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Senate Calendar

wednesday, february 20, 2008

43rd DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                                Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2008

Second Reading

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 290     Relating to agricultural water quality financing..................................... 222

                        Agriculture Committee Report.................................................. 222

S. 291     Agronomic practices program at Agency of Agriculture..................... 222

                        Agriculture Committee Report.................................................. 222

NEW BUSINESS

Second Reading

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 220     Confidentiality of library patron records............................................. 223

                        Government Operations Committee Report.............................. 223

Favorable with Proposal of Amendment

H. 575    Relating to small eligible telecommunications carriers.......................... 225

                        Finance Committee Report...................................................... 225

House Proposals of Amendment

S. 209     Vermont energy efficiency and affordability........................................ 225

S. 278     Relating to financing campaigns......................................................... 265

S. 355     Debt financing for the Vermont housing finance agency...................... 277

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable

S. 146     Advertising and producing musical performances............................... 277

                        Judiciary Committee Report..................................................... 277

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 311     Current use enrollment for conservation lands ................................... 278

                        Natural Resources Committee Report...................................... 278

ORDERED TO LIE

S. 70       Empowering municipalities to regulate pesticides................................ 282


S. 102     School dist. excess spending............................................................. 283

S. 118     Fiscal review of high spending school districts.................................... 283

S. 358     Relating to enhanced driver licenses................................................... 283

JRS 24   Congressional “fast track” review of trade agreements....................... 283




 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2008

Second Reading

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 290

An act relating to agricultural water quality financing.

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

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended in Sec. 1, 6 V.S.A. § 4828, by striking out subsection (b) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(b)  Assistance under this section shall in each fiscal year be allocated according to the following priorities and as further defined by rule by the secretary:

(1)  First priority shall be given to capital equipment or contract services to be used at a farm site, which is located in descending order:

(A)  within the boundaries of the Lake Champla in Basin;

(B)  the Lake Memphremagog Basin; and

(C)  the Connecticut River Basin.

(2)  Next priority shall be given to proposed improvements on all other individual farms.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 291

An act relating to the farm agronomic practices program at the agency of agriculture, food and markets.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Starr for the Committee on Agriculture.

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended by adding a new Sec. 3 to read as follows:

Sec. 3.  6 V.S.A. § 4824(a) is amended to read:

(a)  State grant.  State financial assistance awarded under this subchapter shall be in the form of a grant.  When a state grant is intended to match federal financial assistance for the same on-farm improvement project, the state grant shall be awarded only when the federal financial assistance has also been approved for awarded.  An applicant for a state grant shall pay at least 15 percent of the total eligible project cost.  The dollar amount of a state grant shall be equal to the total eligible project cost, less 15 percent of the total as paid by the applicant, and less the amount of any federal assistance awarded, except that a state grant shall not exceed 50 80 percent of the total eligible project cost.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

NEW BUSINESS

Second Reading

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 220

An act relating to the confidentiality of library patron records.

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

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.  22 V.S.A. chapter 4 is added to read:

Chapter 4.  LIBRARY PATRON RECORDS

§ 171.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Library” means a public library as defined in subdivision 101(2) of

this title, any college university or school library, or any other library or archives that are open on a regular basis and makes available on site, or circulates, materials to the public without a fee.

(2)  “Patron registration records” means library records that contain

information a library patron must provide in order to be eligible for borrowing privileges at a library.

(3)  “Patron transaction records” means library records that contain names or other personal identifying information that discloses an individual’s activities within a library, including the materials that have been viewed in print or electronic form, research questions posed, materials in any format that the patron has requested through interlibrary loan or has borrowed, or any other library service or consultation that the patron has requested.

§ 172.  LIBRARY RECORD CONFIDENTIALITY; EXEMPTIONS

(a)  A library’s patron registration records and patron transaction records shall remain confidential.

(b)  Unless authorized by other provisions of law, the library’s officers, employees, and volunteers shall not disclose the records except:

(1)  with the written permission of the library patron to whom the records pertain;

(2)  to officers, employees, volunteers, and agents of the library to the extent necessary for library administration purposes;

(3)  in response to an authorized judicial order or warrant directing disclosure;

(4)  to custodial parents or guardians of patrons under age 16;

(5)  to the custodial parents or guardians of a student, in accordance with the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, by the library at the school the student attends.

(c)  Statistical records pertaining to the patronage, circulation activities, and use of any service or consultation the library provides, provided that they do not contain the names of patrons or any other personally identifying information, shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter.

§ 173.  RIGHT OF PATRON ACTION

Any person whose confidential patron registration records or patron transaction records have been disclosed, except as provided in this chapter, is authorized to bring a civil action against the library that disclosed the records.

Sec. 2.  1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(19) is amended to read:

(19)  records relating to the identity of library patrons or the identity of library patrons in regard to the circulation of library materials patron registration records and patron transaction records in accordance with chapter 4 of Title 22;

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)


Favorable with Proposal of Amendment

H. 575

An act relating to small eligible telecommunications carriers.

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

The Committee recommends that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill in Sec. 1, 30 V.S.A. §227d(b)(4), by striking out the second sentence in its entirety.

(Committee Vote: 5-0-2)

(For House amendments, see House Journal for January 31, 2008, page 109.)

House Proposals of Amendment

S. 209

An act relating to Vermont energy efficiency and affordability.

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

Sec. 1.  DESIGNATION OF ACT

This act shall be referred to as “the Vermont energy efficiency and affordability act.”

Sec. 2.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Global climate change, which is threatening our environment and perhaps ultimately our existence, has been caused in part by an energy policy that is largely dependent on the burning of fossil fuels.

(2)  In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation, it is essential that we reduce or eliminate our dependency on fossil fuels by significantly improving energy efficiency and shifting to nonpolluting benign forms of energy such as wind, sun, and water power.

(3)  In order for Vermont to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals set by the conference of the New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers’ climate change action plan, Vermont needs to provide effective weatherization services, new funding strategies, green building practices, and installation of renewable energy systems.

(4)  The “Vermont energy efficiency potential study for non‑regulated fuels” recently completed by the department of public service indicates that Vermont has cost‑effective potential energy savings of $486 million over the next ten years with 63 percent of those savings from building shell improvements. 

(5)  Although workforce development in the field of green building, renewable energy, and energy efficiency is an essential component of the battle to combat global climate change, there are few trained applicants to fill the new well‑paying jobs being created in this field.

* * * Agriculture Development Funds * * *

Sec. 3.  6 V.S.A. § 4710(g)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  Assistance from the agricultural economic development special account shall be available for in order to produce agricultural energy, harvest biomass, convert biomass into energy, or enable installation and usage of wind, solar, or other technology that relies on a resource that is being consumed at a harvest rate at or below its natural regeneration rate pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 8002(2), including:

(A)  Business and technical assistance for research and planning to aid a farmer or a group of farmers in developing business enterprises that harvest biomass, convert biomass to energy, or produce biofuel;

(B)  Implementation Cost‑effective implementation assistance to leverage other sources of capital to assist a farmer or group of farmers in purchasing equipment, technology, or other assistance to produce agricultural energy, harvest biomass, or convert biomass into energy; and

* * *

* * * Act 250 Definition of Farming * * *

Sec. 4.  10 V.S.A. § 6001(22) is amended to read:

(22)  “Farming” means:

(A)  the cultivation or other use of land for growing food, fiber, Christmas trees, maple sap, or horticultural and orchard crops; or

(B)  the raising, feeding, or management of livestock, poultry, fish, or bees; or

(C)  the operation of greenhouses; or

(D)  the production of maple syrup; or

(E)  the on‑site storage, preparation and sale of agricultural products principally produced on the farm; or

(F)  the on‑site storage, preparation, production, and sale of fuel or power from agricultural products or wastes principally produced on the farm; or

(G)  the raising, feeding, or management of four or more equines owned or boarded by the farmer, including training, showing, and providing instruction and lessons in riding, training, and the management of equines.

* * * Renewable Energy Goal * * *

Sec. 5.  10 V.S.A. § 579 is added to read:

§ 579.  25 BY 25 STATE GOAL

(a)  It is a goal of the state, by the year 2025, to produce 25 percent of the energy consumed within the state through the use of renewable energy sources, particularly from Vermont’s farms and forests.

(b)  By no later than January 15, 2009, the secretary of agriculture, food and markets, in consultation with the commissioner of public service and the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation, shall present to the committees on agriculture and natural resources and energy of the general assembly a plan for attaining this goal.  Plan updates shall be presented no less frequently than every three years thereafter, and a progress report shall be due annually on January 15.

(c)  By no later than January 15, 2009, the department of public service shall present to the legislative committees on natural resources and energy an updated comprehensive energy plan which shall give due consideration to the public engagement process required under 30 V.S.A. § 254 and under Sec. 2 of No. 208 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006).  By that time, the department of public service shall incorporate plans adopted under this section into the state comprehensive energy plan adopted under 30 V.S.A. § 202b.

* * * Building Efficiency Goals * * *

Sec. 6.  10 V.S.A. § 581 is added to read:

§ 581.  BUILDING EFFICIENCY GOALS

It shall be goals of the state:

(1)  To improve substantially the energy fitness of at least 20 percent of the state’s housing stock by 2017 (more than 60,000 housing units), and 25 percent of the state’s housing stock by 2020 (approximately 80,000 housing units).

(2)  To reduce annual fuel needs and fuel bills by an average of 25 percent in the housing units served.

(3)  To reduce total fossil fuel consumption across all buildings by an additional one-half percent each year, leading to a total reduction of six percent annually by 2017 and 10 percent annually by 2025.

(4)  To save Vermont families and businesses a total of $1.5 billion on their fuel bills over the lifetimes of the improvements and measures installed between 2008 and 2017.

(5)  To increase weatherization services to low income Vermonters by expanding the number of units weatherized, or the scope of services provided, or both, as revenue becomes available in the home weatherization assistance trust fund.

* * * Clean Energy Development Fund * * *

Sec. 7.  10 V.S.A. § 6523(d)(6) is added to read:

(6)  The sum of $20,000.00 shall be transferred annually from the clean energy development fund to the general fund to support the cost of the solar energy income tax credits.

* * *  Residential Building Energy Standards (RBES) * * *

Sec. 8.  21 V.S.A. § 266(c) is amended to read:

(c)  Revision and interpretation of energy standards.  On or about January 1, 1999, and at least every three years thereafter, the The commissioner of public service shall amend and update the RBES, by means of administrative rules adopted in accordance with 3 V.S.A. chapter 25.  The commissioner shall ensure that appropriate revisions are made promptly after the issuance of updated standards for residential construction under the international energy conservation code (IECC).  The department of public service shall provide technical assistance and expert advice to the commissioner in the interpretation of the RBES and in the formulation of specific proposals for amending the RBES.  At least a year prior to final adoption of each required revision of the RBES, the department of public service shall convene an advisory committee to include one or more mortgage lenders, builders, building designers, utility representatives, and other persons with experience and expertise, such as consumer advocates and energy conservation experts.  The advisory committee may provide the commissioner with additional recommendations for revision of the RBES.

* * * Commercial Building Energy Standards * * *

Sec. 9.  21 V.S.A. § 268 is amended to read:

§ 268.  COMMERCIAL BUILDING ENERGY STANDARDS

(a)  Definitions.  For purposes of this subchapter, “commercial buildings” means all buildings that are not residential buildings as defined in subdivision 266(a)(2) of this title or farm structures as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 4413.

(1)  The following commercial buildings, or portions of those buildings, separated from the remainder of the building by thermal envelope assemblies complying with this section shall be exempt from the building thermal envelope provisions of the standards:

(A)  Those that do not contain conditioned space.

(B)  Those with a peak design rate of energy usage less than an amount specified in the commercial building energy standards (CBES) adopted under subsection (b) of this section.

(2)  These standards shall not apply to equipment or portions of building energy systems that use energy primarily to provide for industrial, or manufacturing, or commercial processes.

(b)  Adoption of commercial building energy standards.  Commercial building construction with respect to which no state or any local building permit application or application for construction plan approval by the commissioner of public safety pursuant to 20 V.S.A. chapter 173 has been submitted on or after January 1, 2007 shall be designed and constructed in substantial compliance with the standards contained in the 2005 Vermont Guidelines for Energy Efficient Commercial Construction, as those standards may be amended by administrative rule adopted by the commissioner of public service.

(c)  Revision and interpretation of energy standards.  On or about January 1, 2009, and at least every three years thereafter, the commissioner of public service shall amend and update the CBES by means of administrative rules adopted in accordance with 3 V.S.A. chapter 25.  The commissioner shall ensure that appropriate revisions are made promptly after the issuance of updated standards for commercial construction under the international energy conservation code (IECC).    At least a year prior to final adoption of each required revision of the CBES, the department of public service shall convene an advisory committee to include one or more mortgage lenders,; builders,; building designers,; architects; civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers; utility representatives,; and other persons with experience and expertise, such as consumer advocates and energy conservation experts.  The advisory committee may provide the commissioner of public service with additional recommendations for revision of the CBES.

(1)  Any amendments to the CBES shall be:

(A)  Consistent with duly adopted state energy policy, as specified in 30 V.S.A. § 202a.

(B)  Evaluated relative to their technical applicability and reliability.

(2)  Each time the CBES are amended by the commissioner of public service, the amended CBES shall become effective upon a date specified in the adopted rule, a date that shall not be less than three months after the date of adoption.  Persons submitting an application for any state or local permit authorizing commercial construction, or an application for construction plan approval by the commissioner of public safety pursuant to 20 V.S.A. chapter 173, before the effective date of the amended CBES shall have the option of complying with the applicable provisions of the earlier or the amended CBES.  After the effective date of the original or the amended CBES, any person submitting such an application for any state or local permit authorizing commercial construction in an area subject to the CBES shall comply with the most recent version of the CBES.

(3)  The advisory committee convened under this subsection, in preparing for the CBES updates, shall advise the department of public service with respect to the coordination of the CBES amendments with existing and proposed demand‑side management programs offered in the state.

(4)  The commissioner of public service is authorized to adopt rules interpreting and implementing the CBES.

(5)  The commissioner of public service may grant written variances or exemptions from the CBES or rules adopted under this section where strict compliance would entail practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship, or is otherwise found unwarranted, provided that:

(A)  Any such variance or exemption shall be consistent with state energy policy, as specified in 30 V.S.A. § 202a.

(B)  Any petitioner for such a variance or exemption can demonstrate that the methods, means, or practices proposed to be taken in lieu of compliance with the rule or rules provide, in the opinion of the commissioner, equal energy efficiency to that attained by compliance with the rule or rules.

(C)  A copy of any such variance or exemption shall be recorded by the petitioner in the land records of the city or town in which the building is located.

(D)  A record of each variance or exemption shall be maintained by the commissioner, together with the certifications received by the commissioner.

(d)  Certification requirement.  Commercial

(1)  The design of commercial buildings shall be certified by the primary designer as compliant with CBES in accordance with this subsection, except as compliance is excused by a variance or exemption issued under subdivision (c)(5) of this sectionA certification may be issued by a builder, a licensed professional engineer, or a licensed architect  If applicable law requires that the primary designer be a licensed professional engineer, licensed architect, or other licensed professional, a member of a pertinent licensed profession shall issue this certification.  If one or more licensed professional engineers or licensed architects is involved in the design of the project, one of these licensees shall issue this certificate.  If certification is not issued by a licensed professional engineer or a licensed architect is not involved in designing the project, it certification shall be issued by the builder.  Any certification shall be accompanied by an affidavit and shall certify that the designer acted in accordance with the designer’s professional duty of care in designing the building, and that the commercial construction meets building was designed in substantial compliance with the requirements of the CBES.  The department of public service will develop and make available to the public a certificate that lists key features requirements of the CBES, sets forth certifying language in accordance with this subdivision, and requires disclosure of persons relied upon by the primary designer who have contracted to indemnify the primary designer for damages arising out of that reliance.  Any person certifying under this subdivision shall use this certificate or one substantially like it to certify compliance with CBES satisfy these certification obligations.  Certification shall be issued by completing and signing a certificate and permanently affixing it to the outside of the heating or cooling equipment, to the electrical service panel located inside the building, or in a visible location in the vicinity of one of these three areas.  The certificate shall certify that the building has been constructed in compliance with the requirements of the CBES.  The person certifying under this subsection shall provide a copy of each certificate to the department of public service and shall assure that a certificate is recorded and indexed in the town land records.  A builder may contract with a licensed professional engineer or a licensed architect to issue certification and to indemnify the builder from any liability to the owner of the commercial construction caused by noncompliance with the CBES.  In certifying under this subsection, the certifying person may reasonably rely on one or more supporting affidavits received from other persons that contributed to the design affirming that the portions of the design produced by them were properly certifiable under this subsection.  The certifying person may contract for indemnification from those on which the person relies pursuant to this subdivision (1) against damages arising out of that reliance.  This indemnification shall not limit any rights of action of an aggrieved party.

(2)  The construction of a commercial building shall be certified as compliant with CBES in accordance with this subsection, except as compliance is excused by a variance or exemption issued under subdivision (c)(5) of this section.  This certification shall be issued by the general contractor, construction manager, or other party having primary responsibility for coordinating the construction of the subject building, or in the absence of such a person, by the owner of the building.  Any certification shall be accompanied by an affidavit and shall certify that the subject commercial building was constructed in accordance with the ordinary standard of care applicable to the participating construction trades, and that the subject commercial building was constructed substantially in accordance with the construction documents including the plans and specifications certified under subdivision (1) of this subsection for that building.  The department of public service will develop and make available to the public a certificate that sets forth certifying language in accordance with this subdivision, and that requires disclosure of persons who have been relied upon by the person with primary responsibility for coordinating the construction of the building and who have contracted to indemnify that person for damages arising out of that reliance.  The person certifying under this subdivision shall use that certificate or one substantially like it to satisfy these certification obligations.  Certification shall be issued by completing and signing a certificate and permanently affixing it to the outside of the heating or cooling equipment, to the electrical service panel located inside the building, or in a visible location in the vicinity of one of these three areas.  In certifying under this subdivision, the certifying person may reasonably rely on one or more supporting affidavits received from subcontractors or others engaged in the construction of the subject commercial building affirming that the portions of the building constructed by them were properly certifiable under this subdivision.  The certifying person may contract for indemnification from those on which the person relies pursuant to this subdivision (2) against damages arising out of that reliance. This indemnification shall not limit any rights of action of an aggrieved party.

(3)  Any person certifying under this subsection shall provide a copy of the person’s certificate and any accompanying affidavit to the department of public service.

(4)  A certificate issued pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection and a certificate issued pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be conditions precedent to issuance by the commissioner of public safety (or a municipal official acting under 20 V.S.A. § 2736) of any final occupancy permit required by the rules of the commissioner of public safety for use or occupancy of a commercial building that is also a public building as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2730(a).

(e)  Action Private right of action for damages against a certifier.

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a person aggrieved by noncompliance with this section another person’s breach of that other person’s representations contained in a certification or supporting affidavit issued or received as provided under subsection (d) of this section, within ten years after the earlier of completion of construction or occupancy of the affected commercial building or portion of that building, may bring a civil action in superior court against a person who has the an obligation of certifying compliance under subsection (d) of this section alleging breach of the representations contained in that person’s certification.  This action may seek injunctive relief, damages arising from the aggrieved party’s reliance on the accuracy of those representations, court costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees in an amount to be determined by the court.  As used in this subdivision, “damages” means:

(A)  includes costs incidental to increased energy consumption; and

(B)  labor, materials, and other expenses associated with bringing the structure into compliance with CBES in effect on the date construction was commenced.

(2)  A person’s failure to affix the certification as required by this section shall not be an affirmative defense in such an action against the person.

(3)  The rights and remedies created by this section shall not be construed to limit any rights and remedies otherwise provided by law.

(4)  The right of action established in this subsection may not be waived by contract or other agreement.

(5)  It shall be a defense to an action under this subsection that either at the time of completion or at any time thereafter, the commercial building or portion of building covered by a certificate under subsection (d) of this section, as actually constructed, met or exceeded the overall performance standards established in the CBES in effect on the date construction was commenced.

(f)  Violation of section State or local enforcement.  Any person who falsely certifies knowingly makes a false certification under subsection (d) of this section, or any builder party who fails to certify under subsection (d) of this section when required to do so, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $250.00 per day, up to $10,000.00 for each year the violation continuesEach violation shall constitute a separate offense, and each day that the violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.

(g)  Title validity not affected.  A defect in marketable title shall not be created by a failure to record a variance or exemption pursuant to subdivision (c)(5) of this section, by a failure to issue certification or a certificate, as required under subsection (d) of this section, or by a failure under that subsection to:  affix a certificate; or provide a copy of a certificate to the department of public service; or record and index a certificate in the town records.

* * * Smart Metering * * *

Sec. 10.  SMART METERING INVESTIGATION

(a)  The public service board shall continue its investigations of opportunities for Vermont electric utilities cost‑effectively to install advanced “smart” metering equipment capable of sending two‑way signals and sufficient to support advanced time‑of‑use pricing during periods of critical peaks or hourly differentiated time‑of‑use pricing. 

(b)  The scope of the investigation shall include the following:

(1)  The current status of implementing either advanced time‑of‑use rate designs or advanced metering by Vermont utilities.

(2)  Analysis of experience from other state jurisdictions and individual utility experience in planning and implementing programs that promote advanced time‑of‑use rate designs or advanced metering.

(3)  Opportunities for exploring ways to design pilot programs and share experience among Vermont utilities with the deployment of advanced meters and rate designs.

(4)  Analysis of all costs and benefits of installing advanced metering equipment, giving due consideration to the circumstances that differentiate Vermont utilities.

(5)  Analysis of opportunities for reducing rates in the short and long term or mitigating rate impacts of investments in advanced metering and ancillary equipment through advanced time‑of‑use rate designs enabled by these investments.

(6)  Analysis of constraints or barriers to implementing this subsection, or opportunities presented by further deferring plans or commitments toward advanced metering equipment or rates.

(7)  Analysis of all supporting and ancillary equipment, equipment standards, and efficiency programs necessary to ensure that customers are adequately and effectively empowered to use and respond cost‑effectively to price signals made possible through advanced metering equipment.

(c)  After investigation, in utility territories where the board concludes it appropriate and cost‑effective, the board shall require each Vermont utility to file plans for investment and deployment of appropriate technologies and plans and strategies for implementing advanced pricing with a goal of ensuring that all ratepayer classes have an opportunity to receive and participate effectively in advanced time‑of‑use pricing plans.

(d)  By December 31, 2008, the board shall issue a final report and plan for implementation. 

Sec. 10a.  26 V.S.A. § 2173 is amended to read:

§ 2173.  RULES ADOPTED BY THE BOARD

(a)  The plumber’s examining board may, pursuant to the provisions of 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 (Administrative Procedure Act), make and revise such plumbing rules as necessary for protection of the public health, except that no rule of the board may require the installation or maintenance of a water heater at a minimum temperature.  To the extent that a rule of the board conflicts with this subsection, that rule shall be invalid and unenforceable.  The rules shall be in effect in every city, village, and town having a public water system or public sewerage system and apply to all premises connected to the systems and all public buildings containing plumbing or water treatment and heating specialties whether they are connected to a public water or sewerage system. The local board of health and the commissioner of public safety shall each have authority to enforce these rules.  The rules shall be limited to minimum performance standards reasonably necessary for the protection of the public against accepted health hazards.  The board may, if it finds it practicable to do so, adopt the provisions of a nationally recognized plumbing code.

* * *

* * * Fuel Efficiency Fund * * *

Sec. 11.  30 V.S.A. § 203a is added to read:

§ 203a.  FUEL EFFICIENCY FUND

(a)  Fuel efficiency fund.  There is established the fuel efficiency fund to be administered by a fund administrator appointed by the board.  Balances in the fund shall be ratepayer funds, shall be used to support the activities authorized in this subdivision, and shall be carried forward and remain in the fund at the end of each fiscal year. These monies shall not be available to meet the general obligations of the state.  Interest earned shall remain in the fund.  The fund shall contain such sums as appropriated by the general assembly or as otherwise provided by law, in addition to:

(1)  net revenues above costs associated with payments from the New England Independent System Operator (ISO‑NE) for capacity savings resulting from the activities of an energy efficiency utility designated under subdivision 209(d)(2) of this title;

(2)  revenues from the sale of credits under the RGGI cap and trade program established under section 255 of this title;

(b)  Use of the fund.  The fuel efficiency fund shall be used to support the delivery of energy efficiency services to Vermont heating and process fuel consumers and to carry out cost‑effective efficiency measures and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from those sectors.  These energy efficiency services shall be delivered by the service provider or providers selected by the public service department under section 235 of this title to perform these functions.

(c)  Report.  On or before January 15, 2010, and annually thereafter, the public service department shall report to the legislature on the expenditure of funds from the fuel efficiency fund to meet the public’s needs for energy efficiency services.

(d)  Department costs.  Up to five percent of amounts allocated to the public service department from the fund may be used for administrative costs directly related to the fuel efficiency fund.

* * * Efficiency Entity * * *

Sec. 12.  30 V.S.A. § 209(d) and (e) are amended to read:

(d)(1)  The public service department, any entity appointed by the board under subdivision (2) of this subsection, all gas and electric utility companies, and the board upon its own motion, are encouraged to propose, develop, solicit, and monitor energy efficiency and conservation programs and measures, including appropriate combined heat and power systems that result in the conservation and efficient use of energy and meet the applicable agency of natural resources' air quality standards.  Such programs and measures, and their implementation, may be approved by the board if it determines they will be beneficial to the ratepayers of the companies after such notice and hearings as the board may require by order or by rule.  The public service department shall investigate the feasibility of enhancing and expanding the efficiency programs of gas utilities and shall make any appropriate proposals to the board.

(2)  In place of utility‑specific programs developed pursuant to section 218c of this title, the board may shall, after notice and opportunity for hearing, provide for the development, implementation, and monitoring of gas and electric energy efficiency and conservation programs and measures including programs and measures delivered in multiple service territories, by one or more entities appointed by the board for these purposes.  The board may include appropriate combined heat and power systems that result in the conservation and efficient use of energy and meet the applicable agency of natural resources’ air quality standards.  The Except with regard to a transmission company, the board may specify that the implementation of these programs and measures appointment of an energy efficiency utility to deliver services within an electric utility’s service territory satisfies a that electric utility’s corresponding obligations, in whole or in part, under section 218c of this title and under any prior orders of the board.

(3)  In addition to its existing authority, the board may establish by order or rule a volumetric charge to customers for the support of energy efficiency programs that meet the requirements of section 218c of this title.  The charge shall be known as the energy efficiency charge, shall be shown separately on each customer’s bill, and shall be paid to a fund administrator appointed by the board and deposited into an electric efficiency fund.  When such a charge is shown, notice as to how to obtain information about energy efficiency programs approved under this section shall be provided in a manner directed by the board.  This notice shall include, at a minimum, a toll free telephone number, and to the extent feasible shall be on the customer’s bill and near the energy efficiency charge.  Balances in the electric efficiency fund shall be ratepayer funds, shall be used to support the activities authorized in this subdivision, and shall be carried forward and remain in the fund at the end of each fiscal year.  These monies shall not be available to meet the general obligations of the state.  Interest earned shall remain in the fund.  The board will annually provide the legislature with a report detailing the revenues collected and the expenditures made for energy efficiency programs under this section.

(4)  The charge established by the board pursuant to subdivision (3) of this subsection shall be in an amount determined by the board by rule or order that is consistent with the principles of least cost integrated planning as defined in section 218c of this title.  As circumstances and programs evolve, the amount of the charge shall be reviewed for unrealized energy efficiency potential and shall be adjusted as necessary in order to realize all reasonably available, cost‑effective energy efficiency savings.  In setting the amount of the charge and its allocation, the board shall determine an appropriate balance among the following objectives; provided, however, that particular emphasis shall be accorded to the first four of these objectives: reducing the size of future power purchases; reducing the generation of greenhouse gases; limiting the need to upgrade the state’s transmission and distribution infrastructure; minimizing the costs of electricity; providing efficiency and conservation as a part of a comprehensive resource supply strategy; providing the opportunity for all Vermonters to participate in efficiency and conservation programs; and the value of targeting efficiency and conservation efforts to locations, markets or customers where they may provide the greatest value.  The board, by rule or order, shall establish a process by which a customer may apply to the board for an exemption from some or all of the charges assessed under this subdivision. The board shall establish criteria by which these applications shall be measured.  Any such exemption shall extend for a period of time not to exceed one year.  In addition, the board may authorize exemptions only if, at a minimum, a customer demonstrates that, during the preceding year, it implemented an extraordinary amount of cost‑effective energy efficiency at the customer’s own expense or incurred extraordinary costs on those measures and the customer did not and will not receive reimbursement for those measures from the entity designated by the board under this section who pays an average annual energy efficiency charge of at least $5,000.00 may apply to the board to self‑administer energy efficiency through the use of an energy savings account which shall contain a percentage of the customer’s energy efficiency charge payments as determined by the board.  The remaining portion of the charge shall be used for systemwide energy benefits.  The board shall establish criteria for approval of these applications.

(5) Appointment of an entity under subdivision (2) of this subsection may be by contract or by an order of appointment.  An appointment, whether by order of appointment or by contract, may only be issued after notice and opportunity for hearing.  An order of appointment shall be for a limited duration not to exceed 12 years, although an entity may be reappointed by order or contract.  An order of appointment may include any conditions and requirements that the board deems appropriate to promote the public good.  For good cause, after notice and opportunity for hearing, the board may amend or revoke an order of appointment.

(6) Any entity appointed by order of appointment under subdivisions (2) and (5) of this subsection that is not an electric or gas utility already regulated under this title shall not be considered to be a company as defined under section 201 of this title, but shall be subject to the provisions of sections 18, 19, 20, 21, 30, 31, 32, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209(a), 219, 221, and 231(b) of this title, to the same extent as a company as defined under section 201 of this title.  The board and the department of public service shall have jurisdiction under those sections over the entity, its directors, receivers, trustees, lessees or other persons or companies owning or operating the entity and of all plants, equipment, and property of that entity used in or about the business carried on by it in this state as covered and included in this section.  This jurisdiction shall be exercised by the board and the department so far as may be necessary to enable them to perform the duties and exercise the powers conferred upon them by law. The board and the department each may, when they deem the public good requires, examine the plants, equipment, and property of any entity appointed by order of appointment under subdivisions (2) and (5) of this subsection.

(e)  The board shall:

(1)  Ensure that all retail consumers, regardless of retail electricity or, gas, or heating or process fuel provider, will have an opportunity to participate in and benefit from a comprehensive set of cost‑effective energy efficiency programs and initiatives designed to overcome barriers to participation.

(2)  Require that continued or improved efficiencies be made in the production, delivery, and use of energy efficiency services, including the use of compensation mechanisms for any energy efficiency entity appointed under subdivision (d)(2) of this section that are based upon verified savings in energy usage and demand, and other performance targets specified by the board.  The linkage between compensation and verified savings in energy usage and demand (and other performance targets) shall be reviewed and adjusted not less than triennially by the board.

(3)  Build on the energy efficiency expertise and capabilities that have developed or may develop in the state.

(4)  Promote program initiatives and market strategies that address the needs of persons or businesses facing the most significant barriers to participation.

(5)  Promote coordinated program delivery, including coordination with low income weatherization programs, other efficiency programs, and utility programs.

(6)  Consider innovative approaches to delivering energy efficiency, including strategies to encourage third party financing and customer contributions to the cost of efficiency measures.

(7)  Provide a reasonably stable multiyear budget and planning cycle and in order to promote program improvement, program stability, enhanced access to capital and personnel, improved integration of program designs with the budgets of regulated companies providing energy services, and maturation of programs and delivery resources.    

(8)  Approve programs, measures, and delivery mechanisms that reasonably reflect current and projected market conditions, technological options, and environmental benefits.

(9)  Provide for delivery of these programs as rapidly as possible, taking into consideration the need for these services, and cost‑effective delivery mechanisms.

(10)  Provide for the independent evaluation of programs delivered under subsection (d) of this section.

(11)  Require that any entity approved appointed by the board under subsection (d) of this section deliver board‑approved programs in an effective, efficient, timely, and competent manner and meet standards that are consistent with those in section 218c of this title, the board’s orders in public service board docket 5270, and any relevant board orders in subsequent energy efficiency proceedings.

(12)  Require verification, on or before January 1, 2003, and every three years thereafter, by an independent auditor of the reported energy and capacity savings and cost‑effectiveness of programs delivered by any entity appointed by the board to deliver energy efficiency programs under subdivision (d)(2) of this section.

(13)  Ensure that any energy efficiency program approved by the board shall be reasonable and cost‑effective.

(14)  Consider the impact on retail electric rates and bills of programs delivered under subsection (d) of this section and the impact on fuel prices and bills.

(15)  Ensure that the energy efficiency programs implemented under this section are designed to make continuous and proportional progress toward attaining the overall state building efficiency goals established by 10 V.S.A. § 581, by promoting all forms of energy end‑use efficiency and comprehensive sustainable building design.

* * * Conservation Rates * * *

Sec. 13.  30 V.S.A. § 218(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The department of public service shall propose, and the board through the establishment of rates of return, rates, tolls, charges, or schedules shall encourage the implementation by electric and gas utilities of energy‑efficiency and load management measures which will be cost‑effective for the utilities and their customers on a life cycle cost basis.  The board shall approve rate designs to encourage the efficient use of natural gas and electricity, including consideration of the creation of an inclining block rate structure for residential rate customers with an initial block of low‑cost power available to all residences. 

(1)  To implement the requirements of this subsection, the public service board shall continue its investigation of the following:

(A)  the parameters for residential inclining block rate designs;

(B)  alternative rate designs, such as critical peak pricing programs or more widespread use of time‑of‑day rates, that would encourage more efficient use of electricity;

(C)  the possible inclusion of exemptions from otherwise applicable inclining block rates or rate designs to encourage efficiency for situations in which special health needs or another extraordinary situation presents such a significant demand for electricity that the board determines use of those rates would cause undue financial hardship for the customer;

(2)  By December 31, 2008, the board shall issue a report and plan for implementation based upon the results of its investigation.  The plan shall require each retail company to upgrade its rates as necessary to implement  new rate designs appropriate to encourage efficient energy use, which shall include residential inclining block rates, if the board determines that those rates would be appropriate, by a specified date, or as part of its next rate‑related appearance before the board, or according to a timetable otherwise specified by the board.  In implementing these rate designs, the board shall consider the appropriateness of phasing in the rate design changes to allow large users of energy a reasonable opportunity to employ methods of conservation and energy efficiency in advance of the full effect of the changes.

* * * Net Metering * * *

Sec. 14.  30 V.S.A. § 219a is amended to read:

§ 219a.  SELF‑GENERATION AND NET METERING

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Customer” means a retail electric consumer who uses a net metering system.

(2)  “Net metering” means measuring the difference between the electricity supplied to a customer and the electricity fed back by a net metering system during the customer’s billing period:

(A)  using a single, nondemand meter or such other meter that would otherwise be applicable to the customer’s usage but for the use of net metering; or

(B)  on farm or group systems, using multiple meters as specified in this chapter.  The calculation will be made by converting all meters to a nondemand, nontime‑of‑day meter, and equalizing them to the tariffed kilowatt‑hour rate.

(3)  “Net metering system” means a facility for generation of electricity that:

(A)  is of no more than 15 250 kilowatts (AC) capacity, or is a farm system;

* * *

(E)(i)  employs a renewable energy source as defined in subdivision 8002(2) of this title; or

(ii)  is a qualified micro‑combined heat and power system of 20 kilowatts or fewer that meets the definition of combined heat and power in 10 V.S.A. § 6523(b) and may use any fuel source that meets air quality standards.

(4)  “Farm system” means a facility of no more than 150 250 kilowatts (AC) output capacity, except as provided in subdivision (k)(5) of this section, that generates electric energy on a farm operated by a person principally engaged in the business of farming, as that term is defined in Regulation 1.175‑3 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, from the anaerobic digestion of agricultural products, byproducts, or wastes, or other renewable sources as defined in subdivision (3)(E) of this subsection, intended to offset the meters designated under subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section on the farm or has entered into a contract as specified in subsection (k) of this section.

(b)  A customer shall pay the same rates, fees, or other payments and be subject to the same conditions and requirements as all other purchasers from the electric company in the same rate‑class, except as provided for in this section, and except for appropriate and necessary conditions approved by the board for the safety and reliability of the electric distribution system.

* * *

(f)  Consistent with the other provisions of this title, electric energy measurement for net metering farm or group net metering systems shall be calculated in the following manner:

(1)  Net metering customers that are farm or group net metering systems may credit on‑site generation against all meters designated to the farm system or group net metering system under subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section.

(2)  Electric energy measurement for farm or group net metering systems shall be calculated by subtracting total usage of all meters included in the farm or group net metering system from total generation by the farm or group net metering system.  If the electricity generated by the farm or group net metering system is less than the total usage of all meters included in the farm or group net metering system during the billing period, the farm or group net metering system shall be credited for any accumulated kilowatt‑hour credit and then billed for the net electricity supplied by the electric company, in accordance with the procedures in subsection (g) of this section.

(3)  If electricity generated by the farm or group net metering system exceeds the electricity supplied by the electric company:

(A)  The farm or group net metering system shall be billed for the appropriate charges for each meter for that month, in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.

(B)  Excess kilowatt‑hours generated during the billing period shall be added to the accumulated balance with this kilowatt‑hour credit appearing on the bill for the following billing period.

(C)  Any accumulated kilowatt‑hour credits shall be used within 12 months or shall revert to the electric company without any compensation to the farm or group net metering system.  Power reverting to the electric company under this subdivision (3) shall be considered SPEED resources under section 8005 of this title.

(g)(1)  In addition to any other requirements of section 248 of this title and this section and board rules thereunder, before a net metering farm or group net metering system including more than one meter may be formed and served by an electric company, the proposed net metering farm or group net metering system shall file with the board, with copies to the department and the serving electric company, the following information:

(A)  the meters to be included in the farm or group net metering system, which shall be associated with the farm buildings and residences owned or occupied by the person operating the farm or group net metering system, or the person’s family or farm employees, or other members of the group, identified by account number and location;

(B)  a method procedure for adding and removing meters included in the farm or group net metering system;

(C)  a designated person responsible for all communications from the farm or group net metering system to the serving electric company, for receiving and paying bills for any service provided by the serving electric company for the farm or group net metering system, and for receiving any other communications regarding the farm or group net metering system net metering; and

(D)  a binding process for the resolution of any disputes within the farm or group net metering system relating to net metering that does not rely on the serving electric company, the board, or the department.

(2)  The farm or group net metering system shall, at all times, maintain a written designation to the serving electric company of a person who shall be the sole person authorized to receive and pay bills for any service provided by the serving electric company, and for receiving to receive any other communications regarding the farm system, the group net metering system, or net metering.

(3)  The serving utility shall implement appropriate changes to the farm system or group net metering system within 30 days after receiving written notification from the designated person.  However, written notification of a change in the person designated under subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be effective upon receipt by the serving utility.  The serving utility shall not be liable for action based on such notification, but shall make any necessary corrections and bill adjustments to implement revised notifications.

(4)  Pursuant to subsection 231(a) of this title, after such notice and opportunity for hearing as the board may require, the board may revoke a certificate of public good issued to a farm or group net metering system.

(5)  A group net metering system may consist only of customers that are located within the service area of the same electric company.  Various buildings owned by a municipality may constitute a group net metering system.  If it determines that it would promote the general good, the board shall permit a noncontiguous group of net metering customers to comprise a group net metering system.

(h)(1)  An electric company:

(A)  Shall make net metering available to any customer using a net metering system, group net metering system, or farm system on a first‑come, first‑served basis until the cumulative output capacity of net metering systems equals 1.0 2.0 percent of the distribution company’s peak demand during 1996; or the peak demand during the most recent full calendar year, whichever is greater.  The board may raise the 1.0 2.0 percent cap.  In determining whether to raise the cap, the board shall consider the following:

(i)  the costs and benefits of net metering systems already connected to the system; and

(ii)  the potential costs and benefits of exceeding the cap, including potential short and long‑term impacts on rates, distribution system costs and benefits, reliability and diversification costs and benefits;

(B)  Shall allow net metering systems to be interconnected using a kilowatt‑hour meter capable of registering the flow of electricity in two directions or such other comparably equipped meter that would otherwise be applicable to the customer’s usage but for the use of net metering;

(C)  May, at its own expense, and with the written consent of the customer, install one or more additional meters to monitor the flow of electricity in each direction;

(D)  Shall Except as otherwise provided in this section, shall charge the customer a minimum monthly fee that is the same as for other customers of the electric distribution company in the same rate class, but shall not charge the customer any additional standby, capacity, interconnection, or other fee or charge;

(E)  May require a customer to comply with generation interconnection, safety, and reliability requirements, as determined by the public service board by rule or order, and may charge reasonable fees for interconnection, establishment, special metering, meter reading, accounting, account correcting, and account maintenance of net metering arrangements of greater than 15 kilowatt (AC) capacity;

(F)  May charge, if the capacity of the distribution system is insufficient for the designed generation, subject to determination by the board, a reasonable fee to cover the cost of electric company improvements necessary to distribute power;

(G)  May require that all meters included within a farm or group net metering system be read on the same billing cycle;

(H)  May book and defer, with carrying costs, additional incremental costs, to the extent that such costs are not recovered through charges, authorized in subdivisions (D), (E), and (F) of this subdivision (1), directly related to implementing net metering of greater than 15 kilowatt (AC) capacity;

(I)  Shall receive from a farm system, which is designed to produce less energy than the total annual load of the meters identified in subdivision (g)(1)(A) of this section, any tradeable renewable credits for which the farm  system is eligible.  All other farm systems shall retain any tradeable renewable credits for which the farm is eligible;

(2)  All such requirements shall be pursuant to and governed by a tariff approved by the board and any applicable board rule, which tariffs and rules shall be designed in a manner reasonably likely to facilitate net metering.

* * *

(j)  Notwithstanding the provisions of this section that define a net metering system as being of no more than 15 kilowatts (AC) capacity, the board may allow net metering for up to ten systems per year for customers that produce more than 15 kilowatts (AC) capacity, but do not produce more than 150 kilowatts of power and are not farm systems.

(k)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (f) and (g) of this section, an electric company may contract to purchase all or a portion of the output products from a farm or group net metering system, provided:

(1)  the farm or group net metering system obtains a certificate of public good under the terms of subsections (c) and (d) of this section;

(2)  any contracted power shall be subject to the limitations set forth in subdivision (h)(1) of this section;

(3)  any contract shall be subject to interconnection and metering requirements in subdivisions (h)(1)(C) and (i)(2) and (3) of this section;

(4)  any contract may permit all or a portion of the tradeable renewable energy credits for which the farm system is eligible to be transferred to the electric company;

(5)  the output capacity of a system may exceed 150 250 kilowatts, provided:

(A)  the contract assigns the amount of power to be net metered;

(B)  the net metered amount does not exceed 150 250 kilowatts; and

(C)  only the amount assigned to net metering is assessed to the cap provided in subdivision (h)(1)(A) of this section.

(l)  With regard to an application under section 248 of this title for construction of a single net metered wind turbine that is less than 150 feet in height, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that there is no undue adverse effect on aesthetics if:

(1)(A)  the turbine would not occupy a significant portion of or appear in the approximate center of distant vistas or scenic focal points when viewed from one or more identified public use areas that have direct views to the project and in which natural scenery is an important part of the experience; and

(B)  the turbine would not occupy a significant portion of or appear in the approximate center of distant views or scenic focal points when viewed from indoor primary use areas with direct views to the project and from which natural scenery is an important part of the experience or when viewed from existing outdoor primary use areas of neighboring residences, from which areas, natural scenery is an important part of the experience; or

(2)  with respect to all such identified public use areas and neighboring residential primary use areas for which the turbine would occupy a significant portion of or appear in the approximate center of distant views or scenic focal points, the turbine would be located at least 1000 feet from each area.

* * * Heating Efficiency Program * * *

Sec. 15.  30 V.S.A. § 235 is added to read:

§ 235.  HEATING AND PROCESS FUEL EFFICIENCY PROGRAM

(a) After consultation with fuel dealers, any appointed efficiency entity, financial institutions, the board, representatives of the weatherization program, and other stakeholders, the department of public service shall propose, develop, solicit and monitor any combination of energy efficiency and conservation programs, measures, and compensation mechanisms to provide fuel efficiency services on a statewide basis for Vermont heating or process fuel consumers.  The department shall select one or more service providers as needed and pursuant to a competitive bidding process to implement those programs, measures, or compensation mechanisms by means of performance based contracts that are based upon verified savings in energy usage and demand, and other performance targets.  Those programs, measures, and compensation mechanisms shall include fuel efficiency services that:

(1)  produce whole building and process heat efficiency, regardless of the fuel type used;

(2)  facilitate appropriate fuel switching; and

(3)  promote coordination, to the fullest practical extent, with the electric efficiency programs established and administered pursuant to this chapter, as well as with low income weatherization programs and any utility energy efficiency programs.

(b)  Prior to the department of public service entering a contract with service providers under this section and after such notice and hearings as it may require, the public service board shall review the programs, measures, and compensation mechanisms selected by the department to determine whether these programs, measures, and compensation mechanisms promote the public good.  The board may alter or impose conditions on any combination of these programs, measures, or compensation mechanisms as it deems necessary to promote the public good. If the department thereafter changes the programs, measures, or compensation mechanisms, it shall request review under this section by the board prior to implementing those changes.

(c)  Funding for the program established under this section shall be provided from the fuel efficiency fund established under section 203a of this title.

(d)  The department, subject to the oversight of the board, shall:

(1)  Ensure that all retail consumers, regardless of retail electricity, gas, or heating or process fuel provider, will have an opportunity to participate in and benefit from a comprehensive set of cost‑effective energy efficiency programs and initiatives designed to overcome barriers to participation.

(2)  Require that continued or improved efficiencies be made in the production, delivery, and use of energy efficiency services, including the use of compensation mechanisms that are based upon verified savings in energy usage and demand, and other performance targets specified by the board.  The linkage between compensation and verified savings in energy usage and demand (and other performance targets) shall be reviewed and adjusted not less than triennially by the board.

(3)  Build on the energy efficiency expertise and capabilities that have developed or may develop in the state.

(4)  Promote program initiatives and market strategies that address the needs of persons or businesses facing the most significant barriers to participation.

(5)  Promote coordinated program delivery, including coordination with low income weatherization programs, other efficiency programs, and utility programs.

(6)  Consider innovative approaches to delivering energy efficiency, including strategies to encourage third party financing and customer contributions to the cost of efficiency measures.

(7)  Provide a reasonably stable multiyear budget and planning cycle in order to promote program improvement, program stability, enhanced access to capital and personnel, improved integration of program designs with the budgets of regulated companies providing energy services, and maturation of programs and delivery resources.   

(8)  Develop and approve programs, measures, and delivery mechanisms that reasonably reflect current and projected market conditions, technological options, and environmental benefits.

(9)  Provide for delivery of these programs as rapidly as possible, taking into consideration the need for these services, and cost‑effective delivery mechanisms.

(10)  Provide for the independent evaluation of programs delivered under this section.

(11)  Require that any service provider under this section deliver programs in an effective, efficient, timely, and competent manner and meet standards that are consistent with those in section 218c of this title, the board’s orders in public service board docket 5270, and any relevant board orders in subsequent energy efficiency proceedings.

(12)  Require verification, on or before January 1, 2011, and every three years thereafter, by an independent auditor of the reported energy and capacity savings and cost‑effectiveness of programs delivered by any entity selected to be a service provider under this section.

(13)  Ensure that any energy efficiency program implemented under this section shall be reasonable and cost‑effective.

(14)  Consider the impact of programs delivered under this section on the amount of fuel used, fuel prices, and fuel bills.

(15)  Ensure that the energy efficiency programs implemented under this section are designed to make continuous and proportional progress toward attaining the overall state building efficiency goals established by 10 V.S.A. § 581, by promoting all forms of energy end‑use efficiency and comprehensive sustainable building design.

(e)  Any disputes under this section shall be resolved by the board.

Sec. 16.  SELECTION OF SERVICE PROVIDERS 

The department of public service shall proceed with all deliberate speed to implement the provisions of 30 V.S.A. § 235.  It shall be a goal to issue RFP’s by no later than the end of October, 2008.  Initial service providers shall be selected no later than April 1, 2009.

* * * Temporary Meteorological Stations * * *

Sec. 17.  30 V.S.A. § 246 is added to read:

§ 246.  TEMPORARY SITING OF METEOROLOGICAL STATIONS

(a)  For purposes of this section, a “meteorological station” consists of one temporary tower, which may include guy wires, and attached instrumentation to collect and record wind speed, wind direction, and atmospheric conditions.

(b)  The public service board shall establish by rule or order standards and procedures governing application for, and issuance or revocation of, a certificate of public good for the temporary installation of one or more meteorological stations under the provisions of section 248 of this title.  A meteorological station shall be deemed to promote the public good of the state if it is in compliance with the criteria of this section and the board rules or orders.  An applicant for a certificate of public good for a meteorological station shall be exempt from the requirements of subsection 202(f) of this title.

(c)  In developing rules or orders, the board:

(1)  Shall develop a simple application form and shall require that completed applications be filed with the board, the department of public service, the agency of natural resources, and the municipality in which the meteorological station is proposed to be located.

(2)  Shall require that if no objections are filed within 30 days of the board’s receipt of a complete application and the board determines that the applicant has met all of the requirements of section 248 of this title, the certificate of public good shall be issued for a period that the board finds reasonable, but in no event for more than five years.  Upon request of an applicant, the board may renew a certificate of public good.  Upon expiration of the certificate, the meteorological station and all associated structures and material shall be removed, and the site shall be restored substantially to its preconstruction condition.

(3)  May waive the requirements of section 248 of this title that are not applicable to meteorological stations, including criteria that are generally applicable to public service companies as defined in this title.  The board shall not waive review regarding whether construction will have an undue adverse effect on esthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment, and the public health and safety.

(4)  Shall seek to simplify the application and review process, as appropriate, in conformance with this section.

(d)  A proposal for decision shall be issued within five months of when the board receives a completed application for a certificate of public good for the temporary installation of one or more meteorological stations under the provisions of section 248 of this title.

* * * Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) * * *

Sec. 18.  30 V.S.A. § 255 is amended to read:

§ 255.     REGIONAL COORDINATION TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GASES

(a)  Legislative findings.  The general assembly finds:

(1)  There is a growing scientific consensus that the increased anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are enhancing the natural greenhouse effect, resulting in changes in the earth’s climate.

(2)  Climate change poses serious potential risks to human health and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems globally, regionally, and in Vermont.

(3)  A carbon constraint on fossil fuel-fired electricity generation and the development of a CO2 allowance trading mechanism will create a strong incentive for the creation and deployment of more efficient fuel-burning technologies, renewable resources, and end-use efficiency resources and will lead to lower dependence on imported fossil fuels.

(4)  Absent federal action, a number of states are taking actions to work regionally to reduce power sector carbon emissions.

(5)  Vermont has joined with at least six other states to design the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and, in 2005, Vermont’s governor signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signaling Vermont’s intention to develop rules and programs to participate in RGGI.

(6)  It is crucial to manage Vermont’s implementation of RGGI and its consumption of fossil fuels for residential and commercial heating, and industrial processes, so as to maximize the state’s contribution to lowering carbon emissions while:

(A)  minimizing impacts on electric system reliability and unnecessary costs to Vermont power energy consumers;

(B)  minimizing the costs and the emissions resulting from the use of petroleum-based fuels for space heating and process heating for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes.

(7)  The accelerated deployment of low-cost process, thermal and electrical energy efficiency and, the strategic use of low- and zero-carbon generation, and the selective use of switching fuel sources are the best means to achieve these goals.

(8)  It is crucial that funds made available from operation of a regional carbon credits cap and trade system be devoted to the benefit of Vermont power energy consumers through investments in a strategic portfolio of energy efficiency, weatherization, and low-carbon generation resources.

(b)  Cap and trade program creation.

(1)  The agency of natural resources and the public service board shall, through appropriate rules and orders, establish a carbon cap and trade program that will limit and then reduce the total carbon emissions released by major electric generating stations that provide electric power to Vermont utilities and end-use customers. 

(2)  Vermont rules and orders establishing a carbon cap and trade program shall be designed so as to permit the holders of carbon credits to trade them in a regional market proposed to be established through the RGGI.

(c)  Allocation of tradable carbon credits.

(1)  The secretary of natural resources, by rule, shall establish a set of annual carbon budgets for emissions associated with the electric power sector in Vermont consistent with the 2005 RGGI MOU, including any amendments to that MOU, and on a reciprocal basis with the other states participating in the RGGI process.

(2)  In order to provide the maximum long-term benefit to Vermont electric consumers, particularly benefits that will result from accelerated and sustained investments in energy efficiency and other low-cost,

low-carbon power system, building envelope, and other investments, the public service board, by rule or order, shall establish a process to allocate 100 percent of the Vermont statewide budget of tradable power sector carbon credits and the proceeds from the sale of those credits through allocation to one or more trustees acting on behalf of consumers in accordance with the following principles.  To the extent feasible, the allocation plan shall accomplish the following goals:

(A)  minimize windfall financial gains to power generators as a result of the operation of the cap and trade program, considering both the costs that generators may incur to participate in the program and any power revenue increases they are likely to receive as a result of changes in regional power markets;

(B)  employ an administrative structure that will enable program managers to perform any combination of holding, banking, and selling carbon credits in regional, national, and international carbon credit markets in a financially responsible and market-sensitive fashion, and provide funds to defray the reasonable costs of the program trustee or trustees and Vermont’s pro-rata share of the costs of the RGGI regional organization;

(C)  optimize the revenues received from the management and sale of carbon credits for the benefit of Vermont electric customers energy consumers and the Vermont economy;

(D)  minimize any incentives from operation of the cap and trade program for Vermont utilities to increase the overall carbon emissions associated with serving their customers;

(E)  build upon existing regulatory and administrative structures and programs that lower power and heating costs, improve efficiency, and lower the state’s carbon profile of the state’s power supply while minimizing adverse impacts on electric system reliability and unnecessary costs to Vermont power energy consumers, and minimizing the costs and the emissions resulting from the use of petroleum-based fuels for space heating and process heating for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes;

(F)  ensure that carbon credits allocated under this program and revenues associated with their sale remain power system public assets managed for the benefit of electric the state’s consumers, particularly benefits that will result from accelerated and sustained investments in energy efficiency and other low-cost, low-carbon power, or heating system or building envelope investments;

(G)  where practicable, support efforts recommended by the agency of natural resources or the department of public service to stimulate or support investment in the development of innovative power sector carbon emissions abatement technologies that have significant carbon reduction potential.

(d)  Appointment of consumer trustees.  The public service board, by rule, order, or competitive solicitation, may appoint one or more consumer trustees to receive, hold, bank, and sell tradable carbon credits created under this program.  Trustees may include Vermont electric distribution utilities, the fiscal agent collecting and disbursing funds to support the statewide efficiency utility, or a financial institution or other entity with the expertise and financial resources to manage a portfolio of carbon credits for the long-term benefit of Vermont energy consumers.  Proceeds from the sale of carbon credits shall be deposited into the fuel efficiency fund established under section 203a of this title.

(e)  Reports.  By January 15 of each year, commencing in 2007, the department of public service in consultation with the agency of natural resources and the public service board shall provide to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy, the senate committee on finance, and the house committee on commerce a report detailing the implementation and operation of RGGI and the revenues collected and the expenditures made under this section, together with recommended principles to be followed in the allocation of funds.

* * * Renewable Energy Pricing and Portfolio Standards * * *

Sec. 19.  30 V.S.A. § 8002(4) is amended to read:

(4)  “New renewable energy” means renewable energy produced by a generating resource coming into service after December 31, 2004.  This may include the additional energy from an existing renewable facility retrofitted with advanced technologies or otherwise operated, modified, or expanded to increase the kwh output of the facility in excess of an historical baseline established by calculating the average output of that facility for the 10‑year period that ended December 31, 2004.  If the production of new renewable energy through retrofitting changes in operations, modification or expansion involves combustion of the resource, the system also must result in an incrementally higher level of energy conversion efficiency or significantly reduced emissions.  For the purposes of this chapter, renewable energy refers to either “existing renewable energy” or “new renewable energy.”

Sec. 20.  30 V.S.A. § 8003 is amended to read:

§ 8003.  RENEWABLE ENERGY PRICING

(a)  Upon petition of an electric company subject to this title, upon request of the department of public service, or on its own initiative, the public service board may approve one or more renewable pricing programs for one or more electric utilities; provided, however, in the case of a municipal plant or department formed under local charter or chapter 79 of this title, or an electric cooperative formed under chapter 81 of this title, any renewable pricing program approved by the board shall also be approved by a majority of the voters of a municipality or cooperative voting upon the question at a duly warned annual or special meeting held for that purpose.  Unless the board finds good cause to exempt a utility, by no later than July 1, 2009, each electric utility, municipal department formed under local charter or chapter 79 of this title, and each electric cooperative formed under chapter 81 of this title shall implement a renewable energy pricing program under this section for its customers, or shall offer customers the option of making a voluntary contribution to the Vermont clean energy development fund established under 10 V.S.A. § 6523.  Such renewable energy pricing programs may include, but are not limited to, tariffs, standard special contracts, or other arrangements whose purpose is to increase the company’s reliance on, or the customer’s support of, renewable sources of energy or the type and quantity of renewable energy resources available.

* * *

(f)  Renewable pricing programs offered by a company shall be available to such customer classes as the board may determine.

(g)  The board shall consider the following factors in deciding whether and upon what conditions to approve a proposed renewable energy pricing program:

(1)  minimization of marketing and administrative expenses;

(2)  auditing or certification of sources of energy or tradeable renewable energy credits;

(3)  marketing and promotion plans;

(4)  effectiveness of the program in meeting the goals of promoting renewable energy generation and public understanding of renewable energy sources in Vermont;

(5)  retention by the program of renewable energy production incentives, tax incentives and other incentives earned or otherwise obtained by energy resources acquired pursuant to or as part of a renewable energy pricing program approved under this section to reduce the cost of any premiums paid under this section; and

(6)  costs imposed on nonparticipating customers arising on account of the implementation of the voluntary renewable energy pricing program.

Sec. 21.  30 V.S.A. § 8004(e) is amended to read:

(e)  In lieu of, or in addition to purchasing tradeable renewable energy credits to satisfy the portfolio requirements of this section, a retail electricity provider in this state may pay to a renewable energy fund established by the public service board the Vermont clean energy development fund established under 10 V.S.A. § 6523 an amount per kilowatt hour as established by the board.  As an alternative, the board may require any proportion of this amount to be paid to the energy conservation fund established under subsection 209(d) of this title.

* * * SPEED Program * * *

Sec. 22.  30 V.S.A. § 8005 is amended to read:

§ 8005.  SUSTAINABLY PRICED ENERGY ENTERPRISE  DEVELOPMENT (SPEED) PROGRAM

* * *

(b)  The SPEED program shall be established, by rule, order, or contract, by the public service board by January 1, 2007.  As part of the SPEED program, the public service board may, and in the case of subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection shall:

* * *

(2)  allow the developer of a facility that is one megawatt or less, and is a qualifying SPEED resource or a nonqualifying SPEED resource, to sell that power under a long term contract that is established at a specified margin below the hourly spot market price determined by the board to be adequate to promote SPEED resource development while remaining consistent with the principles of least‑cost energy services under section 218c of this title.  For purposes of this section, a long‑term contract should be 15 years or greater unless the board finds good cause for a shorter term;

(3)  encourage Vermont’s retail electricity providers to secure long‑term contracts, at stable prices, for renewable energy that are anticipated to be below the long‑term market price, over the lives of the projects qualifying SPEED resources.  The board shall create a standard contract price, or a set of maximum and minimum provisions, or both, for qualifying SPEED resources over 1 MW of capacity.  In setting a standard contract price for a qualifying SPEED resource, the board shall consider the goal of developing qualified SPEED resources, least cost provision of energy service under section 218c of this title, and the impact on electric rates.  The board may create a competitive bid process through which to select a portion of those contracts;

* * *

(d)(1)  The public service board shall meet on or before January 1, 2012, and open a proceeding, and issue findings determining to determine the total amount of qualifying SPEED resources that have come into service or are projected to come into service during the period of time between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2013 been supplied to Vermont retail electricity providers or have been issued a certificate of public good.  If the board finds that the amount of qualifying SPEED resources coming into service during that time or having been issued a certificate of public good after January 1, 2005 and before July 1, 2012 equals or exceeds total statewide growth in electric energy usage retail sales during the period of time between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2012 that time, and in addition, at least five percent of the 2005 total statewide electric retail sales is provided by qualified SPEED resources or would be provided by qualified SPEED resources that have been issued a certificate of public good, or if it finds that the amount of qualifying SPEED resources equals or exceeds 10 percent of total statewide electric energy usage retail sales for calendar year 2005, the portfolio standards established under this chapter shall not be in force.  The board shall make its determination by July 1, 2012 January 1, 2013.  If the board finds that the goal established has not been met, one year after the board’s determination the portfolio standards established under subsection 8004(b) of this title shall take effect.

(2)  A state goal is to assure that 20 percent of total statewide electric retail sales before July 1, 2017 shall be generated by speed resources.  The public service board shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy and to the joint energy committee by December 31, 2011 with regard to the state’s progress in meeting this goal.  In addition, the board shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy and to the joint energy committee by December 31, 2013 with regard to the state’s progress in meeting this goal and, if necessary, shall include any appropriate recommendations for measures that will make attaining the goal more likely.

(3)  For the purposes of the determination to be made under this subsection, electricity produced at all facilities owned by or under long‑term contract to Vermont retail electricity providers, whether it is generated inside or outside Vermont, that is new renewable energy shall be counted in the calculations under subdivision subdivisions (d)(1) and (2) of this section.

* * *

* * * Municipal Tax Exemptions * * *

Sec. 23.  32 V.S.A. § 3845 is amended to read:

§ 3845.  Alternate energy sources

* * *

(b)  For the purposes of this section alternate energy sources includes any plant, structure or facility used for the generation of electricity or production of energy used on the premises for private, domestic or agricultural purposes, no part of which may be for sale or exchange to the public.  The term shall include, but not be limited to grist mills, windmills, facilities for the collection of solar energy or the conversion of organic matter to methane, net metering systems regulated by the public service board under 30 V.S.A. § 219a, and all component parts thereof including land upon which the facility is located, not to exceed one‑half acre.

* * * Wind‑Powered Electric Generating Facilities * * *

Sec. 24.  32 V.S.A. § 5401(10)(J) is added to read:

(10)  “Nonresidential property” means all property except:

* * *

(J)  Buildings and fixtures of wind-powered electric generating facilities taxed under section 5402c of this title.

Sec. 25.  32 V.S.A. § 5402c is added to read:

§ 5402c.  WIND‑POWERED ELECTRIC GENERATING FACILITIES TAX

(a)  A facility certified by the commissioner of public service as a facility which produces electrical energy for resale, generated solely from wind power, which has an installed capacity of at least five megawatts, which was placed in service after January 1, 2007, and which holds a valid certificate of public good issued under 30 V.S.A. § 248, shall be assessed an alternative education property tax on its buildings and fixtures used directly and exclusively in the generation of electrical energy from wind power.

(b)  The tax shall be imposed at a rate per kWh of electrical energy produced by the certified facility, as determined by the public service department for the six months ending April 30 and the six months ending October 31 each year.  The rate of the tax shall be $0.003.

(c)  In no case shall the tax imposed for any six‑month period be less than an amount equal to the rate per kWh imposed by this subsection multiplied by the number of kWh that would be generated if the facility operated at a 15 percent nameplate capacity.

(d)  The tax imposed by this section shall be paid to the commissioner of taxes by the person or entity then owning or operating the certified facility, by December 1 for the period ending October 31 and by June 1 for the period ending April 30, for deposit into the education fund.  A person or entity failing to make returns or pay the tax imposed by this section within the time required shall be subject to and governed by the provisions of sections 3202 and 3203 and subchapters 8 and 9 of chapter 151 of this title.

(e)  Unless buildings and fixtures are taxed under this section, they shall remain subject to taxation under section 5402 of this title.  Buildings and fixtures subject to the education property tax under this section shall not be taken into account in determining the common level of appraisal for the municipality.

Sec. 26.  MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAXES UNAFFECTED

Application of alternative education property tax to a wind-powered electric generating facility under 32 V.S.A. § 5402c shall have no effect upon the assessment of municipal taxes upon that facility by any municipality in this state.

* * * Business Energy Credit * * *

Sec. 27.  32 V.S.A. § 5822(c)(1)(B) and (d) are amended to read:

(c)  The amount of tax determined under subsection (a) of this section shall be:

(1)  increased by 24 percent of the taxpayer’s federal tax liability for the taxable year for the following:

* * *

(B)  recapture of federal investment tax credit and increased by 76 percent of the Vermont‑property portion of the business solar energy investment tax credit component of the federal investment tax credit recapture for the taxable year;

(d)  A taxpayer shall be entitled to a credit against the tax imposed under this section of 24 percent of each of the credits allowed against the taxpayer’s federal income tax for the taxable year as follows:  elderly and permanently totally disabled credit, investment tax credit, and child care and dependent care credits.  A taxpayer shall also be entitled to a credit against the tax imposed under this section of 76 percent of the Vermont‑property portion of the business solar energy investment tax credit component of the federal investment tax credit allowed against the taxpayer’s federal income tax for the taxable year under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Sec. 28.  32 V.S.A. § 5930z is added to read:

§ 5930z.  Pass‑Through of Federal Energy Credit for Corporations

(a)  A taxpayer of this state shall be eligible for a credit against the tax imposed under section 5832 of this title in an amount equal to 100 percent of the Vermont‑property portion of the business solar energy investment tax credit component of the federal investment tax credit allowed against the taxpayer’s federal income tax for the taxable year under Section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code.

(b)  Any taxpayer who has received a credit under subsection (a) of this section in any prior year shall increase its corporate income tax under this chapter by the amount of the Vermont‑property portion of the business solar energy investment tax credit component of the federal investment tax credit recapture for the taxable year.

Sec. 29.  EFFECTIVE DATE OF BUSINESS ENERGY TAX CREDITS

Secs. 27 and 28 of this act (business energy tax credits) shall apply to carry-through and recapture of federal credits related to  taxable year 2008 and after.

* * * Weatherization * * *

Sec. 30.  33  V.S.A. § 2501(c) is amended to read:

(c) All balances in the fund at the end of any fiscal year shall be carried forward and remain part of the fund. Interest earned by the fund shall be deposited into the fund. Disbursements from the fund shall be made by the state treasurer on warrants drawn by the commissioner of finance and management.  Disbursements may be made from the fund only to support the programs established by this chapter or otherwise as authorized by this chapter.

Sec. 31.  33 V.S.A. § 2502 is amended to read:

§ 2502.  HOME WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

(a)  The director of the state office of economic opportunity shall administer a home weatherization assistance program under such rules, regulations, funding and funding requirements as may be imposed by federal law.

(b)  In addition, the director shall supplement, or supplant, any federal program with a state home weatherization assistance program providing:.

(1)  The state program shall provide an enhanced weatherization assistance amount exceeding the federal per unit limit allowing amounts up to an average of $3,000.00 $6,000.00 per unit pursuant to rules adopted by the director allocating additional per unit amounts allocated on a cost-effective basis.  In units where costs exceed the allowable average by more than 25 percent, prior approval of the director of the state economic opportunity office shall be required before work commences.  This amount shall be adjusted annually by increasing the last year's amount by the lesser of

(A)  the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for the previous year; or

(B)  three percent;.

(2)  The state program shall provide amounts for low income customers utilizing any high operating cost fuel, to convert to another fuel source under rules adopted by the director based on the cost effectiveness of the converted facility over the life cycle of the equipment.

(3)  The director, in collaboration with the weatherization service providers and other stakeholders, shall develop the state program so that it will include:

(A)  Facilitating the development and implementation of a statewide common energy-audit tool or tools that work well on all Vermont housing, including multi-family buildings.

(B)  With regard to multifamily buildings, requiring either of the following requirements to be met:

(i)  at least 25 percent or more of the tenants in the building are eligible for the weatherization program; or

(ii)  at least 50 percent of the units are weatherization affordable, and at least one tenant of the building has applied for the weatherization program and has been determined to be eligible.  For purposes of this subdivision, “weatherization affordable” means a unit having a rent that is established at less than 30 percent of the income level established by computing 60 percent of the area median income level or 60 percent of the state median income level, whichever is higher, for the relevant household size.  Relevant household size means the number of bedrooms in the unit, plus one.

(C)  Establishing program eligibility levels at 60 percent of the area median income, or 60 percent of the state median income, whichever is higher.

(D)  Eliminating the lien requirements on weatherized rental properties, so long as the landlord executes a rent stabilization agreement which has a term of at least one year.

(E)  Generally, allowing flexibility to accommodate special circumstances in which greater energy savings can be realized or health and safety problems may be alleviated.

(F)  Increasing the number of low income homes weatherized each year, or the scope of services provided, or both, to reflect increased revenues in the home weatherization assistance trust fund.

* * *

Sec. 32.  33 V.S.A. § 2503(h) is amended to read:

(h)  No tax under this section shall be imposed for any quarter ending after June 30, 2008 2011.  Monies from the escrow account shall be issued for rebates pursuant to subsection (g) of this section until March 1, 2009 2012.

Sec. 33.  REPORT ON HEATING FUEL GROSS RECEIPTS TAX

By January 15, 2011, the joint energy committee shall:      

(1)  With the assistance of the department of taxes, the department of motor vehicles, and the joint fiscal office, review the efficiency of the gross receipts tax and other taxes on fuels, including payment and reporting requirements.

(2)  Study the advisability of continuing or increasing the amount of the tax established under 33 V.S.A. § 2503, as appropriate, given the degree of success of the state by that time in meeting the building efficiency goals of the state established in 10 V.S.A. § 581.

(3)  Report its findings and recommendations with regard to subdivisions (1) and (2) of this section to the house and senate committees on appropriations and on natural resources and energy, the house committee on ways and means, and the senate committee on finance.

* * * Biodiesel * * *

Sec. 34.  USE OF BIODIESEL IN STATE OFFICE BUILDINGS, STATE  GARAGES, AND THE STATE VEHICLE FLEET

(a)  Definitions.  As used in this section:

(1)  “Biodiesel blend” means a blend of biodiesel fuel and petroleum diesel fuel or petroleum heating fuel that contains at least two percent biodiesel fuel by volume.

(2)  “Biodiesel fuel” means a renewable, biodegradable, mono alkyl ester combustible liquid fuel derived from vegetable oil or animal fat which meets the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specification D6751‑02 for Biodiesel Fuel (B100) Blend Stock for Distillate Fuel.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2009, the department of buildings and general services, department of public service, and agency of transportation jointly shall submit a report to the house and senate committees on institutions, the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy, the house and senate committees on transportation, the house and senate committees on agriculture, the house committee on commerce, the house committee on ways and means, and the senate committee on finance with recommendations on increasing the use of biodiesel blends in state office buildings, state garages, and in the state transportation fleet. 

(1)  The portion of the report prepared by the department of buildings and general services shall contain:

(A)  A summary of the current use of biodiesel blends in state office buildings.

(B)  Recommendations on how to increase the use of biodiesel blends in all state office buildings, wherever feasible, to at least five percent biodiesel (B5) by December 31, 2009, and to at least 10 percent biodiesel (B10) by 2012.

(C)  A summary of any obstacles to increasing biodiesel use in state buildings.

(D)  A proposed work plan to increase biodiesel use.

(2)  The portion of the report prepared by the department of public service shall contain:

(A)  A summary of the biodiesel fuel production capacity, storage facilities, and distribution facilities currently available in Vermont.

(B)  Recommendations for increasing biodiesel fuel production, storage facilities, and distribution facilities.

(C)  A summary of current information on the performance of biodiesel blends for use as heating fuel and as a motor vehicle fuel.

(D)  A summary of the national and regional quality assurance and quality control measures in use for blending biodiesel fuel.

(E)  A proposed work plan to increase biodiesel use.

(3)  The portion of the report prepared by the agency of transportation shall contain:

(A)  A summary of the current use of biodiesel blends in state garages and the state transportation fleet.

(B)  Recommendations on how to increase the use of biodiesel blends in state garages and in the state transportation fleet, wherever feasible, to at least five percent biodiesel (B5) by December 31, 2009, and to at least 10 percent biodiesel (B10) by 2012.

(C)  A summary of any obstacles to increasing biodiesel use in state garages and the state transportation fleet.

(D)  A proposed work plan to increase biodiesel use.

(c)  The department of public service, with representatives of the department of buildings and general services and the agency of transportation present, shall conduct at least one public hearing to review the draft report and to solicit comments prior to finalizing the report.

Sec. 35.  STUDY ON PUBLIC POWER AUTHORITY

By no later than January 15, 2009, the department of public service shall report to the committees on commerce, finance, and natural resources and energy, with the results of a study detailing the benefits and disadvantages of creating a public power authority with tools necessary to enable it to establish a  substantial public power presence in the state, when to do so would be in the public interest.

Sec. 36.  REPORT ON VALUATION OF NET METERED SYSTEMS

By December 1, 2008, the department of taxes shall develop and publish guidelines in the form of a technical bulletin for the property valuation of net metered systems.

Sec. 37.  NATURAL RESOURCES BOARD RULEMAKING ON CONSERVATION FLOW STANDARDS

(a)  The natural resources board shall, in a process separate from the planned revision to the Vermont water quality standards, evaluate the need to amend by rule the conservation flow standards for the water quality review of proposed hydroelectric facilities.  In conducting its evaluation, the natural resources board, by no later than June 1, 2008, shall convene a public stakeholder process of interested parties to review existing and proposed conservation flow standards and to issue recommendations regarding the need to amend the conservation flow standards.  As part of its evaluation of the conservation flow standards, the natural resources board shall consider whether the following flow standards may be used for reviewing the water quality impact of new hydroelectric generation projects in the state, including water withdrawals, diversions, existing impoundments, and the construction of appurtenant facilities related to a project:

(1)  A 7Q10 conservation flow;

(2)  The statewide median flow for August as the aquatic base flow;

(3)  The statewide February median flow;

(4)  Site specific flow standards; and

(5)  Any other flows deemed appropriate by the board.

(b)  After the stakeholder group issues its recommendations as required under subsection (a) of this section, the natural resources board may adopt rules amending the conservation flow standards used by the agency of natural resources to conduct water quality review of proposed hydroelectric facilities. Any amendment to the conservation flow standards shall assure the protection of water quality, including water quantity, necessary to sustain aquatic communities, aquatic habitat, and stream functions.  This section shall not be construed to prohibit the natural resources board from addressing or amending conservation flow standards for hydroelectric facilities during the triennial review of the Vermont water quality standards.

Sec. 38.  AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES REPORT ON FISH STUDY METHODOLOGY

On or before January 15, 2009, the agency of natural resources shall report to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on natural resources and energy with an estimate of the cost of producing a fish study methodology for the state of Vermont, other than the U.S. Geological Survey’s instream flow incremental methodology protocols, provided that such a methodology is feasible and adequately addresses flow needs and the protection of aquatic habitat while also providing applicants for agency permits and certification with a reliable and agency accepted method for conducting fish studies.


S. 278

An act relating to financing campaigns.

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

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

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

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

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

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

(6)  In Vermont, lower contribution limits have not prevented challengers from maintaining robust and competitive campaigns.

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

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

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

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

(11)  There is an extensive record supporting the need for the regulation of campaign finance in Vermont that was compiled during the consideration of No. 64 of the Acts of 1997, and that was considered by the courts during the litigation of Landell v. Sorrell, 118 F.Supp. 459 (D.Vt. 2000), aff’d in part and vacated in part, 382 F.3d 91 (2d Cir. 2004), rev’d and remanded sub nom. Randall v. Sorrell, 126 S. Ct. 2479 (2006) ), and during the General Assembly’s consideration of S.164 during the 2007 legislative session.

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

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

§ 2801.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

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

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

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

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

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

(A)  The name of the candidate appears;

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

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

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

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

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

(C)  unreimbursed travel expenses paid for by an individual who volunteers personal services to a candidate, if the cumulative amount of these expenses does not exceed $1,000.00 per election;

(D)  unreimbursed campaign‑related travel expenses paid for by the candidate or the candidate’s spouse or civil union partner;

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

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

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

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

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

(J)  the use of offices, telephones, computers, and similar equipment;

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

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

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

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

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

(C)  unreimbursed travel expenses paid for by an individual who volunteers personal services to a candidate, if the cumulative amount of these expenses does not exceed $1,000.00 per election;

(D)  unreimbursed campaign‑related travel expenses paid for by the candidate or the candidate’s spouse or civil union partner.

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

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

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

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

(D)  is limited to:

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

(ii)  the offices sought;

(iii)  the offices currently held by the candidates;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

§ 2801a.  EXCEPTIONS

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

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

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

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

§ 2805.  LIMITATIONS OF CONTRIBUTIONS

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

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

(c)  A candidate for the office of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, auditor of accounts, or attorney general shall not accept contributions totaling more than $400.00 $1,000.00 from a single source, or political committee or political party in for any two‑year general election cycle.  A political committee, other than a political committee of a candidate, or a political party shall not accept contributions totaling more than $2,000.00 from a single source, political committee or political party in any two‑year general election cycle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(n)  The following shall apply to independent candidates:

(1)  The limitations on contributions set forth in subsection (a), (b), or (c) of this section shall be doubled for independent candidates prior to the date of a primary election.

(2)  The following shall apply to an independent candidate who certifies to the secretary of state that he or she will not accept contributions from any political party:

(A)  The candidate may accept contributions from one political committee, designated by the candidate, up to the limitations set forth in subsection (e) of this section for political party contributions; and

(B)  For the purposes of this chapter, “contribution” shall not include:

(i)  Compensation paid by one political committee, designated by the candidate, to its employees;

(ii)  Costs paid for by one political committee, designated by the candidate, in connection with a campaign event.

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

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

§ 2805b.  LIMITATIONS ON CONTRIBUTIONS; POLITICAL COMMITTEES; POLITICAL PARTIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

§ 2809.  ACCOUNTABILITY FOR RELATED COORDINATED

              EXPENDITURES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(A)  the organization was not created for the major purpose of influencing elections;

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

(C)  the voter guide does not contain a phrase such as “vote for,” “re‑elect,” “support,” “cast your ballot for,” “(name of candidate) for Senate,” “(name of candidate) in (year),” “vote against,” “defeat,” or “reject,” or  otherwise is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a candidate or candidates;

(D)  the voter guide does not contain photographs or messages provided by a candidate or his or her political committee or agents other than responses to a general questionnaire submitted to all candidates.

* * *

Sec. 7.  17 V.S.A. § 2891 is amended to read:

§ 2891.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter, “electioneering communication”:

(1)  means any communication, including communications published in any newspaper or periodical or broadcast on radio or television or over any public address system, placed on any billboards, outdoor facilities, buttons or printed material attached to motor vehicles, window displays, posters, cards, pamphlets, leaflets, flyers, or other circulars, or in any direct mailing, robotic phone calls, or mass e-mails that refers to a clearly identified candidate for office and that promotes or supports a candidate for that office, or attacks or opposes a candidate for that office, regardless of whether the communication expressly advocates a vote for or against a candidate. 

(2)  does not mean disseminating a nonpartisan voter guide that qualifies as an exemption from the definition of “coordinated campaign expenditure made on the candidate’s behalf” under subdivision 2809(d)(3) of this title.

Sec. 8.  17 V.S.A. § 2893(b) is amended to read:

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

Sec. 9.  EVALUATION OF 2008 PRIMARY AND GENERAL ELECTIONS

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

Sec. 10.  SECRETARY OF STATE;

(a)  The secretary of state shall recommend a plan for improving and upgrading:

(1)  the ability of candidates to file and report electronically information required by chapter 55 of Title 17; and

(2)  internet access by the public of information required to be reported under chapter 55 of Title 17.

(b)  The secretary of state shall submit a report of the recommendations required by subsection (a) of this section to the general assembly by February 16, 2009 that shall include cost estimates of the recommendations.

Sec. 11.  REPEAL

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

Sec. 12.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

S. 355

An act relating to debt financing for the Vermont housing finance agency.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill by adding a new Sec. 2 to read:

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 639(a) is amended to read:

(a)  On or before the last day of January in each year the agency shall submit a report of its activities for the preceding fiscal year to the governor and to the general assembly, specifically the committees in the house and senate with jurisdiction over housing.  Each report shall set forth a complete operating and financial statement covering its operations during the year, including the agency’s present and projected economic health, amount of indebtedness, a statement of the amounts received from funds generated by interest from real estate escrow and trust accounts established pursuant to 26 V.S.A. § 2214(c), a list and description of the programs to which IORTA funds were provided and the amounts distributed to each county.  The agency shall cause an audit of its books and accounts to be made at least once in each year by certified public accountants; the cost shall be considered an expense of the agency and a copy shall be filed with the state treasurer.

and by renumbering the existing Sec. 2 (Effective date) to be Sec. 3

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable

S. 146

An act relating to advertising and producing musical performances.

Reported favorably by Senator Nitka for the Committee on Judiciary.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)


Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 311

An act relating to current use enrollment for conservation lands and ecologically significant lands.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator MacDonald for the Committee on Natural Resources.

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS; INTENT

(a)  The general assembly finds that the use value appraisal program:

(1)  Continues to achieve the goals of the program although the goal of protecting natural ecological systems was not being specifically met. The 20‑percent rule should be amended to allow for more flexibility in the enrollment of ecological areas, such as rare or exemplary natural communities, riparian buffers, wetlands, vernal pools, and significant wildlife habitat;

(2)  Needs electronic coordination;

(3)  Must have staff increases at the division of property valuation and review and at the department of forests, parks and recreation;

(4)  Needs administrative streamlining;

(5)  Should provide consistent oversight between the agricultural and forest land programs;

(6)  Should generate more funding for sufficient administration of the program;

(7)  Has serious misperceptions about it in the minds of the general public, listers, potentially eligible landowners, enrolled landowners, attorneys, and realtors that the state must lead an educational effort to correct.

(b)  Therefore, the general assembly intends that this act will improve this successful program.

* * * New Application at Time of Transfer of Ownership * * *

Sec. 2.  32 V.S.A. § 3756(e) is amended to read:

(e)  Once a use value appraisal has been applied for and granted under this section, such appraisal shall remain in effect for subsequent tax years pursuant to the provisions of subsection (f) of this section, and until the property concerned is transferred to another owner or is no longer eligible under provisions of section 3752 or 3755 of this chapter, or due to a change of use or as otherwise provided in section 3757 of this chapter.  If enrolled property is transferred to another owner, the new owner shall be entitled to continue to have the eligible property appraised at its use value, provided the property remains eligible and provided the new owner shall elect the continuation of use value appraisal on the property transfer tax return at the time of transfer and, within 30 days of the transfer, has applied to the director and paid the fees described in this subsection.  The grant of use value appraisals of agricultural forest land and farm buildings shall be recorded in the land records of the municipality by the clerk of the municipality.  The department of taxes may collect from applicants the fees specified in subdivision 1671(a)(6) or subsection 1671(c) of this title, for deposit in a special fund established and managed pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of this title, and which shall be available as payment for the fees of the clerk of the municipality.

Sec. 3.  PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX RETURN

     The commissioner of taxes shall amend the property transfer tax return to include an election to continue eligible property in the use value appraisal program at the time of transfer to a new owner, as allowed under 32 V.S.A. § 3756(e).

* * * Application Fee * * *

Sec. 4.  32 V.S.A. § 3756(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The owner of eligible agricultural land, farm buildings, or managed forest land shall be entitled to have eligible property appraised at its use value provided the owner shall have applied to the director on or before September 1 of the previous tax year, on a form approved by the board and provided by the director.  A fee of $25.00 shall accompany the application.  A farmer, whose application has been accepted on or before December 31 by the director of the division of property valuation and review of the department of taxes for enrollment for the use value program for the current tax year, shall be entitled to have eligible property appraised at its use value, if he or she was prevented from applying on or before September 1 of the previous year due to the severe illness of the farmer.

* * * Increase Time and Flexibility to Inspect Forest Parcels * * *

Sec. 5.  32 V.S.A. § 3755(b)(3) and (c) are amended to read:

(3)  there has not been filed with the director an adverse inspection report by the department stating that the management of the tract is contrary to the forest or conservation management plan, or contrary to the minimum acceptable standards for forest or conservation management.  The management activity report of conformance with any management plan shall be on a form prescribed by the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation in consultation with the commissioner of taxes and shall include a detachable section signed by all the owners that shall contain the federal tax identification numbers of all the owners.  The section containing federal tax identification numbers shall not be made available to the general public, but shall be forwarded to the commissioner of taxes within 30 days after receipt and used for tax administration purposes.  If any owner shall satisfy the department that he or she was prevented by accident, mistake or misfortune from filing a management plan which is required to be filed on or before October 1 or an annual conformance a management activity report which is required to be filed on or before February 1 of the year following the year when the management activity occurred, the department may receive that management plan or annual conformance management activity report at a later date; provided, however, no management plan shall be received later than December 31 and no annual conformance management activity report shall be received later than March 1.

(c)  At intervals not to exceed five years, the The department of forests, parks and recreation shall audit periodically review the management plans and each year review the conformance management activity reports for each parcel of managed forest land qualified for use value appraisal.  Likewise, at that have been filed.  At intervals not to exceed five ten years, that department shall inspect each tract parcel of managed forest land qualified for use value appraisal to verify that the terms of the management plan have been carried out in a timely fashion.  If that department finds that the management of the tract is contrary to the conservation or forest management plan, or contrary to the minimum acceptable standards for conservation or forest management, it shall file with the owner, the assessing officials and the director an adverse inspection report within 30 days of the inspection.

Sec. 6.  32 V.S.A. § 3756(i) is amended to read:

(i)  The director shall remove from use value appraisal an entire parcel of managed forest land and notify the owner in accordance with the procedure in subsection (b) of this section when the department of forests, parks and recreation has not received a conformance management activity report or has received an adverse inspection report, unless the lack of conformance consists solely of the failure to make prescribed planned cutting.  In that case, the director may delay removal from use value appraisal for a period of one year at a time to allow time to bring the parcel into conformance with the plan.

* * * Allow for Management of Ecological Areas * * *

Sec. 7.  COMMISSIONER OF FORESTS, PARKS AND RECREATION

The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall amend the minimum standards of forest management to expand the eligibility of Site 4 land and to identify certain ecologically sensitive areas that will be allowed to be managed for other purposes than timber production, as follows:

(1)  A parcel may be eligible if no more than 20 percent of the acres to be enrolled are Site 4, plus open and not to be restocked within two years, plus ecologically significant areas designated by the department.  These acres need not be managed for timber production.

(2)  The commissioner shall take note of and incorporate criteria developed by the Vermont nongame and natural heritage program, the American Tree Farm System, and the Forest Stewardship Council, in addition to the criteria submitted in testimony, for determining ecologically sensitive areas.  The public shall be given an opportunity to comment on the amended standards.

(3)  If more than 20 percent of the acres to be enrolled are Site 4, plus open plus ecologically significant and not to be managed for timber production, landowners may apply to the commissioner for approval.  The applications shall be reviewed by the county foresters of the county where the parcel is located.  In no situation shall a parcel be approved that does not provide for at least 80 percent of the land classified as Site 1, 2, or 3 to be managed for timber production. 

(4)  The amended standards shall be in effect before September 1, 2008.

(5)  The commissioner shall report to the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy on the changes in the standards on or before January 15, 2009.

* * * Flexibility in Updating Use Value on Town Grand List * * *

Sec. 8.  32 V.S.A. § 4111(e) and (g) are amended to read:

(e)  When the listers return the grand list book to the town clerk, they shall notify by first class mail, on which postage has been prepaid and which has been addressed to their last known address, all affected persons, listed as property owners in the grand list book of any change in the appraised value of such property or any change in the allocation of value to the homestead as defined under subdivision 5401(7) of this title or the housesite as defined under subdivision 6061(11) of this title, and also notify them of the amount of such change and of the time and place fixed in the public notice hereinafter provided for, when persons aggrieved may be heard.  No notice shall be required for a change solely to reflect a new use value set by the current use advisory board.  Notices shall be mailed at least 14 days before the time fixed for hearing.  Such personal notices shall be given in all towns and cities within the state, anything in the charter of any city to the contrary notwithstanding.  At the same time, the listers shall post notices in the town clerk’s office and in at least four other public places in the town or in the case of a city, in such other manner and places as the city charter shall provide, setting forth that they have completed and filed such book as an abstract and the time and place of the meeting for hearing grievances and making corrections.  Unless the personal notices required hereby were sent by registered or certified mail, or unless an official certificate of mailing of the same was obtained from the post office, in the case of any controversy subsequently arising it shall be presumed that the personal notices were not mailed as required.

(g)  A person who feels aggrieved by the action of the listers and desires to be heard by them, shall, on or before the day of the grievance meeting, file with them his or her objections in writing and may appear at such grievance meeting in person or by his or her agents or attorneys.  No grievance shall be allowed for a change solely to reflect a new use value set by the current use advisory board.  Upon the hearing of such grievance, the parties thereto may submit such documentary or sworn evidence as shall be pertinent thereto.

* * * Municipalities Allowed to Enroll Land in Other Municipalities * * *

Sec. 9.  32 V.S.A. § 3752(10) is amended to read:

(10)  “Owner” means the person who is the owner of record of any land, provided that a municipality shall not be an owner for purposes of this subchapter.  When enrolled land is mortgaged, the mortgagor shall be deemed the owner of the land for the purposes of this subchapter, until the mortgagee takes possession, either by voluntary act of the mortgagor or foreclosure, after which the mortgagee shall be deemed the owner.

Sec. 10.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage except for Sec. 8 which shall apply to grand lists of April 1, 2009 and after.

and that upon passage, the title of the act shall be: “AN ACT RELATING TO THE USE VALUE APPRAISAL PROGRAM”

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

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 QUESTION:  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.

S. 358

An act relating to enhanced driver licenses.

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

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)

Jeffrey L. Davis of Williston - Member of the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College Board of Trustees - By Senator Starr for the Committee on Education.  (2/20)

David R. Kimel of St. Albans - Member of the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank - By Senator McCormack for the Committee on Finance.  (2/21)

James E. Potvin of Mount Holly - Member of the Vermont Educational & Health Buildings Financing Agency - By Senator Maynard for the Committee on Finance.  (2/20)

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:

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

105.  Transportation of Individuals in the Custody of the State.  (February 2008).  (Agency of Human Services, Department for Children and Families).

106.  Workforce Development Leadership Committee Report.  (February 2008).  (Department of Labor).

107.  Substantial Cost Overruns Annual Report.  (Agency of Transportation, Program Development Division).  (February 2008).

108.  Assessment of the Environmental and Public Health Impacts of Omya’s Operations in Florence, Vermont:  Integrated Report.  (Cambridge Environmental Inc.; Geosyntec Consultants).  (February 2008).

109.  Information Technology 5 Year Plan and Annual Report of the Vermont Web Portal Board.  (Department of Information & Innovation).  (February 2008).

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - Room 11 - 7:00-8:30 p.m.  “The Future of Fuel Costs in Vermont” - House Natural Resources & Energy; House Ways & Means and Commerce Committees. 


JOINT ASSEMBLY

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

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