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Senate Calendar

wednesday, april 4, 2007

92nd DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                                Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

CALLED UP

S. 194              Firefighters and cancer caused by employment......................... 489

                              Pending Action:  Second Reading of the bill

                              Sen. Illuzzi for Committee on Ec.Dev. Housing & Gen.Affairs

                              Sen. Ayer amendment........................................................ 489

UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2007

Third Reading

S. 190     Establishing a brownfields advisory committee................................... 489

                              Sen. MacDonald amendment............................................. 489

NEW BUSINESS

Third Reading

S. 115     Transparency of prescription drug pricing and information.................. 490

                              Sen. Condos amendment................................................... 490

S. 121     Relating to autism.............................................................................. 490

H. 51      Amendments to the charter of the village of Newbury........................ 490

H. 97      Ability of unified towns & gores of Essex county to incur debt............ 490

Second Reading

Favorable

H. 81      Amendments to the charter of the city of Burlington........................... 490

                              Government Operations Committee Report........................ 490

H. 169    Amendments to the charter of the town of Williston........................... 491

                              Government Operations Committee Report........................ 491

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 102     Decreasing percentage to determine school dist. excess spending....... 491

                              Education Committee Report............................................. 491

                              Finance Committee Report................................................ 496

                              Sen. Mullin amendment...................................................... 496

                              Sen. Illuzzi amendment....................................................... 498

S. 118     Fiscal review of high spending districts & special education................ 499

                              Education Committee Report............................................. 499

                              Finance Committee Report................................................ 502

                              Sen. McCormack amendment............................................ 502

S. 177     Child poverty in Vermont.................................................................. 503

                              Health and Welfare Committee Report............................... 503

                              Appropriations Committee Report..................................... 503

S. 191     Financing, reappraisal & infrastructure-tax increment fin. dist.............. 503

                              Ec. Dev., Housing and General Affairs Committee.............. 503

                              Finance Committee Report................................................ 503

Favorable with Proposal of Amendment

H. 360    Employment protection & training for VT national guard.................... 510

                              Government Operations Committee Report........................ 510

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Proposal of Amendment

H. 157    Relating to home fermented beverage competitions............................ 511

                              Ec. Dev., Housing and General Affairs Committee Report.. 511

Committee Bill for Notice

S. 204     Inc. funding for downtown & village center tax credit program........... 511

                              Committee on Ec. Dev., Housing & General Affairs............ 511

ORDERED TO LIE

S. 70       Empowering municipalities to regulate application of pesticides........... 512



 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

CALLED UP

S. 194

An act relating firefighters and cancer caused by employment.

PENDING ACTION:  Second reading of the bill.

(Sen. Illuzzi for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs)

AMENDMENT TO S. 194 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR AYER, ON BEHALF OF THE COMMITTEE ON FINANCE

Senator Ayer, on behalf of the Committee on Finance, moves to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 2.  21 V.S.A. § 601(11)(E) by striking out subdivision (ii) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

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

Second:  In Sec. 2.  21 V.S.A. § 601(11)(E) by adding a subdivision (v) to read as follows:

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

UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2007

Third Reading

S. 190

An act relating to establishing a brownfields advisory committee.

AMENDMENT TO S. 190 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR MACDONALD, ON BEHALF OF THE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY BEFORE THIRD READING

     Senator MacDonald, on behalf of the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy moves to amend the bill in Sec. 1, subsection (a) by adding two new subdivisions to be numbered subdivisions (8) and (9) to read as follows:

(8) an expert on the movement of contaminants through water, soil, and air, who has not acted as a consultant to a developer of contaminated sites within the preceding 10 years;

(9) a public health expert on issues related to the protection of people with sensitivity to certain forms of contamination, who has not acted as a consultant to a developer of contaminated sites within the preceding 10 years;

And by renumbering the remaining subdivisions to be numerically correct.

NEW BUSINESS

Third Reading

S. 115

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

AMENDMENT TO S. 115 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR CONDOS BEFORE THIRD READING

Senator Condos moves to amend the first amendment of the Committee on Finance (amending the seventeenth amendment of the Committee on Health and Welfare), in §4655(a), after the words “established where the” by inserting the word manufacturer’s

S. 121

An act relating to autism.

H. 51

An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the village of Newbury.

H. 97

An act relating to the ability of the unified towns and gores of Essex county to incur indebtedness.

Second Reading

Favorable

H. 81

An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the city of Burlington.

Reported favorably by Senator Flanagan for the Committee on Government Operations.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

(No House amendments)

H. 169

An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the town of Williston.

Reported favorably by Senator Flanagan for the Committee on Government Operations.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

(For House amendments, see House Journal for March 16, 2007, page 334)

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 102

An act relating to decreasing the percentage to determine a school district’s excess spending.

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:

* * * Excess Spending Percentage * * *

Sec. 1.  32 V.S.A. § 5401(12) is amended to read:

(12)  “Excess spending” means:

(A)  the per‑equalized pupil amount of:

(i)  the district’s education spending, plus any amount required to be added from a capital construction reserve fund under 24 V.S.A. § 2804(b); minus

(ii)  the portion of education spending which is approved school capital construction spending or deposited into a reserve fund under 24 V.S.A. § 2804 to pay future approved school capital construction costs, including that portion of tuition paid to an independent school designated as the public high school of the school district pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 827 for capital construction costs by the independent school which has received approval from the state board of education, using the processes for preliminary approval of public school construction costs pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 3448(a)(2);

(B)  in excess of 125 115 percent of the statewide average district education spending per equalized pupil in the prior fiscal year, as determined by the commissioner of education.

Sec. 2.  32 V.S.A. § 5401(13) is amended to read:

(13)  “District spending adjustment” means the greater of: one or a fraction in which the numerator is the district’s education spending plus excess spending as set forth in subdivisions (A) and (B) of this subdivision (13), per equalized pupil, for the school year; and the denominator is the base education payment for the school year, as defined in section 4001 of Title 16.  Excess spending shall be added under this subdivision as follows:

(A)  One‑half of the excess spending in excess of 115 percent but not in excess of 125 percent; plus

(B)  The full amount of any excess spending in excess of 125 percent.

Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. § 4011(h) is amended to read:

(h)  Annually, by October 1, the commissioner shall send to school boards for inclusion in town reports and publish on the department website the following information:

(1)  the statewide average district spending per equalized pupil for the current fiscal year, and 125 115 percent of that average spending; and

* * *

* * * School Construction * * *

Sec. 4.  16  V.S.A. § 3448(a)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  Approval of preliminary application.

(A)  When reviewing a preliminary application for approval, the commissioner shall consider:

(i)  regional educational opportunities and needs, including school building capacities across school district boundaries, and available infrastructure in neighboring communities;

(ii)  economic efficiencies;

(iii)  the suitability of an existing school building to continue to meet educational needs; and

(iv)  statewide educational initiatives and the strategic plan of the state board of education.

(B)  The commissioner may approve a preliminary application if:

(A)(i)  The project or part of the project fulfills a need occasioned by:

(i)(I)  conditions which threaten the health or safety of students or employees;

(ii)(II)  facilities which are inadequate to provide programs required by state or federal law or regulation;

(iii)(III)  excessive energy use resulting from the design of a building or reliance on fossil fuels or electric space heat; or

(iv)(IV)  deterioration of an existing building;

(B)(ii)  The need addressed by the project cannot reasonably be met by another means; and

(C)(iii)  The proposed type, kind, quality, size, and estimated cost of the project are suitable for the proposed curriculum and meet all legal standards.

* * * Superintendents * * *

Sec. 5.  16 V.S.A. § 241 is amended to read:

§ 241.  APPOINTMENT

(a)  Each supervisory union or supervisory district board, with the advice of the commissioner, may employ a superintendent of schools.

(b)  A superintendent shall be employed by written contract for a term not to exceed five years nor less than one year and shall work the number of hours required by contract, performing the duties designated in the contract or assigned by the board.  A superintendent of schools may be dismissed for cause or as specified in the contract of employment.

(c)  Not later than May 15 of a year in which an incumbent superintendent’s contract of employment expires, the supervisory union board shall meet to renew or act otherwise upon the superintendent’s contract.  If a supervisory union employs a superintendent, it shall be pursuant to subsection (d) of this section and the supervisory union board shall specify and assign the duties of a superintendent.  If the supervisory union board does not hire a superintendent, the board may assign any duties assigned to the superintendent under this title to the school principal or principals in the supervisory union or to other qualified persons designated by the board.

(d)(1)  When a superintendent vacancy occurs, the supervisory union board shall:

(A)  Conduct a needs assessment that addresses whether the existing boundaries of the supervisory union best serve the educational needs of students within the supervisory union and whether an alternative configuration would result in a more efficient and effective way to provide educational and support services to students.

(B)  Forward the completed needs assessment to the commissioner and request permission from the commissioner to hire a new superintendent.

(2)  Within 30 days of receiving the assessment and request from the supervisory union, the commissioner shall inform the supervisory union either that the supervisory union may proceed to hire a new superintendent or that the commissioner will schedule a hearing before the state board regarding the supervisory union’s request.

(3)  If the commissioner schedules a hearing pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection, the state board shall take testimony from the supervisory union and shall decide whether:

(A)  The boundaries of the existing supervisory union shall be changed;

(B)  The supervisory union shall be merged with another supervisory union; or

(C)  The boundaries of the supervisory union shall remain the same.

(4)  Any changes made to the boundaries of the supervisory union pursuant to subdivision (3) of this subsection shall take effect on July 1 of the year following the year of the state board’s decision.

* * * Qualifications of Business Managers * * *

Sec. 6.  FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND SUPERVISORY UNIONS; MINIMUM CREDENTIALS

(a)  The commissioner of education, in consultation with the Vermont superintendents’ association, the Vermont school boards association, and the Vermont association for school business officials shall:

(1)  Examine the systems of financial management currently used by Vermont school districts and supervisory unions.

(2)  Examine the range of training and expertise currently held by persons responsible for the financial management of Vermont school districts and supervisory unions.

(3)  Examine and assess the training or credentials required of financial managers employed by public schools or school districts in other states.

(4)  Develop proposals to ensure that all school districts consistently use uniform, high‑quality financial management practices.

(b)  On or before November 15, 2007, the commissioner shall submit a report to the senate committee on education outlining the results of the examinations required in subdivisions (a)(1)–(3) of this section and recommending proposals to ensure uniform, high quality financial management practices as required in subdivision (a)(4) of this section.  The report shall include both an analysis of the budgetary impact, if any, of the commissioner’s proposals and drafts of any proposed legislation. 

* * * Mandates * * *

Sec. 7.  UNFUNDED MANDATES; REPORT

The legislative council, the joint fiscal office, the Vermont school boards association, the Vermont superintendents’ association, and the Vermont principals’ association, in consultation with school district administrators and staff, shall examine the requirements placed on local school districts resulting from legislation, regulations, and interagency cost shifts implemented since January 1, 1997.  The examination will identify and quantify associated process requirements, staffing effects, and financial implications.  Legislative council and the joint fiscal office shall prepare a report for submission to the senate committee on education on or before December 1, 2007.

* * * Special Education Cost Study * * *

Sec. 8.  SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES PROVISIONS; STUDY

The joint fiscal office, in consultation with the chairs of the senate and house committees on appropriations and education, the chair of the senate committee on health and welfare, the chair of the house committee on human services, the secretary of the agency of human services, the commissioners of the department of education and the department of employment and training, the Vermont superintendents’ association, the Vermont school boards association, and other members of the education community shall study how the agency of human services, the department of education, and the department of employment and training should provide for special education services for eligible persons under 22 years of age in school or out of school.  They shall also:

(1)  assess the extent to which school districts have absorbed service costs for special needs children that were historically paid by other service providers, including the extent to which:

(A)  children formerly admitted to institutional care are now being provided services through special education;

(B)  costs now found in school budgets historically were part of the budgets of nonschool agencies;

(C)  costs now found in school budgets would be attributable to nonschool agencies; and

(D)  Medicaid funds are being used to provide services;

(2)  examine the interagency agreement regarding coordination of special education services entered into pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(12) to determine if services are currently provided and paid for in the most appropriate and cost-effective ways; and

(3)  report their findings and recommendations to the general assembly on or before November 1, 2007.

* * * Effective Dates * * *

Sec. 9.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  Secs. 1 through 3 of this act shall take effect on January 1, 2010 and shall apply to budgets in the 2010–2011 school year.

(b)  All other sections of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2007.

and, upon passage, the title shall be:  “AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATIONAL COST CONTAINMENT

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

Reported without recommendation by Senator MacDonald for the Committee on Finance.

AMENDMENT TO S. 102 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR MULLIN

Senator Mullin moves to amend the bill as follows:

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

* * * Consolidations of Supervisory Unions * * *

Sec. 8a.  16 V.S.A. § 261 is amended to read:

§ 261.  ORGANIZATION AND ADJUSTMENT OF SUPERVISORY UNIONS

(a)  The state board shall review on its own initiative or when requested as per subsection (b) of this section and may regroup the organize school districts, except for interstate school districts, into 16 supervisory unions of the state or create new supervisory unions in such manner as to afford increased efficiency or greater convenience and economy and to facilitate K-12 curriculum planning and coordination as changed conditions may seem to require which, to the extent possible, shall follow the same boundaries as the technical center service regions created pursuant to section 1531 of this title.

(b)  Any school district which has so voted at its annual school district meeting, if said the meeting has been properly warned regarding such a vote, may apply to the state board of education for adjustment of the existing supervisory union of which it is a component district.  The state board shall give timely consideration to such requests and may regroup the school districts of the area so as to ensure reasonable supervision of all public schools therein.

(c)  The state board may designate any school district, including a unified union district, as a supervisory district if it will offer schools in grades K-12 and is large enough to support the planning and administrative functions of a supervisory union.  [Deleted.]

(d)  Upon application by a supervisory union board, the state board may waive any requirements of chapter 5 or 7 of this title with respect to the supervisory union board structure, board composition, or board meetings, or the staffing pattern of the supervisory union, if it can be demonstrated that such a waiver will result in efficient and effective operations of the supervisory union; will not result in any disproportionate representation; and is otherwise in the public interest.

Second:  In Sec. 9, by striking out subsection (b) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (b) to read as follows:

(b)  Effective date of Sec. 8a: 

(1)  The state board of education shall, after holding at least four public hearings in different geographic regions of the state, propose supervisory union district boundaries pursuant to Sec. 8a of this act on or before June 1, 2008.  Following publication of the proposal, the board shall take public comment and shall establish supervisory union boundaries pursuant to Sec. 8a of this act no later than January 1, 2009.

(2)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 262, the new supervisory unions shall not be established until July 1, 2009.  The new supervisory unions shall hold organizational meetings and enter into agreements pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 262 et seq. between January 1 and July 1, 2009.

(c)  All other sections of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2007.


AMENDMENT TO S. 102 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR ILLUZZI

Senator Illuzzi moves to amend the bill by adding a new section to be Sec. 8b to read as follows:

Sec. 8b.  16 V.S.A. § 563(11) is amended to read:

§ 563. POWERS OF SCHOOL BOARDS; PROPOSED BUDGET NOT TO EXCEED COST OF LIVING INDEX

The school board of a school district, in addition to other duties and authority specifically assigned by law:

* * *

(11) (A)  Shall prepare and distribute annually a proposed budget for the next school year according to such major categories as may from time to time be prescribed by the commissioner.  The proposed budget shall not exceed the previous budget approved by the voters by more than the most recent New England Economic Project cumulative price index for state and local government purchases of goods and services, except that the school board may simultaneously propose an alternative budget that exceeds that amount by a specified dollar figure,

(B)  At a school district's annual meeting, the electorate may vote to provide notice of availability of the school budget required by this subdivision to the electorate in lieu of distributing the budget. If the electorate of the school district votes to provide notice of availability, it must specify how notice of availability shall be given, and such notice of availability shall be provided to the electorate at least 30 days before the district's annual meeting. The proposed budget shall be prepared and distributed at least ten days before a sum of money is voted on by the electorate. Any proposed budget shall show the following information in a format prescribed by the commissioner of education:

(A) (i)  all revenues from all sources and expenses, including as separate items any assessment for a union school district or a supervisory union of which it is a member, and any tuition to be paid to a technical center;

(B) (ii) the specific amount of any deficit incurred in the most recently closed fiscal year and how the deficit was or will be remedied;

(C) (iii) the anticipated homestead tax rate and the percentage of household income used to determine income sensitivity in the district as a result of passage of the budget; including those portions of the tax rate attributable to the union school and supervisory union assessments; and

(D) (iv) in the case of a school district: (1) other than a union school district, the definition of "education spending," the number of pupils and number of equalized pupils in the school district, and the district's education spending per equalized pupil in the proposed budget and in each of the prior three years; or (2) in the case of a union school district, the amount of the assessment to each of the member districts and the amount of the assessments per equalized pupil in the proposed budget and for the past three years.

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)

Reported without recommendation by Senator MacDonald for the Committee on Finance.

AMENDMENT TO RECOMMENDATION OF AMENDMENT OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION TO S. 118 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR McCORMACK

Senator McCormack moves to amend the recommendation of amendment of the Committee on Education in Sec. 1, 16 V.S.A. §2974 subsection (g) by striking out subdivisions (1), (2), (3) and (4) in their entirety and by striking out subsection (h) in its entirety.


S. 177

An act relating to child poverty in Vermont.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Racine for the Committee on Health and Welfare.

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, by striking out subdivision (b)(1)(A) and inserting in lieu thereof a new (A) to read:

(A)  the secretary of human services and the secretary of agriculture, food and markets;

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

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

and in Sec. 1, by striking out subdivisions (b)(1)(H) and (I)

Third:  In  Sec. 1, by striking out subdivision (b)(2) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(2)  The council, at its first meeting, shall elect one of the legislative members as chair or two legislative members as cochairs.  The legislative council and the joint fiscal office shall provide staff support to the council.

(Committee vote: 5-0-1)

Reported favorably by Senator Bartlett for the Committee on Appropriations.

(Committee vote: 5-0-2)

S. 191

An act relating to financing, reappraisal, and infrastructure in tax increment financing districts.

(Sen. Condos for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs). 

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Cummings for the Committee on Finance.

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

Sec. 1.  24 V.S.A. § 1891 is amended to read:

§ 1891.  DEFINITIONS

When used in this subchapter:

* * *

(6)  “Related costs” means expenses, exclusive of the actual cost of constructing and financing improvements, as defined in subdivision 1751(3) of this title, that are directly related to creation of the tax increment financing district and reimbursement of sums previously advanced by the municipality for those purposes, and attaining necessary to attain the purposes and goals for which the tax increment financing district was created, as approved by the Vermont economic progress council.  As used in this subdivision, related costs are “improvements” as defined in subdivision 1751(3) of this title.

(7)  “Financing” means any type of indebtedness incurred or financial vehicles used by a municipality to pay for improvements in a tax increment financing district.

Sec. 2.  24 V.S.A. § 1893 is amended to read:

§ 1893.  PURPOSE

The purpose of tax increment financing districts is to provide revenues for improvements, located wholly or partly within that serve the district and related costs, which will stimulate development or redevelopment within the district, provide for employment opportunities, improve and broaden the tax base, or and enhance the general economic vitality of the municipality, the region, or and the state.

Sec. 3.  24 V.S.A. § 1894 is amended to read:

§ 1894.  POWER AND LIFE OF DISTRICT

(a)  The municipality may incur indebtedness against revenues of the tax increment financing districts for a period of up to 20 years following the creation of the district.  The 20‑year borrowing period of the district shall commence at 12:01 a.m. on April 1 of the year so voted.  Any indebtedness incurred during the borrowing period may be retired over any period authorized by the legislative body of the municipality under section 1898 of this title.  The district shall continue until the date and hour the indebtedness is retired.

(b)  Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, any district created to use education tax increment financing  A municipality that has created a tax increment financing district approved under 32 V.S.A. § 5404a(f) may:

(1)  Incur indebtedness for improvements for the district for a period of up to 20 years provided that the first indebtedness is incurred within five years following approval of the district pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5404a(f), and such that the 20 years for incurring indebtedness begins at the time of initial indebtedness.  Prior to requesting municipal approval to secure financing, the municipality shall provide the council with the proposed financing for approval to assure its consistency with the plan approved pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5404a(h).  The council shall also assure the viability and reasonableness of any proposed financing other than bonding and least‑cost financing.  A municipality that has not incurred indebtedness within five years following the creation of the district, shall request reapproval from the Vermont economic progress council in order to utilize education tax increment financing following that period.

(2)  The education tax increment may be retained for a 20‑year period,  provided that the 20‑year period commences within five years following approval of the district pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5404a(f).  The retention period shall commence at 12:01 a.m. April 1 of the year following the municipality’s notice to the tax department and the Vermont economic progress council.  If a municipality fails to incur debt within the five‑year period but retains the education tax increment, the municipality shall repay the increment in accordance with section 1900 of this title.

Sec. 4.  24 V.S.A. § 1896 is amended to read:

§ 1896.  TAX INCREMENTS

(a)  In each subsequent year, the listers or assessor shall include no more than the original taxable value of such the real property in the assessed valuation upon which the listers or assessor computes the rates of all taxes levied by the municipality, the school district, and every other taxing district in which the tax increment financing district is situated; but the listers or assessor shall extend all rates so determined against the entire assessed valuation of such real property for that year.  In each year for which the assessed valuation exceeds the original taxable value, the municipality treasurer shall hold apart, rather than remit to the taxing districts, that proportion of all taxes paid that year on the real property in the district which such the excess valuation bears to the total assessed valuation.  The amount so held apart each year is referred to in this act as the “tax increment” for that year.  So much of the tax increments received with respect to the district and pledged and appropriated under section 1897 of this title for the payment of debt service on bonds issued for financing for improvements and related costs shall be segregated by the municipality in a special account on its official books and records until all capital indebtedness of the district has been fully paid.  The final payment shall be reported to the lister or assessor, who shall thereafter include the entire assessed valuation of the district in the assessed valuations upon which tax rates are computed and extended and taxes are remitted to all taxing districts.

(b)  Adjustment upon reappraisal. In the event of a reappraisal of 20 percent or more of all parcels in the municipality, the value of the original taxable property in the district shall be changed by a multiplier, the denominator of which is the municipality’s education property tax grand list for the property within the district in the year prior to the reappraisal or partial reappraisal and the numerator of which shall be the municipality’s reappraised or partially reappraised education property tax grand list for the property within the districtIn such a district, the The state education property tax revenues for the district in the first year following a townwide reappraisal or partial town‑wide reappraisal shall not be less than the dollar amount of the state education property tax revenues  in the prior year.

Sec. 5.  24 V.S.A. § 1897 is amended to read:

§ 1897.  TAX INCREMENT FINANCING

(a)  The legislative body may pledge and appropriate any part or all of the tax increments received from properties contained within the tax increment financing district for the payment of the principal of and interest on bonds issued for financing of improvements contained wholly or partly within the district and for related costs in the same proportion by which the infrastructure or related costs directly serve the district at the time of approval of the project financing by the council, and in the case of infrastructure essential to the development of the district that does not reasonably lend itself to a proportionality formula, the council shall apply a rough proportionality and rational nexus test;  provided, that if any tax increment utilization is approved pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5404a(g) 32 V.S.A. § 5404a(f), no more than 75 percent of the state property tax increment and no less than 75 percent of the municipal tax increment may be used to service this debt.  Bonds shall only be issued if the legal voters of the municipality, by a majority vote of all voters present and voting on the question at a special or annual municipal meeting duly warned for the purpose, shall give authority to the legislative body to pledge the credit of the municipality for these purposes.  Except as otherwise provided by the municipal charter, the legal voters of a municipality, by a single vote, shall authorize the legislative body to pledge the credit of the municipality up to a specified maximum dollar amount for all debt obligations to be financed with state property tax increment pursuant to approval by the Vermont economic progress council and subject to the provisions of this section and 32 V.S.A. § 5404a.

(b)  A municipality’s pledge of credit for the purpose of issuing a bond financing improvements under this subchapter and 32 V.S.A. § 5404a shall include notice that if the tax increment received by the municipality from any property tax source is insufficient to pay the principal and interest on the debt in any year, for whatever reason, including a decrease in property value or repeal of a state property tax source, unless determined otherwise at the time of such repeal, the municipality shall remain liable for full payment of the bond principal and interest for the term of indebtedness. 

Sec. 6.  24 V.S.A. § 1898(e) is amended to read:

(e)  Prior to the resolution or ordinance of the local governing body authorizing the bonds issued financing under this section, the legislative body of the municipality shall hold one or more public hearings, after public notice, on a financial plan for the proposed improvements and related costs to be funded, including a statement of costs and sources of revenue, the estimates of assessed values within the district, the portion of those assessed values to be applied to the proposed improvements, the resulting tax increments in each year of the financial plan, the amount of bonded indebtedness or other financing to be incurred, other sources of financing and anticipated revenues, and the duration of the financial plan. A municipality that has approved the creation of a district under this chapter may designate a coordinating agency to administer the district to ensure compliance with this chapter and any other statutory or other requirements.

Sec. 7.  24 V.S.A. § 1900 is amended to read:

§ 1900.  DISTRIBUTION

In addition to all other provisions of this chapter, with respect to any tax increment financing district, any municipal tax increment received in any tax year that exceeds the amounts pledged for the payment on principal and interest on the bonds issued any financing for improvements and related costs in the district shall be used to prepay financing, placed in escrow for payment of financing, or distributed to the state education fund, the city, town, or village budget in proportion that each budget bears to the combined total of the budgets unless otherwise negotiated by the city, town, or village. Any state education tax increment received in any tax year that exceeds the amount pledged for the payment on principal and interest on the bonds issued for improvements and related costs in the district shall not be remitted to the municipality but shall be used only for prepayment of principal and interest on the bonds issued, placed in escrow for bond payment, or otherwise used for defeasance of the bonds.

Sec. 8.  32 V.S.A. § 5404a(f), (g), and (h) are amended and (j) and (k) are added to read:

(f)  A municipality that establishes a tax increment financing district under subchapter 5 of chapter 53 of Title 24 shall collect all property taxes on properties contained within the district and apply up to 75 percent of the tax increment as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 1896 to repayment of debt issued to finance financing of the improvements and related costs for up to 20 years pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 1894, if approved by the Vermont economic progress council pursuant to this section.

(g)  Any allocation approved pursuant to subsection (e) of this section or utilization of tax increment approved under subsection (f) of this section shall be in addition to any other payments to the municipality under chapter 133 of Title 16.  Allocations Except as otherwise provided in this section or chapter 53 of Title 24, allocations and tax increment utilizations approved pursuant to subsections (e) and (f) of this section shall affect the education property tax grand list and the municipal grand list of the municipality under this chapter beginning April 1 of the year following approval and shall remain available to the municipality for the full period authorized and restricted only to the extent that the real property development giving rise to the increased value to the grand list fails to occur within the authorized period.

(h)  Criteria for approval.  To approve utilization of incremental revenues pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, the Vermont economic progress council shall do all the following:

(1)  Review each application to determine that the new real property development would not have occurred or would have occurred in a significantly different and less desirable manner but for the proposed utilization of the incremental tax revenues.  A district created in a designated growth center under 24 V.S.A. § 2793c shall be deemed to have complied with this subdivision.  The review shall take into account:

* * *

(C)  The amount of additional revenue expected to be generated as a result of the proposed development; the percentage of that revenue that shall be paid to the education fund; the percentage that shall be paid to the municipality; and the percentage of the revenue paid to the municipality that shall be used to pay the municipal tax increment bonds financing incurred for development of the tax increment financing district.

(2)  Process requirements.  Determine that each application meets all of the following four requirements:

* * *

(B)  The municipality has developed a tax increment financing district plan, including: a project description; a development financing plan; a pro forma projection of expected costs and a list of previously advanced related costs to be reimbursed; a projection of revenues; a statement and demonstration that the project would not proceed without the allocation of a tax increment; a projection of types and amount of expected financing; evidence that the municipality is actively seeking or has obtained other sources of funding and investment; and a development schedule that includes a list, a cost estimate, and a schedule for public improvements and projected private development to occur as a result of the improvements.

* * *

(4)  Project criteria.  Determine that the proposed development within a tax incentive increment financing district will accomplish at least three of the following five criteria:

* * *

(C)  The project will affect the mitigation remediation and redevelopment of a brownfield located within the district.  For the purposes of this section, “brownfield” means an area in which a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant is or may be present, and that situation is likely to complicate the expansion, development, redevelopment, or reuse of the property.

* * *

(j)  A municipality with an active tax increment financing district shall:

(1)  Provide VEPC and the tax department with all information required for VEPC and the tax department to issue the report required by subsection (i) of this section on or before December 1 each year.

(2)  Report actual investment, financing activity, escrow status, and “related costs” accounting to VEPC according to the current law municipal audit cycle in 24 V.S.A. § 1681.

(k)  The state auditor of accounts shall review and audit all active tax increment financing districts every three years.

Sec. 9.  Sec. 2i of No. 184 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read:

Sec. 2i.  TAX INCREMENT FINANCING DISTRICTS; CAP

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Vermont economic progress council may not approve the use of education tax increment financing for more than ten tax increment financing districts and no more than one newly created tax increment financing district in any municipality within the period of five state fiscal years beginning July 1, 2006 2007.  Thereafter no tax increment financing districts may be approved without further authorization of by the General Assembly general assembly.

Sec. 10.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on July 1, 2007, except 24 V.S.A. § 1896(b) which shall be retroactively effective to July 1, 2006.

(Committee vote: 7-0-0)

Favorable with Proposal of Amendment

H. 360

An act relating to employment protection and training period for Vermont national guard members.

Reported favorably with recommendation of proposal of amendment by Senator Ayer for the Committee on Government Operations.

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

Sec. 1.  21 V.S.A. § 491(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Any duly qualified member of the “reserve components of the armed forces,” of the ready reserve, or an organized unit of the national guard who leaves a position other than a temporary position in the employ of any employer, for state active duty or to receive military training with the armed forces of the United States and who notifies the employer of the date of departure and date of return for purposes of military training 30 days prior to the date of departure or as soon as practical after being called into state service by the governor shall be granted absence with leave with or without pay.  If the employee provides evidence of the satisfactory completion of the training immediately upon return and is still qualified to perform the duties for such position shall upon request be entitled to leaves of absence for a total of 15 days in any calendar year for the purpose of engaging in military drill, training, or other temporary duty under military authority.  A leave of absence shall be with or without pay as determined by the employer.  Upon completion of the military drill, training, or other temporary duty under military authority, the a full-time employee shall be reinstated in that position with the same status, pay, and seniority, including seniority that accrued during the period of absence.

(Committee Vote: 5-0-0)

(For House amendments, see House Journal for February 28, 2007, page 257.)

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Proposal of Amendment

H. 157

An act relating to home-fermented beverage competitions.

Reported favorably with recommendation of proposal of amendment by Senator Miller for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.

The Committee recommends that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill by adding a new Sec. 2a to read as follows:

Sec. 2a.  COMMERCIAL CATERERS: STUDY AND REPORT; DEPARTMENT OF LIQUOR CONTROL

The department of liquor control shall issue a report on or before January 15, 2008, to the general assembly.  The report shall include findings and recommendations from a study of the commercial caterers in Vermont, the existing laws that regulate them, the appropriateness of updating these laws to permit commercial caterers to acquire a first or first and third class license that would permit them to serve alcoholic beverages in conjunction with catered events without compromising alcoholic beverage enforcement issues.

(Committee Vote: 3-0-2)

(For House amendments, see House Journal for February 15, 2007, page 192.)

Committee Bill for Notice

S. 204

An act relating to increased funding for the downtown and village center tax credit program.

By the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.


ORDERED TO LIE

S. 70

An act relating to empowering municipalities to regulate the application of pesticides within their borders.

PENDING ACTION:  Second reading of the bill.

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)

John LaBarge of South Hero - Member of the Travel Information Council - By Sen. Mazza for the Committee on Transportation.  (3/21)

Susan K. Blair of Colchester - Alternate Member of the Parole Board - By Sen. Mazza for the Committee on Institutions.  (3/23)

William J. Pettengill of Guilford - Member Parole Board - By Sen. Coppenrath for the Committee on Institutions.  (3/23)

Jeffrey Larkin of Duxbury - Member of the Travel Information Council - By Sen. Scott for the Committee on Transportation.  (3/28)

Barbara Zander of St. Johnsbury - Family Court Magistrate - By Sen. Cummings for the Committee on Judiciary.  (4/4)

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 - Room 11 - 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon - Re:  Viability of Vermont Agriculture - Senate and House Committees on Agriculture.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us