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Journal of the House

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TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2007

At ten o'clock in the forenoon the Speaker called the House to order.

Devotional Exercises

Devotional exercises were conducted by Reverend Stephen G. Berry of New Covenant Church Assembly of God, Brookfield.

Pledge of Allegiance

Page Chelsea Evans of Middlesex led the House in the Pledge of Allegiance.

House Bills Introduced

House bills of the following titles were severally introduced.  Pending first reading of the bills, on motion of Rep. Adams of Hartland, the rules were suspended and the bills were read the first time by number and referred as follows:

H. 158

By Reps. Masland of Thetford, Cheney of Norwich, Fisher of Lincoln and McCullough of Williston,

An act relating to establishing a committee to study motor vehicle weight limits on town highways;

To the committee on Transportation.

H. 159

By Reps. Masland of Thetford and McCullough of Williston,

An act relating to elimination of the statute of limitations for sexually based crimes;

To the committee on Judiciary.

H. 160

     By Reps. Branagan of Georgia, Brennan of Colchester, Hube of Londonderry, Otterman of Topsham and Winters of Williamstown,

An act relating to income tax rate reduction;

To the committee on Ways and Means.

H. 161

By Rep. Johnson of Canaan,

An act relating to notice of public participation in municipal planning;

To the committee on Government Operations.

H. 162

By Rep. Johnson of Canaan,

An act relating to wetlands mitigation banking;

To the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources.

H. 163

By Reps. Branagan of Georgia and LaVoie of Swanton,

An act relating to stormwater management;

To the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources.

H. 164

     By Reps. Masland of Thetford, Deen of Westminster, Edwards of Brattleboro, Klein of East Montpelier, Malcolm of Pawlet, McCullough of Williston, Pellett of Chester, Sharpe of Bristol and Stevens of Shoreham,

An act relating to expanding emergency planning to address land use issues, including good supply planning, distributed power planning, and water supply planning;

To the committee on Agriculture.

H. 165

By Reps. Brooks of Montpelier and Mitchell of Barnard,

An act relating to state forms and racial identity;

To the committee on Government Operations.

H. 166

By Reps. Chen of Mendon and Donahue of Northfield,

An act relating to reducing the effects of volatile property values on education property taxes;

To the committee on Ways and Means.

H. 167

By Rep. Branagan of Georgia,

An act relating to gradual repeal of corporate income tax;

To the committee on ways and Means.

H. 168

By Rep. Larrabee of Danville,

An act relating to use value for recreational uses;

To the committee on Ways and Means.

H. 169

By Reps. McCullough of Williston and Peterson of Williston,

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

To the committee on Government Operations.

H. 170

By Reps. Atkins of Winooski, Larocque of Barnet and Pillsbury of Brattleboro,

An act relating to retirees of the University of Vermont,

To the committee on Government Operations.

H. 171

     By Reps. Atkins of Winooski and Pillsbury of Brattleboro,

     An act relating to the applicability of amendments to Act 250 rules;

     To the committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

H. 172

     By Reps. Wright of Burlington, Allard of St. Albans Town, Branagan of Georgia, Clark of Vergennes, Komline of Dorset, LaVoie of Swanton, McAllister of Highgate, Morrissey of Bennington and Oxholm of Vergennes,

An act relating to the civil commitment of sexually violent predators;

To the committee on Judiciary.

H. 173

By Reps. Atkins of Winooski, Baker of West Rutland, Pillsbury of Brattleboro and Trombley of Grand Isle,

An act relating to wetlands management;

To the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources.

H. 174

By Reps. Atkins of Winooski, Deen of Westminster and Masland of Thetford,

An act relating to the permitting, repermitting, and removal of dams;

To the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources.

H. 175

     By Reps. Allard of St. Albans Town, Barnard of Richmond, Fitzgerald of St. Albans City, Flory of Pittsford, Gervais of Enosburg, Gilbert of Fairfax, Howrigan of Fairfield, Keenan of St. Albans City, Marcotte of Coventry, McAllister of Highgate, Morley of Barton and O'Donnell of Vernon,

An act relating to increasing funeral benefits under workers’ compensation;

To the committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs.

H. 176

By Rep. Trombley of Grand Isle,

An act relating to access to school-related events for students with life-threatening chronic allergies;

To the committee on Education.

H. 177

     By Reps. Pellett of Chester, Donovan of Burlington, Emmons of Springfield, Gervais of Enosburg and Martin of Springfield,

An act relating to in-state postsecondary tuition for members of the armed services;

To the committee on Education.

H. 178

By Rep. Wright of Burlington,

An act relating to a statewide teachers’ contract;

To the committee on Education.

H. 179

     By Reps. Potter of Clarendon, Fallar of Tinmouth, Chen of Mendon, Clark of Vergennes, Evans of Essex, Flory of Pittsford, Gilbert of Fairfax, Johnson of Canaan, Koch of Barre Town, Malcolm of Pawlet, Martin of Wolcott, Peltz of Woodbury and Peterson of Williston,

An act relating to phasing in education property tax rates when forming a unified union district;

To the committee on Education.

H. 180

By Reps. Pellett of Chester, Flory of Pittsford and Marek of Newfane,

An act relating to the qualifications of attorneys general and state’s attorneys;

To the committee on Judiciary.

H. 181

By Reps. Koch of Barre Town, Pillsbury and Brattleboro and Flory of Pittsford,

An act relating to requiring persons charged with or cited for a felony to submit a DNA sample for the state DNA data bank;

To the committee on Judiciary.

H. 182

By Reps. Grad of Moretown and Jewett of Ripton,

An act relating to the use of biodiesel fuel;

To the committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

Joint Resolution Referred to Committee

J.R.H. 11

Rep. Obuchowski of Rockingham offered a joint resolution, entitled

Joint resolution in strong opposition to consumer cable rate increases;

Whereas, in January 2006, Governor James Douglas entitled his annual state of the state address to the General Assembly “Making Vermont Affordable for Vermonters,” and

Whereas, in his address, he stated that “high energy costs” and other factors have resulted in “a challenging economic environment [that] all conspire to drive our young people to seek a more affordable life elsewhere,” and

Whereas, the governor continued that “Vermont has the 6th highest cost of living in the nation, despite no major metropolitan areas” within the state’s boundaries, and

Whereas, the governor stated that Vermont is “becoming financially out of reach for middle and low-income residents, many of whom are native Vermonters whose families go back generations,” and

Whereas, in his address, the governor cited the need for economical and reliable sources of energy, and

Whereas, the governor concluded his remarks that January day by stating “let us advance an agenda of affordability for all Vermonters so that this generation and all those that follow may enjoy the blessings of our magnificent state and the promise of Vermont,” and

Whereas, while not the central focus of the governor’s 2007 budget address, the affordability theme was a constant backdrop in his presentation, and

Whereas, the governor’s astute observation that affordability is a central theme in the lives of Vermonters should be applied in all sectors of the state’s economy, and

Whereas, the Comcast Corporation recently assumed control of the  Adelphia cable television system in Vermont that includes approximately 100,000 subscribers, and

Whereas, Comcast has announced a series of consumer cable television rate increases that take effect on February 1, 2007 which include a 1.4-percent rate increase for the basic 20-channel package and a more significant 3.5-percent increase from $52.45 to $54.25 for the standard 70-channel package that a large number of subscribers purchase, and

Whereas, although cable television companies are not obligated legally to seek state regulatory approval of cable television rate increases, this 3.5‑percent increase runs contrary to the governor’s theme of economic affordability, and

Whereas, unlike its predecessor Adelphia, Comcast is charging consumers $1.99 to change their channel package subscription even when an onsite technician’s visit is not required, and

Whereas, good corporate citizenship entails dealing fairly with consumers, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly expresses its strong opposition to Comcast Corporation’s 3.5-percent rate increase for standard cable service that is not in the spirit of the governor’s call for economic affordability in Vermont, and urges Comcast to act more equitably in its assessment of charges to consumers, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Joseph Waz, Vice President, External Affairs and Public Policy Counsel, at Comcast Corporation in Philadelphia.

Which was read and, in the Speaker’s discretion, treated as a bill and referred to the committee on Commerce.

Joint Resolution Referred to Committee

J.R.H. 12

Reps. Pellett of Chester, Leriche of Hardwick, Aswad of Burlington, Atkins of Winooski, Bostic of St. Johnsbury, Clark of St. Johnsbury, Clarkson of Woodstock, Donovan of Burlington, Edwards of Brattleboro, Emmons of Springfield, Flory of Pittsford, Keogh of Burlington, Krawczyk of Bennington, Lawrence of Lyndon, Livingston of Manchester, Marcotte of Coventry, Martin of Springfield, McDonald of Berlin, Mook of Bennington, Morley of Barton, Shaw of Derby, Valliere of Barre City and Wright of Burlington offered a joint resolution, entitled

Joint resolution requesting Congress to authorize a 90,000-pound weight limitation for all commodities transported in five-axle or more truck tractors, semi-trailer combinations, or truck trailer combinations traveling on interstate highways in Vermont;

Whereas, the interstate highways which cross the state of Vermont serve as major thoroughfares for the long-distance shipment of commodities, and

Whereas, interstate highways are built to the highest safety standards of any roads in the United States, and

Whereas, haulers of water and milk traveling on Vermont's interstate highways are now authorized to ship a maximum load of 90,000 pounds when transporting those items in five-axle or more truck tractors, semi-trailer combinations, or truck trailer combinations, and

Whereas, these vehicles are equipped with the necessary brake and suspension systems to transport safely weight loads equal to 90,000 pounds, and

Whereas, the 80,000-pound weight limitation for haulers shipping commodities other than milk or water in these vehicles is inequitable and not justified, and

Whereas, Congress has authorized a 90,000-pound weight limitation for the transporting of all goods in these vehicles on the interstate highways in the state of New Hampshire, and

Whereas, if haulers are authorized to ship 90,000-pound loads, regardless of the commodity, in these vehicles on Vermont's interstate highways, the transporting of goods could be accomplished more efficiently and in fewer vehicles, and

Whereas, vehicles weighing in excess of 80,000 pounds can be operated on the interstate at the present time, but only with single-trip permits, issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, which are both expensive and time‑consuming to obtain, and

Whereas, operating vehicles on the interstates in Vermont instead of on state roads and city streets promotes greater efficiencies and an improved quality of life, and

Whereas, the Congressional authorization of the 90,000-pound weight limitation for interstate highways located in the state of New Hampshire demonstrates that the highway safety issues related to this weight increase have already been examined in detail, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly requests Congress to grant statutory authorization permitting a 90,000-pound weight limitation for all commodities transported in five-axle or more truck tractors, semi-trailer combinations, or truck trailer combinations traveling on interstate highways in Vermont, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters and the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation.

Which was read and, in the Speaker’s discretion, treated as a bill and referred to the committee on Transportation.

Committee Relieved of Consideration

and Bill Committed to Other Committee

H. 148

Rep. Pugh of South Burlington moved that the committee on Human Services be relieved of House bill, entitled

An act relating to the child abuse registry;

And that the bill be committed to the committee on Judiciary, which was agreed to.

 

 

Resolution Amended; Third Reading Ordered

J.R.H. 1

Rep. Courcelle of Rutland City, for the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources, to which had been referred Joint resolution, entitled

Joint resolution to request Congress to an exportation of elemental mercury;

Reported in favor of its passage when amended by striking the resolution and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Whereas, mercury and mercury compounds are highly toxic to humans, ecosystems, and wildlife, and

Whereas, as many as 10 percent of women of childbearing age in the United States have mercury in their blood at a level that could put a baby at risk, and

Whereas, as many as 410,000 children born annually in the United States are at risk of neurological problems related to mercury, and

Whereas, the most significant source of mercury exposure to people in the United States is ingestion of mercury-contaminated fish, and

Whereas, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that, as of 2004:

(1)  44 states have fish advisories, covering more than 13,000,000 lake acres and more than 750,000 river miles,

(2)  the freshwater advisories are statewide in 21 states, and

(3)  the coastal advisories are statewide in 12 states, and

Whereas, since uncontaminated fish represent a critical and healthy source of nutrition worldwide, the long-term solution to mercury pollution is not to reduce fish consumption, but rather to minimize global mercury use and releases and thereby eventually to achieve reduced contamination levels in the environment, and

Whereas, mercury pollution is a transboundary pollutant, depositing locally, regionally, and globally, and affecting water bodies near industrial sources (including Lake Champlain) and remote areas (including the Arctic Circle), and

Whereas, the free trade of mercury and mercury compounds on the world market, at relatively low prices and in ready supply, encourages the continued use of mercury outside of the United States, often involving highly dispersive activities such as small-scale gold mining in developing countries, and

Whereas, although the intentional use of mercury is declining in the United States as a consequence of process changes in the manufacturing of products (including batteries, paints, switches, and measuring devices), those uses remain substantial in the developing world, where releases from the products are extremely likely due to the limited pollution control and waste management infrastructures in those countries, and

Whereas, the member countries of the European Union collectively are the largest source of mercury exports globally, and

Whereas, the European Union is in the process of enacting legislation that will prohibit mercury exports by not later than 2011, and

Whereas, according to the United States Geologic Survey, during the period of 2000 through 2004, the United States exported 506 metric tons of mercury more than it imported, making it a net exporter of mercury, and

Whereas, banning exports of mercury from the United States will have a notable effect  worldwide on the market availability of mercury and will facilitate switching to affordable mercury alternatives throughout the developing world; and

Whereas, since 2001, the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) has supported the stockpiling of mercury, as opposed to its release on the global market; and

Whereas, the Department of Defense has completed an environmental impact statement and has decided to store its mercury, and not sell it into the global market; now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges the Congress to enact legislation:

(1)  prohibiting the sale, distribution, or transfer of elemental mercury by the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to any other department or agency of the federal government, any state or local government, or any private person or entity;

(2)  prohibiting the export of elemental mercury from the United States;

(3)  authorizing the President, subject to notification and justification requirements, to prohibit the export of any mercury compound from the United States, as necessary to avoid subversion of the export ban;

(4)  requiring the President to establish storage capacity sufficient to store safely quantities of elemental mercury and any mercury compounds covered by the prohibitions that are in excess of quantities necessary for domestic consumption and to establish necessary regulations with respect to the establishment and operation of these storage facilities and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States and to the Vermont Congressional Delegation.

The resolution, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up, read the second time, report of the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources agreed to and third reading ordered.

Action Postponed

H.R. 8

House resolution relating to House rules;

Was taken up and pending the question, Shall the resolution be adopted? Rep. Koch of Barre Town demanded the Yeas and Nays, which demand was sustained by the Constitutional number. 

Pending the call of the roll, Rep. Deen of Westminster moved that action be postponed until Friday, February 2, 2007, which was agreed to.

Adjournment

At ten o’clock and fifty minutes in the forenoon, on motion of Rep. Komline of Dorset, the House adjourned until tomorrow at three o’clock in the afternoon.

Concurrent Resolutions Adopted

     The following concurrent resolutions, having been placed on the Consent Calendar on the preceding legislative day, and no member having requested floor consideration  as provided by the Joint Rules of the Senate and House of Representatives, are hereby adopted in concurrence.

H.C.R.  22

House concurrent resolution honoring the medical career of Dr. Gilles Bouchard of Stanstead, Quebec

H.C.R.  23

House concurrent resolution honoring the Republic of Vermont Celebration–Windsor Heritage Days as the 2007 official Vermont celebration of Vermont’s independence

     [The full text of the concurrent resolutions appeared in the Senate and House Calendar Addendum on the preceding legislative day and will appear in the volume of the Public Acts and Resolves of the 2007, sixty-ninth  Adjourned session]

 



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