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Senate Calendar

thursday, march 15, 2007

72nd DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                                Page No.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF MARCH 2, 2007

S. 116     Miscellaneous election law amendments............................................ 187

                              Pending Question:  Shall the bill pass?

                              Senator White amendment................................................. 187

NEW BUSINESS

Second Reading

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 51       Prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity..................... 187

                              Judiciary Committee Report............................................... 187

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 34       Humane treatment of animals in schools and the right to an instructional alternative to dissection           188

S. 118     Fiscal review of high spending districts and special education............. 188

S. 119     A civics educator in the Legislative Council........................................ 192

S. 121     Autism.............................................................................................. 193

Ordered to Lie

S. 27       Increasing the minimum tip wage....................................................... 196

Concurrent Resolutions for Adoption

(For text of Resolutions, see Addendum to March 15, 2007 calendar)

HCR 63 Honoring Representative Francis K. Brooks...................................... 110

HCR 64 Gloria Gerdes for 30 years of public service to town of Roxbury........ 112

HCR 65 In memory of Andrea Parhamovich................................................... 113

HCR 66 Honoring the Vermont chapters of the American Red Cross.............. 115

HCR 67 Vermont Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Commission................... 116

HCR 68 Revolutionary War fortification of Mt. Independence anniversary....... 117

HCR 69 In memory of Margaret A. Maurice of Burlington.............................. 119

HCR 70 Vermont’s Junior Miss 2007 Alexandra Larrow of Vergennes........... 120

HCR 71 Vermont Girl Scout Council’s gold & silver award recipients............. 121

HCR 72 Honoring cancer survivors................................................................. 123

HCR 73 Honoring outstanding work of child care providers in Vermont........... 124



 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF MARCH 2, 2007

S. 116

An act relating to miscellaneous election law amendments.

PENDING QUESTION:  Shall the bill pass?

AMENDMENT TO S. 116 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR WHITE AFTER THIRD READING

Senator White moves leave to offer an amendment after Third Reading as follows:

By striking out Sec. 11 [Rules for counting ballots] in its entirety and renumbering the remaining sections of the bill to be numerically correct.

NEW BUSINESS

Second Reading

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 51

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

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Sears for the Committee on Judiciary.

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  By adding Sec. 18a to read as follows:

Sec. 18a.  LEGISLATIVE INTENT

It is the intent of the general assembly that 21 V.S.A. § 495(g) be construed to permit an employer to establish a reasonable dress code for the workplace.

Second:  In Sec. 21, subsection (a), by striking out the words terms “gender expression” and and inserting in lieu thereof the word term

Third:  In Sec. 21, subsection (b), by striking out the words terms “gender expression” and and inserting in lieu thereof the word term

(Committee vote: 4-0-1)


NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 34

An act relating to humane treatment of animals in schools and the right to an instructional alternative to dissection.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Giard for the Committee on Education.

     The Committee recommends that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, § 912, subsection (b), by striking out the words “harmful or destructive use” and inserting in lieu thereof the words use or dissection

Second:  In Sec. 1, § 912, subsection (d), by striking out the words “in the phylum chordata

Third:  In Sec. 1, § 913, subsection (a), by striking out the following:  “, and in public and independent elementary and secondary school-sponsored activities occurring at a location other than the school premises,

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 118

An act relating to fiscal review of high spending districts and special education.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Collins for the Committee on Education.

     The Committee recommends that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 2974 is amended to read:

§ 2974.  SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM; FISCAL REVIEW PANEL OF HIGH SPENDING DISTRICTS

(a)  Annually, the commissioner shall report on:

(1)  special education expenditures by school districts;

(2)  the rate of growth or decrease in special education costs, including the identity of high and low spending districts;

(3)  outcomes for special education students;

(4)  the availability of special education staff;

(5)  the consistency of special education program implementation statewide; and

(6)  the status of the education support systems in school districts; and

(7)  a statewide summary of the special education student count, including:

(A)  the percentage of the total average daily membership represented by special education students statewide and by school district;

(B)  the percentage of special education students by disability category; and

(C)  the percentage of special education students by in‑district placement, day placement, and residential placement.

(b)  The commissioner shall review high spending districts to determine Annually, but no later than October 1, based on the previous year’s expenditures, the commissioner shall notify high spending districts that they have been designated as such.  Each designated district shall respond within 60 days with an explanation of its spending to address whether:

(1)  costs could be decreased while still providing needed special education services;

(2)  the district made reasonable efforts to provide, purchase, or contract for goods or services that are the most reasonably priced yet appropriate for its students;

(3)  the district reported special education expenditures appropriately; and

(4)  all expenditures identified as special education expenditures were properly attributed to eligible students and the services for which the expenditures were made were included in the students’ individualized education plans;

(5)  the district’s special education staff‑to‑child count ratios were higher than the state average, including a breakdown of ratios by staffing categories;

(6)  the number of students in more restrictive environments such as day programs and residential placements was above the state average of special education students in those placements and, if so, information about the categories of disabilities for the students in such placements;

(7)  the district was in compliance with section 2901 of this title; and

(8)  if the district’s proportion of its average daily membership who are enrolled in special education exceeds 20 percent of the statewide average, any unusual community characteristics contributed to this condition.

(c)  The commissioner shall review low spending districts to determine the reasons for their spending patterns and whether those districts used cost‑effective strategies appropriate to replicate in other districts.

(d)  For the purposes of this section, a “high spending district” is a school district that, in the previous school year, spent at least 20 percent more than the statewide average of special education eligible costs per average daily membership.  Also for the purposes of this section, a “low spending district” is a school district that, in the previous school year, spent no more than 80 percent of the statewide average of special education eligible costs per average daily membership.

(e)  For the purpose of advising the commissioner and providing technical assistance to school districts, the state board shall appoint a fiscal review panel of seven people who have expertise in the areas of data collection and finance, and in the fields of special education, business or health and human services. The panel, at the request of a district school board, shall work with the department of education to review spending patterns and provision of special education services in the district and provide advice to the school board and staff concerning cost control mechanisms and cost‑effective practices. In addition, the panel shall make recommendations on what types of data to collect for purposes of the annual report required under subsection (a) of this section, and how the data should be analyzed.  If, after a review of a high spending district’s explanation, the commissioner finds that the explanation is not satisfactory, the commissioner shall conduct a performance review to include one or more of the following:

(1)  a review of the district’s special education student count patterns over time;

(2)  a review of the district’s compliance with section 2901 of this title and any unusual community characteristics that exist;

(3)  an on‑site review to examine a sample of special education student records and related financial and business records;

(4)  a review of the district’s compliance with federal and state requirements to provide a free appropriate public education to eligible students; and

(5)  a review of other factors.

(f)  Within 60 days of completing the performance review, the commissioner shall notify the district in writing of his or her findings and whether the results of the performance review are satisfactory or not satisfactory.  If the results of the performance review are not satisfactory to the commissioner, the commissioner and the school district jointly shall develop a remediation plan.  The district shall have two years to make progress on the remediation plan.  At the conclusion of the two years or earlier, the district shall report its progress on the remediation plan. 

(g)  Within 30 days of receipt of the district’s report of progress, the commissioner shall notify the district that its progress is either satisfactory or not satisfactory. 

(1)  If the district has failed to make satisfactory progress by the conclusion of the remediation plan, the commissioner shall notify the district that in the ensuing year the district will be subject to a withholding of up to 10 percent of its special education expenditures reimbursement under section 2963 of this chapter.

(2)  If the district has failed to make satisfactory progress by the end of the year in which a portion of the special education expenditures reimbursement was withheld under subdivision (1) of this subsection, the commissioner shall notify the district that in the ensuing year the district will be subject to a withholding of up to 20 percent of its special education expenditures reimbursement.

(3)  If the district has failed to make satisfactory progress by the end of the year in which a portion of the special education expenditures reimbursement was withheld under subdivision (2) of this subsection, the commissioner shall notify the district that the state board of education will impose a plan of remediation, which may include administration by the state of the district’s special education program. 

(4)  If the district makes satisfactory progress under any subdivision of this subsection, the commissioner shall release to the district any special education expenditures reimbursement withheld for the prior fiscal year only.

(h)  Within 10 days after receiving the commissioner’s notice under subdivisions (g)(1), (2), or (3) of this section, the district may challenge the commissioner’s decision by filing a written objection to the state board of education outlining the reasons the district believes it made satisfactory progress on the remediation plan.  The commissioner may file a written response within 10 days after the district’s objection is filed.  The board may give the district and the commissioner an opportunity to be heard.  The board’s decision shall be final.  The state shall withhold no portion of the district’s reimbursement before the state board issues its decision under this subsection.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 119

An act relating to a civics educator in the Legislative Council.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Doyle for the Committee on Education.

     The Committee recommends that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  2 V.S.A. chapter 13, subchapter 6 is added to read:

Subchapter 6.  Civics Education

§ 431.  CIVICS EDUCATION; DEVELOPMENT OF PROGRAMS, MATERIALS, AND ACTIVITIES

(a)  The general assembly believes that civics education is vital to the future of our democracy.  Involvement in the democratic process through interaction with adults who are engaged in the process and observation of our representatives and senators at work is one of the best ways to demonstrate the importance of public participation in a representative democracy. 

(b)  Therefore, the state house tours coordinator, in conjunction with legislative council, shall develop and implement civics education programs, materials, and activities which facilitate connections between legislators and Vermont’s young people and maximize use of the state house, the capitol complex, and its resources for the purpose of educating our future citizens and leaders about representative democracy.  Programs shall be designed to engage young people in the democratic process, to increase their understanding of the process, and to inspire participation in the process.

(c)  In order to aid it in the development and implementation of civics education programs, the coordinator and council may appoint an advisory committee made up of educators and others who may be able to provide guidance and advice.  The civics education program shall coordinate its activities with the activities of the department of education and others who may be engaged in civics education in Vermont.

(d)  Programs, materials, and activities available to school groups as well as other groups, such as scouting groups, boys’ and girls’ state, and after school programs, may include:

(1)  curricula that teachers and group leaders may use and that include participation of a legislator or legislators or a visit to the capitol complex, or both;

(2)  activities in which students visiting the capitol complex may participate that may include mock legislative sessions;

(3)  materials that teachers and group leaders or legislators, or both, may use in the classroom or in the capitol complex;

(4)  a website that provides educational materials and curricular ideas, facilitates connections among teachers and group leaders and legislators, and helps teachers and group leaders to use the capitol complex to teach their students about the democratic process; and

(5)  other programs, materials, or activities designed to educate young Vermonters about our democratic system and to inspire them to participate in the process as adults.

Sec. 2.  APPROPRIATION

The amount of $37,500.00 is appropriated to the office of the sergeant at arms in fiscal year 2008 for the purpose of developing and carrying out a civics education program pursuant to 2 V.S.A. § 431. 

     and that, upon passage, the bill’s title shall be:  “AN ACT RELATING TO CIVICS EDUCATION IN THE STATE HOUSE”

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 121

An act relating to autism.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Nitka for the Committee on Education.

     The Committee recommends that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

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

(2)  Although this act pertains to ASD, it is noteworthy that autism is a neurologically based developmental disorder that can have profound lifelong effects in social interaction, the ability to communicate, imagination, and the establishment of relationships.

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

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

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

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

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

(a)  ASD Initiative.  On or before January 15, 2008, the secretary of human services and the commissioner of education shall develop a state plan for and begin implementation of a comprehensive initiative designed to sustain and enhance services provided by existing public and private entities to Vermonters with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families.  The plan shall include detailed budget projections, a feasibility analysis for a structured fee schedule, and estimated appropriation requirements for each year of implementation.  The agency of human services, through the department for children and families, the department of health, and the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living, shall assume primary responsibility for the ASD initiative.  The secretary of human services and the commissioner of education shall enter into an interagency agreement detailing their respective responsibilities on or before August 15, 2007.  Subject to receipt of sufficient appropriations as outlined in the initiative plan, the ASD initiative shall be fully implemented by November 15, 2012.  

(b)  Advisory board.  The Act 264 advisory board’s responsibilities are expanded to include serving as the advisory board for the ASD initiative. 

(c)  Services.  In an effort to improve the consistency of both access to and quality of services across the education and human services systems:

(1)  The agency shall enter into contracts with existing and new public and private providers of developmental, mental health, and early intervention services to:

     (A)  Expand the existing capacity for early and accurate diagnosis of ASD by facilitating the sufficient availability of specialists to all regions of the state.

     (B)  Provide technical assistance and training to primary care physicians on screening protocols.

     (C)  Provide training, technical assistance, and consultation to schools, local agencies, and other providers of developmental, mental health, and early intervention services.

(2)  The department of education shall:

(A)  Award grants pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 2967(b)(3) to the Vermont interdisciplinary team for intensive special education to expand the team’s capacity to serve individuals with ASD and their families.

(B)  Award grants to parent resource centers and other parent organizations offering support to families of individuals with ASD to provide training and technical assistance, to maintain a web-based clearinghouse of resources, including public and private funding opportunities, and strategies for navigating provider services, and to create and expand support groups.

(3)  The agency, the department, or both, may enter into contracts with state or national experts to provide training required by this act and may coordinate with existing entities, such as the higher education collaborative, private autism collaboratives, and early education providers.

(4)  The agency and department shall plan for the gradual development of model regional resource centers at existing locations of developmental services, mental health, and other local agency providers, with satellite sites in other areas of the state.  The purpose of the regional resource centers is to provide consultation, training, technical assistance, and otherwise create a hub of information regarding effective strategies in supporting individuals with ASD and their families.

(d)  Evaluation and report.  Annually, the agency and the department shall evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative, identify unmet needs, and modify the program to address the unmet needs.  The agency and the department shall file a written report of their evaluation with the governor, the house and senate committees on education, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the house committee on human services on or before January 15 of each year through 2012.

and that, upon passage, the bill’s title shall be:  “AN ACT RELATING TO AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS”

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

ORDERED TO LIE

S. 27

An act relating to increasing the minimum tip wage.

PENDING ACTION:  Shall the bill be read the third time?

(For text of the Report of the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, see Senate Calendar for March 1, 2007, page 161.)

Concurrent Resolutions

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

H.C.R.  63.

House concurrent resolution honoring Representative Francis K. Brooks.

H.C.R.  64.

House concurrent resolution honoring Gloria Gerdes for her 30 years of exemplary public service in the town of Roxbury.

H.C.R.  65.

House concurrent resolution in memory of Andrea Parhamovich.

H.C.R.  66.

House concurrent resolution honoring the community service and life‑saving activities of the Vermont chapters of the American Red Cross.

H.C.R.  67.

House concurrent resolution welcoming the Vermont Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Commission to the state house.

H.C.R.  68.

House concurrent resolution commemorating the 230th anniversary of the Revolutionary War fortification of Mount Independence in Orwell, Vermont.

H.C.R.  69.

House concurrent resolution in memory of Margaret A. Maurice of Burlington.

H.C.R.  70.

House concurrent resolution congratulating Alexandra Larrow of Vergennes on her designation as Vermont’s Junior Miss 2007.

H.C.R.  71.

House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2006 Vermont Girl Scout Council’s gold and silver award recipients.

H.C.R.  72.

House concurrent resolution honoring cancer survivors.

H.C.R.  73.

House concurrent resolution honoring the outstanding work of child care providers in Vermont.

CONFIRMATIONS

The following appointments will be considered by the Senate, as a group, under suspension of the Rules, as moved by the President pro tempore, for confirmation together and without debate, by consent thereby given by the Senate.  However, upon request of any senator, any appointment may be singled out and acted upon separately by the Senate, with consideration given to the report of the Committee to which the appointment was referred, and with full debate; and further, all appointments for the positions of Secretaries of Agencies, Commissioners of Departments, Judges, Magistrates, and members of the Public Service Board shall be fully and separately acted upon.

Robert Britt of South Burlington - Member of the Vermont Economic Development Authority - By Sen. Condos for the Committee on Finance.  (1/25)

David E. L. Brown of Shelburne - Member of the Board of Libraries - By Sen. Giard for the Committee on Education.  (1/31)

John Rosenthal of Charlotte - Member of the Board of Libraries - By Sen. Doyle for the Committee on Education.  (1/31)

Kenneth Gibbons of Hyde Park - Member of the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Finance Agency - By Sen. McCormack for the Committee on Finance.  (2/2)

David R. Coates of Colchester - Member of the Municipal Bond Bank - By Sen. Condos for the Committee on Finance.  (2/21)

Paul. Beaulieu of Manchester Center - Member of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency - By Sen. Maynard for the Committee on Finance.  (2/21)

Susan Davis of Shelburne - Member of the Travel Information Council - By Sen. Mazza for the Committee on Transportation.  (3/13)

Jireh Billings of Bridgewater - Member of the Capitol Complex Commission - By Sen. Campbell for the Committee on Institutions.  (3/14)

Bonnie Rutledge of Waterbury - Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles - By Sen. Shumlin for the Committee on Transportation.  (3/16)

JOINT ASSEMBLY

     Thursday, March 22, 2007 - 10:30 A.M. - House Chamber - Retention of Superior Court Judges:  Hon. William Cohen, Hon. M. Kathleen Manley, Hon. Matthew Katz.

     Retention of District Judges:  Hon. James Crucitti, Hon. M. Patricia Zimmerman, Hon. Ben Joseph, and Hon. Thomas Zonay.

REPORTS ON FILE

Pursuant to the provisions of 2 V.S.A. §20(c), one (1) copy of the following reports is on file in the office of the Secretary of the Senate:

     119. Transportation of Individuals in the Custody of the State.  (Agency of Human Services, Department of Health)  (March 2007).

     120.  Errata to the Implementation of Act 114 at the Vermont State Hospital Report.  (Agency of Human Services, Department of Health)  (March 2007).

     121.  Act 145, Vermont Products and Nutrition Education in Schools.  (Agency of Human Services)  (March 2007).

     122.  Blueprint for Health Annual Report.  (Agency of Human Services, Department of Health)  (March 2007).



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