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Senate Calendar

tuesday, march 18, 2008

71st DAY OF BIENNIAL SESSION

TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                                Page No.

ACTION CALENDAR

UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2008

Third Reading

S. 168     Operating a motor vehicle under influence of alcohol or drugs............ 699

                        Sen. Illuzzi amendment............................................................. 699

Second Reading

Favorable

JRH 45  Loan auction pilot program for federal family education loans............. 699

                        Education Committee Report................................................... 700

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 360     Increasing substance abuse treatment, vocational training, and .................                   transitional housing for offenders in order to reduce recidivism, .................................................................                   increase public safety, and reduce corrections costs.................................................................................. 700

                        Judiciary Committee Report..................................................... 700

                        Appropriations Committee Report........................................... 710

                        Sen. Illuzzi & Sen. Sears amendment........................................ 712

                        Sen. Sears amendment............................................................. 715

NEW BUSINESS

Second Reading

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 114     Enhancing mental health parity........................................................... 717

                        Health and Welfare Committee Report..................................... 717

S. 211     Soliciting of architect proposals by a school district............................ 721

                        Education Committee Report................................................... 721

S. 244     Relating to self-storage facilities......................................................... 723

                        Ec. Dev., Housing and General Affairs Committee Report........ 723

S. 354     Relating to public agency deferred compensation plans...................... 728

                        Government Operations Committee Report.............................. 728


NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable

S. 201     Relating to state employee whistleblower protection........................... 730

                        Government Operations Committee Report.............................. 730

S. 270     Agreement to elect the president by national popular vote.................. 731

                        Government Operations Committee Report.............................. 731

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 15       Removal of tuition costs from excess spending penalty of Act 60........ 731

                        Education Committee Report................................................... 731

S. 26       Relating to electronic payment of wages............................................ 733

                        Ec. Dev., Housing & General Affairs Committee Report........... 733

S. 112     Relating to victims compensation....................................................... 736

                        Judiciary Committee Report..................................................... 736

                        Appropriations Committee Report........................................... 736

S. 117     Relating to a statewide school year calendar...................................... 737

                        Education Committee Report................................................... 737

S. 152     Lead poisoning by exposure to lead in consumer products................. 738

                        Natural Resources and Energy Committee Report.................... 738

S. 216     Designating snowboarding as the Vermont state sport........................ 742

                        Education Committee Report................................................... 742

S. 229     Relating to access to public records................................................... 745

                        Government Operations Committee Report.............................. 745

                        Finance Committee Report...................................................... 748

                        Sen. Condos amendment......................................................... 748

S. 261     Relating to phthalates in products for young children.......................... 749

                        Health and Welfare Committee Report..................................... 749

S. 271     Relating to child support for children with disabilities.......................... 750

                        Judiciary Committee Report..................................................... 750

S. 275     Relating to motor vehicles passing bicyclists on highways................... 750

                        Transportation Committee Report............................................ 750

S. 294     Siting of a dry cask storage facility for spent nuclear fuel rods............. 751

                        Natural Resources and Energy Committee Report.................... 751

S. 297     Definition of “Stiff hitch” in the motor vehicle statutes......................... 751

                        Transportation Committee Report............................................ 751

S. 301     Assaults on law enforcement officers & hate-motivated crimes........... 752

                        Judiciary Committee Report..................................................... 752

S. 304     Relating to a groundwater withdrawal permit program........................ 753

                        Natural Resources and Energy Committee Report.................... 753

S. 322     Relating to dairy promotion council.................................................... 763

                        Agriculture Committee Report.................................................. 763


S. 331     Relating to workforce development for green industries...................... 764

                        Ec. Dev., Housing & General Affairs Committee Report........... 764

S. 345     Lowering the cost of workers’ compensation insurance...................... 767

                        Ec. Dev., Housing & General Affairs Committee Report........... 767

Committee Bill for Notice

S. 366     Administration of the voter’s oath or affirmation................................. 778

                        By the Committee on Government Operations.......................... 778

ORDERED TO LIE

S. 70       Empowering municipalities to regulate pesticides................................ 778


S. 102     School dist. excess spending............................................................. 778

S. 118     Fiscal review of high spending school districts.................................... 778

S. 344     Internet and mail order sales of tobacco products.............................. 778

JRS 24   Congressional “fast track” review of trade agreements....................... 778



 

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ACTION CALENDAR

UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2008

Third Reading

S. 168

An act relating to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

AMENDMENT TO S. 168 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR ILLUZZI BEFORE THIRD READING

Senator Illuzzi moves to amend the bill by adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 2 to read as follows:

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 1201(a)(3) is amended to read:

§ 1201. Operating vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor or other substance; criminal refusal

(a) A person shall not operate, attempt to operate, or be in actual physical control of any vehicle on a highway:

(1) when the person's alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more, or 0.02 or more if the person is operating a school bus as defined in subdivision 4(34) of this title; or

(2) when the person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor; or

(3) when the person is under the influence of any other drug or under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug to a degree which renders the person incapable of driving safely; or

* * *

Second Reading

Favorable

J.R.H. 45

Joint resolution urging congress to repeal the planned competitive loan auction pilot program for the federal family education loan program’s plus loans to parent.


Reported favorably by Senator Nitka for the Committee on Education.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

(For text of Resolution, see Senate Journal for February 29, 2008, page 256)

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 360

An act relating to increasing substance abuse treatment, vocational training, and transitional housing for offenders in order to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and reduce corrections costs.

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

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

Sec. 1.  SHORT TITLE

This act may be known as “The Justice Reinvestment Act.”

Sec. 2.  PURPOSE, FINDINGS, AND INTENT

(a)  It is the purpose of this act to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and reduce corrections costs by increasing substance abuse treatment, vocational training, and transitional housing for misdemeanants and persons who have committed nonviolent felonies as defined in section 205 of Title 28.

(b)  The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Vermont’s incarcerated population is growing at an unsustainable rate.

(2)  Property and drug offenders are the fastest growing segment of the prison population.  Between 2000 and 2006, over one-half the increase in the felony prison population was due to property and substance abuse offenses.

(3)  Seventy-seven percent of those sentenced for a property or drug felony have a substance abuse disorder.  Two-thirds of them report having received mental health treatment in the past.  Fifty-five percent report being frequently unemployed prior to incarceration.

(4)  Of those incarcerated for a property or drug felony, only 13 percent are receiving treatment.

(c)  The general assembly further finds that:

(1)  As the public inebriate study committee outlined in its report, the Vermont legislature enacted the Alcohol Services Act in 1978 in order to decriminalize public intoxication and create a program to place public inebriates in treatment rather than jail.  In 1977, the last full year prior to the Act’s passage, 550 persons were jailed after being charged with public intoxication.  However, by 2006, 2,322 persons out of 4,179 screened had been placed in protective custody without being charged with a crime, a substantial increase in both total cases and incarcerations.

(2)  As the public inebriate study committee concluded, the Alcohol Services Act has produced results contrary to the legislature’s intent.  The inebriate program established by the act does not work effectively, except in selected areas where staffed shelters exist.

(3)  It is imperative that a new approach to public inebriation be taken, because it is unconscionable that in the 21st century persons are incarcerated who have not committed a crime.

(d)  The general assembly further finds that:

(1)  Each month approximately 70 inmates meet the criteria for reentering the community under the supervision of the commissioner of corrections.  However, almost one-half are not released because of insufficient housing options.

(2)  For many low risk offenders, studies show that a minimum sentence is likely to deter reoffense, and that a longer sentence does not decrease the likelihood of reoffense.  Therefore, statute authorizes the commissioner of corrections to release certain offenders 90 days prior to the minimum sentence date.  However, on average, eligible inmates are not released until 53 days prior to the minimum sentence date.

(e)  Therefore, in order to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and reduce the cost to the state of incarcerating offenders, it is the intent of the general assembly to:

(1)  increase substance abuse treatment services, vocational training, and transitional housing available to offenders;

(2)  provide for careful screening and assessment of offenders in order to connect those with high needs with appropriate treatment programs, and to ensure that those who do not need treatment are not required to participate; 

(3)  provide incentives for offenders to engage in positive behaviors; and

(4)  establish processes for reducing incarceration time when appropriate. 

Sec. 3.  28 V.S.A. § 1(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The department shall formulate its programs and policies recognizing that almost all criminal offenders ultimately return to the community, and that the traditional institutional prisons fail to reform or rehabilitate, operating instead to increase the risk of continued criminal acts following release.  The department shall develop and implement a comprehensive program which will provide necessary closed custodial confinement of frequent, dangerous offenders, but which also will establish as its primary objective the disciplined preparation of offenders for their responsible roles in the open community.  The department shall ensure that the comprehensive program required by this subsection includes a process by which each offender sentenced to any term of imprisonment other than for life without parole, within 30 days after receiving his or her sentence, shall begin to develop and implement a plan preparing for return to the community.  The department shall assess each offender for substance abuse treatment needs, using an assessment tool designed to assess the suitability of a broad range of treatment services, and use the results of this assessment in preparing the reentry plan.  The department may assess an offender sentenced to a minimum term of more than five years later than 30 days after receiving the sentence but at least within a year of receiving the sentence.

Sec. 4.  28 V.S.A. § 102(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The commissioner is charged with the following powers:

* * *

(5)  To order the assignment and transfer of persons committed to the custody of the commissioner to correctional facilities, including out-of-state facilities.

Sec. 5.  28 V.S.A. § 202 is amended to read:

§ 202.  POWERS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COMMISSIONER REGARDING PROBATION

The commissioner shall be charged with the following powers and responsibilities regarding the administration of probation:

(1)  To maintain general supervision of persons placed on probation, and to prescribe rules and regulations, consistent with any orders of the court, governing the conduct of such persons;

(2)  To supervise the administration of probation services and establish policies and standards and make rules and regulations regarding probation investigation, supervision, case work and case loads, record keeping, and the qualification of probation officers.  The commissioner may use electronic monitoring equipment such as global position monitoring, automated voice recognition telephone equipment, or transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment to enable more effective or efficient supervision of individuals placed on probation.

Sec. 6.  28 V.S.A. § 205 is amended to read:

§ 205.  PROBATION

(a)(1)  After passing sentence, a court may suspend all or part of the sentence and place the person so sentenced in the care and custody of the commissioner upon such conditions and for such time as it may prescribe in accordance with law or until further order of court.

(2)  The term of probation for misdemeanors shall be for a specific term not to exceed two years unless the court, in its sole discretion, specifically finds that the interests of justice require a longer or an indefinite period of probation.

(3)(A)  The term of probation for nonviolent felonies shall not exceed the statutory maximum term of imprisonment for the offense unless the court, in its sole discretion, specifically finds that the interests of justice require a longer or an indefinite period of probation.

(B)  As used in this subdivision, "nonviolent felonies" means an offense which is not:

(i)  a listed crime as defined in subdivision 5301(7) of Title 13; or

(ii)  an offense involving sexual exploitation of children in violation of chapter 6 of Title 13.

(4)  Nothing in this subsection shall prevent the court from terminating the period of probation and discharging a person pursuant to section 251 of this title.

(5)  The probation officer of a person on probation for a specific term shall review the person's case file during probation and, not less than 45 days prior to the expiration of the probation term, may file a petition with the court requesting the court to extend the period of probation for a specific term not to exceed one year in order to provide the person the opportunity to complete programming consistent with special conditions of probation.  A hearing on the petition for an extension of probation under this subsection shall comply with the procedures set forth in Rule 32.1 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure.

(b)  The victim of a listed crime as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301(7) for which the offender has been placed on probation shall have the right to request, and receive from the department of corrections information regarding the offender's general compliance with the specific conditions of probation. Nothing in this section shall require the department of corrections to disclose any confidential information revealed by the offender in connection with participation in a treatment program.

(c)(1)  Unless the court in its discretion finds that the interests of justice require additional standard and special conditions of probation, when the court orders a specific term of probation for a qualifying offense, the only conditions of probation shall be that the probationer:

(A)  register with the department of corrections’ probation and parole office in his or her district;

(B)  notify the probation officer of his or her current address each month; and

(C)  not have probable cause found for a criminal offense during the term of probation.

(2)  As used in this subsection, “qualifying offense” means:

(A)  Unlawful mischief under 13 V.S.A. § 3701.

(B)  Retail theft under 13 V.S.A. §§ 2575 and 2577.

(C)  Operating after suspension or revocation of license under 23 V.S.A. § 674(a).

(D)  Bad checks under 13 V.S.A. § 2022.

(E)  Theft of services under 13 V.S.A. § 2582.

(F)  Disorderly conduct under 13 V.S.A. § 1026, unless the original charge was a listed offense as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301(7).

(G)  Theft of rented property under 13 V.S.A. § 2591.

(H)  Operation without consent of owner under 23 V.S.A. § 1094(a).

(I)  Petit larceny under 13 V.S.A. § 2502.

(J)  Negligent operation of a motor vehicle under 23 V.S.A.

§ 1091(a).

(K)  False reports to law enforcement under 13 V.S.A. § 1754.

(L)  Setting fires under 13 V.S.A. § 508.

(M)  A first offense of a minor’s misrepresenting age, procuring, possessing, or consuming liquors under 7 V.S.A. § 657.

(N)  Simple assault by mutual consent under 13 V.S.A. § 1023(b).

(O)  Unlawful trespass under 13 V.S.A. § 3705(a).

(P)  A first offense of possession under 18 V.S.A. § 4230(a)(1).

Sec. 7.  28 V.S.A. § 252(b) is amended and (d) is added to read:

(b)  When imposing a sentence of probation, the court may, as a condition of probation, require that the offender:

* * *

(16)  Satisfy any other conditions reasonably related to his or her rehabilitation.  The court shall not impose a condition prohibiting the offender from engaging in any legal behavior unless the condition is reasonably related to the offender’s rehabilitation.

(d)  The commissioner shall review the record of each probationer serving a specified term during the month prior to the midpoint of that probationer’s specified term, and may file a motion requesting the sentencing court to dismiss the probationer from probation or deduct a portion of the specified term from the period of probation if the offender has successfully completed a program, or attained a goal or goals specified by the conditions of probation.  The commissioner may include in the motion a request that the court deduct a portion of the specified term for each condition completed or goal attained. Any motion under this section shall be made at the sole discretion of the commissioner pursuant to a rule adopted by the commissioner under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25.

Sec. 8.  28 V.S.A. § 256 is added to read:

§ 256.  CASELOAD CAPACITY; HIGH RISK OFFENDERS

(a)  The following staff-to-offender risk management caseload range capacities are established in the department:

(1)  Youth statutory designation:  one officer per 20 offenders.

(2)  Furlough, supervised community sentence, intensive phase:  one officer per 30–45 offenders.

(3)  Furlough, supervised community sentence, maintenance phase: one officer per 35–55 offenders.

(4)  Probation or parole, offenses involving sex or violence:  one officer per 40–50 offenders.

(5)  High risk probation or parole, nonviolent offenses:  one officer per 45–60 offenders.

(b)  If the caseload range capacities established in subsection (a) of this section are exceeded for greater than 60 days:

(1)  the commissioner shall report to the general assembly the causes for the excess and proposals for addressing it; and  

(2)  the department shall have the authority, if the district manager believes that the excess will not be eliminated within 60 days, to hire persons from the state's position vacancy pool as limited service employees for an initial period of up to one year.  The initial period may be extended for up to two more years, if the department deems it necessary. 

(c)  Each time a position is established under subdivision (b)(2) of this section, the commissioner shall report it at the next meeting of the joint fiscal committee.  The costs for each position shall be presented in the department’s budget adjustment proposal, and, if the positions are necessary for an ongoing period, in the department’s annual budget request.  

Sec. 9.  28 V.S.A. § 403(1) is amended to read:

(1)  To supervise and control persons placed on parole, subject to the rules and orders of the parole board as to the conditions of parole.  The commissioner may use electronic monitoring equipment such as global position monitoring, automated voice recognition telephone equipment, or transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment to enable more effective or efficient supervision of individuals placed on parole;

Sec. 10.  33 V.S.A. § 708 is amended to read:

§ 708.  TREATMENT AND SERVICES

* * *

(d)  A person judged by a law enforcement officer to be incapacitated, and who has not been charged with a crime, may be lodged in protective custody in a lockup or community correctional center for up to 24 hours or until judged by the person in charge of the facility to be no longer incapacitated, if and only if:

(1)  The person refuses to be transported to an appropriate facility for treatment, or if once there, refuses treatment or leaves the facility before he or she is considered by the responsible staff of that facility to be no longer incapacitated; or

(2)  No approved substance abuse treatment program with detoxification capabilities and no staff physician or other medical professional at the nearest licensed general hospital can be found who will accept the person for treatment.

(e)  No person shall be lodged in a lockup or community correctional center under subsection (d) of this section without first being evaluated by a substance abuse crisis team, a designated substance abuse counselor, a clinical staff person of an approved substance abuse treatment program with detoxification capabilities or a professional medical staff person at a licensed general hospital emergency room and found to be indeed incapacitated.

(f)  No lockup or community correctional center shall refuse to admit an incapacitated person in protective custody whose admission is requested by a law enforcement officer, in compliance with the conditions of this section.

(g)  Notwithstanding subsection (d) of this section, a A person under 18 years of age who is judged by a law enforcement officer to be incapacitated and, who has not been charged with a crime shall not be held at a lockup or community correctional center. If needed, and for whom treatment is not readily available the person shall be released to his or her parent or guardian.  If the person has no parent or guardian in the area, arrangements shall be made to house him or her according to the provisions of chapter 55 of this title.  The official in charge of an adult jail or lockup shall notify the director of the office of drug and alcohol abuse of any person under the age of 18 brought to an adult jail or lockup pursuant to this chapter.

(h)  If an incapacitated person in protective custody is lodged in a lockup or community correctional center, his or her family or next of kin shall be notified as promptly as possible.  If the person is an adult and requests that there be no notification, his or her request shall be respected.

(i)  A taking into protective custody under this section is not an arrest.

(j)  Law enforcement officers or persons responsible for supervision in a lockup or community correctional center or members of a substance abuse crisis team or designated substance abuse counselors who act under the authority of this section are acting in the course of their official duty and are not criminally or civilly liable therefor, unless for gross negligence or willful or wanton injury.

(k)  This section, except for subsection (j), shall be repealed on July 1, 2010.

Sec. 11.  33 V.S.A. § 708a is added to read:

§ 708a.  INCARCERATION FOR INEBRIATION PROHIBITED

No person who has not been charged with a crime shall be incarcerated on account of the person’s inebriation. 

Sec. 12.  28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(8) is amended to read:

(8)  To prepare for reentry into the community.

(A)  Any offender sentenced to incarceration may shall be furloughed to the community up to 90 days prior to completion of the minimum sentence, at the commissioner's discretion and in accordance with if the requirements and conditions established by rules adopted pursuant to subdivision (C) of this subdivision (8) have been satisfied, provided that an offender sentenced to a minimum term of fewer than 180 days shall not be eligible for furlough under this subdivision until the offender has served at least one-half of his or her minimum term of incarceration.

* * *

(E)  An offender incarcerated for driving while under the influence of alcohol under 13 V.S.A. § 1210(d) or (e) may be furloughed to the community up to 180 days prior to completion of the minimum sentence at the commissioner’s discretion and in accordance with rules adopted pursuant to subdivision (C) of this subdivision (8), provided that an offender sentenced to a minimum term of fewer than 270 days shall not be eligible for furlough under this subdivision until the offender has served at least 90 days of his or her minimum term of incarceration and provided that the commissioner uses electronic equipment to monitor continually the offender’s location and blood alcohol level.

Sec. 13.  28 V.S.A. § 808(b) is amended to read:

(b)  An inmate granted a furlough pursuant to this section may be accompanied by an employee of the department, in the discretion of the commissioner, during the period of the inmate's furlough.  The department may use electronic monitoring equipment such as global position monitoring, automated voice recognition telephone equipment, or transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment to enable more effective or efficient supervision of individuals placed on furlough.

Sec. 14.  APPROPRIATIONS

(a)  The amount of $3,021,000.00 is appropriated to the commissioner of corrections to increase substance abuse treatment, vocational training, and transitional housing for misdemeanants and persons who have committed nonviolent felonies as defined in section 205 of Title 28.  Of this amount:

(1)  $150,000.00 is for funds to increase the capacity of the department of corrections’ intensive substance abuse program (ISAP) to provide services to those participating on an intensive out-patient basis;

(2)  $150,000.00 is for funds to expand the ISAP program to include a residential substance abuse treatment component for those who have been furloughed to the community pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(7);

(3)  $150,000.00 is for funds for entering into contract with several community based substance abuse treatment providers in different geographic regions of the state, to provide the substance abuse treatment services to persons on conditional reentry status pursuant to subchapter 1A of chapter 11 of 28 V.S.A.;

(4)  $200,000.00 is for life skills services programming;

(5)  $650,000.00 shall be to provide vocational training and residential substance abuse programs in a work camp;

(6)  $1,200,000.00 shall be to provide grants to community providers of transitional housing to increase the number of beds available by 60 beds for three to six months of housing for at least 120 offenders reentering the community on furlough pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808 or conditional reentry pursuant to subchapter 1A of chapter 11 of 28 V.S.A.  The new transitional housing shall include a range from lightly supervised with no treatment programs to heavily supervised with wrap-around treatment programs; and

(7)  $211,000.00 shall be to purchase electronic monitoring equipment such as automated voice recognition telephone equipment, global position monitoring system bracelets, and transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment.  The commissioner shall use the equipment to augment supervision of offenders on probation, parole, or furlough and to enhance the capacity of field staff to monitor and control offenders who would otherwise be incarcerated.

(8)  $110,000.00 is for recovery centers.

(b)  The amount of $200,000.00 is appropriated to the secretary of human services for funds to expand the capacity of community alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment providers to provide services, including services to public inebriates.

Sec. 15.  ACCOUNTABILITY; REPORTS

[RESERVED]

Sec. 16.  PUBLIC INEBRIATES REPORT

The office of alcohol and drug abuse in the department of health, in consultation with substance abuse treatment providers, law enforcement officers, hospital emergency room personnel, and the department of corrections shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary and institutions no later than January 1, 2009 with a plan to ensure the regional availability of supportive voluntary and secured accommodations for public inebriates by January 1, 2010.

Sec. 17.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on July 1, 2008, except for Sec. 11, which shall take effect on July 1, 2010.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

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

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended as recommended by the Committee on Judiciary with the following amendments thereto:

First:  By striking out Secs. 14, 15 and 16 in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof four new sections to be numbered Secs. 14, 15, 16 and 17 to read as follows:

Sec. 14.  BUDGETARY SAVINGS ALLOCATIONS IN FISCAL YEAR 2009

(a)  Department of corrections expenditures on correctional services including out-of-state beds grew from $93,255,650.00 in fiscal year 2004 to $120,533,309.00 in fiscal year 2008.  The amount of funding proposed for fiscal year 2009 is $123,589,833.00.

(b)  It is the intent of the general assembly to achieve savings in the department of corrections budget which will be reinvested in substance abuse screening, assessment, treatment, and reentry support to result in reduced recidivism.

(c)  In the last quarter of fiscal year 2009, from within the amounts appropriated to the department of corrections from the general fund, the department shall reinvest $600,000 as follows:

(1)  The amount of $150,000.00 shall be to provide substance abuse programs and vocational training in a work camp facility.

(2)  The amount of $450,000.00 shall be transferred to the secretary of human services.  $200,000.00 shall be to expand the capacity of community alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment providers to provide services, including services to public inebriates. $250,000.00 shall be to expand the availability of public inebriate beds outside the department of corrections.

(d)  The joint fiscal office shall track and report to the joint fiscal committee in January and July of 2009 savings in the corrections budget resulting from the provisions of this act. 

Sec. 15.  BUDGETARY SAVINGS ALLOCATIONS IN FISCAL YEAR 2010

(a)  Savings identified in fiscal year 2010 by either the commissioner of corrections or the corrections oversight committee, shall be reinvested in fiscal year 2010 in the following order:

(1)  $150,000.00 is for funds to increase the capacity of the department of corrections’ intensive substance abuse program (ISAP) to provide services to those participating on an intensive out-patient basis;

(2)  $150,000.00 is for funds to expand the ISAP program to include a residential substance abuse treatment component for those who have been furloughed to the community pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(7);

(3)  $150,000.00 is for funds for entering into contract with several community based substance abuse treatment providers in different geographic regions of the state, to provide the substance abuse treatment services to persons on conditional reentry status pursuant to subchapter 1A of chapter 11 of 28 V.S.A.;

(4)  $200,000.00 is for life skills services programming;

(5)  $650,000.00 shall be to provide vocational training and residential substance abuse programs in a work camp;

(6)  $1,200,000.00 shall be to provide grants to community providers of transitional housing to increase the number of beds available by 60 beds for three to six months of housing for at least 120 offenders reentering the community on furlough pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808 or conditional reentry pursuant to subchapter 1A of chapter 11 of 28 V.S.A.  The new transitional housing shall include a range from lightly supervised with no treatment programs to heavily supervised with wrap-around treatment programs;

(7)  $211,000.00 shall be to purchase electronic monitoring equipment such as automated voice recognition telephone equipment, global position monitoring system bracelets, and transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment.  The commissioner shall use the equipment to augment supervision of offenders on probation, parole, or furlough and to enhance the capacity of field staff to monitor and control offenders who would otherwise be incarcerated; and

(8)  $110,000.00 is for recovery centers.

(b)  The amount of $200,000.00 is transferred to the secretary of human services for funds to expand the capacity of community alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment providers to provide services, including services to public inebriates.

Sec. 16.  ACCOUNTABILITY; REPORTS

[RESERVED]

Sec. 17.  PUBLIC INEBRIATES TASK FORCE

(a)  A public inebriates task force is established.  The task force shall consist of the following members:

(1)  Two members employed by the office of alcohol and drug abuse appointed by the commissioner of the department of health.

(2)  Two substance abuse treatment providers appointed by the substance abuse treatment providers association.

(3)  One member appointed by the department of public safety.

(4)  One member appointed by the Vermont police association.

(5)  One member appointed by the Vermont league of cities and towns.

(6)  Two members appointed by the Vermont medical society who shall be hospital emergency room personnel.

(7)  Two members appointed by the Vermont recovery network.

(8)  Two employees of the department of corrections appointed by the commissioner of the department of corrections.

(b)  The task force shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary, institutions, and appropriations no later than January 1, 2009 with a plan to ensure that public inebriates are given appropriate care rather than incarcerated.  The plan shall ensure the regional availability of supportive voluntary and secured accommodations for public inebriates by January 1, 2010, and shall include a timetable for providing reimbursement of expenses to programs that house and maintain public inebriates.

Second:  By renumbering original Sec. 17 to be Sec. 18.

(Committee vote: 6-0-1)

AMENDMENT TO THE RECOMMENDATION OF AMENDMENT OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS TO S. 360 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR ILLUZZI ON BEHALF OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS AND SENATOR SEARS ON BEHALF OF THE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY

Senator Illuzzi, on behalf of the Committee on Appropriations and Senator Sears on behalf of the Committee on Judiciary move to amend the recommendation of amendment of the Committee on Appropriations by striking out Secs. 14 and 15 in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof new Secs. 14a, 14b and 14c to read as follows:

Sec. 14a.  BUDGETARY SAVINGS ALLOCATIONS IN FISCAL YEARS 2009 and 2010

(a)  Findings.  Department of corrections expenditures on correctional services including out-of-state beds grew from $93,255,650.00 in fiscal year 2004 to $120,533,309.00 in fiscal year 2008.  The amount of funding proposed for fiscal year 2009 is $123,589,833.00.  This rate of increase has been and remains unsustainable.

(b)  Action.  In order to reduce the unsustainable increases in the expenditures of the department of corrections, the following action shall be taken by the executive branch:

          (1)  In Fiscal Year 2009, the Dale Correctional Faculty in Waterbury shall be closed.

          (2)  In Fiscal Year 2009, the mission of the Southeast Vermont Correctional Facility in Windsor shall change to a therapeutic community in a work camp model, consistent with any further directive set forth in the 2007 Capital Construction Act, S. 365.

          (3)  In Fiscal Year 2009, sections of the Northwest Regional Correctional Facility in St. Albans town shall be closed and the facility otherwise configured to house and program women consistent with any further directive set forth in the 2007 Capital Construction Act, S. 365.

(c)  Goal; Fiscal Year 2009.  It is the goal of the general assembly to achieve in the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2009 approximately $600,000.00 in savings in the department of corrections budget, which will be reinvested in substance abuse screening, assessment, treatment, and reentry support, the goal of which is to reduce recidivism for the target group indentified in Sec. 2(a) of this act.

(d) Goal; Fiscal Year 2010.  It is the goal of the General Assembly to achieve in Fiscal Year 2010 approximately $3,044,949 in savings in the department of corrections budget, some of which will be reinvested in a variety of effective programs to further reduce recidivism for the target group indentified in Sec. 2(a) of this act. 

Sec. 14b.  ANTICIAPTED BUDGETARY SAVINGS ALLOCATIONS IN FISCAL YEAR 2009 

(a) In the last quarter of fiscal year 2009, from within the amounts appropriated to the department of corrections from the general fund, the department shall reinvest $600,000 as follows:

(1)  the amount of $150,000.00 shall be used to fund substance abuse programs and vocational training in a state work camp facility;

(2)  the amount of $450,000.00 shall be transferred to the secretary of human services and used to fund the following activities:

     (A)  $200,000.00 shall be used to expand the capacity of community alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment providers to provide services, including services to public inebriates; and

     (B)  $250,000.00 shall be used to expand the availability of public inebriate beds outside the department of corrections.

(b)  The joint fiscal office shall track and report to the joint fiscal committee in January and July of 2009 savings in the corrections budget resulting from the provisions of this act. 

Sec. 14c.  ANTICIPATED BUDGETARY SAVINGS ALLOCATIONS IN FISCAL YEAR 2010

(a)  In fiscal  year 2010, from within the amounts appropriated to the department of corrections from the general fund, the department shall reinvest a portion of the savings identified by either the commissioner of corrections or the corrections oversight committee as follows:

(1)  $150,000.00 to increase the capacity of the department of corrections’ intensive substance abuse program (ISAP), which provides services on an intensive out-patient basis;

(2)  $150,000.00 to expand the ISAP program to include a community based residential substance abuse treatment component for those who have been furloughed to the community pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(7);

(3)  $150,000.00 to enter into contracts with several community based substance abuse treatment providers in different geographic regions of the state, and to provide the substance abuse treatment services to persons on conditional reentry status pursuant to subchapter 1A of chapter 11 of 28 V.S.A.;

(4)  $200,000.00 to provide life skills services programming;

(5)  $650,000.00 to provide vocational training and residential substance abuse programs in one or more state owned and operated work camps;

(6)  $1,200,000.00 shall be to used provide grants to community providers to:

     (A)  increase by 60 the number of beds available for at least 120 offenders who will be staying in the transitional housing for three to six months before reentering the community on furlough pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808 or conditional reentry, pursuant to subchapter 1A of chapter 11 of Title 28; and 

     (B)  the new transitional housing shall include a range from lightly supervised with no treatment programs to heavily supervised with wrap-around treatment programs;

(7)  $211,000.00 to purchase electronic monitoring equipment, including automated voice recognition telephone equipment, global position monitoring system bracelets, and transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment; the commissioner shall use the equipment to augment supervision of offenders on probation, parole, or furlough and to enhance the capacity of field staff to monitor and control offenders who would otherwise be incarcerated;   

(8)  $110,000.00 for recovery centers; and

(9)  $200,000.00 shall be transferred to the secretary of human services to expand the capacity of community alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment providers to provide services, including services to public inebriates.

AMENDMENT TO S. 360 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR SEARS ON BEHALF OF THE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY

Senator Sears, on behalf of the Committee on Judiciary, moves to amend the bill by striking out Sec. 8 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 8 to read as follows:

Sec. 8.  28 V.S.A. § 256 is added to read:

§ 256.  CASELOAD CAPACITY; HIGH RISK OFFENDERS

(a)  Probation officers designated to work exclusively with offenders 21 years of age and younger shall have caseloads of no more than 25 youths.

(b)  The department will review severity of offenses and assess the risk to re-offend of all offenders older than 21 years of age under its jurisdiction in the community and assign one of the following levels of supervision to each offender: 

(1)  Risk management supervision, which shall mean supervision at a level of intensity that includes case planning and measures to reduce risk of re-offense.

(2)  Response supervision, which shall mean monitoring of the offender’s compliance with conditions of probation or parole, including staff responding to violation behavior.

(3)  Administrative supervision, which shall mean monitoring of the offender’s address and compliance with the law. 

(c)  An offender may be reassigned to a lower supervision level after a reassessment of the offender’s risk.

(d) The department shall establish the following probation officer caseload ranges for offender profiles:

(1)  All listed offenders requiring risk management shall be supervised at no more than 45 offenders per probation officer.

(2)  All non-listed offenders requiring risk management shall be supervised at no more than 60 offenders per probation officer.

(3)  All offenders requiring response supervision shall be supervised at no more than 150 offenders per probation officer.

(4)  All offenders requiring administrative supervision may be supervised on caseloads consistent with the capacity of automated status reporting systems as established by the department.

(5)  When there is a mixed profile caseload in which a single probation officer supervises offenders with different supervision levels, and at least one-third of the offenders require a more intensive supervision demand than the other offenders, the caseload shall be supervised at the lowest level of offender-to-staff ratio. 

(e)  If the caseloads established in subsection (d) of this section are exceeded for longer than 120 days, the commissioner shall be authorized to designate community correctional officers to partially augment staffing caseloads.  If such designation does not remedy the excess caseloads:

(1)  The commissioner shall report to the joint corrections oversight committee the causes for the excess and proposals for addressing.

(2)  The department shall have the authority, if the commissioner believes that the excess will not be eliminated within 60 days, to hire persons from the state's position vacancy pool as limited service employees for an initial period of up to one year.  The initial period may be extended for up to two more years if the department deems it necessary.

(f)  Each time a position is established under subdivision (e)(2) of this section, the commissioner shall report it at the next meeting of the joint corrections oversight committee.  The costs for each position shall be presented in the department’s budget adjustment proposal, and, if the positions are necessary for an ongoing period, in the department’s annual budget request.

NEW BUSINESS

Second Reading

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 114

An act relating to enhancing mental health parity.

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

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

Sec. 1.  8 V.S.A. § 4089b(b) is amended to read:

(b) A health insurance plan shall provide coverage for treatment of a mental health condition and shall:

(1) not establish any rate, term, or condition that places a greater financial burden on an insured for access to treatment for a mental health condition than for access to treatment for a physical health condition;

* * *

Sec. 2.  8 V.S.A. § 4089b(c) is amended to read:

(c)(1)(A) A health insurance plan that does not otherwise provide for management of care under the plan, or that does not provide for the same degree of management of care for all health conditions, may provide coverage for treatment of mental health conditions through a managed care organization provided that the managed care organization is in compliance with the rules adopted by the commissioner that assure that the system for delivery of treatment for mental health conditions does not diminish or negate the purpose of this section.

(B)  The rules adopted by the commissioner shall assure that:

(i)  timely and appropriate access to care is available; that

(ii)  the quantity, location and specialty distribution of health care providers is adequate; and that

(iii)  administrative or clinical protocols do not serve to reduce access to medically necessary treatment for any insured;

(iv)  utilization review and other administrative and clinical protocols do not deter timely and appropriate emergency hospital admissions;

(v)  in the case of a managed care organization which contracts with a health insurer to administer the insurer’s mental health benefits, the portion of a health insurer’s premium rate attributable to the coverage of mental health benefits is reviewed under sections 4062, 4513, 4584, or 5104 of this title to determine whether it is excessive, inadequate, unfairly discriminatory, unjust, unfair, inequitable, misleading or contrary to the laws of this state; and

(vi)  the health insurance plan is consistent with the Blueprint for Health with respect to mental health conditions, as determined by the commissioner under section 9414(b)(2) of Title 18.

 (C)  Prior to the adoption of rules pursuant to this subdivision, the commissioner shall consult with the commissioner of mental health concerning:

(i)  developing incentives and other measures addressing the availability of providers of care and treatment for mental health conditions, especially in medically underserved areas;

(ii)  incorporating best practices and evidence-based guidelines into the utilization review of mental health conditions; and

(iii)  establishing benefit design, infrastructure support, and payment methodology standards for evaluating the health insurance plan’s consistency with the Blueprint for Health with respect to the care and treatment of mental health conditions.

(2)  A managed care organization providing or administering coverage for treatment of mental health conditions on behalf of a health insurance plan shall comply with this section, sections 4089a and 4724 of this title, and section 9414 of Title 18, with rules adopted pursuant to those provisions of law, and with all other obligations, under Title 18 and under this title, of the health insurance plan and the health insurer on behalf of which the review agent is providing or administering coverage.  A violation of any provision of this section shall constitute an unfair act or practice in the business of insurance in violation of section 4723 of this title.

(3)  A health insurer that contracts with a managed care organization to provide or administer coverage for treatment of mental health conditions is fully responsible for the acts and omissions of the managed care organization, including any violations of this section or a rule adopted pursuant to this section.

(4)  In addition to any other remedy or sanction provided for by law, if the commissioner, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, finds that a health insurance plan or managed care organization has violated this section or any rule adopted pursuant to this section, the commissioner may:

(A)  Assess a penalty on the health insurer or managed care organization under section 4726 of this title;

(B)  Order the health insurer or managed care organization to cease and desist in further violations;

(C)  Order the health insurer or managed care organization to remediate the violation, including issuing an order to the health insurer to terminate its contract with the managed care organization; and

(D) Revoke or suspend the license of a health insurer or managed care organization, or permit continued licensure subject to such conditions as the commissioner deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this section.

(5)  As used in this subsection, the term “managed care organization” includes any of the following entities that provide or administer the coverage of mental health benefits on behalf of a health insurance plan:

(A)  a review agent as defined in section 4089a of this title;

(B)  a health insurer or an affiliate of a health insurer as defined in section 9402 of Title 18;

(C)  a managed care organization or an affiliate of a managed care organization as defined in section 9402 of Title 18; and

(D)  a person or entity that should be licensed as a managed care organization.

Sec. 3.  8 V.S.A. § 4089b(g) is amended to read:

(g)  The commissioner shall establish a task force to develop performance quality measures, and address oversight issues for managed behavioral health care organizations, and review the results of any quality improvement projects not otherwise confidential or privileged, undertaken by managed care organizations for mental health and substance abuse care and treatment under section 9414(i) of Title 18. The task force shall report to the senate committees on health and welfare of the senate and the house of representatives committees on health care and on human services on or before January 15 of each year with a report on the activities and recommendations of the task force. The task force shall include the following:

(1) the commissioner of developmental and mental health services or a designee;

(2) the director of the office of Vermont health access or a designee;

(3) the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration or a designee;

(4) fourteen additional members appointed by the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, including:

(A) four representatives of the health insurance and behavioral managed care organization industry;

(B) two consumers, after consultation with the health care ombudsman;

(C) one psychologist, after consultation with the Vermont psychological association;

(D) one psychiatrist, after consultation with the Vermont psychiatric association;

(E) one social worker, after consultation with the National Association of Social Workers, Vermont Chapter;

(F) one mental health counselor, after consultation with the Vermont mental health counselors association;

(G) one drug and alcohol counselor, after consultation with the Vermont association of drug and alcohol counselors;

(H) one representative from a consumer or citizen's organization;

(I) one representative from the business community; and

(J) one representative of community mental health centers.

Sec. 4.  18 V.S.A. § 9414(g) is amended to read:

(g)(1)  If In addition to any other remedy or sanction provided by law, after notice and an opportunity to be heard, if the commissioner determines that a managed care organization has violated or failed to comply with any of the provisions of this section or any rule adopted pursuant to this section, the commissioner may:

(A)  sanction the violation or failure to comply as provided in Title 8, including sanctions provided by or incorporated in sections 5108 and 5109 of Title 8 and section 4726 of Title 8, and may use any information obtained during the course of any legal or regulatory action against a managed care organization;

(B)  order the managed care organization to cease and desist in further violations; and

(C)  order the managed care organization to remediate the violation, including issuing an order to the managed care organization to terminate its contract with any person or entity which administers claims or the coverage of benefits on behalf of the managed care organization.

(2)  A managed care organization that contracts with a person or entity to administer claims or provide coverage of health benefits is fully responsible for the acts and omissions of such person or entity.  Such person or entity shall comply with all obligations, under this title and Title 8, of the health insurance plan and the health insurer on behalf of which the such person or entity is providing or administering coverage.

(3)  A violation of any provision of this section or a rule adopted pursuant to this section shall constitute an unfair act or practice in the business of insurance in a violation of section 4723 of Title 8.

Sec. 5.  18 V.S.A. § 9414(i) is added to read:

(3)  Upon review of the managed care organization’s clinical data, or after consideration of claims or other data, the commissioner may:

(A)  identify quality issues in need of improvement; and

(B)  direct the managed care organization to propose quality improvement initiatives to remediate those issues.

Sec. 6.  EFFECTIVE DATE; LEGISLATIVE INTENT; APPLICABILITY

(a)  This act shall take effect upon passage, except that Secs. 2 and 4 of this act shall take effect July 1, 2008.

(b)  The provisions of 8 V.S.A. § 4089b(c)(2) and (3), and 18 V.S.A. § 9414(g)(2) and (3) are intended to clarify existing law.  The remedies provided for in 8 V.S.A. § 4089b(c)(4), and 18 V.S.A. § 9414(g)(1) shall apply to legal or regulatory violations that occur before and after passage of this act.

(Committee vote: 5-0-1)

S. 211

An act relating to soliciting of architect proposals by a school district.

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

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

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 559a is added to read:

§ 559a.  ARCHITECTURAL AND ENGINEERING SERVICES

(a)  Prior to hiring an architect or engineer for evaluation, modification, renovation, or construction of school property, the school board shall solicit a statement of qualifications from at least three persons or firms that provide professional architectural or engineering services or both.

(b)  A school board may choose to continue working with the same architect or engineer or both from the initial study through design and project completion, without engaging in the selection process required by this section for each part of the project.  The initial advertisement shall include notice of this possibility.

(c)  A school board may retain an architect or engineer or both for a period not to exceed three years to provide “on‑call” professional guidance or assistance on one or more projects without engaging in the selection process required by this section if the total cost of all projects for which assistance is provided during that time does not exceed $500,000.00.

(d)  The school board shall adopt written criteria for the selection of semifinalists and finalists from among the persons or firms submitting a statement of qualifications.  The criteria shall include:

(1)  Prior similar experience.

(2)  Past performance on public and private projects.

(3)  Willingness to meet time and budget requirements.

(4)  Capacity to meet requirements.

(5)  Any other criteria the school board considers relevant.

(e)  Based upon the statements of qualifications received and the criteria adopted, the school board shall select the three most qualified applicants.  The school board shall rank the three selected applicants in priority order and shall send written notification of the selection and the order of preference to all persons or firms that responded to the invitation to submit qualifications.

(f)  The school board shall negotiate a contract for services with the most qualified person or firm at a level of compensation that is fair and reasonable.  When negotiating the contract, the school board may consider factors including the person’s or firm’s proposed fees, policies and practices regarding errors and omissions, history of completing projects within the contractual time and budget, and proposed rates for reimbursable expenses such as mileage and telephone charges.

(g)  If a satisfactory contract cannot be negotiated with the most highly qualified person or firm, then the school board may formally terminate negotiations and commence negotiations with the second and then third most qualified applicant until a satisfactory contract has been negotiated.

(h)  The requirements of this section shall not apply to projects initiated in any fiscal year in which state aid for school construction is suspended.

and that upon passage, the title shall be “AN ACT RELATING TO SOLICITING OF ARCHITECT AND ENGINEER PROPOSALS BY A SCHOOL BOARD”

(Committee vote: 4-1-0)

S. 244

An act relating to self-storage facilities.

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

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

Sec. 1.  SHORT TITLE

This act shall be known as the "Vermont Self-Storage Facility Act."

Sec. 2.  9 V.S.A. chapter 98 is added to read:

CHAPTER 98.  STORAGE UNITS

§ 3950.  DEFINITIONS

For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(1)  "Last known address" means that address provided by the occupant in the rental agreement or the address provided by the occupant in a subsequent written notice of a change of address.

(2)  "Occupant" means a person, successor, assignee, agent, or representative entitled to the use of storage space in a self-storage facility under a rental agreement to the exclusion of others.

(3)  "Owner" means the owner, operator, lessor, or sublessor of a

self-storage facility, an agent, or any other person authorized by the owner to manage the facility or to receive rent from an occupant under a rental agreement.

(4)  "Personal property" means movable property not affixed to land, and includes goods, merchandise, and household items.

(5)  "Rental agreement" means any written agreement that establishes or modifies the terms, conditions, rules, or any other provision concerning the use and occupancy of a self-storage facility.

(6)  "Self-storage facility" means any real property designed and used for the purpose of renting or leasing individual storage space to occupants who are to have access to such space for the purpose of storing and removing personal property.  A self-storage facility is not a "warehouse" as used in Article 7 of the Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.) as codified in Title 9A.  If an owner issues any warehouse receipt, bill of lading, or other document of title for the personal property stored, the owner and the occupant are subject to the U.C.C., and this act does not apply.

§ 3951.  RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES

(a)  No occupant shall use storage space at a self-storage facility for residential purposes.

(b)  No owner shall knowingly permit a storage space at a self-storage facility to be used for residential purposes.

§ 3952.  DISCLOSURES

A rental agreement shall contain the following:

(1)  The name and address of the owner and occupant.

(2)  The actual monthly occupancy charge, rent, or lease amount for the storage space provided, expressed in dollars.

(3)  An itemization of other charges imposed or which may be imposed in connection with the occupancy, a description of the charges, whether the charges are mandatory or optional, and the amount of each charge expressed in dollars.

(4)  A statement of whether property stored in the leased space is or is not insured by the owner against loss or damage and of the requirement that the occupant must provide his or her own insurance for any property stored, written in conspicuous language and in bold print.

(5)  A statement advising the occupant of the existence of the lien created by this chapter, and that the property stored in the leased space may be sold to satisfy the lien.

§ 3953.  LIEN

The owner of a self-storage facility has a lien upon all personal property located in a storage space at a self-storage facility for rent, labor, or other charges, present or future, in relation to the personal property, and for expenses relevant to its preservation or expenses reasonably incurred in its sale or other disposition pursuant to this chapter.  The lien provided for in this section is superior to any other lien or security interest.  The lien attaches as of the date the personal property is brought to or placed in a storage space at a self-storage facility in accordance with the provisions of a valid rental agreement.

§ 3954.  ENFORCEMENT OF LIEN

In the event of a default under the terms of a rental agreement, the lien created under this chapter may be enforced in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(1)  First notice of default.  No sooner than five days after a default, the occupant shall be notified of the default by regular mail sent to his or her last known address.

(2)  Second notice of default.  No sooner than 14 days after a default, the occupant shall be notified of the default by regular mail sent to his or her last known address.  The second notice shall contain the following:

(A)  An itemized statement of the owner's claim showing the sum due at the time of the notice and the date when the sum became due.

(B)  A brief and general description of the personal property subject to the lien.  There shall be no requirement to describe the specific contents of a storage space in a self-storage facility beyond stating that it is the contents of a specific storage space in a specific self-storage facility rented by a specific occupant.

(C)  A notice of denial of access to the personal property, if such denial is permitted under the terms of the rental agreement.

(D)  A demand for payment within a specified time not less than ten days after the delivery of the notice; any notice mailed pursuant to this section shall be presumed delivered when it is deposited with the United States Postal Service, properly addressed with proper postage prepaid.

(E)  A conspicuous statement that unless the claim is paid in full within the time stated in the notice, the personal property will be advertised for sale or other disposition and will be sold according to law.

(3)  Advertisement.  After the expiration of the time given in the second notice under subdivision (2) of this section, an advertisement of the sale or other disposition shall be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation where the self-storage facility is located.  The advertisement shall contain the following:

(A)  A brief and general description of the personal property as provided in subdivision (2)(B) of this section.

(B)  The address of the self-storage facility and the number, if any, of the space where the personal property is located and the name of the occupant.

(C)  The time, place, and manner of the sale or other disposition.  If there is no newspaper of general circulation where the self-storage facility is located, the advertisement shall be posted at least 15 days before the date of the sale or other disposition at the town hall where the self-storage facility is located in such fashion as the auction sales of real property are posted.

(4)  Notice to other lienholders.  After the expiration of the time given in the second notice under subdivision (2) of this section, the owner shall determine whether the occupant owns any personal property subject to an active lien registered with the Vermont secretary of state.  If any such lien exists, the lienholder shall be notified by regular mail not less than 14 days prior to the sale or other disposition of the property.  Such notice shall include the following:

(A)  A statement describing the property to be sold or otherwise disposed of.  There shall be no requirement to describe the specific contents of a storage space in a self-storage facility beyond stating that it is the contents of a specific storage space in a specific self-storage facility rented by a specific occupant.

(B)  A statement of the lienholder's rights under this chapter.

(C)  A statement of the time, place, and manner of the sale or other disposition of the property.

(5)  Sale.  Upon fulfillment of the notification and advertisement requirements of this section, sale or other disposition of the personal property shall be permitted, provided the following conditions are met:

(A)  The sale or other disposition of the personal property shall take place not sooner than 15 days after the first publication under subdivision (3) of this section.

(B)  Any sale or other disposition of the personal property under this chapter shall conform to the terms of all notifications required under this section.  If the sale will not or does not take place as provided for in the notifications, then subsequent notifications shall be made in the same manner as the original notifications had been made.

(C)  Any sale or other disposition of the personal property shall be held at the self-storage facility, or at the nearest suitable place.

(D)  Any sale or disposition of the personal property shall be performed in a commercially reasonable manner, meaning the owner sells the goods in the usual manner in any recognized market therefor, at the price current in such market at the time of the sale; or otherwise sold in conformity with commercially reasonable practices among dealers in the type of goods sold; however, the sale of more goods than apparently necessary to ensure satisfaction of the obligation is not commercially reasonable unless necessary due to the nature of the goods being sold or the manner in which they are customarily sold.  The fact that a better price could have been obtained by sale at a different time or by a different method from that selected by the owner is not of itself sufficient to establish that the sale was not made in a commercially reasonable manner.

(E)  Any sale or disposition of a motor vehicle shall be performed pursuant to the motor vehicle title act.

(6)  Right of satisfaction.  Before any sale or disposition of personal property pursuant to this chapter, the occupant may pay the amount necessary to satisfy the lien in full and the reasonable expenses incurred under this section, and thereby redeem the personal property.  Upon receipt of such payment, the owner shall return the personal property, and thereafter the owner shall have no liability to any person with respect to such personal property.

(7)  Proceeds in excess of lien amount.  In the event of sale under this section, the owner may satisfy the owner’s lien from the proceeds of the sale or other disposition, but shall hold the balance, if any, for delivery on demand to the occupant.  If the occupant does not claim the balance of the proceeds within two years of the date of sale, it shall become property of the state of Vermont and shall be paid over to the treasurer of the state of Vermont without interest.

(8)  Rights of other lienholders.  The holder of any active lien on personal property stored in the storage unit and registered with the Vermont secretary of state may take possession of its liened property at any time prior to sale or other disposition by paying the owner's claim.

(9)  Rights of purchasers.  A purchaser in good faith of the personal property sold to satisfy a lien, as provided elsewhere in this chapter, takes the property free of any rights of persons against whom the lien was valid, despite noncompliance by the owner with the requirements of this chapter.

§ 3955.  SUPPLEMENTAL NATURE OF ACT

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed in any manner to impair or affect the right of parties to create liens by special contract or agreement, nor shall it in any manner affect or impair other liens arising at common law or in equity, or by any statute in this state.

§ 3956.  SAVINGS CLAUSE

All self-storage rental agreements entered into before the effective date of this chapter, and not extended or renewed before that date, and the rights, duties, and interests flowing from them shall remain valid and may be enforced or terminated in accordance with their terms or as permitted by any other statute or law of this state.

§ 3957.  SEVERABILITY

If any provision of this act or the application thereof is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end, the provisions of this act are declared to be severable.

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect January 1, 2009.

 (Committee vote: 4-0-1)

S. 354

An act relating to public agency deferred compensation plans.

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

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.  3 V.S.A. § 650 is amended to read:

§ 650. DEFINITIONS

The following definitions shall apply throughout this chapter unless the context requires otherwise:

(1) "Board" means the Vermont state retirement board.

(2) "Deferred compensation agreement" means any agreement authorized by this chapter entered into between a public agency and an employee of that agency providing for a reduction in the employee's compensation in return for the agency's promise to make deferred payments in the future.

(3)(2) "Employee" means any employee of a public agency whether appointed, elected or under contract to whom compensation is paid.

(3) “Other public agency” means a public agency described in subdivision (4)(B) or (C) of this section.

(4) "Public agency" means:

(A) the state, acting as a single unit employer on behalf of the general assembly and state agencies, departments, boards or commissions;

(B) any a county or municipality as defined in section subdivision 4303(4) of Title 24; and

(C) any a school district as defined in section subdivision 11(a)(10) of Title 16 or a supervisory union as defined in subdivision 11(a)(23) of Title 16.

(5)  “State board” means the Vermont state retirement board.

(6)  “Teachers’ board” means the Vermont state teachers’ retirement board.

Sec. 2.  3 V.S.A. § 651 is amended to read:

§ 651. DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLANS AUTHORIZED

(a) Subject to collective bargaining rights of state employees involved, the state or any county, municipality, or school district, or supervisory union may, through any public agency, enter into a contractual agreement with any employee of that agency to defer, in whole or in part, that employee's compensation. Payroll reductions shall be made, in each instance, by the appropriate payroll officer.

(b) The state board may establish and administer a plan that conforms with Section 457 of the Internal Revenue Code for the purpose of providing a deferred compensation program for state employees, including members of the general assembly, and for the employees of other public agencies that elect to participate in the state plan.

(c) Other public agencies may establish and administer a plan for the purpose of providing a deferred compensation program for their employees.

(d) The state board and other public agencies, which have or will establish a defined contribution deferred compensation plan, shall create a trust to conform with Section 457 the appropriate sections of the Internal Revenue Code.  The teachers’ board may create an investment program that will provide public agencies set forth in subdivision 650(4)(C) of this title operating plans under Subsection 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code with investment options.

(e) All assets and income which have been or shall be withheld or deferred  deposited pursuant to this chapter by the state of Vermont or its political subdivisions other public agencies shall be held in trust in any funding vehicle permitted by Subsection 403(b) and Section 457 of the Internal Revenue Code for the exclusive benefit of the plan's plans’ participants and their beneficiaries until such time as the funds are distributed to the participant or the beneficiary of the participant in accordance with the terms of the deferred compensation plan.

(f) For state employees, including members of the general assembly, the state board shall be the trustees of the deferred compensation plan that conforms to Section 457 of the Internal Revenue Code, and the state treasurer shall be the custodian of the funds in the trust. All payments from such the funds shall be made by the state treasurer or the treasurer's authorized agent.  An investment program established by the teachers’ board shall be optional for public agencies set forth in subdivision 650(4)(C) of this title who shall be the trustees of their respective plans created under Subsection 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code.

(g) Any political subdivision administering a plan as a trust shall be required to name one or more persons as trustees of such plan, and to establish provisions relating to the removal or resignation of a trustee, the appointment of a successor and the methods by which the trustee may take necessary action as required under the plan.

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

(Committee vote: 4-1-0)

NOTICE CALENDAR

Favorable

S. 201

An act relating to state employee whistleblower protection.

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

(Committee vote: 3-1-2)


S. 270

An act relating to the agreement among the states to elect the president by national popular vote.

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

(Committee vote: 3-1-1)

Favorable with Recommendation of Amendment

S. 15

An act relating to removal of tuition costs from the excess spending penalty of Act 60..

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

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

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

(12)  “Excess Except as provided in subdivision (C) of this subdivision (12), “excess spending” means:

(A)  the The per-equalized pupil amount of:

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

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

(iii)  the portion of education spending attributable to the district’s share of special education spending in excess of $50,000.00 for any one student in the fiscal year occurring two years prior; and minus; 

(iv)  that budget deficit in a district that pays tuition to a public for all of its students in one or more grades in any year in which the portion of the deficit is solely attributable to tuition paid for one or more new students who moved into the district after the budget for the year creating the deficit was passed;

(B)  in In excess of 125 percent of the statewide average district education spending per equalized pupil in the prior fiscal year, as determined by the commissioner of education on or before November 15 of each year based on the passed budgets to date.

(C)  For any school district that pays tuition to a public or approved independent school for all of its students in one or more grades, the
“per-equalized pupil amount of . . . the district’s education spending” to be included in the calculation established in subdivisions (A) and (B) of this subdivision (12) shall include only the per-equalized pupil amount of the district’s education spending for those grades for which the district does not pay tuition for all of the students in the grade.    

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 563(11)(B) is amended to read:

(B)  If the proposed budget, less the amount of tuition attributable to any grade for which the district pays tuition for all students in that grade, contains education spending in excess of the Maximum Inflation Amount, and the district’s education spending per equalized pupil in the fiscal year preceding the year for which the budget is proposed was in excess of the statewide average district education spending per equalized pupil in that same fiscal year, as determined by the commissioner of education, then in lieu of any other statutory or charter form of budget adoption or budget vote, the board shall present the budget to the voters by means of a divided question, in the form of vote provided in subdivision (ii) of this subdivision (11)(B).

* * *

Sec. 3.  Sec. 36(c) and (d) of No. 52 of the Acts of 2007 are added to read:

(c)  Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, if a school district declares its intent to pay for the cost of a school construction project without state aid provided pursuant to chapter 123 of Title 16 and has received voter approval for the project on or after March 7, 2007, then the commissioner of education shall review the project as a preliminary application upon the district’s request.  In this case, the commissioner shall use the standards and processes of chapter 123 for determining preliminary approval, and shall deduct the portion of education spending that is approved from the calculation of excess spending under 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12).  In addition, notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, upon the request of the district, the department shall provide technical assistance regarding the planning and implementation of school renovation and construction.  Preliminary approval received pursuant to this subsection is to be used solely for purposes of calculating whether the district has exceeded the excess spending threshold and neither preliminary approval nor the provision of technical assistance indicates that the district will receive state aid for school construction or preliminary approval for that aid when school construction aid is again available. 

(d)  No year during which state aid for school construction is suspended under this act shall be included within the department’s determination under 24 V.S.A. § 2804(b) of whether amounts deposited in a reserve fund have been used within five years of deposit.

Sec. 4.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  Sec. 1 of this act shall apply to budgets for the 2009-2010 academic year and after.

(b)  Sec. 2 of this act shall apply to budgets for fiscal years 2010 (academic year 2009–2010) through 2014 (academic year 2013–2014).

(Committee vote: 4-0-1)

S. 26

An act relating to electronic payment of wages.

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

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

Sec. 1.  21 V.S.A. §§ 342 and 343 are amended to read:

§ 342.  WEEKLY PAYMENT OF WAGES

(a)  Any person having employees in his service doing and transacting business within the state shall pay:

(1)  Pay to those employees each week, in lawful money or checks, each of his employees, the wages earned by such each employee to a day not more than six days prior to the date of such payment.

(b)(2)  After giving written notice to his the employees, any person having employees in his service doing and transacting business within the state may, notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, pay bi-weekly or semi-monthly in lawful money or checks, each of his employees, employee the wages earned by the employee to a day not more than six days prior to the date of the payment.  If a collective bargaining agreement so provides, the payment may be made to a day not more than 13 days prior to the date of payment.

(c)(1)(b)  An employee who voluntarily:

(1)  Voluntarily leaves his employment shall be paid on the last regular pay day, or if there is no regular pay day, on the following Friday.

(2)  An employee who is Is discharged from employment shall be paid within 72 hours of his discharge.

(3)  If an employee is Is absent from his or her regular place of employment on the employer's regular scheduled date of wages or salary payment such employee shall be entitled to such payment upon demand.

(d)(c)  With the written authorization of an employee, an employer may pay wages due the employee by deposit:

(1)  Deposit through electronic funds transfer or other direct deposit systems to a checking, savings, or other deposit account maintained by or for the employee in any financial institution within or without the state.

(2)  Credit to a payroll card account directly or indirectly established by an employer to which electronic fund transfers of the employee's wages, salary, or other employee compensation is made on a recurring basis, other than a checking, savings, or other deposit account described in subdivision (1) of this subsection, provided:

(A)  the employer provides the employee written disclosure in plain language, in at least 10-point type, of all the employee's wage payment options;

(B)  the employer provides the employee written disclosure in plain language, in at least 10-point type, of the terms and conditions of the payroll card account option including a complete list of all known fees that may be deducted from the employee's payroll card account by the employer or the card issuer and whether third parties may assess fees in addition to the fees assessed by the employer or issuer;

(C)  the employee voluntarily consents in writing to receipt of payment by payroll card account after receiving the disclosures described in subdivisions (A) and (B) of this subdivision (2);

(D)  consent to payment of wages by electronic fund transfer to a payroll card account shall not be a condition of hire or a condition of continued employment;

(E)  the employer shall provide the employee at least one free means to withdraw the full amount of the employee's balance on the employee's payroll card during each pay period at a financial institution, credit union, or other location convenient to the place of employment; additionally, the employer shall provide the employee with one free ATM transaction each pay period to access funds from the payroll card account without incurring any fees;

(F)  none of the employer's costs associated with the payroll card account shall be passed on to the employee;

(G)  the employer provides prior written notice in plain language, in at least 10 point type, of any change to any of the terms and conditions of the payroll card account, including any change in the itemized list of fees, and obtains voluntary written consent from the employee to continue receiving wages on the payroll card account subject to the changes.  The employer shall be responsible for any increase in fees charged to the employee before the employer provides written notice of such changes to the employee;

(H)  in no event, shall the employer provide payment to a payroll card that has an expiration date, unless the employer agrees to provide a replacement payroll card at no cost to the employee before the expiration date;

(I)  the employer provides the employee the option to discontinue receipt of wages by a payroll card account at any time, without penalty to the employee;

(J)  the payroll card issued to the employee is a branded type payroll card that can be used at PIN-based and signature-based outlets;

(K)  the payroll card account shall be set up so that the account cannot be overdrawn;

(L)  the payroll card issuer has filed a notice with the commissioner of the department of labor containing the entity's true name, any other names under which the entity conducts business, the entity's address, which address cannot be a post office box, and the entity's telephone number.

§ 343.  FORM OF PAYMENT

Such An employer shall not pay its employees with any form of evidence of indebtedness, including, without limitation, all scrip, vouchers, due bills, or store orders, unless:

(1)  the employer is a cooperative corporation in which the employee is a stockholder.  However, such a cooperative corporation shall, upon request of any such shareholding employee, pay him the shareholding employee as provided in section 342 of this title; or

(2)  payment is made by check as defined in Title 9A or by electronic fund transfer as provided in section 342 of this title.

Sec. 2.  8 V.S.A. § 2707(6) is added to read:

(6)  a payroll card account issued pursuant to and in full compliance with 21 V.S.A. § 342(c).

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 112

An act relating to victims compensation.

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

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  In Sec. 5, 32 V.S.A. § 1407, by striking out subsection (a) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection to read:

The state shall bear the costs of medical and psychological examinations administered to victims of crime committed in this state, in instances where that examination is requested by a law enforcement officer or a prosecuting authority of the state or any of its subdivisions.  The state shall also bear the costs of medical examinations administered to victims in cases of alleged sexual assault where the victim obtains such an examination prior to receiving such a request.  If, as a result of a sexual assault examination, the alleged victim has been referred for mental health counseling, the state shall bear the costs of such examination.  These costs may be paid from the victims' compensation fund from funds appropriated for that purpose.  The fund shall reimburse health care facilities and health care providers located in Vermont as defined in section 9402 of Title 18 at 70 percent of the billed charges for these claims, and the health care provider or facility shall not bill any balance to the crime victim.  A victim, at his or her own expense, may obtain copies of the results of an examination under this section.

Second: In Sec. 5, 32 V.S.A. § 1407, by striking out subsection (b) in its entirety.

Third: By striking out Sec. 3 and Sec. 6 in their entirety.

And by renumbering the remaining sections to be numerically correct.

(Committee vote: 4-0-1)

Reported favorably by Senator Sears for the Committee on Appropriations.

(Committee vote: 5-0-2)

S. 117

An act relating to a statewide school year calendar.

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

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

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 1071 is amended to read:

§ 1071.  SCHOOL YEAR AND SCHOOL DAY CALENDAR

* * *

(b)  Hours of operation; grades one through twelveWithin the minimum set by the state board, the school board shall fix the number of hours that shall constitute a school day, subject to change upon the order of the state board.  A majority of students in each grade must be in attendance, or participating in a school-sponsored learning opportunity, for a minimum of five and one-half hours, including time available for lunch, for a day to constitute one full student attendance day.  If a majority of students in any grade is in attendance, or participating in a school-sponsored learning opportunity, for fewer than five and one-half hours, the day shall be counted as one-half of a student attendance day unless a waiver due to an emergency is requested of and granted by the commissioner; provided, however, if widespread illness results in attendance by less than a majority of students in one or more grades, then the day shall constitute one full student attendance day.  In addition, a day shall count as one full student attendance day if, due to an emergency determined to affect the health or safety of the students, the beginning of the school day is delayed by no more than two hours or the school day ends no more than two hours earlier than scheduled.

(c)  Unanticipated closings.  When a public school is closed for cause beyond the control of the school board it may petition the state board for a waiver of the requirements of this section.  The petition shall be filed with the state board within 10 days of each occurrence and not later than June 15 of the school year involved; and the state board shall act on the petition at its next meeting held five or more business days following receipt of the petition.  Action may include approval of the request, disapproval of the request, or postponement of a decision for a definite period in order to enable the district to schedule makeup days.  If the petition is approved and a waiver granted, the school district shall be deemed to have satisfied the requirements of this section.  If the state board fails to act at that meeting, the petition shall be deemed to have been approved and the waiver granted.

* * *

(e)  Regional Technical center service region calendar.  Before April 1 of each year, the superintendents of schools and the headmasters of public schools not managed by school boards in an area in a technical center service region, the headmaster of an approved independent school functioning as an approved area technical center, and the director of a regional technical center school district, if either exists in the technical center service region, shall meet, and by majority vote, establish a uniform calendar to be observed by all school districts within that area the region for the following school year.  The calendar shall include student attendance days, periods of vacation, holidays and, teacher in-service education days, and provisions for transportation of students attending a technical center in the region and shall comply with subsection (a) of this section.  Unless permitted by the commissioner, no area served by a regional technical center shall be divided into two or more calendar regions.

* * *

Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 4003(a) is amended to read:

(a)  No school district shall receive any aid under this chapter unless that school district complies with the provisions of law relative to teachers’ salaries, appointment of superintendents, detailed financial reports to the state department of education, uniform technical center service region calendars, and any other requirements of law.

Sec. 3.  REPEAL

Secs. 2 and 3 of No. 31 of the Acts of 2007 (statewide school calendar; committee; effective date) are repealed.

And that upon passage, the title shall be "AN ACT RELATING TO SCHOOL CALENDARS"

(Committee vote: 4-0-1)

S. 152

An act relating to prevention of lead poisoning by exposure to lead in consumer products.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator McCormack for the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Lead is highly toxic to humans, particularly to young children.

(2)  Exposure to lead can cause irreversible damage that results in

long-lasting, permanent neurological damage, such as decreases in I.Q.

(3)  Lead exposure has also been shown to be associated with school failure, delinquency, and criminal behavior.

(4)  There is no safe level of lead for humans.  The effects of lead exposure are cumulative, and exposure to a very small amount of lead dust over time can cause a serious increase in lead levels in blood.

(5)  There are multiple sources of lead exposure, including lead-based paint; soil; certain children’s products; water fixtures; and certain occupational environments.

(6)  There is no reason for children’s products made with lead to be sold or marketed in Vermont, or for not taking reasonable steps to reduce lead in all consumer products.

Sec. 2.  9 V.S.A. chapter 63, subchapter 1C is added to read:

Subchapter 1C.  Lead in Consumer Products

§ 2470e.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this subchapter:

(1)  “Children’s product” means any consumer product marketed for use by children under the age of 12, or whose substantial use or handling by children under 12 years of age is reasonably foreseeable, including toys, furniture, jewelry, vitamins and other supplements, personal care products, clothing, food, and food containers and packaging.

(2)(A)  Contain or containing lead," unaccompanied by a specific standard, means containing or having a surface coating containing the following amount of lead by weight of lead or lead compound, unless the commissioner of health, in consultation with the attorney general by rule, reduces this percentage generally or with respect to specific products:

(i)  0.06 percent as of July 1, 2008;

(ii)  0.03 percent as of January 1, 2009; and

(iii)  0.01 percent as of July 1, 2010.

(B)  If the standard set under this subsection is preempted by a federal standard as to any class of products, then “contain (or containing ) lead,” unaccompanied by a specific standard, means the lowest such federal standards applicable to such a class of products.

§ 2470f.  PROHIBITION OF LEAD IN CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS

Except to the extent specifically preempted by federal law, no person shall manufacture for sale, offer for sale, or distribute in commerce in, or import into Vermont any children’s product any component part of which contains lead.  This prohibition shall not apply to any component part of a children's product that is not accessible to a child through normal and reasonably foreseeable use and abuse of such product.  A component part is not accessible under this section if such component part is not physically exposed by reason of a sealed covering or casing and does not become physically exposed through reasonably foreseeable use and abuse of the product.

§ 2470g.  PROHIBITION OF LEAD IN JEWELRY

No person shall manufacture for sale, offer for sale, or distribute in commerce in, or import into Vermont any article of jewelry or other metal decorative item containing lead, where the article, or any detachable part of the article, is the size of a small part as defined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 16 C.F.R. part 1501, unless the article is:

(1)  expressly and prominently advertised as adult jewelry;

(2)  not commonly understood to be an article for use by a child under age 12; and

(3)  accompanied by a point-of-sale disclosure prescribed by the attorney general to the effect that the article may contain lead at or above the prevailing legal limit for lead in children's products, if that is true.

§ 2470h.  CONSUMER WARNINGS; NOTIFICATION; PHASE-OUTS

Except to the extent specifically preempted by federal law:

(1)  Wheel weights.  Beginning January 1, 2010, the state of Vermont shall ensure that no vehicles that are in the state fleet, whether purchased or leased, use wheel weights containing lead.  Beginning September 1, 2011, no person shall sell or offer for sale in or into the state of Vermont a new motor vehicle with wheel weights containing lead.

(2)  Plumbing fixtures and related supplies.  As prescribed by the attorney general, beginning January 1, 2009, and ending December 31, 2009, any person who sells or offers for sale in or into the state of Vermont solder or flux containing more than 0.2 percent lead, or plumbing fixtures whose wetted surfaces contain more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead, shall clearly and conspicuously post a warning at the point of sale, stating that these products contain lead and shall also provide to each buyer prior to sale information on the risks of lead exposure.  Beginning January 1, 2010, no person shall sell or offer for sale in or into the state of Vermont, or use in the state of Vermont, solder or flux for plumbing containing more than 0.2 percent lead, or plumbing fixtures whose wetted surfaces contain more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead.  For the purpose of this subdivision, the term “plumbing fixtures” means pipes, pipe and plumbing fittings, and fixtures used to convey or dispense water for human consumption; and the “weighted average” lead content shall be calculated by multiplying the percentage of lead content within each component that comes into contact with water by the percent of the total wetted surface of the entire pipe and pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures, and adding all of the percentages.  In the event that the attorney general determines that any combination of the northeastern states with an aggregate population of at least ten million people has enacted a restriction or prohibition with respect to lead in solder or flux for plumbing or in plumbing fixtures that is more stringent than set out in this subdivision, that restriction or prohibition shall become effective in Vermont 180 days following the effective date of the attorney general’s determination.  For purposes of this subdivision, northeastern states include the six New England states, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. 

(3)  Nonresidential paints and primers.  As prescribed by the attorney general, beginning January 1, 2009, and ending December 31, 2010, any person who sells or offers for sale in or into the state of Vermont nonresidential paints and primers containing lead shall clearly and conspicuously post a warning at the point of sale, stating that these products contain lead and shall also provide to each buyer prior to sale information on the risks of lead exposure.  Beginning January 1, 2011, no person shall sell or offer for sale in or into the state of Vermont nonresidential paints or primers containing lead.  Beginning January 1, 2012, no person shall use nonresidential paints or primers containing lead in the state of Vermont.

(4)  Salvage building materials.  As prescribed by the attorney general, beginning January 1, 2009, any person who sells or offers for sale in or into the state of Vermont salvage building materials made prior to 1978 shall clearly and conspicuously post a warning at the point of sale, stating that these products may contain lead and shall also provide to each buyer prior to sale information on the risks of lead exposure. 

(5)  Motor vehicle batteries.  In the event that the attorney general determines that any combination of the northeastern states with an aggregate population of at least ten million people has enacted a restriction or prohibition on the sale or offer for sale of motor vehicle batteries containing lead, that restriction or prohibition shall become effective in Vermont 180 days following the effective date of the attorney general’s determination.  For purposes of this subsection, northeastern states include the six New England states, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. 

(6)  Other.  The attorney general, in consultation with the commissioner of health, may by rule require warnings, notifications, or a combination of these relating to other products containing lead.

§ 2470i.  PROHIBITION ON REMOVAL OF LABELS

No person shall remove from a consumer product any warning label affixed to it that relates in whole or part to lead or lead hazards and which label is required by this state, the federal government, or any other state or country.

§ 2470j.  PROHIBITION ON PROVIDING SUBSTANTIAL ASSISTANCE

No person shall provide substantial assistance to a person in violation of section 2470f, 2470g, 2470h, or 2470i of this section with knowledge or reason to know of the violation. 

§ 2470k.  VIOLATIONS

(a)  A violation of this subchapter is deemed to be a violation of section 2453 of this title.

(b)  The attorney general has the same authority to make rules, conduct civil investigations, enter into assurances of discontinuance, and bring civil actions, and private parties have the same rights and remedies, as provided under subchapter 1 of this chapter.

§ 2470l.  SCOPE

(a)  Nothing in this act shall be construed to regulate firearms, ammunition, lead pellets from air rifles, shooting ranges or circumstances resulting from shooting, handling, storing, casting, or reloading ammunition.

(b)  Nothing in this act shall be construed to alter the existing authority of the agency of natural resources to regulate the lead content of products used in connection with fishing and hunting.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 216

An act designating snowboarding as the Vermont state sport.

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

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

In recognition of the importance that sports can play in the personal lives of Vermonters and in the economic well-being of the state, the general assembly finds:

(1)   The history of snowboarding and skiing is heavily linked to Vermont.

(2)  In 1934, the country’s first ski area opened near Woodstock when the first rope tow ski lift was installed on Clinton Gilbert’s farm.  This was followed by many other historical Vermont firsts in the ski industry, including the nation’s first ski race held on Mount Mansfield in 1934, the nation’s first
J-bar lift installed at Bromley Ski Area in 1936, the nation’s first ski patrol established at Stowe Ski Area in 1936, the nation’s first T-bar lift installed at Pico Peak Ski Area in 1937, and the nation’s first major chair lift installed at the Stowe Ski Area in 1940.

(3)  In 1938, C. Minot Dole founded the National Ski Patrol in Vermont.  Dole later used the National Ski Patrol model to convince the U.S. Army to activate a division of American mountain soldiers on skis, known as the 10th Mountain Division.  Approximately 240 Vermonters served in the famed winter warfare division during World War II, with a dozen killed in action in the battle against the Germans in the Italian Alps.

(4)  In 1952, Rutland’s Andrea Mead-Lawrence, whose parents ran Pico Mountain, became the first American woman to win two Olympic gold medals in skiing.  Stowe’s Billy Kidd won the silver medal at the 1964 Innsbruck Olympics and the gold and bronze medals at the 1970 World Championships.

The skiing Cochrans—Barbara Ann, Lindy, Marilyn, and Bobby—dominated the world racing scene in the 1960s and ’70s, with Barbara Ann winning the gold medal at the 1972 winter Olympics.  Nordic skier Bill Koch skied in four Olympics—1976, 1980, 1984, and 1992.  Koch won the 1976 silver medal, a first for an American Nordic skier. He won a bronze medal in the 1982 Federation Internationale de Ski Nordic World Championships and a bronze medal in the 1982 World Cup Championships.

(5)  Vermont is home to many public schools, academies, and colleges that are world-class training grounds for snowboarding and skiing.

(6)  In 1982, the Suicide Six Resort in Pomfret was the first resort in the United States to allow snowboarding.  In 1985, when Stratton Mountain introduced snowboarding, only five percent of ski areas in the country permitted snowboarding.  Today, 97 percent of ski areas in the nation welcome snowboarders on their slopes.

(7)  In the 1980s, Vermont was the first state in the country to host what is now known as a snowboard park at the Sonnenberg Ski Area in Barnard.

(8)  The U.S. Open for Snowboarding is held in Vermont.  This event is the renowned first competition for snowboarding and offers an exciting opportunity to watch the world’s best snowboarders exhibiting their skills. 

(9)  Vermonters have won two gold medals in snowboarding in the last three winter Olympic games.

(10)  The United States Olympic Committee named Hannah Teter of Belmont the 2006 Sportwoman of the Year, the top honor conferred by the committee.

(11)  The United States Olympic Committee named former United States Halfpipe Head Coach Bud Keene of Stowe the 2006 National Coach of the Year.

(12)  In 1977, Vermonter Jake Burton Carpenter founded a snowboard company in his barn and perfected the technology to build snowboards.  Today, this Burlington-based company is the worldwide leader in the manufacture and sale of snowboards.  Jake and Donna Burton Carpenter were inducted into the United States National Ski and Snowboarding Hall of Fame in 2007.

(13)  There is an alarmingly high, and still rising, percentage of obese children in the United States.  The sports of snowboarding and skiing promote healthy outdoor exercise for children, their parents, and people of all ages.

(14)  Vermont historically ranks as the 3rd largest snowboard and ski state with over four million snowboarder and skier visits per year.

(15)  Snowboarding and skiing at Vermont’s ski areas are a critical part of the Vermont economy, heritage, and way of life.

(16)  Designating snowboarding and skiing as the Vermont state sports will encourage individuals to travel to Vermont to snowboard and ski, to patronize local hotels and restaurants, and to purchase Vermont products.

Sec. 2.  1 V.S.A. § 516 is added to read:

§ 516.  STATE SPORTS

The state sports shall be snowboarding and skiing.

and that upon passage, the title shall be “AN ACT DESIGNATING SNOWBOARDING AND SKIING AS THE VERMONT STATE SPORTS”

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 229

An act relating to access to public records.

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

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.  1 V.S.A. § 318 is amended to read:

§ 318.  PROCEDURE

* * *

(b)  Any person making a request to any agency for records under subsection (a) of this section shall be deemed to have exhausted his the person’s administrative remedies with respect to each request if the agency fails to comply within the applicable time limit provisions of this section.  Upon any determination by an agency to comply with a request for records, the records shall be made available promptly to the person making such request.  Any notification of denial of any request for records under this section shall set forth the names and titles or positions of each person responsible for the denial of such request.

(c)  Any denial of access by the custodian of a public record may be appealed to the head of the agency.  The head of the agency shall make a written determination on an appeal within five business days after the receipt of the appeal.  A written determination shall include the asserted statutory basis for denial and a brief statement of the reasons and supporting facts for denial.  If the head of the agency reverses the denial of a request for records, the records shall be promptly made available to the person making the request.  A failure by the agency to comply with any of the time limit provisions of this section shall be deemed a final denial of the request for records by the agency.

Sec. 2.  1 V.S.A. § 321 is added to read:

§ 321.  PUBLIC RECORDS ACT REVIEW COMMITTEE

(a)  There is established a committee to review the requirements of the public records act and the numerous exemptions to that act in order to assure the integrity, viability, and the ultimate purposes of the act.  The review committee shall consist of the following members:

(1)  One member of the senate appointed by the committee on committees;

(2)  One member of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker of the house;

(3)  The attorney general or his or her designee;

(4)  The secretary of administration or his or her designee;

(5)  The state auditor or his or her designee;

(6)  The state archivist or his or her designee;

(7)  One representative of municipal interests, appointed by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns;

(8)  One representative of the Vermont press association, appointed by the association;

(9)  One representative of school or educational interests appointed by the governor;

(10)  One representative of a statewide coalition of advocates of freedom of access appointed by the speaker of the house;

(11)  One member of the American Civil Liberties Union appointed by the union;

(12)  One representative of the judiciary appointed by the court administrator.

(b)  The review committee shall review and analyze each of the exemptions in statute to the review and disclosure of public records required by section 317 of this title.  Annually, the review committee shall review at least 20 exemptions in statute to the review and disclosure of public records required by section 317 of this title.  Prior to each legislative session, the committee shall report to the house and senate committees on government operations and the house and senate committees on judiciary with recommendations concerning whether any public records act exemption should be repealed, amended, or remain unchanged.  The report of the committee may take the form of draft legislation. 

(c)  In reviewing and making recommendation regarding an existing public records act exemption under subsection (b) of this section, the committee shall review the following criteria:

(1)  Whether a record protected by an exemption is required to be collected and maintained;

(2)  The value to an agency or to the public in maintaining a record protected by the exemption;

(3)  Whether federal law requires a record to be confidential;

(4)  Whether the exception protects an individual’s privacy interest and, if so, whether that interest substantially outweighs the public interest in the disclosure of records;

(5)  Whether public disclosure puts a business at a competitive disadvantage and, if so, whether that business’s interest substantially outweighs the public interest in the disclosure of records;

(6)  Whether public disclosure compromises the position of a public agency in negotiations and, if so, whether that public agency’s interest substantially outweighs the public interest in the disclosure of records;

(7)  Whether public disclosure jeopardizes the safety of a member of the public or the public in general and, if so, whether that safety interest substantially outweighs the public interest in the disclosure of records;

(8)  Whether the exception is as narrowly tailored as possible; and

(9)  Any other criteria that assist the review committee in determining the value of the exception as compared to the public’s interest in the record protected by the exception. 

(d)  On or before January 15, 2010, the review committee shall report to the senate and house committees on government operations with a recommended fee structure for staff time associated with complying with and reviewing public records requests.  In making a recommendation under this subsection, the review committee shall attempt to balance the public policy in allowing for access to the public records of the state with the cost of public records requests on public agencies.

(e)  The review committee may hold public hearings and solicit the input of interested parties regarding exemptions under its review.  Meetings of the review committee and public hearings held by the review committee shall be subject to the provisions of subchapter 2 of chapter 5 of Title 1.  The office of the secretary of state shall provide staff services to the committee.  Members of the committee may receive a per diem and expenses pursuant to section 1010 of Title 32.

Sec. 3.  18 V.S.A. § 5001 is amended to read:

§ 5001.  VITAL RECORDS; FORMS OF CERTIFICATES

(a)  Certificates of birth, marriage, civil union, divorce, death, and fetal death shall be in form prescribed by the commissioner of health and distributed by the health department.

(b)  Beginning January 1, 2010, all certificates of birth, marriage, civil union, divorce, death, and fetal death shall be issued on unique paper with

antifraud features approved by the commissioner of health and available from the health department.

Sec. 4.  1 V.S.A. § 317(b) is amended to read:

(b)  As used in this subchapter, “public record” or “public document” means all papers, documents, machine readable materials, or any other written or recorded matters, regardless of their physical form or characteristics, that are produced or acquired in the course of agency business any written or recorded information, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which is produced or acquired in the course of public agency business.  Individual salaries and benefits of and salary schedules relating to elected or appointed officials and employees of public agencies shall not be exempt from public inspection and copying.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

Reported favorably by Senator Ayer for the Committee on Finance.

(Committee vote: 6-0-1)

AMENDMENT TO S. 229 TO BE OFFERED BY SENATOR CONDOS

Senator Condos moves to amend the bill by adding a new Section 10 to read as follows:

Sec. 10.  32 V.S.A. § 405 would be added to read:

§ 405.  TAXPAYER TRANSPARENCY WEBSITE

(a)  As used in this section “expenditure of state funds” means the disbursement of state funds, whether appropriated or nonappropriated, excluding: 

(1)  the transfer of funds between two state agencies;

(2)  payments of state or federal assistance to an individual;

(3)  child support payments; and

(4)  refunds issued by the department of taxes resulting from the overpayment of tax.

(b)  Beginning January 1, 2010, the secretary of administration shall develop and operate a website accessible by the public that shall include:

(1)  state revenue received in each fiscal year;

(2)  the total amount of state funds expended in each fiscal year;

(3)  individual expenditures of state funds in each fiscal year, including the type of transaction, the funding or expending agency, and a description of the purpose of the funding action or expenditure;

(4)  the total number of state contracts, their monetary value, and the number and percentage of Vermont businesses and out-of-state businesses awarded state contracts;

(5)  the name and principal location of the entity or recipients of state funds, excluding release of information relating to an individual's place of residence; and

(6)  The full text of state contracts with a monetary value of $25,000.00 or more.

(c)  Nothing in this section shall require the disclosure of information which is exempt from disclosure or confidential under state or federal law.  Prior to posting a state contract under subsection (b) of this section, the secretary of administration shall redact information that is exempt from disclosure or confidential under state or federal law.

(d)  The disclosure of information required by this section shall create no liability whatsoever, civil or criminal, to the state of Vermont or any member of the department of finance or any employee thereof for disclosure of the information or for any error or omission in a disclosure required by this section.

S. 261

An act relating to phthalates in products for young children.

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

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  In subsections (b) and (c) of Sec.1, by striking out “January 1, 2009” and inserting in lieu thereof July 1, 2009, and

Second:  By striking out subsection (g) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (g) to read:

(g)  A violation of this section shall be deemed a violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, chapter 63 of Title 9.  The attorney general may investigate and prosecute violations of this section pursuant to the provisions of the Consumer Fraud Act.  

(Committee vote:  6-0-0)


S. 271

An act relating to child support for children with disabilities.

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

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

Sec. 1.  15 V.S.A. § 658(g) is added to read:

(g)  The court may order child support to continue up to the age of 22 for an individual with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities if the court finds that cessation of support would result in the individual losing:

(1)  housing and related services, thereby placing the individual at risk of being institutionalized, other than under the supervision of the department of corrections; or

(2)  health or community services.

Sec. 2.  SUNSET

This act shall be repealed effective July 1, 2012.

(Committee vote: 4-0-1)

S. 275

An act relating to motor vehicles passing bicyclists on highways.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Scott for the Committee on Transportation.

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.  23 V.S.A. § 1033 is amended to read:

§ 1033.  PASSING ON THE LEFT MOTOR VEHICLES AND VULNERABLE USERS

(a)  Passing motor vehicles.  Vehicles proceeding in the same direction may be overtaken and passed only as follows:

(1)  The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction may pass to its left at a safe distance, and when so doing shall exercise due care, may not pass to the left of the center of the highway unless the way ahead is clear of approaching traffic, and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

(2)  Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his or her vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

(b)  Passing vulnerable users.  As used in this subsection, “vulnerable user” means a pedestrian, a person operating a bicycle or other non-motor vehicle, a highway worker, a person riding or herding an animal, and a person operating a farm tractor or implement of husbandry.  The operator of a motor vehicle approaching or passing a “vulnerable user” shall exercise due care, which includes using every reasonable precaution, to safely clear the vulnerable user. 

Sec. 2.  REPEAL

The following sections of title 23 are repealed:

(1)  §1127 (passing a vehicle drawn by horses or other draft animals).

(2)  § 1053 (passing pedestrians on a highway).

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 294

An act relating to the optimal siting of a dry cask storage facility for spent nuclear fuel rods.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Hartwell for the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended in Sec. 1, subsection (a), in the second sentence, after the words “include draft legislation that” by inserting the words retains the process by which the state may site a facility for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste and that

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 297

An act relating to clarifying the definition of “stiff hitch” in the motor vehicle statutes.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Scott for the Committee on Transportation.

The Committee recommends that the bill be amended by adding two new sections to be numbered Secs. 2 and 3 to read as follows:

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 4(78) is added to read:

(78)  An “all-surface vehicle” or “ASV” means any non-highway recreational vehicle, except a snowmobile, when used for cross-country travel on trails or on any one of the following or combination of the following:  land, water, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, and natural terrain.  An all-surface vehicle shall be designed for use both on land and in water, with or without tracks, shall be capable of flotation and shall be equipped with a skid-steering system, a sealed body, a fully contained cooling system, and six or eight tires designed to be inflated with an operating pressure not exceeding 10 pounds per square inch as recommended by the manufacturer.  An all-surface vehicle shall have a net weight of 1,500 pounds or less, shall have a width of 75 inches or less, shall be equipped with an engine of not more than 50 horsepower, and shall have a maximum speed of not more than 25 miles per hour.  An ASV when operated in water shall be considered to be a motor boat and shall be subject to the provisions of subchapter 2 of chapter29 of this title.  An ASV operated anywhere except in water shall be treated as an all-terrain vehicle and be subject to the provisions of chapter 31 of this title. 

Sec. 3.  23 V.S.A. § 364b is added to read:

§ 364b.  ALL-SURFACE VEHICLES; REGISTRATION

The annual fee for registration of an all-surface vehicle (ASV) shall be the sum of the fees established by sections 3305 and 3504 of this title, plus $25.00.  Notwithstanding section 502 of Title 32, the commissioner may charge the actual cost of production of the plates against the fees collected, and the balance shall be deposited in the transportation fund.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 301

An act relating to assaults on law enforcement officers and to hate-motivated crimes against law enforcement officers and firefighters.

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

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

Sec. 1.  13 V.S.A. § 1028 is amended to read:

§ 1028.  ASSAULT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, FIREFIGHTER, EMERGENCY ROOM PERSONNEL, OR EMERGENCY MEDICAL PERSONNEL MEMBER; ASSAULT WITH BODILY FLUIDS

(a)  A person convicted of a simple or aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency room personnel, or member of emergency services personnel as defined in subdivision 2651(6) of Title 24 while the officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel member is performing a lawful duty, in addition to any other penalties imposed under sections 1023 and 1024 of this title, shall:

(1)(A)  For the first offense, be imprisoned not more than one year;

(B)  For a first offense of aggravated assault, be imprisoned not more than three years;

(2)  For the second offense and subsequent offenses, be imprisoned not more than ten years.

(b)(1)  No person shall intentionally cause blood, vomitus, excrement, mucus, saliva, semen, or urine to come in contact with a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or member of emergency services personnel as defined in subdivision 2651(6) of Title 24 while the officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel member is performing a lawful duty. 

(2)  A person who violates this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

The Committee further recommends that after passage of the bill the title be amended to read as follows: “AN ACT RELATING TO ENHANCING THE PENALTIES FOR ASSAULTING A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER AND TO THE CRIME OF ASSAULT WITH BODILY FLUIDS”

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 304

An act relating to a groundwater withdrawal permit program.

Reported favorably with recommendation of amendment by Senator Snelling for the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

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.  10 V.S.A. § 1390 is amended to read:

§ 1390.  POLICY

It is the policy of the state of Vermont that it shall protect its groundwater resources to maintain high quality drinking water and shall manage its groundwater resources to minimize the risks of groundwater quality deterioration by limiting human activities that present unreasonable risks to the use classifications of groundwater in the vicinities of such activities while balancing the state's groundwater policy with the need to maintain and promote a healthy and prosperous agricultural community The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:

(1)  surface and subsurface water are inherently interrelated in both quality and quantity;

(2)  groundwater hydrology is a science that allows groundwater quality and quantity to be mapped and forecast;

(3)  groundwater is a mobile resource that is necessarily shared among all users;

(4)  all persons have a right to the beneficial use and enjoyment of groundwater free from unreasonable interference by other persons;

(5)  in recognition that the groundwater of Vermont is a precious, finite, and invaluable resource upon which there is an ever-increasing demand for present, new, and competing uses; and in further recognition that an adequate supply of groundwater for domestic, farming, and industrial uses is essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Vermont, the withdrawal of groundwater of the state should be regulated in a manner that benefits the people of the state; is compatible with long-range water resource planning, proper management, and use of the water resources of Vermont; and is consistent with Vermont’s policy of managing groundwater as a public resource for the benefit of all Vermonters;

(6)  it is the policy of the state that the state shall protect its groundwater resources to maintain high-quality drinking water;

(7)  it is the policy of the state that the groundwater resources of the state shall be managed to minimize the risks of groundwater quality deterioration by limiting human activities that present unreasonable risks to the use classifications of groundwater in the vicinities of such activities while balancing the state’s groundwater policy with the need to maintain and promote a healthy and prosperous agricultural community;

(8)  it is the policy of the state that the common-law doctrine of absolute ownership of groundwater is hereby abolished; and

(9)  it is the policy of the state that the groundwater resources of the state are held in trust for the public.  The state shall manage its groundwater resources in accordance with the policy of this section and sections 1392 and 1418 of this title for the benefit of citizens who hold and share rights in such waters. 

Sec.  2.  10 V.S.A. chapter 48, subchapter 6 is added to read:

Subchapter 6.  Groundwater Withdrawal Program

§ 1416.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this subchapter:

(1)  “Farming” means farming as the term is defined in subdivision 6001(22) of this title.

(2)  “Groundwater” means water below the land surface, including springs.

(3)  “Person” means any individual, partnership, company, corporation, cooperative, association, unincorporated association, joint venture, trust, the state of Vermont or any department, agency, subdivision, or municipality, the United States government or any department, agency, or subdivision, or any other legal or commercial entity.

(4)  “Spring” means a groundwater source where groundwater flows naturally to the surface of the earth, including any such groundwater intercepted via catchments or similar devices. 

(5)  “Surface water” means waters within the meaning of subdivision 1251(13) of this title.

(6)  “Water resources” means groundwater, surface water, and wetlands.

(7)  “Well” means any hole drilled, driven, bored, excavated, or created by similar method into the earth to locate, monitor, extract, or recharge groundwater where the water table or potentiometric surface is artificially lowered through pumping.

(8)  “Withdraw” or “withdrawal” means the intentional removal by any method or instrument of groundwater from a well, spring, or combination of wells or springs.

§ 1417.  EXISTING GROUNDWATER WITHDRAWAL; REPORTING

(a)  Any person that withdraws more than 20,000 gallons per day, averaged over any 30 consecutive-day period, at a single tract of land or place of business shall file a groundwater report with the secretary of natural resources on or before April 1 for the preceding calendar year.  The report shall be made on a form prescribed by the secretary and shall include:

(1)  the location, capacity, frequency, and rate of the withdrawal;

(2)  a description of the use of the water withdrawn; and

(3)  where feasible, the distance of each withdrawal from the nearest surface water source and wetland.

(b)  The agency of natural resources may require a withdrawal that is not reported as required under subsection (a) of this section to obtain a permit under section 1418 of this title.

(c)  The following are exempt from the reporting requirements of this section:

(1)  a groundwater withdrawal for fire suppression or other public emergency purposes;

(2)  a withdrawal reported to the agency of natural resources under any program that requires the reporting of substantially similar data.  The agency of natural resources shall record such withdrawals with the information from withdrawals reported under this section;

(3)  domestic, residential use;

(4)  groundwater withdrawal for farming;

(5)  public water systems, as that term is defined in section 1671 of this title; and

(6)  geothermal heat pumps used for residential heating.

(d)  The secretary of natural resources may adopt rules to implement this section, including methods for calculating or estimating the amount of groundwater withdrawn from a well or spring.

§ 1418.  GROUNDWATER WITHDRAWAL PERMIT

(a)  On and after July 1, 2010, no person, for commercial or industrial purposes, shall make a new or increased groundwater withdrawal of more than 57,600 gallons a day from any and all wells or springs on a single tract of land or at a place of business without first receiving from the secretary of natural resources a groundwater withdrawal permit.  The following shall constitute a “new or increased withdrawal”:

(1)  The expansion of any existing withdrawal through:

(A)  additional withdrawal from one or more new wells or springs; or

(B)  an increase in the rate of withdrawal from a well or spring above the maximum rate set forth in any existing permit issued by the secretary of natural resources under this section; or

(2)  For previously unpermitted withdrawals, an increase in the rate of withdrawal where the total withdrawal from all wells or springs on a single tract of land or at place of business exceeds 57,600 gallons per day.

(b)  The following are exempt from the permitting requirements of this section:

(1)  a groundwater withdrawal for fire suppression or other public emergency purpose;

(2)  domestic, residential use;

(3)  groundwater withdrawal for farming;

(4)  public water systems, as that term is defined in section 1671 of this title; and

(5)  geothermal heat pumps used for residential heating.

(c)(1)  On or before the date of filing with the secretary of natural resources an application for a permit under this section, an applicant for a withdrawal under this section shall notify:

(A)  the clerk, legislative body, and any conservation commission in the municipality in which the proposed withdrawal is located;

(B)  municipalities that adjoin the municipality in which the proposed withdrawal is located;

(C)  the regional planning commission in the region where the proposed withdrawal is located;

(D)  all landowners adjoining the proposed withdrawal site, including all residents of a mobile home park adjoining the proposed withdrawal site; and

(E)  any public water systems permitted by the agency of natural resources in the municipality where the proposed withdrawal is located.

(2)  The applicant shall publish notice of the application in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the withdrawal is proposed and shall post a copy of the notice in the municipal clerk’s office in the municipality in which the withdrawal is located.

(d)  The secretary may issue a permit under this section based on a review of the following:

(1)  the purpose for the withdrawal;

(2)  the location and source of the withdrawal;

(3)  the amount of the proposed withdrawal, including estimates of the projected mean and peak daily, monthly, and annual withdrawal;

(4)  the place of the proposed return flow of withdrawn water;

(5)  the estimated amount of water that will not be returned to the watershed where the proposed withdrawal is located;

(6)  the location, demand on, and yield of existing sources of groundwater and surface water utilized by the applicant;

(7)  a description of alternative means considered for satisfying the applicant’s stated use for water;

(8)  the applicant’s demonstration that the proposed withdrawal is planned in a fashion that provides for efficient use of the water, and will avoid or minimize the waste of water;

(9)  the applicant’s demonstration that the proposed withdrawal, in combination with other existing withdrawals, will meet the standards set by the secretary of natural resources in rule for establishing a safe yield;

(10)  the applicant’s demonstration that the proposed withdrawal is consistent with the town or regional plan in which the proposed withdrawal is located, and with any duly adopted state policy to manage groundwater as a shared resource for the benefit of all citizens of the state, including any policies and programs of the state of Vermont regarding long-range planning, management, allocation, and use of groundwater and surface water in effect at the time the application for the withdrawal is filed;

(11)  the applicant’s demonstration that the proposed withdrawal will not have an undue adverse effect on existing uses of water dependent on the same water source;

(12)  the applicant’s demonstration that the proposed withdrawal will not have an undue adverse effect on a public water system permitted by the agency of natural resources;

(13)  the applicant’s demonstration that the proposed withdrawal will not have an undue adverse effect on wetlands under the Vermont wetland rules or on other water resources hydrologically interconnected with the well or spring from which the proposed withdrawal would be made;

(14)  the applicant’s demonstration that the proposed withdrawal will not violate the Vermont water quality standards.

(e)  As a condition of a permit issued under this section, groundwater withdrawals from a well or spring for drinking water supplies or farming shall be given priority over other uses during times of shortage.

(f)  A permit issued under this section to a facility that bottles groundwater shall include as a condition of the permit the drinking water quality requirements of chapter 56 of this title.

(g)  The secretary may require any person withdrawing groundwater in the state to obtain a permit under this section if the secretary determines that the withdrawal violates the Vermont water quality standards or has an undue adverse effect on an existing use of groundwater, a public water system permitted by the agency of natural resources, wetlands, or water resources hydrologically interconnected with the well or spring from which the withdrawal occurs.  The secretary shall make a determination under this section based on review of the information set forth under subsection (d) of this section that is readily available to the secretary.

(h)  A permit issued under this section shall be valid for the period of time specified in the permit but not for more than ten years.  A withdrawal permit issued under this section may be transferred upon a change of ownership of the facility or project for which the permit was issued, provided that the new owner applies for an administrative amendment to the permit certifying its agreement to comply with all terms and conditions of the transferred permit and assume all other associated obligations.

(i)  The following groundwater withdrawals shall be deemed to comply with the public trust requirements of the state for groundwater management and shall be entitled to a presumption that the withdrawal complies with the public trust requirements of the state:

(1)  A groundwater withdrawal permitted under this section; and

(2)  A groundwater withdrawal for farming conducted in compliance with the requirements of chapter 215 of Title 6.

(j)  At least 30 days before filing an application for a permit under this section, the applicant shall hold an informational hearing in the municipality in which the withdrawal is proposed in order to describe the proposed project and to hear comments regarding the proposed project.  Public notice shall be given by posting in the municipal offices of the town in which the withdrawal is proposed and by publishing in a local newspaper at least 10 days before the meeting.    

(k)  On or before July 1, 2010, the secretary shall adopt rules to implement this section.  When rules are adopted by the secretary under this section, section 1415 of this title shall be repealed.  The rules adopted under this section shall include:

(1)  requirements for the mitigation of an undue adverse effect on drinking water supplies, farming, public water systems, or any other affected use when the secretary determines such an undue adverse effect is likely to occur due to a proposed withdrawal;

(2)  requirements for the renewal of permits issued under this section. 

§ 1419.  ATTORNEYS FEES

A court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the substantially prevailing party in any proceeding to enforce the public trust requirements of the state regarding groundwater or in any proceeding regarding an alleged violation of the public trust requirements of the state regarding groundwater, except that the state shall not be required to pay attorney’s fees in any proceeding against it.

Sec. 3.  10 V.S.A. § 1410 is amended to read:

§ 1410.  GROUNDWATER; RIGHT OF ACTION

(a)  Findings and policy. The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:

(1)  surface and subsurface water are inherently interrelated in both quality and quantity;

(2)  groundwater hydrology is a science that allows groundwater quality and quantity to be mapped and forecast;

(3)  groundwater is a mobile resource that is necessarily shared among all users;

(4)  all persons have a right to the beneficial use and enjoyment of groundwater free from unreasonable interference by other persons; and

(5)  it is the policy of the state that the common-law doctrine of absolute ownership of groundwater is hereby abolished.

(b)  Definitions.  As used in this section:

(1)  “Groundwater” means water below the land surface.

(2)  “Surface water” means any water on the land surface.

(3)  “Person” means any individual, partnership, company, corporation, association, unincorporated association, joint venture, trust, municipality, the state of Vermont, or any agency, department or subdivision of the state, federal agency, or any other legal or commercial entity.

(c)(b)  Any person may maintain under this section an action for equitable relief or an action in tort to recover damages, or both, for the unreasonable harm caused by another person withdrawing, diverting or altering the character or quality of groundwater.

(d)(c)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (c)(b) of this section, a person who alters groundwater quality or character as a result of agricultural or silvicultural activities, or other activities regulated by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets, shall be liable only if that alteration was either negligent, reckless or intentional.

(e)(d)  Factors to be considered in determining the unreasonableness of any harm referred to in subsection (c), above, (b) of this section, shall include, but need not be limited to, the following:

(1)  the purpose of the respective uses or activities affected;

(2)  the economic, social and environmental value of the respective uses, including protection of public health;

(3)  the nature and extent of the harm caused, if any;

(4)  the practicality of avoiding the harm, if any;

(5)  the practicality of adjusting the quantity or quality of water used or affected and the method of use by each party;

(6)  the maintenance or improvement of groundwater and surface water quality;

(7)  the protection of existing values of land, investments, enterprises and productive uses;

(8)  the burden and fairness of requiring a person who causes harm to bear the loss; and

(9)  the burden and fairness of requiring a person to bear the loss, who causes harm in the conduct of reasonable agricultural activities, utilizing good agricultural practices conducted in conformity with federal, state and local laws and regulations.

(f)(e)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude or supplant any other statutory or common-law remedies.

(f)  For the purposes of this section, a person who obtains and complies with a withdrawal permit issued pursuant to the requirements of section 1418 of this title shall be presumed to be engaged in a reasonable use of groundwater and not to cause unreasonable harm under subsection (b) of this section. 

Sec. 4.  6 V.S.A. § 4851 is amended to read:

§ 4851.  PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR LARGE FARM OPERATIONS

* * *

(g)  A farm that is permitted under this section and that withdraws more than 50,000 gallons of groundwater per day averaged over any 30 consecutive- day period, shall annually report estimated water use to the secretary of agriculture, food and markets.  The secretary of agriculture, food and markets shall share information reported under this subsection with the agency of natural resources.

Sec. 5.  10 V.S.A. § 1671(5) is amended to read:

(5)(A)  “Public water system” means any system, or combination of systems owned or controlled by a person, which provides drinking water through pipes or other constructed conveyances to the public and which:

(A)(i)(A)  has at least 15 service connections; or

(A)(ii)(B)  serves an average of at least 25 individuals for at least 60 days a year.

Public water system shall also mean any part of a piped system which does not provide drinking water, if use of such a part could affect the quality or quantity of the drinking water supplied by the system. Public water system shall also mean a system which bottles drinking water for public distribution and sale.

Sec. 6.  10 V.S.A. § 1675(g) is amended to read:

(g)(1)  Effective July 1, 2006, a public water system applying for a permit under this section for the bottling of more than 50,000 gallons of drinking water a day from a single source for public distribution and sale shall, in addition to complying with the requirements of this chapter and any rules adopted thereunder, submit to the Vermont state geologist and the department of environmental conservation a geologic cross section and groundwater contour map of an area, the size of which shall be in conformance with appendix A, part 3, subsection 3.3.5.2 of the Vermont water supply rule, surrounding the proposed source.

(2)  The requirements of subdivision (1) of this subsection shall apply to a public water system permitted under this section when the system proposes to expand the bottling of drinking water from a single source such that the total gallons of water bottled from the single source would exceed 50,000 gallons a day.

Sec. 7.  10 V.S.A. § 6001(3) is amended to read:

(3)(A)  "Development" means:

(i)  The construction of improvements on a tract or tracts of land, owned or controlled by a person, involving more than 10 acres of land within a radius of five miles of any point on any involved land, for commercial or industrial purposes in a municipality that has adopted permanent zoning and subdivision bylaws.

* * *

(ix)  Any withdrawal of more than 500,000 gallons of groundwater per day that requires a permit under 10 V.S.A. § 1418.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 322

An act relating to dairy promotion council.

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

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

(1)  Vermont’s conventional dairy farmers have lost purchasing power in recent decades because the farm gate price paid for their milk has not kept pace with inflation.  In 1980, the average price paid was $13.06 per hundredweight, which, when adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to $30.95 in 2006 dollars.  The average price for milk in 2006 was $12.88.

(2)  The farmer’s share of the retail dollar continues to slide. In the United States, the farmer’s share of the retail food dollar fell from a high of 40 percent in 1973 to below 20 percent in 2000.

Sec. 2.  6 V.S.A. § 2978(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Included among the powers of the council in connection with the enforcement of this chapter are the powers to require reports from any person subject to this chapter; to adopt, rescind, modify, and amend all proper and necessary rules, regulations and orders to administer this chapter, which rules, regulations and orders shall be promulgated by publication in the manner prescribed therefor by the council and shall have the force and effect of law when not inconsistent with existing laws; to administer oaths, subpoena witnesses, take depositions, and certify to official acts; to require any dealer to keep such true and accurate records and to make such reports covering purchases, sales, and receipts of dairy products and related matters as the council deems reasonably necessary for effective administration, which records shall be open to inspection by the secretary of agriculture, food and markets at any reasonable time and as often as may be necessary, but information thus obtained shall not be published or be open to public inspection in any manner revealing any individual dealer's identity, except as required in proceedings to enforce compliance; to keep accurate books, records, and accounts of all of its dealings, and to make annually a full report of its doings to the house and senate committees on agriculture and the governor, which shall show the amount of money received and the expenditures thereof.  The report shall use generally accepted accounting practices and a comprehensive cost–benefit analysis to determine the return per hundredweight to the individual farmer on their investment in promotion.  The exact return per dollar of investment shall be reported. The report shall also include an analysis of using a competitive bid process for promotion activities supported by the council. The report shall be submitted on or before January 1.  The Vermont agency of agriculture, food and markets shall perform the administrative work of the council as directed by the council.  The council shall reimburse the agency of agriculture, food and markets for the cost of services performed by the agency.

Sec. 2.  LIVESTOCK STUDY

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

Sec. 3.  AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE SLAUGHTER ON PREMISES STUDY

In recent years there has been increasing interest in the slaughter of animals on the farm for use by other households for economic, ethnic, and humane reasons. The concept has been supported by adherents of community supported agriculture as well. Because of the interrelationship of state and federal statutes and rules pertaining to the practice, what leeway exists for state action is not clear. The agency of agriculture shall consult with federal authorities and report on what options are available. The agency shall also look at what other solutions might be proposed such as cooperative custom slaughterhouses. The report shall also look at the cost of building approved facilities in Vermont and compare that with other states in order to try to provide more options for Vermont producers.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 331

An act relating to workforce development for green industries.

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

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS: PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds the following:

(1)  There is a growing global demand for products and services that will reduce the impact on the natural environment by individuals, businesses, governments, and many other entities.

(2)  There is a common international perception that Vermont has a very well‑defined green identity, a reputation developed through years of commitment to environmental integrity.

(3)  Vermont’s resources should be used to build a vibrant and strong environmental industry sector that creates high wage jobs for Vermonters through the development and export of value‑added products and services designed to reduce our collective impact on the environment.

(4)  Vermont must create a framework that stimulates the innovation and investment necessary to expand the development of new renewable energy sources and distribution capacity.

(5)  Vermont’s economic development strategy must be designed to raise Vermont’s profile as a hub of environmental integrity, innovation, and opportunity for working Vermonters.

(b)  The purpose of this act is to effect the following:

(1)  To better understand and quantify the economic value and market opportunities and benefits of the emerging environmental technology sector in Vermont so that Vermont can derive economic value in the form of job creation, innovation, and development of technologies, products, and services that protect and enhance the environment.

(2)  To formulate a strategy for environmental technology sector workforce development and training and develop programs that promote and market that sector and create a competitive workforce equipped with the necessary skills and competencies to assure that Vermont is strategically positioned to effectively compete in environmental technology industries and the global market place and space.

Sec. 2.  WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PLAN; ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGY SECTOR JOB TRAINING; LABOR FORCE ANALYSIS

(a)  For the purposes of the this section,

(1)  “Environmental technology sector” means businesses and organizations that work in or are related to at least one of the following:

(A)  Waste management, including waste collection, treatment, disposal, reduction, recycling, and remediation.

(B)  Natural resource protection and management including water and wastewater purification and treatment, air pollution control and prevention or remediation, soil and groundwater protection or remediation, and hazardous waste control or remediation.

(C)  Energy efficiency or conservation.

(D)  Clean energy, including solar, wind, wave, hydro, geothermal, hydrogen, fuel cells, waste-to-energy, or biomass.

(E)  Any other environmental technology certified by the secretary of commerce and community development.

(2)  “Environmental technology employee” means a fulltime employee primarily engaged in providing goods or delivering services in the environmental technology sector.

(b)  The commissioner of labor in collaboration with the secretary of commerce shall perform a labor force analysis using the inventory of green business developed by the agency of commerce and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  The analysis shall include the geographic distribution of existing businesses and anticipated opportunities for business recruitment in the environmental technology sector.  The analysis shall be issued in a written report to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs no later than February 1, 2009 and shall include:

(1)  Regional profiles that identify the concentration and distribution of environmental technology opportunities in Vermont.

(2)  The skills and competencies necessary for successful employment in the environmental technology sector.

(3)  Projection of employer needs and employee skills required for the future of the environmental technology sector.

(c)  The commissioner of labor shall develop a workforce development plan relating to green building, energy efficiency, and renewable energy industries.  The plan shall be developed in consultation with the following groups:  the apprenticeship program; the building trades; the Vermont workforce development council; the association of weatherization contractors; efficiency Vermont; Vermont technical college; the association of general contractors; associated industries of Vermont; Vermont businesses for social responsibility; Vermont fuel dealers association; the coalition for workforce solutions; Renewable energy Vermont; Vermont small business development centers; the  association of vocational‑technical schools; the association of adult service coordinators; Vermont green building network; and the green institute for the advancement of sustainability.

Sec. 3.  PILOT PROJECT; ONLINE EDUCATION; GREEN CURRICULA

(a)  The department of education in consultation with the department of labor, the department of economic development, private and public higher education institutions and industry partners shall expand access to online courses in applied science, technology, engineering, mathematics and green curricula to high school and college students and workforce trainees statewide.  The courses shall be available on line to Vermont’s secondary schools, employers, and adult students and shall be taught by qualified instructors and educators to provide the Vermont workforce with 21st century skills.  These courses shall be built on the currently available online education opportunities in order to broaden the cope of curricula available to Vermont students within a green learning environment that eliminates the cost of travel and the problems of limited space and the fixed overhead associated with traditional physical classroom learning environments.

(1)  The commissioner of education and labor shall implement a pilot program in collaboration with public and private institutions of higher education and industry partners in Vermont that currently offer high quality online education courses and have the infrastructure and expertise to effectively deliver the courses outlined in subsection (a) of this section.

(2)  The commissioner of education may contract for services for course and curriculum development.

(3)  These courses shall be available on the internet to Vermont high school aged students, employers, and employees for a fee that is consistent with existing fee policies by the institution or by the next generation dual enrollment advisory board.

Sec. 4.  APPROPRIATION

There is appropriated from the general fund the amount of $80,000.00 to the department of education to fund the pilot project in Sec. 3 of this act.

(Committee vote: 5-0-0)

S. 345

An act relating to lowering the cost of workers’ compensation insurance.

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

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

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS; PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds:

(1)  An increasing number of employers in Vermont and nationwide are improperly classifying individuals they hire as “independent contractors,” even when those workers should be classified as “employees” as these terms are legally defined. 

(2)  Employers may misclassify employees in an attempt to avoid their legal obligations under federal and state labor and tax laws, including laws governing minimum wage, overtime, prevailing wage, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, wage payment, and income tax.

(3)  Employee misclassification has a significant adverse impact on the residents, businesses, and economy in Vermont because it deprives vulnerable workers of legal protections and benefits; reduces compliance with employment and safety standards; gives employers who misclassify employees an improper competitive advantage over law-abiding businesses; deprives Vermont of substantial revenues; and imposes indirect costs from decreased legitimate business activity and increased demand for social services.

(4)  A recent survey of workers’ compensation insurers conducted in compliance with No. 57 of the Acts of 2007 reveals that misclassification is a significant problem that may add 10 to 20 percent or more to the cost of workers’ compensation.

(5)  Historically, compliance and enforcement have been divided among various agencies, reducing efficiency and effectiveness.  Improved interagency cooperation, sharing information, and joint enforcement of serious violations are the most effective approaches to reducing incidents of employee misclassification.

(6)  Workers’ compensation premiums for farmers are going up, while most every other employer category is going down.  Farming is inherently more hazardous than many other trades and professions, and the pool of farmers to spread the risk is very small.

(7)  Agricultural workers suffer a higher frequency and more serious work injuries than others, particularly those working on farms with hoofed animals.

(8)  Providing incentives for improved farm safety, through comprehensive training programs and extensive outreach, will go a long way toward slowing workers’ compensation premium rates for farmers.

(9)  While a reduction in workers’ compensation benefits across the board may lower rates for every one including farmers for the short run, such a reduction would be at the expense of injured workers, while providing little incentive for improving safety for the long run.

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

* * * Fraud and Misclassification * * *

Sec. 2.  8 V.S.A. § 4750(b) is amended to read:

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

Sec. 3.  13 V.S.A. § 2031 is amended to read:

§ 2031.  INSURANCE FRAUD

(a)  Definitions.  As used in this section:

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

Sec. 4.  CREATION OF WORKERS’ COMPENSATION EMPLOYEE CLASSIFICATION TASK FORCE

(a)  There is created a workers’ compensation classification task force to be composed of 14 members to include the following members:

(1)  The commissioner of taxes or designee.

(2)  The commissioner of labor or designee.

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

(4)  The attorney general or designee.

(5)  The auditor of accounts or designee.

(6)  Two members of the house, one from the committee on commerce and one from the committee on ways and means to be appointed by the speaker.

(7)  Two members of the senate, one from the committee on economic development, housing and general affairs and one from the committee on finance to be appointed by the committee on committees.

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

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

(A)  Two members who represent labor.

(B)  Two members who represent management.

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

(c)  The task force shall:

(1)  Investigate and analyze misclassification and miscoding of employees and offer recommendations to address the following:

(A)  Coordination of systematic investigations and enforcement of employee misclassification among appropriate governmental entities and law enforcement organizations.

(B)  Improved speed and efficiency of the exchange of information among appropriate government entities about suspected employee misclassification in order to improve the prevention, investigation, and enforcement of employee misclassification.

(C)  Improved outreach to and public education for businesses and labor to promote wider understanding and compliance with requirements for classifying employees and the costs associated with misclassification in order to identify incidents of misclassification and to encourage filing of complaints and identification of potential violators.

(2)  The task force shall issue a interim report on or before January 1, 2009, and a final report on or before October 15, 2009.  Both reports shall be provided to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs.  The interim report shall outline the task force’s progress in addressing the issues of the final report, and the final report shall outline findings and recommendations regarding all the following:

(A)  A description of the efforts and successes within state government to reduce the frequency of employee misclassification, including the number of employers cited for violations related to misclassification, a description of the types of misclassification cited, the approximate number of employees affected, and the amount of wages, premiums, taxes, and other payments or penalties collected.

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

(C)  A consistent, workable, and fair method for determining independent contractor status, including the issues raised in Vermont Courier v. Vermont Department of Employment and Training, 166 VT. 639 (1977).

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

Sec. 5.  FRAUD ENFORCEMENT STUDY; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR; DEPARTMENT OF BANKING, INSURANCE, SECURITIES, AND HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

The department of labor in collaboration with the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration and the attorney general shall perform an assessment of the fraud problem and develop proposals for legislation that will improve the effectiveness and enforcement of the current fraud statutes, including specific recommendations for improving enforcement, stimulating interagency cooperation including information sharing and prosecution, and creating a fraud unit complete with proposals for staffing, reporting, structure, and funding.  The assessment and legislative proposals shall be presented in a written report to the governor, the house committee on commerce, and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs on or before November 15, 2009.

* * * Safety Incentives * * *

Sec. 6.  WORKERS’ COMPENSATION DISCOUNTS; IMPROVED EFFICIENCY AND SAFETY; STUDY; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR; DEPARTMENT OF BANKING, INSURANCE, SECURITIES, AND HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b)  The results of the study and legislative recommendations shall be included in a written report and filed with the governor, the house committee on commerce, and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs on or before October 15, 2009.

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

Sec. 7.  21 V.S.A. § 640(e) is added to read:

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

Sec. 8.  21 V.S.A. § 687(e) is added to read:

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

* * * Evaluation of Permanent Impairment * * *

Sec. 9.  EVALUATION OF PERMANENT IMPAIRMENT; USE OF AMA GUIDES

Notwithstanding 21 V.S.A. § 648(b), the department of labor shall continue to use the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, fifth edition, until such time the commissioner of labor has evaluated an analysis of the sixth edition performed by NCCI or other appropriate rating agency to assure that adoption of the sixth edition will not have a significantly detrimental impact on injured workers entitled to permanent disability benefits.  At least 60 days before adopting the sixth edition, the department shall submit a written report to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs, outlining the analysis that formed the basis for determining that use of the sixth edition will not have a significantly detrimental impact on injured workers entitled to permanent disability benefits.

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

Sec. 10.  21 V.S.A. § 650(a) and (d) are amended to read:

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

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

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

Sec. 11.  21 V.S.A. § 642a is added to read:

§ 642a.  TEMPORARY TOTAL; INSURER REVIEW

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

* * * Vocational Rehabilitation * * *

Sec. 12.  21 V.S.A. § 641(a)(1) and (c) are amended to read:

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

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

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

Sec. 13.  VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

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

(1)  Providing timely notification to all claimants who have been out of work for 90 consecutive days of their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities for vocational rehabilitation services and screenings and requiring immediate administrative enforcement for any failure to provide that notification.

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

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

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

(b)  The department shall commence rulemaking to improve deficiencies found in the review required in subsection (a) of this section and shall submit to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs a written report explaining the reasons for the rules to be adopted. 

* * * Attorney Fees * * *

Sec. 14.  21 V.S.A. § 678 is amended to read:

§ 678. COSTS; ATTORNEY FEES

* * *

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

* * *

(d)  In cases that are not resolved pursuant to a formal hearing, the commissioner may award reasonable attorney fees if the claimant has retained an attorney in response to an actual or effective denial of a claim, a hearing has been requested, and thereafter payments are made to the claimant as a result of the attorney’s efforts. 

* * * Assistance to Claimants * * *

Sec. 15.  ASSISTANCE TO CLAIMANT; BARGAINING AGENT; RULEMAKING; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

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

* * * Farm Safety Programs * * *

Sec. 16.  FARM SAFETY PROGRAMS; AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND MARKETS; STUDIES

(a)  The secretary of agriculture, food and markets in collaboration with the department of labor and the University of Vermont extension service shall:

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

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

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

(b)  Administrative support shall be provided by the legislative council and the joint fiscal office.

(c)  The results and recommendations resulting from the studies required under subsection (a) of this section shall be presented in a written report to the senate committees on agriculture and on economic development, housing and general affairs and to the house committees on agriculture and on commerce on or before February 1, 2009.

(Committee vote:  5-0-0


Committee Bill for Notice

S. 366

An act relating to the administration of the voter’s oath or affirmation.

By the Committee on Government Operations.

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. 344

An act relating to internet and mail order sales of tobacco products.

     PENDING ACTION:  Second reading of the bill.

(For text of Report of Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs see Senate Calendar for March 12, 2008, page 620).

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)

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)

John W. Valente of Rutland - Director of the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank - By Senator Carris for the Committee on Finance.  (2/27)

Sandra Predom of Mount Holly - Member of the Vermont Educational & Health Buildings Financing Agency - By Senator Carris for the Committee on Finance.  (2/27)

Edward T. Ogarzalek of Rutland - Member of the Vermont Educational & Health Buildings Financing Agency - By Senator Maynard for the Committee on Finance.  (2/27)

John C. Stewart of Jericho Center - Member of the Community High School of Vermont Board - By Senator Giard for the Committee on Education.  (2/29)

Susan Roush Bruce of St. Albans - Member of the Board of Libraries - By Senator Collins for the Committee on Education.  (2/29)

Gordon Winters of Swanton - Member of the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees - By Senator Collins for the Committee on Education.  (3/13)

Tess Savage of Bristol - Member of the State Board of Education - By Senator Giard for the Committee on Education.  (3/13)

Jeffrey L. Davis of Williston - Member of the University of Vermont Board of Trustees - Sen. Starr for the Committee on Education.  (3/19)

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:

129.  School Environmental Health Report.  (Agency of Human Services, Department of Health)  (February 2008).

130.  Conservation Motor Vehicle Registration Plate Program Report .  (Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife).  (February 2008).

131.  Vermont Health Care Reform, 2007 Annual Update to 2006 Five-Year Implementation Plan.  (Agency of Administration).  (March 2008).

132.  Environmental Contingency Fund Fiscal Year 2007 Status Report.  (Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation Waste Management Division).  (March 2008).

JOINT ASSEMBLY

Thursday, March 20, 2008 - 10:30 A.M. - House Chamber - Retention of Superior Court Judges:  Hon. Amy M. Davenport, Hon. Katherine A. Hayes.

Retention of District Judges:  Hon. Nancy S. Corsones, Hon. Walter M. Morris, Jr., Hon. David T. Suntag.

Retention of Environmental Judge:  Merideth Wright.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

Thursday, March 27, 2008 - Room 11 - 5:00-7:00 p.m. - H. 543 - Funding of the Department of Fish and Wildlife - House Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources.



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Montpelier, Vermont


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