporary Total Two‑Year Review * * *

Sec. 13.  21 V.S.A. § 642a is added to read:

§ 642a.  TEMPORARY TOTAL; INSURER REVIEW

The employer shall review every claim for temporary total disability benefits that continues for more than 104 weeks.  No later than 30 days after 104 weeks of continuous temporary total disability benefits have been paid, the employer shall file with the department and the claimant a medical report from a physician that evaluates the medical status of the claimant, the expected duration of the disability, and when or if the claimant is expected to return to work.  If the evaluating physician concludes that the claimant has reached a medical end result, the employer shall file a notice to discontinue.

 

* * * Vocational Rehabilitation * * *

Sec. 14.  21 V.S.A. § 641(a)(1) and (c) are amended to read:

(1)  The employer shall designate a vocational rehabilitation provider from a list provided by the commissioner to initially provide services. Thereafter, absent good cause, the employee may have only one opportunity to select another vocational rehabilitation provider from a list provided by the commissioner upon giving the employer written notice of the employee’s reasons for dissatisfaction with the designated provider and the name and address of the provider selected by the employee. 

(c)  Any vocational rehabilitation plan for a claimant presented to the employer shall be deemed valid if the employer was provided an opportunity to participate in the development of the plan and has made no objections or changes within 21 days after submission.

(d)  The commissioner may adopt rules necessary to carry out the purpose of this section.

Sec. 15.  VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

(a)  The commissioner of labor shall consult with the department of labor advisory council established in 21 V.S.A. § 1306 to review current practices and activities in the following areas:

(1)  Insurance carriers providing timely notification to the department of labor of all claimants who have been out of work for 90 consecutive days and requiring the department to provide immediate administrative enforcement for any failure to provide that notification.

(2)  Ensuring that all lost‑time claimants receive simple, understandable notices of their rights to and how to request vocational rehabilitation services no later than their receipt of their first workers’ compensation indemnity benefits.

(3)  Enabling timely review and resolution of insurance coverage and payment issues and other disputes arising in the development and implementation of vocational rehabilitation services.

(4)  Developing performance standards to measure the success of vocational rehabilitation plans and other appropriate approaches to increase the number of injured workers returning to suitable employment.

(b)  The department shall issue a written report to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs on or before November 15, 2009.  The report shall outline any deficiencies discovered under subsection (a) of this section and any rules to be adopted to solve the deficiencies.

* * * Attorney Fees * * *

Sec. 16.  21 V.S.A. § 678 is amended to read:

§ 678. COSTS; ATTORNEY FEES

* * *

(b)  In appeals to the superior or supreme courts, if the claimant, if he or she prevails, he or she shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s attorney fees as approved by the court, and interest at the rate of 12 percent per annum on that portion of any award the payment of which is contested.  Interest shall be computed from the date of the award of the commissioner.

* * *

(d)  In cases for which a formal hearing is requested and the case is resolved prior to formal hearing, the commissioner may award reasonable attorney fees if the claimant retained an attorney in response to an actual or effective denial of a claim and thereafter payments were made to the claimant as a result of the attorney’s efforts. 

(e)  An attorney representing a claimant shall submit a claim for attorney fees and costs within 30 days following a decision in which the claimant prevails.

* * * Assistance to Claimants * * *

Sec. 17.  ASSISTANCE TO CLAIMANT; BARGAINING AGENT;
                RULEMAKING; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

The department of labor shall adopt a rule that permits a representative of the claimant’s bargaining unit to provide informal assistance to a workers’ compensation claimant in regard to any claim for workers’ compensation benefits in all aspects except at a formal hearing.

* * * Farm Safety Programs * * *

Sec. 18.  FARM SAFETY PROGRAMS; AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE,
               FOOD AND MARKETS

The secretary of agriculture, food and markets in collaboration with the department of labor and the University of Vermont extension service shall continue the important work being done in relation to the following:

(1)  In collaboration with farm organizations and other relevant organizations develop farm safety and occupational health best management practices for the protection of farm workers and shall develop educational programs that will enable farm workers to understand and comply with those best management practices.

(2)  In collaboration with the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration and representatives of the insurance industry investigate the feasibility of developing a safety certification program for farms.  The investigation shall consider approaches to providing a premium reduction for farmers certified under such a safety certification program.

(3)  In collaboration with the University of Vermont extension service rural and agricultural vocational rehabilitation program (RAVR) develop rural and agricultural vocational rehabilitation best management practices for use by vocational rehabilitation counselors.

Sec. 19.  SAFETY STANDARDS FOR FORESTRY AND FOREST

               PRODUCTS INDUSTRIES

(a)  The general assembly finds that workers’ compensation insurance rates for the forestry and forest products industries are significantly higher than rates for those industries in neighboring states and significantly higher than those of the vast majority of other industries within the state.

(b)  The general assembly encourages the forestry and forest products industry associations to take immediate and effective action to reduce safety and health risks and thereby reduce costs by the following:

(1)  In consultation with the department of labor and banking, insurance, securities and health care administration, providing education and awareness programs concerning workers’ compensation rates, experience modification, and steps that may be taken to reduce premium costs.

(2)  In consultation with existing department of labor programs like project worksafe, VOSHA, and project road safe, developing safety and health awareness forestry and forestry product industry programs that address compliance with existing safety and health standards and best work practices.

Sec. 20.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on passage except that:

(1)  Sec. 10, 21 V.S.A. §663a, shall take effect upon adoption of related rules.

(2)  The following shall take effect on July 1, 2008:

(A)  Sec. 3, 8 V.S.A. §4750(b).

(B)  Sec. 4, 13 V.S.A. §2031.

(C)  Sec. 6, 21 V.S.A. § 648(b).

(D)  Sec. 8, 21 V.S.A. § 640(e).

(E)  Sec. 9, 21 V.S.A. § 687(e).

(F)  Sec. 11, 21 V.S.A. § 663.

(G)  Sec. 12, 21 V.S.A. § 650(a).

(H)  Sec. 13, 21 V.S.A. § 642a.

(I)  Sec. 14, 21 V.S.A. § 641(a)(1).

(J)  Sec. 16, 21 V.S.A. § 678.

 

COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF              COMMITTEE ON THE PART OF THE SENATE                                    THE HOUSE

Sen. Vincent Illuzzi                                            Rep. Warren Kitzmiller

Sen. James Condos                                          Rep. Ernest Shand

Sen. Hinda Miller                                              Rep. John Clerking

CONSENT CALENDAR

Concurrent Resolutions for Notice Under Joint Rule 16

     The following concurrent resolutions have been introduced for approval by the House and Senate and have been printed in the Senate and House Addendum to today’s calendars. These will be adopted automatically unless a member requests floor consideration before the end of the session of the next legislative day.  Requests for floor consideration should be communicated to the Clerk of the House or to a member of his staff.

(For text of Resolutions, see Addendum to House and Senate Notice Calendar for Thursday, May 1, 2008)

H.C.R. 294

House concurrent resolution honoring the amazing Virginia Catone for her dedicated service on behalf of the House Committee on Appropriations

H.C.R. 295

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Catamount Rotary Club on its 20th anniversary

 

H.C.R. 296

House concurrent resolution honoring the civic and community service of John Kennedy Jr. of North Bennington

H.C.R. 297

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Trust for Wildlife on its 25th anniversary

H.C.R. 298

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Bennington County Industrial Corporation on its 50th anniversary

H.C.R. 299

House concurrent resolution congratulating NSK STEERING SYSTEMS AMERICA, Inc. of Bennington on its 20th anniversary

H.C.R. 300

House concurrent resolution congratulating the American Chestnut Foundation on its 25th anniversary

H.C.R. 301

House concurrent commemorating the unveiling and dedication of the state house portrait of former U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General Wallace Martin Greene Jr.

H.C.R. 302

House concurrent resolution honoring Rev. Barbara deBonCoeur Allen Purinton for her career of dedicated service to her faith and community

H.C.R. 303

House concurrent resolution congratulating Wesley Carpenter and Shelby Miller of Richmond in the 2008 Vermont Skills USA competition

H.C.R. 304

House concurrent resolution in memory of U.S. Army Private First Class Adam Muller of Richmond

H.C.R. 305

House concurrent resolution honoring Peaslee’s VT Potatoes as among Vermont’s finest potatoes

H.C.R. 306

House concurrent resolution in memory of Larry Solsaa of South Strafford

H.C.R. 307

House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2008 Essex High School  We the People . . . The Citizen and the Constitution state championship class

H.C.R. 308

House concurrent resolution honoring the Vermont state health insurance assistance program for its outstanding service as a Medicare informational and counseling resource

H.C.R. 309

House concurrent resolution in memory of Steve Hall of Hyde Park

H.C.R. 310

House concurrent resolution congratulating Caleb Smith-Hastings on winning the 2008 Vermont Poetry Out Loud Competition

H.C.R. 311

House concurrent resolution congratulating Eileen Hyde on being named a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow

H.C.R. 312

House concurrent resolution recognizing the Vermont Institutes’ contributions to primary and secondary education in mathematics, science, and technology

H.C.R. 313

House concurrent resolution congratulating June Hier on her 60th anniversary waitressing at Seward’s Family Restaurant in Rutland City

H.C.R. 315

House concurrent resolution congratulating Lindsay Johnson on her victories in state and national country music vocal competitions

H.C.R. 316

House concurrent resolution congratulating David Lewis on his receipt of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns’ Lifetime Achievement Award

H.C.R. 317

House concurrent resolution honoring J.J. Cioffi as an outstanding Vermont sports broadcaster

H.C.R. 318

House concurrent resolution congratulating former Windham County Sheriff William A. Graham and his wife, former Representative Phyllis A. Graham, on their 50th wedding anniversary

H.C.R. 319

House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2008 Vermont winners of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

H.C.R. 325

House concurrent resolution honoring Dale Guertin for his continuing educational and civic leadership in the town of Richford

H.C.R. 326

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Pownal Rescue Squad on the construction of its first headquarters building

H.C.R. 327

House concurrent resolution honoring Christopher L Dutton on his career accomplishments at Green Mountain Power Corporation

H.C.R. 328

House concurrent resolution honoring George E. Hooker for his outstanding contributions to public education at Rutland High School

 

H.C.R. 329

House concurrent resolution in memory of Castleton State College Professor Emerita Pei-heng Chiang

 

H.C.R. 330

House concurrent resolution commending the community outreach activities of Uncommon Alliance

H.C.R. 331

House concurrent resolution honoring the participation of University of Vermont and Middlebury College graduates in the Peace Corps

H.C.R. 332

     House concurrent resolution honoring William Paul Russell’s extraordinary legislative staff service and declaring May 1, 2008 as “Bill Russell Day” in the general assembly.

S.C.R. 53. 

Senate concurrent resolution commemorating the 100th anniversary of the United States Army's 10th Cavalry Regiment of Buffalo Soldiers' arrival in Vermont.

S.C.R. 54. 

Senate concurrent resolution congratulating the Rohrig twins, Courtney and Bobby, on scoring their 1,000 points for the girls' and boys' Black River High School basketball teams.

S.C.R. 55. 

Senate concurrent resolution congratulating the state of Israel on its 60th anniversary.

S.C.R. 56. 

Senate concurrent resolution in memory of Mary Davis Tope of Ludlow.

S.C.R. 57. 

Senate concurrent resolution honoring W. John Mitchell as an extraordinary public servant and municipal retirement system trustee.

S.C.R. 58. 

Senate concurrent Senate concurrent resolution honoring the Lamoille County Planning Commission’s federal Project Impact program and the Vermont River Management Fluvial Geomorphic Assessment Program on their 10th anniversaries.

S.C.R. 59. 

     Senate concurrent resolution recognizing the outstanding work of firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us