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Senate Calendar

tuesday, february 12, 2008

36th DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                                Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

Second Reading

Favorable

S. 241     Special veteran and gold star registration plates................................. 121

                        Transportation Committee Report............................................ 121

                        Finance Committee Report...................................................... 121

                        Sen. Kitchel amendment.......................................................... 121

H. 665    Political party state committee membership........................................ 121

                        Government Operations Committee Report.............................. 121

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 205     Safety net coverage & reforming nongroup health ins. market............. 121

                        Finance Committee Report...................................................... 121

S. 313     Relating to a license to store and ship wine........................................ 128

                        Ec. Dev., Housing and Gen.Affairs Committee Report.............. 128

                        Finance Committee Report...................................................... 130

Favorable with Proposal of Amendment

H. 737    Relating to fiscal year 2008 budget adjustments................................. 130

                        Appropriations Committee Report........................................... 130

                        Sen. Bartlett amendment.......................................................... 130

Committee Bill for Second Reading

S. 358     Relating to enhanced driver licenses................................................... 130

                        By Transportation Committee.................................................. 130

                        Finance Committee Report...................................................... 131

Joint Resolutions for Action

JRH 50  Relating to hunger awareness............................................................ 131

JRH 51  Supporting Hanover H.S. reusable shopping bag campaign................ 131

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 200     Relating to establishing a construction trust fund................................. 131

                        Judiciary Committee Report..................................................... 131

S. 232     Relating to mobile polling stations...................................................... 133

                        Government Operations Committee Report.............................. 133

S. 238     Relating to penalties for possession or sale of marijuana..................... 133

                        Judiciary Committee Report..................................................... 133

S. 340     Mammography patient cost containment............................................ 134

                        Finance Committee Report...................................................... 134

ORDERED TO LIE

S. 70       Empowering municipalities to regulate pesticides................................ 135


S. 102     School dist. excess spending............................................................. 135

S. 118     Fiscal review of high spending school districts.................................... 135

JRS 24   Congressional “fast track” review of trade agreements....................... 135



 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

Second Reading

Favorable

S. 241

An act relating to the special veteran and gold star registration plates.

Reported favorably by Senator Kitchel for the Committee on Transportation.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

Reported favorably by Senator Carris for the Committee on Finance.

(Committee vote: 6-1-0)

AMENDMENT TO S. 241 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR KITCHEL ON BEHALF OF THE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION

Senator Kitchel, on behalf of the Committee on Transportation, moves to amend the bill by adding a Sec. 4 to read as follows:

Sec. 4.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on January 1, 2009.

H. 665

An act relating to political party state committee membership.

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

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

(For House amendments, see  House Journal for January 31, 2008, page 111).

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 205

An act relating to eliminating safety net coverage and reforming the nongroup health insurance market.

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

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.  LEGISLATIVE PURPOSE AND INTENT

(a)  It is the intent of the general assembly that all Vermonters receive necessary health care that is affordable.  It is also the intent of the general assembly that the health care reform principles adopted in Sec. 1 of No. 191 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) be given effect, including the principles that it is the policy of the state of Vermont to ensure universal access to and coverage for essential health care services for all Vermonters; that health care coverage needs to be comprehensive and continuous; and that the financing of health care in Vermont must be sufficient, equitable, fair, and sustainable. 

(b)  The general assembly finds that individuals who are not eligible for group‑based insurance or government programs are not able to obtain individual health insurance at affordable rates and with adequate coverage.  This situation is caused, in part, by the segmentation of the nongroup market that has developed over time.  The general assembly makes the following findings with respect to the nongroup market that exists today in Vermont: 

(1)  Many healthy individuals are able to put off purchasing insurance until they need significant medical care, usually without any significant consequence for the delay.  This ability to delay leads to adverse selection as well as gross inequities in relation to existing participants in that segment of the market. 

(2)  Some carriers are able to offer rates that are based on deviations from a pure community rate, thereby attracting younger, healthier individuals into their risk pools.

(3)  A separately rated pool of individuals with artificial rate and form restrictions still exists from health care reform efforts in the early 1990s by virtue of the “safety net” created for the purpose of creating a soft landing for individuals who lost their insurance before universal access could be achieved.

(4)  Catamount Health created a fifth segment of the private market.

(5)  This segmentation of the nongroup market has led to adverse selection which, in turn, has produced significant inequities among individuals in their abilities to obtain individual coverage, as well as the price and scope of that coverage.  As a result, the conventional nongroup market has effectively become a high‑risk pool which provides limited coverage at great cost and imposes significant inefficiencies on nongroup carriers, further raising their costs.  The general assembly finds that the segmentation of submarkets for individual health insurance is thus counterproductive in achieving the goal of universal access and leads to inconsistent burdens on insurers in those submarkets and irrational, inequitable treatment of individuals who seek coverage.

(c)  The general assembly desires to begin the phase-out of submarket segmentation in the market for individual health insurance, to provide for consistent regulations in the market for individual health insurance, to encourage the uninsured to purchase and maintain individual health insurance, and to provide coverage for individuals comparable to that found in other market segments.

* * * Market Desegmentation and Rationalization * * *

Sec. 2.  8 V.S.A. § 4080c is amended to read:

§ 4080c.  HEALTH INSURANCE SAFETY NET

(a)  Upon payment of the required premium, the secretary of administration shall make health insurance available for the following:

(1)  Individuals in the nongroup market as of April 1, 1992 and individuals in the small group market as of July 1, 1992 who lose coverage for any of the following reasons:

(A)  Their insurer withdraws from the marketplace in Vermont.

(B)  Their insurer fails to register as of July 1, 1993 as a carrier qualified to provide nongroup insurance coverage.

(2)  Individuals in the group market who prior to December 31, 2008 are terminated, laid off, or otherwise separated from employment and who are not subsequently covered or eligible for coverage under another group health insurance plan.  Eligibility for coverage under this subdivision shall commence at the end of any health insurance continuation right provided by state or federal law.

(3)  Eligibility under subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection shall terminate on December 31, 2008.

(b)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, coverage under this section shall be offered by nonprofit hospital and medical service corporations chartered in Vermont pursuant to chapters 123 and 125 of Title 8 at substantially similar terms and prices for the period beginning April 1, 1992 and ending when universal access is implemented by the general assembly on December 31, 2011.  The secretary may make coverage available under this section from any other insurer or health maintenance organization licensed to do business in Vermont.  The provisions of section 5115 of this title, relating to the duty of health maintenance organizations, shall not apply to coverage made available under this section.  No person may offer a health benefit plan or insurance policy under this section as a means of circumventing the requirements of section 4080b of this title, and the commissioner shall adopt, by rule, standards and a process to carry out the provisions of this prohibition.

(c)  The term “substantially similar terms” shall not be construed to prohibit policy terms which are different, but not less comprehensive in scope of coverage than those contained in policies previously covering individuals qualifying for coverage under this section.  “Substantially similar prices” mean prices which are identical to the costs paid by such individuals during the preceding year, adjusted by medical inflation costs not to exceed 15 percent.  Any entity providing insurance under this section shall be entitled to rate adjustments of up to 15 percent per year on their risks covered under this health insurance safety net provided they have a loss ratio for such business of at least 80 percent; provided that the commissioner may grant an increase that exceeds 15 percent if the commissioner determines that the 15 percent limitation will have a substantial adverse effect on the financial safety and soundness of the insurer.  For the purposes of this section, “loss ratio” shall mean a comparison of earned premiums to losses incurred.

(d)  Any surplus income realized by a carrier through participation in the program established by this section shall be applied to reduce or mitigate increases in premiums paid by other nongroup policyholders.  As used in this subsection, “surplus income” means a carrier’s premium income, less the carrier’s claims paid and incurred and the carrier’s reasonable administrative costs of no more than eight percent.

(e)  The commissioner shall by rate authorization provide for the phased adjustment of the prices provided in subsection (c) of this section so that for policies or contracts renewing on or after January 1, 2012, rates under this section shall be identical to rates provided in other nongroup policies or contracts offered or issued to individuals, with attention to making such rate adjustment as smooth as practicable over the years 2009, 2010, and 2011.  A nongroup carrier required to offer safety net coverage may withdraw all safety net products for policies or contracts renewing on or after January 1, 2012.

(f)  No later than October 1, 2008, the commissioner shall issue guidelines for the development and approval of a plan for the reasonable phase-out by December 31, 2011 of the separate safety net risk pool established in this section.  On or after October 1, 2008, a nongroup carrier covering lives in the safety net pool may propose a phase-out plan to the commissioner together with such information necessary to adequately review the plan.  The commissioner shall approve the plan if he or she finds that the plan will carry out the purposes of this section, provides adequate protection for lives covered in the safety net pool, and allows former safety net subscribers to choose coverage with any nongroup carrier or purchase any other health insurance product for which they are eligible.  The plan shall be deemed approved within 60 days of an adequate filing, as determined by the commissioner, unless sooner approved, disapproved, or approved subject to such conditions as the commissioner determines are necessary to carry out the purposes of this section and to provide adequate protection for lives covered in the safety net pool.

(g)  This section is repealed as of December 31, 2011 except that such repeal shall not affect the rate authorizations required under subsection (e) of this section or the ability of a nongroup carrier to withdraw safety net rates and forms for policies and contracts renewing on or after January 1, 2012.

* * * Consistent Regulation * * *

Sec. 3.  8 V.S.A. § 4080b(h) is amended to read:

(h)(1)  A registered nongroup carrier shall use a community rating method acceptable to the commissioner for determining premiums for nongroup plans.  Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the following risk classification factors are prohibited from use in rating individuals and their dependents:

(A)  demographic rating, including age and gender rating;

(B)  geographic area rating;

(C)  industry rating;

(D)  medical underwriting and screening;

(E)  experience rating;

(F)  tier rating; or

(G)  durational rating.

(2)(A)  The Notwithstanding any provision in sections 4516, 4588, and 5115 of this title, the commissioner shall, by rule, adopt standards and a process for permitting registered nongroup carriers to use one or more risk classifications in their community rating method, provided that the premium charged shall not deviate above or below the community rate filed by the carrier by more than 20 percent, and provided further that the commissioner’s rules may not permit any medical underwriting and screening and shall give due consideration to the need for affordability and accessibility of health insurance.  The commissioner in applying such rule shall not discriminate between or among nongroup carriers.

* * *

Sec. 4.  8 V.S.A. § 4516 is amended to read:

§ 4516.  ANNUAL REPORT TO COMMISSIONER

Annually, on or before March 15, a hospital service corporation shall file with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration a statement sworn to by the president and treasurer of the corporation showing its condition on December 31.  The statement shall be in such form and contain such matters as the commissioner shall prescribe.  To qualify for the tax exemption set forth in section 4518 of this title, the statement shall include a certification that the hospital service corporation operates on a nonprofit basis for the purpose of providing an adequate hospital service plan to individuals of the state, both groups and nongroups, without discrimination based on age, gender, geographic area, industry, and medical history, except as allowed by subdivisions 4080a(h)(2)(B) and 4080b(h)(2)(B) 4080b(h)(2) of this title. 

Sec. 5.  8 V.S.A. § 4588 is amended to read:

§ 4588.  ANNUAL REPORT TO COMMISSIONER

Annually, on or before March 15, a medical service corporation shall file with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration a statement sworn to by the president and treasurer of the corporation showing its condition on December 31, which shall be in such form and contain such matters as the commissioner shall prescribe.  To qualify for the tax exemption set forth in section 4590 of this title, the statement shall include a certification that the medical service corporation operates on a nonprofit basis for the purpose of providing an adequate medical service plan to individuals of the state, both groups and nongroups, without discrimination based on age, gender, geographic area, industry, and medical history, except as allowed by subdivisions 4080a(h)(2)(B) and 4080b(h)(2)(B) 4080b(h)(2) of this title. 

Sec. 6.  8 V.S.A. § 5115 is amended to read:

§ 5115.  DUTY OF NONPROFIT HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATIONS

Any nonprofit health maintenance organization subject to this chapter shall offer nongroup plans to individuals in accordance with section 4080b of this title without discrimination based on age, gender, industry, and medical history, except as allowed by subdivisions 4080a(h)(2)(B) and 4080b(h)(2)(B) 4080b(h)(2) of this title. 

* * * Special and Open Enrollment Periods for Nongroup Plans * * *

Sec. 7.  8 V.S.A. § 4080b(d) is amended to read:

(d)(1)  A registered nongroup carrier shall guarantee acceptance of any individual for any nongroup plan offered by the carrier.  A registered nongroup carrier shall also guarantee acceptance of each dependent of such individual for any nongroup plan it offers.

(2)(A)  Registered nongroup carriers shall hold an open enrollment period for uninsured resident individuals each year between November 15 and December 31.  Registered nongroup carriers may, but are not required to, hold other open enrollment periods.  Registered nongroup carriers are not otherwise required to accept and enroll individuals except as provided in subdivision (B) of this subdivision (2).

(B)  Registered nongroup carriers are required to accept and enroll individuals whose health insurance coverage has ceased because of the death of the primary insured, termination of employment, divorce or legal separation of the covered employee from the employee’s spouse, or a dependent child ceasing to be a dependent child under the generally applicable requirements of the policy.  Such individuals shall be eligible to enroll in nongroup plans within 60 days of the termination of prior coverage if the prior coverage ceased as the result of death, and in all other cases within 30 days after the termination of prior coverage, prior coverage to include any health insurance continuation right exercised under state or federal law. 

(C)  Notice of the enrollment periods described in subdivision (B) of this subdivision (2) shall be included in each certificate of coverage or in a rider to the certificate of coverage issued in this state.

(3)  Notwithstanding subdivision (1) of this subsection, a health maintenance organization shall not be required to cover:

(A)  an individual who is not physically located in the health maintenance organization’s approved service area; or

(B)  an individual residing within the health maintenance organization’s approved service area for which the health maintenance organization:

(i)  is not providing coverage; and

(ii)  reasonably anticipates, and demonstrates to the satisfaction of the commissioner, that it will not have the capacity within its network of providers to deliver adequate service because of its existing contract obligations, including contract obligations subject to the provisions of this section and any other group contract obligations.

Sec. 8.  2 V.S.A. § 902a is added to read:

§ 902a.  HEALTH INSURANCE REQUIREMENT

(a)  Subject to subdivision (b)(3) of this section, if less than 96 percent of Vermonters have health insurance by January 1, 2010, each individual shall be required as of January 1, 2011 to have health insurance.

(b)  The commission shall, on or before January 1, 2010 and in consultation with the commissioner of the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, draft proposed legislation giving effect to subsection (a) of this section, which shall include:

(1)  methods of enforcement, providing proof of insurance to individuals, and any other criteria necessary for the requirement to be effective in achieving universal health care coverage;

(2)  specific provisions for affordability, and the commission shall consider direct assistance, state reinsurance, voucher systems, premium subsidies, and other possible assistance mechanisms; 

(3)  specific provisions for funding, and the commission shall consider the use of some portion of premium taxes paid by health insurers who do not offer individual health insurance;

(4)  provisions for penalties in lieu of enrollment applicable to those who choose not to be insured and for the use of the monies received from such penalties to increase the affordability of insurance.

Sec. 9.  INAPPLICABILITY TO CATAMOUNT HEALTH

No provision of this act shall apply to products or coverage offered under Catamount Health pursuant to section 4080f of Title 8.

Sec. 10.  Effective DatE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

(Committee vote: 5-1-1)

S. 313

An act relating to a license to store and ship wine.

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

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.  7 V.S.A. § 68 is added to read:

§ 68.  VINOUS BEVERAGE STORAGE AND SHIPPING LICENSE

The liquor control board may grant to a person who operates a climate-controlled storage facility in which vinous beverages owned by another person  are stored for a fee a license that allows the licensee to store and transport vinous beverages on which all applicable taxes already have been paid.  A vinous beverage storage facility may also accept shipments from any licensed in-state or out-of-state vinous manufacturer pursuant to the provisions of this section of this title.  Vinous beverages stored may be transported only for shipment to the owner of the beverages or to another licensed vinous beverage storage facility, and the beverages shall be shipped only by common carrier in compliance with subsection 66(f) of this title.  The licensee shall pay a fee pursuant to subdivision 231(a)(20) of this title.   A license under this section shall be issued pursuant to rules adopted by the board.  A person granted a license pursuant to this section may not sell or resell any vinous beverages by virtue of this license alone. 

Sec. 2.  7 V.S.A. § 64(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Except as provided in section 66 sections 66 and 68 of this title, all malt or vinous beverages, or both, imported or transported into this state shall be imported or transported by and through a wholesale dealer holding a wholesale dealer's license issued by the liquor control board.  A person importing or transporting or causing to be imported or transported into this state any malt or vinous beverages, or both, shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.  Provided, however, a person may import or transport not more than six gallons of malt or vinous beverages, or both, into this state in his or her own private vehicle or in his or her actual possession at the time of importation without permit providing it is not for resale.

Sec. 3.  7 V.S.A. § 66(f) is amended to read:

(f)  A common carrier shall not deliver vinous beverages until it has complied with the training provisions in subsections 239(a) and (b) of this title and been certified by the department of liquor control.  No employee of a certified common carrier may deliver vinous beverages until that employee completes the training provisions in subsection 239(c) of this title.  A common carrier shall deliver only vinous beverages that have been shipped by the holder of a license issued under this section or a vinous beverage storage license issued under section 68 of this title.

Sec. 4.  7 V.S.A. § 231(a)(20) is added to read:

(a)  The following fees shall be paid:

* * *

(20)  For a vinous beverages storage license, $200.00 per year.

Sec. 5.  EFFECTIVE DATE

     This act shall take effect upon passage.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

Reported favorably by Senator McCormack for the Committee on Finance.

(Committee vote: 6-0-1)

Favorable with Proposal of Amendment

H. 737

An act relating to fiscal year 2008 budget adjustments.

Reported favorably with recommendation of proposal of amendment by Senator Bartlett for the Committee on Appropriations.

(For Appropriations Committee Report, see addendum to Senate Calendar for February 8, 2008)

(Committee Vote: 7-0-0)

(For House amendments, see House Journal for February 1, 2008, page 120.)

AMENDMENT TO PROPOSAL OF AMENDMENT OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS TO H. 737 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR BARTLETT ON BEHALF OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS

     Senator Bartlett, on behalf of the Committee on Appropriations, moves to amend the proposal of amendment of the Committee on Appropriations by striking out Sec. 83a in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 83a to read as follows:

Sec. 83a.  MUNICIPAL TICKET REPAYMENT; NOTWITHSTANDING

     (a)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 4 V.S.A. § 28(a)(2) and (d), the town of Newport may receive such additional loans from the fund between June 30, 2001 and June 30, 2004 in an amount not to exceed $55,000. 

Committee Bill for Second Reading

S. 358

An act relating to enhanced driver licenses.

By the Committee on Transportation.

(Sen. Kitchel for the Committee)

Reported favorably by Senator Maynard for the Committee on Finance.

(Committee vote: 6-0-1)

Joint Resolutions for Action

J.R.H. 50

     Joint resolution relating to hunger awareness.

(For text of Resolution, see Senate Journal for February 8, 2008, page 105)

J.R.H. 51

     Joint resolution supporting the Hanover High School kids for a cooler planet reusable shopping bag campaign.

(For text of Resolution, see Senate Journal for February 8, 2008, page 106)

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 200

An act relating to establishing a construction trust fund.

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

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.  9 V.S.A. § 4005a is added to read:

§ 4005a.  FUND HELD IN TRUST; COMMINGLING; NO EFFECT ON

TITLE TO REAL PROPERTY

(a)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Claim” means any valid claim for materials furnished or services rendered in the construction, repair, remodeling, improvement, or renovation of any building or structure for which the claimant has a lien or the right to claim a lien.

(2)  “Express trust” means funds that have been paid by an owner, for or in connection with services, labor, or materials used in an improvement of real property, which are to be held by a contractor or subcontractor, in express trust, for those services, labor, or materials.  Any such contractor or subcontractor who accepts money from any owner or contractor shall become the trustee of the express trust that is created pursuant to this section.  The amounts received by such contractor or subcontractor under or in connection with each building project shall be a separate trust and the contractor or subcontractor, or any successor or assign or both of such contractor or subcontractor that hold such trust funds, shall be a trustee thereof.  These funds are not required to be held in any separate account by a contractor or subcontractor.  Such trust shall be effective against and shall have priority over any unsecured interest of a party seeking payment from such contractor or subcontractor for claims other than those that are due and owing by reason of the specific building project for which the trust was created, whether such creditors are foreign attachment or other judicial lien creditors, a trustee in bankruptcy or similar creditors or representatives or creditors of the contractor or subcontractor.

(b)  Funds held in express trust are not required to be held in any separate account by a contractor or subcontractor.

(c)  No express trust shall be required for a federal, state, or municipal project.

(d)  The amount payable to any contractor or subcontractor under any contract for the construction, repair, remodeling, improvement, or renovation of any building or structure shall, upon receipt by such contractor or subcontractor, be held in express trust by such contractor or subcontractor for the payment of all claims that are due and owing, or to become due and owing, by such contractor or subcontractor by reason of such construction, repair, remodeling, improvement, or renovation.

(e)  Any amount required to be held in express trust under this

section shall be applied to the payment of the corresponding claims specified in this section.

(f)  Nothing herein shall be construed to create a lien on real property.  The existence of an express trust under this section shall not prohibit the filing or enforcement of a lien against the affected real property pursuant to chapter 51 of Title 9 by any claimant.  A priority lien of a secured lender shall not be subordinate to an express trust.

(g)  In the case of an express trust which is not held by a corporation, limited liability partnership, or limited liability company, liability for sums due under this section shall only attach to the principal or head of the company which holds the funds under the express trust.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)


S. 232

An act relating to mobile polling stations.

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

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended by adding a new Sec. 2 to read as follows:

Sec. 2.  REPEAL

17 V.S.A. § 2532a (mobile polling stations) shall be repealed on July 1, 2009.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 238

An act relating to penalties for possession or sale of marijuana.

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

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.  18 V.S.A. § 4230 is amended to read:

§ 4230.  MARIJUANA

(a)  Possession and cultivation.

(1)(A)  A person knowingly and unlawfully possessing marijuana shall be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than $500.00, or both in an amount consisting of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances of an aggregate weight of one ounce or less shall be fined not more than $500.00 for a first offense and $750.00 for a second offense, and shall be imprisoned not more than six months and fined not more than $750.00, or both, for a third or subsequent offense.  Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, a person charged under this subdivision (1)(A) for a first or second offense shall have the option of participating in a diversion program subject to approval of the diversion board.   If a person has completed diversion pursuant to this subdivision on two prior occasions the person may participate in diversion a third or subsequent time only upon referral by the state’s attorney.

(B)  A person convicted of a second or subsequent offense under this subdivision knowingly and unlawfully possessing marijuana in an amount consisting of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances of an aggregate weight of more than one ounce but less than two ounces shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $2,000.00, or both.  Upon an adjudication of guilt for a first offense under this subdivision, the court may defer sentencing as provided in section 7041 of Title 13 except that the court may in its discretion defer sentence without the filing of a presentence investigation report and except that sentence may be imposed at any time within two years from and after the date of entry of deferment.  The court may prior to sentencing, order that the defendant submit to a drug assessment screening which may be considered at sentencing in the same manner as a presentence report.

(2)  A person knowingly and unlawfully possessing marijuana in an amount consisting of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances, of an aggregate weight of two ounces or more containing any marijuana or knowingly and unlawfully cultivating more than three plants of marijuana shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.

* * *

Sec. 2.  SENTENCING COMMISSION

The Vermont sentencing commission shall review current sentencing practices for drug possession pursuant to sections 4230–4235a of Title 18 and determine whether current sentencing is consistent with best practices.  The commission shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary on its findings and any recommended changes to the drug possession statutes no later than December 1, 2008.

and that upon passage, the title of the bill shall be “An Act Relating to Penalties for Possession of Marijuana”

(Committee vote: 4-1-0)

S. 340

An act relating to mammography patient cost containment.

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

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.  8 V.S.A. § 4100a(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Insurers shall provide coverage for screening by low-dose mammography for the presence of occult breast cancer, as provided by this subchapter.  Benefits provided shall be at least as favorable as coverage for other radiological examinations and subject to the same dollar limits, deductibles, and coinsurance factors within the provisions of the policy cover the full cost of the mammography service, subject to a co-payment no greater than the co-payment applicable to care or services provided by a primary care physician under the insured’s policy, provided that no co-payment shall exceed $25.00.  Mammography services shall not be subject to deductible or coinsurance requirements.

Sec. 2.  APPLICABILITY AND EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on October 1, 2008 and shall apply to all health benefit plans on and after October 1, 2008 on such date as a health insurer offers, issues, or renews the health benefit plan, but in no event later than October 1, 2009.

(Committee vote: 6-1-0)

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.

S. 102

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

PENDING ACTION:  Second reading of the bill.

S. 118

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

PENDING ACTION:  Second reading of the bill.

J.R.S. 24

Joint resolution relating to the federal “fast track” process for congressional review of international trade agreements.

PENDING ACTION:  Second reading of the resolution.

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.

Kevin Dorn of Essex Junction - Secretary of the Agency of Commerce & Community Development - By Sen. Illuzzi for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.  (1/17)

Bruce Hyde of Granville - Commissioner of the Department of Tourism & Marketing - By Sen. Illuzzi for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.  (1/17)

John Hall of St. Johnsbury - Commissioner of the Department of Housing & Community Development - By Sen. Illuzzi for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.  (1/17)

Michael W. Quinn of Essex Junction - Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development - By Sen. Illuzzi for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.  (1/17)

Patricia Moulton Powden of South Londonderry - Chair of the Vermont Employment Security Board and Commissioner of the Department of Labor - By Sen. Illuzzi for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.  (1/17)

Patricia Moulton Powden of South Londonderry - Chair of the Vermont Employment Security Board & Commissioner of the Department of Labor - By Sen. Illuzzi for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.  (1/17)

Brian Vachon of Middlesex - Member of the State Board of Education - By Sen. Doyle for the Committee on Education.  (1/17)

Gerald J. Myers of Winooski - Commissioner of the Department of Buildings and General Services - By Sen. Scott for the Committee on Institutions.  (1/23)

Thomas Scala of Brattleboro - Member of the Vermont Lottery Commission - By Sen. Condos for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.  (1/23)

Virginia Barry of Barre - Member of the Vermont Lottery Commission - By Sen. Condos for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.  (1/23)

David J. Kurzman of Beecher Falls - Member of the Vermont Economic Development Authority - By Sen. Maynard for the Committee on Finance.  (1/23)

Heidi Pelletier of Montpelier – Member of the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees – By Senator Doyle for the Committee on Education. (1/23)

Jessica Bullock of Clarendon – Member of the State Board of Education – By Senator Nitka for the Committee on Education. (1/23)

David Herlihy of Waitsfield - Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources - By Senator Doyle for the Committee on Government Operations.  (2/8)

Fayneese Miller of South Burlington - Member of the State Board of Education - By Senator Collins for the Committee on Education.  (2/13)

Lisa Mitiguy Randall of Colchester - Chair of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency - By Senator Condos for the Committee on Finance.  (2/13)

Nathaniel M. Hayward of South Hero - Member of the Vermont Economic Development Authority - By Senator Condos for the Committee on Finance.  (2/13)

Peter J. Wright of Lake Elmore - Member of the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees - By Senator Starr for the Committee on Education.  (2/13)

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:

102.  Vermont Labor Relations Board Annual Report.  (February 2008).

103.  Mercury Auto Switch Recovery Program Annual Report.  (Agency of Natural Resources).  (February 2008).

104.  Energy Efficiency Utility Program Revenues and Expenditures.  (February 2008).

JOINT ASSEMBLY

Thursday, February 21, 2008 - 10:30 A.M. - House Chamber - Election of two (2) trustees for the Vermont State Colleges Corporation.

Candidates for the positions of trustee must notify the Secretary of State in writing not later than Thursday, February 14, 2008, by 5:00 P.M. pursuant to the provisions of 2  V.S.A. §12(b).  Otherwise their names will not appear on the ballots for these positions.

The following rules shall apply to the conduct of these elections:

First:  All nominations for these offices will be presented in alphabetical order prior to voting.

Second:  There will be only one nominating speech of not more than three (3) minutes and not more than two seconding speeches of not more than one (1) minute each for each nominee.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us