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Journal of the House

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THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2008

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

Devotional Exercises

Devotional exercises were conducted by Reverend Ralph Howe of Hedding Methodist Church, Barre, VT.

Committee Bill Introduced

H. 896

Rep. Westman of Cambridge, for the committee on Transportation, introduced a bill, entitled

An act relating to balancing the transportation budget and repairing deteriorating roads;

Which was read the first time and, under the rule, placed on the Calendar for notice tomorrow.

Bill Referred to Committee on Appropriations

S. 112

Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to victims compensation;

Appearing on the Calendar, carrying an appropriation, under rule 35a, was referred to the committee on Appropriations.

House Resolution Placed on Calendar

The Speaker placed before the House the following resolution which was read and in the Speaker’s discretion, placed on the Calendar for action tomorrow under Rule 52.

H.R. 36

House resolution relating to the Connecticut River Valley Flood Control Commission

Offered by:  Committee on Ways and Means

Whereas, the state of Vermont entered into the Connecticut River Flood Control Compact along with the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut on September 8, 1953, and

Whereas, the Connecticut River Valley Flood Control Commission was created by the compact to provide a joint or common agency through which the signatory states may more effectively cooperate in accomplishing the objective of flood control and water resource utilization in the basin of the Connecticut River and its tributaries, and

Whereas, central to the Compact is the agreement of the down-river states of Connecticut and Massachusetts to reimburse the up-river states of Vermont and New Hampshire for the amount of taxes lost to their political subdivisions by reason of federal ownership of lands, rights, and other property taken for the flood control dams, facilities, and reservoirs in New Hampshire and Vermont, and

Whereas, the compact provides that the Commission determine each year the amount of the tax loss to be reimbursed based on a formula employing the tax rate then current in the municipality applied to the assessed value of the property which may include revaluation resulting from any general revaluation of the property in the municipalities in which a flood control dam or reservoir or portion thereof is located, and

Whereas, while the compact provides for an annual determination of the amount of tax loss, it appears that no annual determination has been made in the 25 years since the Commission agreed to “freeze” the tax loss amounts in 1982, and

Whereas, while the valuation of the lands in the up-river states in which the flood control facilities, dams, and reservoirs are located has increased enormously in the past quarter century, and the value of the property protected from flood damage in the down-river states has increased even more, it appears that the amount of tax loss payments made to municipalities in Vermont and New Hampshire has not been adjusted accordingly as called for by the compact, now therefore be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives:

That the Connecticut River Valley Flood Control Commission is requested to review the rationale and authority for freezing the amount of tax loss payments since 1982, determine the amount of tax loss payments that would be due based upon current assessments and revaluation of the subject property, and report its findings, determinations, and recommendations to the Vermont General Assembly, and be it further

Resolved:  That the clerk of the house be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Connecticut River Valley Flood Control Commission in Greenfield, Massachusetts, to the selectboards of the municipalities in Vermont affected by the compact including Norwich, Thetford, Hartland, Hartford, Springfield, Weathersfield, Jamaica, Townshend, and Londonderry and to the Vermont Congressional Delegation.

Remarks Journalized

On motion of Rep. Evans of Essex, the following remarks by Rep. Donna Sweaney of Windsor were ordered printed in the Journal:

“Madam Speaker:

     I want to thank the General Assembly for the honor bestowed on me as Woman Legislator of the Year.  My name appears on a beautiful plaque with outstanding people like Karen Kitzmiller, Marion Milne and Gaye Symington.  Not only do I stand with these women but the outstanding women nominated for this honor, Avis Gervais, Helen Head, Martha Heath, Sue Minter and Alice Nitka.

     Any success I have here I also owe to my mentor and friend Rep. Cola Hudson.  He once told me that a committee chair only has power that he/she derives from the committee members.  I do have a wonderful committee.

     I am proud to serve among all the amazing women members of this House and Senate as well as the wonderful men who sit beside us and support us.

     Thank you so very much for your generosity.”

Committees of Conference Appointed

Pursuant to the request of the Senate for Committees of Conference on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on bills of the following titles, the Speaker appointed members of such Committees on the part of the House as follows:

S. 241

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

     The Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

   Rep. Masland of Thetford

   Rep. Scheuermann of Stowe

               Rep. Fitzgerald of St. Albans City

S. 342

     An act relating to Lake Champlain commemorative motor vehicle plates;

     The Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

   Rep. Brennan of Colchester

   Rep. Potter of Clarendon

               Rep. Audette of South  Burlington

Proposal of Amendment Agreed to; Third Reading Ordered

S. 281

Rep. Frank of Underhill, for the committee on Human Services, to which had been referred Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to end-of-life care and pain management;

Reported in favor of its passage in concurrence with proposal of amendment as follows:

by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  STUDY AND REPORT ON PALLIATIVE CARE, END-OF-LIFE CARE, AND PAIN MANAGEMENT

(a)  The office of the attorney general, in cooperation with the departments of health and of disabilities, aging, and independent living, shall convene and lead a group of stakeholders to discuss and make recommendations on legislative and non-legislative solutions for improving:

(1)  palliative care,

(2)  end-of-life care,

(3)  management of chronic pain, and

(4)  access to these services for children.

(b)  Participants shall include:

(1)  the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care;

(2)  the Hospice and Palliative Care Council of Vermont;

(3)  the Vermont health care ombudsman;

(4)  the Vermont long-term care ombudsman;

(5)  Patient Choices at End of Life – Vermont;

(6)  the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare;

(7)  the Community of Vermont Elders;

(8)  the Vermont Ethics Network;

(9)  the Vermont Health Care Association;

(10)  the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems;

(11)  the Vermont Medical Society;

(12)  the Vermont Coalition on Disability Rights;

(13)  the American Cancer Society;

(14)  AARP Vermont;

(15)  one representative appointed by the speaker of the house and one senator appointed by the president pro tempore; and

(16)  other interested stakeholders.

(c)  The group shall consider:

(1)  available data and studies from existing sources and evaluate their utility for driving improvements in palliative care, end-of-life care, and pain management services across settings in this state;

(2)  the value and feasibility of conducting ongoing studies or preparing an annual report card, or both;

(3)  recommendations for improving ongoing coordination of activities directed toward improving palliative care, end-of-life care, and pain management services throughout the state;

(4)  how best to protect the interests of persons who:

(A)  have a terminal illness,

(B)  are receiving hospice care, or

(C)  are suffering chronic pain;

(5)  how to advance the goal of improving health care services for children with painful or life-threatening medical conditions, including:

(A)  the current availability of insurance coverage for pediatric palliative care services and treatment for chronic pain, and

(B)  avenues for increasing children’s access to care;

(6)  recommendations for improving methods of informing consumers about options in this state for end-of-life care, palliative care, and management of chronic pain, and about the importance of having an advance directive, including means to ensure that:

(A)  persons suffering from chronic pain are aware of their right to request or reject the use of all medications, and

(B)  persons with a terminal illness are informed about their end-of-life care options;

(7)  recommendations on the adoption and implementation of statewide standards on pain management for each of the health care professions licensed in this state; and

(8)  such other issues as the group determines necessary and appropriate.

(d)  No later than January 15, 2009, the stakeholders’ group shall provide a written progress report on its initial findings and recommendations, including the appropriateness of an annual report card, to the house committees on human services and on health care and the senate committee on health and welfare.  No later than December 15, 2009, the group shall provide a final report on its findings and recommendations, including recommendations on the group’s continued duration and future activities, to the house committees on human services and on health care and the senate committee on health and welfare.

Rep. Hunt of Essex, for the committee on Appropriations, recommended the bill ought to pass in concurrence when amended as recommended by the committee on Human Services and when further amended follows:

In Sec. 1 by adding a new (e) to read:

(e) Participants of the stakeholders group established by this act who are members of the General Assembly are entitled to receive per diem compensation and reimbursement of expenses as provided by 2  V.S.A. §406.

The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up, read the second time and the recommendation of proposal of amendment offered by the committees on Human Services and Appropriations agreed to and third reading ordered.

Proposal of Amendment Agreed to; Third Reading Ordered

S. 168

Rep. Jewett of Ripton, for the committee on Judiciary, to which had been referred Senate bill, entitled

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

Reported in favor of its passage in concurrence with proposal of amendment as follows:

By striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  23 V.S.A. § 1130a is added to read:

§ 1130A.  PERMITTING UNDULY DANGEROUS PERSON TO OPERATE

(a)    No person shall knowingly and voluntarily permit a motor vehicle owned by him or her or under his or her control to be operated by a person:

(1)  whom the person permitting the operation knows or should know is under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or

(2)  whose license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle has been revoked, suspended or refused by the commissioner of motor vehicles for a violation of subsections 1091(b) or section 1201 or a suspension under section 1205 of this title, if the person permitting the operation knows of the revocation, suspension, or refusal.

(b)  Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,000.00.

(c)  A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $5,000.00 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both, if the person who was permitted to operate the vehicle causes an accident which results in death or serious bodily injury as defined in 13 V.S.A.§ 1021(2) to any person other than the operator.  The provisions of this subdivision do not limit or restrict prosecutions for manslaughter.

(d)  For purposes of this section, a person may assert as an affirmative defense a necessity defense, including that threat or coercion was used by the operator to obtain permission from the person to operate the motor vehicle.

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 1200 is amended to read:

§ 1200.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this subchapter,:

* * *

(2)  “Drug” means:

(A)  a regulated drug as defined in section 4201 of Title 18; or

(B)  any substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, which affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to noticeably and appreciably impair a person’s ability to safely drive a vehicle in the manner that an ordinarily prudent and cautious person, in full possession of his or her faculties, using reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle under like conditions.

* * *

Sec. 3.    ALCOHOL IGNITION INTERLOCKS STUDY:  MULTIPLE DUI

               AND HIGH BLOOD-ALCOHOL-CONTENT FIRST OFFENSE                          DUI

(a)  The Vermont sentencing commission shall study the issue of implementing a system of alcohol ignition interlocks in Vermont for persons with multiple DUI convictions, as well as for first time DUI offenders with high blood-alcohol-content levels at the time of arrest.  The commission may consult with any other persons and entities able to assist the study, and shall:

(1)  gather and analyze information about alcohol ignition interlock systems, and review current practices regarding use of the systems in other states;

(2)  study the feasibility of having the costs of alcohol ignition interlock systems be borne by DUI offenders;

(3)  study the net costs of implementing an alcohol ignition interlock system in Vermont, including the availability of federal funding for that purpose; and

(4)  study the advisability and feasibility of implementing a system of conditional drivers licenses in Vermont.

(b)  The commission shall report its findings and make recommendations to the senate and house committees on judiciary no later than December 15, 2008. 

Sec. 4.    LAW ENFORCEMENT ROADSIDE ACCESS TO DEPARTMENT

               OF CORRECTION RECORDS

The department of public safety, the department of corrections, and the department of motor vehicles shall collaborate to develop and implement procedures allowing law enforcement officers roadside access to department of corrections records, including records regarding probation, parole, and conditions of release.  The departments shall make a report to the senate and house committees on judiciary no later than December 15, 2008.

The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up and read the second time.

Pending the question, Shall the House propose to the Senate to amend the bill as recommended by the committee on Judiciary? Rep. Koch of Barre Town moved to amend the House proposal of amendment as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, 23 V.S.A. § 1130a(a)(1), after the words “alcohol or” by striking the word “drugs” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “one or more drugs as defined in subdivision 1200(2) of this title

Second:  In Sec. 2, 23 V.S.A. § 1200(2), by striking subdivision (B) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subdivision (B) to read as follows:

(B)  any substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, which affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person so as to impair, noticeably and appreciably, a person’s ability to drive a vehicle safely.  

Which was agreed to.

Pending the question, Shall the House propose to the Senate to amend the bill as recommended by the committee on Judiciary? Rep. Courcelle of Rutland City moved to amend the House proposal of amendment as follows:

In Sec. 3 (a) (4), after the word “Vermont” by inserting the words “, and the advisability of lowering the .04 blood alcohol limit on commercial driver’s licenses   

Which was agreed to.

Thereupon, the House proposal of amendment offered by the committee on Judiciary, as amended, was agreed to and third reading was ordered.

Proposal of Amendment Agreed to; Bill Read Third Time

and Passed in Concurrence With Proposal of Amendment

S. 114

Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to enhancing mental health parity

Was taken up, and pending third reading of the bill, Rep. Fisher of Lincoln moved to amend the House proposal of amendment as follows:

By amending the title of the bill to read as follows:

“AN ACT RELATING TO ENHANCING REGULATION OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES”

Which was agreed to.

     Pending third reading of the bill Rep. Donahue of Northfield moved to amend the House proposal of amendment as follows:

     By striking Sec. 1, subsection (d)(e), in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(d)(e) A Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (c)(1) of this section, a health insurance plan shall be construed to be in compliance with this section if at least one choice for treatment of mental health conditions provided to the insured within the plan has rates, terms and conditions that place no greater financial burden on the insured than for access to treatment of physical other health conditions, provided that a health insurance plan that uses management of care for an insured for treatment of mental health and other health conditions shall not place, or permit an affiliate to place, any greater burden on the insured’s access to treatment for mental health conditions than it does on access to treatment for the majority of other specialty care under the plan.  The commissioner may adopt rules requiring health insurers to demonstrate compliance with this subsection and may disapprove any plan that the commissioner determines to be inconsistent with the purposes of this section.

     Which was disagreed to.

     Thereupon, the bill was read the third time and passed in concurrence with proposal of amendment.

Proposal of Amendment Agreed to; Bill Read the Third Time and Passed in Concurrence With Proposal of Amendment

S. 336

Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to juvenile judicial proceedings;

Was taken up, and pending third reading of the bill, Rep. Flory of Pittsford moved to amend the House proposal of amendment as follows:

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

Sec. 8.  33 V.S.A. chapter 53 is added to read:

Chapter 53.  Children in Need of Care

or Supervision

§ 5301.  Taking into custody 

A child may be taken into custody:

(1)  Pursuant to an order of the family court under the provisions of this chapter.

(2)  By an officer when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the child is in immediate danger from his or her surroundings and that removal is necessary for the child’s protection.

(3)  By an officer when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the child has run away from a custodial parent, a foster parent, a guardian, a custodian, a noncustodial parent lawfully exercising parent-child contact, or care provider.

§ 5302.  Request for Emergency Care Order  

(a)  If an officer takes a child into custody pursuant to subdivisions 5301(1) and (2) of this title, the officer shall immediately notify the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian and release the child to the care of the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian unless the officer determines that the child’s immediate welfare requires the child’s continued absence from the home.

(b)  If the officer determines that the child’s immediate welfare requires the child’s continued absence from the home, the officer shall:

(1)  Remove the child from the child’s surroundings, contact the department, and deliver the child to a location designated by the department.  The department shall have the authority to make reasonable decisions concerning the child’s immediate placement, safety and welfare pending the issuance of an emergency care order.

(2)  Prepare an affidavit in support of a request for an emergency care order and provide the affidavit to the state’s attorney.  The affidavit shall include:  the reasons for taking the child into custody; and to the degree known, placements with which the child is familiar; the names, addresses, and telephone number of the child’s parents, guardian, custodian, or care provider; the name, address, and telephone number of any relative who has indicated an interest in taking temporary custody of the child.  The department may prepare an affidavit as a supplement to the affidavit of the law enforcement officer if the department has additional information with respect to the child or the family.

(c)  If the child is taken into custody during regular court hours, the state’s attorney shall immediately file a request for an emergency care order accompanied by the supporting affidavit or direct the immediate return of the child to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  If the child is taken into custody after regular court hours or on a weekend or holiday, the state’s attorney or officer shall contact a judge to request an emergency care order or return the child to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  If an order is granted, the state’s attorney shall file the supporting affidavit with the court on the next day that the court is open.

(d)  If the judge denies a request for an emergency care order, the state’s attorney shall direct immediate return of the child to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.    

§ 5303.  Procedure for runaway children  

(a)  If an officer takes a child into custody pursuant to subdivision 5301(3) of this title, the officer shall deliver the child to:  

(1)  the child’s custodial parent, foster parent, guardian, custodian, or noncustodial parent lawfully exercising parent-child contact; or

(2)  a shelter designated by the department pursuant to section 5304 of this title as qualified to assist children who have run away for the purpose of reuniting them with their parents, guardian, or legal custodian.

(b)  Upon delivery of a child to a shelter, the shelter program director or his or her designee, shall notify the child’s parents, guardian, or custodian that the child has been taken into custody and make reasonable efforts to mediate the differences between the parties.

(c)  A child may remain at a designated shelter for a period not to exceed seven days.

(d)  Upon expiration of the seven-day period or sooner at the request of the child or the custodial parent:

(1)  the child shall be released to his or her custodial parent, foster parent, guardian, custodian, or noncustodial parent lawfully exercising

parent-child contact; or

(2)  an officer shall seek an emergency care order pursuant to section 5302 of this title.

(e)  Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the custody status of the child shall remain the same during the period of time the child is at the shelter.

§ 5304.  Designated shelters for runaway children  

The commissioner shall designate shelters throughout the state where a child taken into custody pursuant to subdivision 5301(3) of this title may be housed for a period not to exceed seven days.

§ 5305.  Emergency Care Order; CONDITIONAL CUSTODY

              ORDER

(a)  Transfer of temporary custody.  If the court determines that the child’s continued residence in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare, the court may issue an emergency care order transferring temporary custody of the child to the department pending a temporary care hearing.  The determination may be made ex parte, provided that it is reasonably supported by the affidavit prepared in accordance with section 5302 of this title. 

(b)  Contents of emergency care order.  The emergency care order shall contain: 

(1)  a written finding that the child’s continued residence in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare and the factual allegations that support that finding;

(2)  the date, hour, and place of the temporary care hearing to be held pursuant to section 5307 of this title; and

(3)  notice of a parent’s right to counsel at the temporary care hearing.

(c)  Conditional custody order.  If the court determines that the child may safely remain in the custody of the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian subject to such conditions and limitations necessary and sufficient to protect the child pending a temporary care hearing, the court may deny the request for an emergency care order and issue an emergency conditional custody order.  An emergency conditional custody order shall contain the date, hour, and place of the temporary care hearing and notice of a parent’s right to counsel at the hearing.

§ 5306.  Notice of Emergency Care Order and TEMPORARY

              CARE Hearing

(a)  Notice to custodial parent.  An officer shall deliver a copy of the emergency care order or conditional custody order to the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child.  If delivery cannot be made in a timely manner, the officer shall otherwise notify the custodial parent or cause them to be notified of the order, the date, the time and place of the temporary care hearing, and the parent’s right to counsel.  If the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian cannot be located, the officer shall so certify to the court in an affidavit describing the efforts made to locate the parents.

(b)  Notice to noncustodial parent.  The department shall make reasonable efforts to locate any noncustodial parent and provide the noncustodial parent with the emergency care order or conditional care order, notice of the date, hour, and place of the temporary care hearing, and right to counsel.  If the noncustodial parent cannot be located, the department shall provide to the court, in writing, a summary of the efforts made to locate the parent.

(c)  Failure to locate.  The hearing shall not be delayed by reason of not being able to locate either the custodial or noncustodial parent.

(d)  Notice to other parties.  The court shall notify the following persons of the date and time of the temporary care hearing:

(1)  The state’s attorney.

(2)  A representative of the department.

(3)  An attorney to represent the child.

(4)  A guardian ad litem for the child.

(5)  An attorney to represent each parent.  The attorney may be

court-appointed in the event the parent is eligible, or may be an attorney who has entered an appearance on behalf of a parent. 

§ 5307.  Temporary Care Hearing

(a)  A temporary care hearing shall be held within 72 hours of the issuance of an emergency care order or conditional custody order under section 5305 of this title.  State holidays shall be excluded from the computation of 72 hours.   If the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian has not been notified in accordance with section 5306 of this title and does not appear or waive appearance at the temporary care hearing and files thereafter with the court an affidavit so showing, the court shall hold another temporary care hearing within one business day of the filing of the affidavit as if no temporary care hearing had theretofore been held.

(b)  If the state’s attorney is seeking a temporary care order, he or she shall file a petition in accordance with section 5308 of this title prior to the temporary care hearing.  If the state’s attorney elects not to file a petition, he or she shall so notify the court and the court shall vacate the emergency care order and order the return of the child to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.

(c)  The following persons shall be present at the temporary care hearing:

(1)  The child, unless the child is under 10 years of age and the presence of the child is waived by the child’s attorney.  For good cause shown, the court may waive the presence of a child who is 10 years of age or older.

(2)  The child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, unless the parent, guardian, or custodian cannot be located or fails to appear in response to notice.

(3)  The child’s guardian ad litem.

(4)  An attorney for the child.

(5)  An attorney for the custodial parent, if requested.

(6)  The department.

(7)  The state’s attorney.

(d)  A noncustodial parent and his or her attorney shall have the right to be present at the hearing; however, the hearing shall not be delayed by reason of the inability of the department to locate the noncustodial parent.

(e)  The department shall provide the following information to the court at the hearing:

(1)  Any reasons for the child’s removal which are not set forth in the affidavit required pursuant to subsection 5302(b) of this title.

(2)  Services, if any, provided to the child and the family in an effort to prevent removal.

(3)  The need, if any, for continued custody of the child with the department pending a hearing to adjudicate the merits of the petition.

(4)  Services which could facilitate the return of the child to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.

(5)  The identity and location of a noncustodial parent, a relative, or person with a significant relationship with the child known to the department who may be appropriate, capable, willing, and available to assume temporary legal custody of the child.  If the noncustodial parent cannot be located, the department shall provide to the court, in writing, a summary of the efforts made to locate the parent.

(6)  Additional information as required by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act pursuant to 15 V.S.A. § 1037 and the Indian Child Welfare Act pursuant to 25 U.S.C. Section 1901 et seq. 

(f)  All parties shall have the right to present evidence on their own behalf and examine witnesses.  Hearsay, to the extent it is deemed relevant and reliable by the court, shall be admissible.  The court may, in its discretion, limit testimony and evidence to only that which goes to the issues of removal of the child from the home and the child’s temporary legal custody.

(g)  The temporary care hearing shall also be a preliminary hearing on the petition.

§ 5308.  Temporary Care Order

(a)  The court shall order that legal custody be returned to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that return home would be contrary to the child’s welfare because any one of the following exists:

(1)  A return of legal custody could result in substantial danger to the physical health, mental health, welfare, or safety of the child.

(2)  The child or another child residing in the same household has been physically or sexually abused by a parent, guardian, or custodian, or by a member of the child’s household, or another person known to the parent, guardian, or custodian.

(3)  The child or another child residing in the same household is at substantial risk of physical or sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, or custodian, or by a member of the child’s household, or another person known to the parent, guardian, or custodian.  It shall constitute prima facie evidence that a child is at substantial risk of being physically or sexually abused if:

(A)  a parent, guardian, or custodian receives actual notice that a person has committed or is alleged to have committed physical or sexual abuse against a child; and

(B)  the parent, guardian, or custodian knowingly or recklessly allows the child to be in the physical presence of the alleged abuser after receiving such notice.

(4)  The custodial parent, guardian, or guardian has abandoned the child.

(5)  The child or another child in the same household has been neglected and there is substantial risk of harm to the child who is the subject of the petition.

(b)  Upon a finding that any of the conditions set forth in subsection (a) of this section exists, the court may issue such temporary orders related to the legal custody of the child as it deems necessary and sufficient to protect the welfare and safety of the child including, in order of preference:

(1)  A conditional custody order returning legal custody of the child to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, subject to such conditions and limitations as the court may deem necessary and sufficient to protect the child.

(2)(A)  Upon a personal appearance and a request by a noncustodial parent for temporary legal custody and upon a determination that parentage is not contested, the noncustodial parent shall present to the court a care plan that describes the history of the noncustodial parent’s contact with the child, including any reasons why contact did not occur, and that addresses:

(i)  the child’s need for a safe, secure, and stable home;

(ii)  the child’s need for proper and effective care and control; and

(iii)  the child’s need for a continuing relationship with the custodial parent, if appropriate.

(B)  The court shall consider court orders and findings from other proceedings related to the custody of the child.

(C)  The court shall transfer legal custody to the noncustodial parent unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the transfer would be contrary to the child’s welfare because any of the following exists:

(i)  The care plan fails to meet the criteria set forth in subdivision (2)(A) of this subsection.

(ii)  Transferring temporary legal custody of the child to the noncustodial parent could result in substantial danger to the physical health, mental health, welfare, or safety of the child.

(iii)  The child or another child residing in the same household as the noncustodial parent has been physically or sexually abused by the noncustodial parent or a member of the noncustodial parent’s household, or another person known to the noncustodial parent.

(iv)  The child or another child residing in the same household as the noncustodial parent is at substantial risk of physical or sexual abuse by the noncustodial parent or a member of the noncustodial parent’s household, or another person known to the noncustodial parent.  It shall constitute prima facie evidence that a child is at substantial risk of being physically or sexually abused if:

(I)  a noncustodial parent receives actual notice that a person has committed or is alleged to have committed physical or sexual abuse against a child; and

(II)  the noncustodial parent knowingly or recklessly allows the child to be in the physical presence of the alleged abuser after receiving such notice.

(v)  The child or another child in the noncustodial parent’s household has been neglected, and there is substantial risk of harm to the child who is the subject of the petition.

(D)  If the noncustodial parent’s request for temporary custody is contested, the court may continue the hearing and place the child in the temporary custody of the department pending further hearing and resolution of the custody issue.  Absent good cause shown, the court shall hold a further hearing on the issue within 30 days.

(3)  An order transferring temporary legal custody of the child to a relative, provided:

(A)  The relative seeking legal custody is a grandparent,

great-grandparent, aunt, great-aunt, uncle, great-uncle, stepparent, sibling, or step-sibling of the child.

(B)  The relative is suitable to care for the child.  In determining suitability, the court shall consider the relationship of the child and the relative and the relative’s ability to:

(i)  Provide a safe, secure, and stable environment.

(ii)  Exercise proper and effective care and control of the child.

(iii)  Protect the child from the custodial parent to the degree the court deems such protection necessary.

(iv)  Support reunification efforts, if any, with the custodial parent.

(v)  Consider providing legal permanence if reunification fails.

(C)  In considering the suitability of a relative who is entitled to preferential consideration, the court may order the department to conduct an investigation and file a written report of its findings with the court.  The court may place the child in the temporary custody of the department pending such investigation.

(4)  A temporary care order transferring temporary legal custody of the child to a relative who is not listed in subdivision (3)(A) of this subsection or a person with a significant relationship with the child, provided that the criteria in subdivision (3)(B) of this subsection are met.  The court may make such orders as provided in subdivision (3)(C) of this subsection to determine suitability under this subdivision.

(5)  A temporary care order transferring temporary legal custody of the child to the commissioner. 

(c)  If the court transfers legal custody of the child, the court shall issue a written temporary care order. 

(1)  The order shall include:

(A)  a finding that remaining in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare and the facts upon which that finding is based; and

(B)  a finding as to whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent unnecessary removal of the child from the home.  If the court lacks sufficient evidence to make findings on whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent the removal of the child from the home, that determination shall be made at the next scheduled hearing in the case but, in any event, no later than 60 days after the issuance of the initial order removing a child from the home.

(2)  The order may include other provisions as may be necessary for the protection and welfare of the child, such as:

(A)  Establishing parent-child contact under such terms and conditions as are necessary for the protection of the child.

(B)  Requiring the department to provide the child with services.

(C)  Requiring the department to refer a parent for appropriate assessments and services, including a consideration of the needs of children and parents with disabilities.

(D)  Requiring genetic testing if parentage of the child is at issue.

(E)  Requiring the department to make diligent efforts to locate the noncustodial parent.

(F)  Requiring the custodial parent to provide the department with names of all potential noncustodial parents and relatives of the child.

(d)  If a party seeks to modify a temporary care order in order to transfer legal custody of a child from the commissioner to a relative or a person with a significant relationship with the child, the relative shall be entitled to preferential consideration under subdivision (b)(3) of this section, provided that a disposition order has not been issued and the motion is filed within 90 days of the date that legal custody was initially transferred to the commissioner.

§ 5309.  Filing of a petition 

(a)  The state’s attorney having jurisdiction shall prepare and file a petition alleging that a child is in need of care or supervision upon the request of the commissioner or, in the event the child is truant from school, upon the request of the superintendent of the school district in which the child is enrolled or resides.  If the state’s attorney fails to file a petition within a reasonable amount of time, the department or the superintendent of the school district may request that the attorney general file a petition on behalf of the department.

(b)  If the court has issued an emergency care order placing the child who is the subject of the petition in the temporary legal custody of the department or has issued a conditional custody order, the state’s attorney shall file the petition on or before the date of the temporary care hearing.  

(c)  A petition may be withdrawn by the state’s attorney at any time prior to the hearing thereon, in which event the child shall be returned to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, the proceedings under this chapter terminated, and all files and documents relating thereto sealed under section 5119 of this title.

(d)  Upon the request of the agency of human services, the state’s attorney may file a petition pursuant to subsection (a) of this section alleging that a

16- to 17.5-year-old youth who is not in the custody of the state is a child in need of care or supervision under subdivision 5102(2)(B)(ii) of this title when the child meets the criteria set forth in subdivision 5102(2)(B)(ii) of this title.  The petition shall be accompanied by a report from the department which sets forth facts supporting the specific requirements of subdivision 5102(2)(C) of this title and that it is in the best interests of the child to be considered as a child in need of care or supervision.

§ 5310.  Petition, contents 

(a)  The petition shall be supported by an affidavit of an officer or the department. 

(b)  The petition shall contain the following:

(1)  A concise statement of the facts which support the conclusion that the child is a child in need of care or supervision together with a statement that it is in the best interests of the child that the proceedings be brought. 

(2)  The name, date of birth, telephone number, and residence address, if known, of the child, the custodial and noncustodial parents, the guardian or custodian of the child if other than parent.  If a parent is a participant in the Safe At Home Program pursuant to 15 V.S.A. § 1152, the petition shall so specify.

(3)  Jurisdictional information required pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, 15 V.S.A. § 1032 et seq.

§ 5311.   Service of Summons and Petition; no request for

               temporary care Order; PRELIMINARY HEARING

(a)  When the state’s attorney files a petition but does not request a temporary care order, the court shall set a date for a preliminary hearing on the petition no later than 15 days from the date the petition is filed and issue a judicial summons addressed to the custodial parent, guardian, custodian, or care provider.  A copy of the petition shall be attached to the summons.  The court shall make reasonably diligent efforts to serve a noncustodial parent with a copy of the summons and petition.

(b)  The summons shall contain:

(1)  The name and address of the person to whom the notice is directed.

(2)  The date, time, and place for the preliminary hearing on the petition.

(3)  The name of the minor on whose behalf the petition has been brought.

(4)  Notice of a parent’s right to counsel.

(5)  A statement that the parent, guardian or custodian may be liable for the cost of the support of a child if the child is placed in the legal custody of the department.

(6)  An order directing the parent, guardian, custodian, or care provider to appear at the hearing with the child.

(c)  The summons and petition may be served by mailing a copy by certified mail return receipt requested to the child and to the child’s parent, guardian, custodian, or care provider.  Service of the summons and petition may also be made by any sheriff, deputy, or constable.  The court shall provide a copy of the summons to the state’s attorney and a copy of the summons and petition to the department and the attorney for the child. 

(d)  Notice and a copy of the petition shall be served on all persons required to receive notice as soon as possible after the petition is filed and at least five days prior to the date set for the preliminary hearing.

(e)  A party may waive service of the petition and notice by written stipulation or by voluntary appearance at the hearing.

(f)  Once a parent, guardian, or custodian has been served, the court shall provide notice of hearing either directly or by mail.  The parent shall be responsible for providing the court with information regarding any changes in address. 

§ 5312.  Failure to Appear at Preliminary Hearing    

(a)  If a parent, guardian, or custodian has been served by certified mail with the petition and notice of hearing and fails to appear at the preliminary hearing, the court may order that the parent, guardian, or custodian be served with a judicial summons ordering the person to appear in court with the child at a specified date and time.

(b)  If, after being summoned to appear, the parent, guardian, or custodian fails to appear or fails to bring the child to court as ordered, the court may issue a pick-up order or warrant pursuant to section 5108 of this title. 

§ 5313.  Timelines for pretrial and merits hearing

(a)  Pretrial hearing.  At the time of the temporary care hearing or at the preliminary hearing on the petition if there is no request for temporary legal custody, the court shall set a pretrial hearing on the petition.  The hearing shall be held within 15 days of the temporary care hearing or the preliminary hearing.  In the event that there is no admission or dismissal at or before the pretrial hearing, the court shall set the matter for a hearing to adjudicate the merits of the petition.

(b)  Merits hearing.  If the child who is the subject of the petition has been removed from the legal custody of the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian pursuant to a temporary care order, a merits hearing shall be held and merits adjudicated no later than 60 days from the date the temporary care order is issued.  In all other cases, merits shall be adjudicated in a timely manner in the best interests of the child.

§ 5314.  Filing of Initial Case Plan 

(a)  If a temporary care order is issued transferring legal custody of the child to the commissioner, the department shall prepare and file with the court an initial case plan for the child and the family within 60 days of removal of a child from home.  The department shall provide a copy of the case plan to the parties, their attorneys, and the guardian ad litem.

(b)  The initial case plan shall not be used or referred to as evidence prior to a finding that a child is in need of care or supervision.

§ 5315.  Merits Adjudication 

(a)  At a hearing on the merits of a petition, the state shall have the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the child is in need of care and supervision.  In its discretion, the court may make findings by clear and convincing evidence.

(b)  The parties may stipulate to the merits of the petition.  Such stipulation shall include a stipulation as to the facts that support a finding that the child is in need of care and supervision.

(c)  If the merits are contested, all parties shall have the right to present evidence on their own behalf and to examine witnesses.

(d)  A merits hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Evidence.  A finding of fact made after a contested temporary care hearing based on nonhearsay evidence may be adopted by the court as a finding of fact at a contested merits hearing provided that a witness who testified at the temporary care hearing may be recalled by any party at a contested merits hearing to supplement his or her testimony.  

(e)  If the merits are contested, the court after hearing the evidence shall make its findings on the record. 

(f)  If the court finds that the allegations made in the petition have not been established, the court shall dismiss the petition and vacate any temporary orders in connecting with this proceeding.

(g)  If the court finds that the allegations made in the petition have been established based on the stipulation of the parties or on the evidence if the merits are contested, the court shall order the department to prepare a disposition case plan within 28 days of the merits hearing and shall set the matter for a disposition hearing.

(h)  The court in its discretion and with the agreement of the parties may waive the preparation of a disposition case plan and proceed directly to disposition based on the initial case plan filed with the court pursuant to section 5314 of this title.      

§ 5316.   Disposition Case Plan

(a)  The department shall file a disposition case plan ordered pursuant to subsection 5315(g) of this title no later than 28 days from the date of the finding by the court that a child is in need of care or supervision. 

(b)  A disposition case plan shall include, as appropriate:

(1)  A permanency goal.  The long-term goal for a child found to be in need of care and supervision is a safe and permanent home.  A disposition case plan shall include a permanency goal and an estimated date for achieving the permanency goal.  The plan shall specify whether permanency will be achieved through reunification with a custodial parent, guardian, or custodian; adoption; permanent guardianship; or other permanent placement.  In addition to a primary permanency goal, the plan may identify a concurrent permanency goal.

(2)  An assessment of the child’s medical, psychological, social, educational, and vocational needs.

(3)  A description of the child’s home, school, community, and current living situation.

(4)  An assessment of the family’s strengths and risk factors, including a consideration of the needs of children and parents with disabilities.

(5)  A statement of family changes needed to correct the problems necessitating state intervention, with timetables for accomplishing the changes.

(6)  A recommendation with respect to legal custody for the child and a recommendation for parent-child contact and sibling contact, if appropriate.

(7)  A plan of services that shall describe the responsibilities of the child, the parents, guardian, or custodian, the department, other family members, and treatment providers including a description of the services required to achieve the permanency goal.  The plan shall also address the minimum frequency of contact between the social worker assigned to the case and the family.

(8)  A request for child support.

(9)  Notice to the parents that failure to substantially accomplish the objectives stated in the plan within the time frames established may result in termination of parental rights.

§ 5317.  Disposition Hearing 

(a)  Timeline.  A disposition hearing shall be held no later than 35 days after a finding that a child is in need of care and supervision.

(b)  Hearing procedure.  If disposition is contested, all parties shall have the right to present evidence and examine witnesses.  Hearsay may be admitted and may be relied on to the extent of its probative value.  If reports are admitted, the parties shall be afforded an opportunity to examine those making the reports, but sources of confidential information need not be disclosed.

(c)  Standard of proof.  If the court terminates the parental rights of one or both parents, the standard of proof on the issue of termination shall be clear and convincing evidence.  On all other issues, the standard of proof shall be a preponderance of the evidence.

(d)  Termination of parental rights.  If the commissioner or the attorney for the child seeks an order at disposition terminating the parental rights of one or both parents and transfer of legal custody to the commissioner without limitation as to adoption, the court shall consider the best interests of the child in accordance with section 5114 of this title.

(e)  Further hearing.  On its own motion or on the motion of a party, the court may schedule a further hearing to obtain reports or other information necessary for the appropriate disposition of the case.  The court shall make an appropriate order for the temporary care of the child pending a final disposition order.  The court shall give scheduling priority to cases in which the child has been removed from home.

§ 5318.  Disposition Order

(a)  Custody.  At disposition, the court shall make such orders related to legal custody for a child who has been found to be in need of care and supervision as the court determines are in the best interest of the child, including:

(1)  An order continuing or returning legal custody to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  Following disposition, the court may issue a conditional custody order for a fixed period of time not to exceed two years.   The court shall schedule regular review hearings to determine whether the conditions continue to be necessary.

(2)  When the goal is reunification with a custodial parent, guardian, or custodian an order transferring temporary custody to a noncustodial parent, a relative, or a person with a significant relationship with the child.  The order may provide for parent-child contact.   Following disposition, the court may issue a conditional custody order for a fixed period of time not to exceed two years.  The court shall schedule regular review hearings to evaluate progress toward reunification and determine whether the conditions and continuing jurisdiction of the juvenile court are necessary.

(3)  An order transferring legal custody to a noncustodial parent and closing the juvenile proceeding.  The order may provide for parent-child contact with the other parent.  Any orders transferring legal custody to a noncustodial parent issued under this section shall not be confidential and shall be made a part of the record in any existing parentage or divorce proceeding involving the child.  On the motion of a party or on the court’s own motion, the court may order that a sealed copy of the disposition case plan be made part of the record in a divorce or parentage proceeding involving the child.

(4)  An order transferring legal custody to the commissioner.  

(5)  An order terminating all rights and responsibilities of a parent by transferring legal custody and all residual parental rights to the commissioner without limitation as to adoption.

(6)  An order of permanent guardianship pursuant to 14 V.S.A. § 2664.

(7)  An order transferring legal custody to a relative or another person with a significant relationship with the child.  The order may be subject to conditions and limitations and may provide for parent-child contact with one or both parents.  The order shall be subject to periodic review as determined by the court.

(b)  Case plan.  If the court orders the transfer of custody pursuant to subdivision (a)(2), (4), or (5) of this section, the court shall establish a permanency goal for the minor child and adopt a case plan prepared by the department which is designed to achieve the permanency goal.  If the court determines that the plan proposed by the department does not adequately support the permanency goal for the child, the court may reject the plan proposed by the department and order the department to prepare and submit a revised plan for court approval.

(c)  Sixteen- to 17.5-year olds.  In the event that custody of a 16- to

17.5-year old is transferred to the department pursuant to a petition filed under subsection 5309(d) of this title services to the child and to his or her family shall be provided through a coordinated effort by the agency of human services, the department of education, and community-based interagency teams. 

(d)  Modification.  A disposition order is a final order which may only be modified based on the stipulation of the parties or pursuant to a motion to modify brought under section 5113 of this title. 

(e)  Findings.  Whenever the court orders the transfer of legal custody to a noncustodial parent, a relative, or a person with a significant relationship with the child, such orders shall be supported by findings regarding the suitability of that person to assume legal custody of the child and the safety and appropriateness of the placement.    

§ 5319.  Parent-Child Contact and Contact with Siblings

              and Relatives

(a)  The court shall order parent-child contact unless the court finds that it is necessary to deny parent-child contact because the protection of the physical safety or emotional well-being of the child so requires.  Except for good cause shown, the order shall be consistent with any existing parent-child contact order.

(b)  The court may determine the reasonable frequency and duration of parent-child contact and may set such conditions for parent-child contact as are in the child’s best interests including whether parent-child contact should be unsupervised or supervised.

(c)  Parent-child contact may be modified by stipulation or upon motion of a party or upon the court’s own motion pursuant to section 5113 of this title. 

(d)  The court may terminate a parent-child contact order in a juvenile proceeding upon a finding that:

(1)  a parent has without good cause failed to maintain a regular schedule of contact with the child and that the parent’s failure to exercise regular contact has had a detrimental impact on the emotional well-being of the child; or

 

(2)  continued parent-child contact in accordance with the terms of the prior order will have a detrimental impact on the physical or emotional

well-being of the child.

(e)  Upon motion of the child’s attorney, the court may also order contact between the child and the child’s siblings, an adult relative with whom the child has a significant relationship, or an adult friend with whom the child has a significant relationship.

(f)  Failure to provide parent-child contact due to the child’s illness or other good cause shall not constitute grounds for a contempt or enforcement proceeding against the department.

§ 5320.  Post-Disposition Review Hearing

If the permanency goal of the disposition case plan is reunification with a parent, guardian, or custodian, the court shall hold a review hearing within 60 days of the date of the disposition order for the purpose of monitoring progress under the disposition case plan and reviewing parent-child contact.  Notice of the review shall be provided to all parties.  A foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative caregiver shall be provided with notice of any post disposition review hearings and an opportunity to be heard at the hearings.  Nothing in this section shall be construed as affording such person party status in the proceeding.

§ 5321.  Permanency hearing 

(a)  Purpose.  Unless otherwise specified therein, an order under the authority of this chapter transferring legal custody or residual parental rights and responsibilities of a child to the department pursuant to subdivision 5318(a)(4) or (5) of this title shall be for an indeterminate period and shall be subject to periodic review at a permanency hearing.   At the permanency hearing, the court shall determine the permanency goal for the child and an estimated time for achieving that goal.  The goal shall specify when:

(1)  legal custody of the child will be transferred to the parent, guardian, or custodian;

(2)  the child will be released for adoption;

(3)  a permanent guardianship will be established for the child;

(4)  a legal guardianship will be established for the child pursuant to an order under chapter 111 of Title 14; or

(5)  the child will remain in the same living arrangement or be placed in another planned permanent living arrangement because the commissioner has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the court a compelling reason that it is not in the child’s best interests to:

(A)  return home;

(B)  have residual parental rights terminated and be released for adoption; or

(C)  be placed with a fit and willing relative or legal guardian.

(b)  The court shall adopt a case plan designed to achieve the permanency goal. 

(c)  A permanency review hearing shall be held no less than every 12 months with the first hearing to be held 12 months after the date the legal custody of the child was transferred, subject to the following exceptions:

(1)  If the child was three years of age or younger at the time of the initial transfer of legal custody, the court may order that permanency review hearings be held as frequently as every three months.

(2)  If the child is between the ages of three and six at the time of the initial transfer of legal custody, the court may order that permanency review hearings be held as frequently as every six months.

(d)  If the court shortens the time for the permanency review hearing for a younger sibling, that shortened review interval shall be applied to all siblings in the family who are in the legal custody of the department.  

(e)(1)  The department shall file with the court a notice of permanency review together with a case plan and recommendation for a permanency goal.  The department shall provide notice to the state’s attorney having jurisdiction and to all parties to the proceeding in accordance with the rules for family proceedings.  The court shall hold a permanency review hearing within 30 days of the filing of notice by the department.  Failure to give such notice or to review an order shall not terminate the original order or limit the court’s jurisdiction.

(2)  A foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative caregiver for the child shall be provided notice of and an opportunity to be heard at any permanency hearing held with respect to the child.  Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as affording such person party status in the proceeding.

(f)  All evidence helpful in determining the questions presented, including hearsay, may be admitted and relied upon to the extent of its probative value even though not competent at an adjudication hearing. 

(g)  The permanency hearing may be held by an administrative body appointed or approved by the court.  The administrative body may consist of one but not more than three persons.  No person employed by the department shall be a member of the administrative body.  In the event that the administrative body determines that the existing order should be altered, it shall submit its recommendation to the court for its consideration.  In the event that the administrative body determines that the existing order should not be altered, its determination shall be binding unless any party requests review by the court within ten days of receipt of the determination.  A copy of the determination shall be sent to each party and to the court.  The court, on its own motion or on the request of any party, shall conduct a review de novo within 30 days of receipt of such request.

(h)  Upon the filing of a petition for a finding of reasonable efforts and a report or affidavit by the department for children and families with notice to all parties, the court shall hold a hearing within 30 days of the filing of the petition to determine, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the department for children and families has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan for the child that is in effect at the time of the hearing.  The hearing may be consolidated with or separate from a permanency hearing.  Reasonable efforts to finalize a permanency plan may consist of:

(1)  reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family following the child’s removal from the home, where the permanency plan for the child is reunification; or

(2)  reasonable efforts to arrange and finalize an alternate permanent living arrangement for the child, in cases where the permanency plan for the child does not include reunification.

§ 5322.  Placement of a Child in a Facility Used for

               Treatment of Delinquent Children

A child found by the court to be a child in need of care and supervision shall not be placed in or transferred to an institution used solely for the treatment or rehabilitation of delinquent children unless the child has been charged with or adjudicated as having committed a delinquent act.

Which was agreed to.

Thereupon, the bill was read the third time and passed in concurrence with proposal of amendment.

 

 

Third Reading; Bill Passed in Concurrence

with Proposal of Amendment

S. 354

Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to public agency deferred compensation plans.

Was taken up, read the third time and passed in concurrence with proposal of amendment.

Third Reading; Bill Passed in Concurrence

S. 361

Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to authority to lease the state lottery.

Was taken up, read the third time and passed in concurrence.

Third Reading; Bill Passed in Concurrence

S. 373

Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to full funding of decommissioning costs of a nuclear plant;

Was taken up and read the third time.

Pending the question, Shall the bill pass in concurrence? Rep. Adams of Hartland demanded the Yeas and Nays, which demand was sustained by the Constitutional number.  The Clerk proceeded to call the roll and the question, Shall the bill pass in concurrence? was decided in the affirmative.  Yeas, 82.  Nays, 60.

Those who voted in the affirmative are:


Ancel of Calais

Anderson of Montpelier

Andrews of Rutland City

Aswad of Burlington

Atkins of Winooski

Bissonnette of Winooski

Botzow of Pownal

Bray of New Haven

Browning of Arlington

Chen of Mendon

Cheney of Norwich

Clarkson of Woodstock

Consejo of Sheldon

Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford

Courcelle of Rutland City

Davis of Washington

Deen of Westminster

Donovan of Burlington

Dostis of Waterbury

Edwards of Brattleboro

Emmons of Springfield

Fallar of Tinmouth

Fisher of Lincoln

Frank of Underhill

French of Randolph

Godin of Milton

Grad of Moretown

Haas of Rochester

Head of S. Burlington

Heath of Westford

Hosford of Waitsfield

Howard of Rutland City

Hunt of Essex

Hutchinson of Randolph

Jerman of Essex

Jewett of Ripton

Johnson of South Hero

Kitzmiller of Montpelier

Klein of East Montpelier

Kupersmith of S. Burlington

Larson of Burlington

Lenes of Shelburne

Leriche of Hardwick

Lorber of Burlington

Maier of Middlebury

Malcolm of Pawlet

Manwaring of Wilmington

Marek of Newfane

Martin, C. of Springfield

Martin of Wolcott

Masland of Thetford

McCormack of Rutland City

McCullough of Williston

Milkey of Brattleboro

Miller of Shaftsbury

Minter of Waterbury

Mitchell of Barnard

Mook of Bennington

Moran of Wardsboro

Mrowicki of Putney

Nease of Johnson

Nuovo of Middlebury

Obuchowski of Rockingham

Ojibway of Hartford

Orr of Charlotte

Partridge of Windham

Pearson of Burlington

Pellett of Chester

Peltz of Woodbury

Peterson of Williston

Potter of Clarendon

Randall of Troy

Rodgers of Glover

Shand of Weathersfield

Sharpe of Bristol

Smith of Morristown

Spengler of Colchester

Stevens of Shoreham

Sweaney of Windsor

Trombley of Grand Isle

Zenie of Colchester

Zuckerman of Burlington


Those who voted in the negative are:


Acinapura of Brandon

Adams of Hartland

Ainsworth of Royalton

Allard of St. Albans Town

Audette of S. Burlington

Baker of West Rutland

Barnard of Richmond

Bostic of St. Johnsbury

Branagan of Georgia

Canfield of Fair Haven

Clark of Vergennes

Clerkin of Hartford

Condon of Colchester

Corcoran of Bennington

Crawford of Burke

Devereux of Mount Holly

Donaghy of Poultney

Donahue of Northfield

Errecart of Shelburne

Evans of Essex

Fitzgerald of St. Albans City

Flory of Pittsford

Gervais of Enosburg

Gilbert of Fairfax

Grenier of St. Johnsbury

Helm of Castleton

Howrigan of Fairfield

Hube of Londonderry

Johnson of Canaan

Keenan of St. Albans City

Keogh of Burlington

Koch of Barre Town

Komline of Dorset

Krawczyk of Bennington

Larocque of Barnet

Larrabee of Danville

LaVoie of Swanton

Lawrence of Lyndon

Lewis of Derby

Livingston of Manchester

Marcotte of Coventry

McAllister of Highgate

McDonald of Berlin

McFaun of Barre Town

McNeil of Rutland Town

Monti of Barre City

Morley of Barton

Morrissey of Bennington

Myers of Essex

O'Donnell of Vernon

Otterman of Topsham

Oxholm of Vergennes

Peaslee of Guildhall

Pugh of S. Burlington

Scheuermann of Stowe

Turner of Milton

Westman of Cambridge

Wheeler of Derby

Winters of Williamstown

Wright of Burlington


Those members absent with leave of the House and not voting are:


Brennan of Colchester

Kilmartin of Newport City

Lippert of Hinesburg

Perry of Richford

Pillsbury of Brattleboro

Valliere of Barre City

Weston of Burlington


 

     Rep. Adams of Hartland explained his vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker:

     I vote no because I believe this body does not fully understand the fiscal impacts and consequences of this bill to Vermont rate payers and other potential risks to our state.”

     Rep. Klein of East Montpelier explained his vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker:

     I vote yes to make clear that business should be responsible for all their costs.  Decommissioning a nuclear plant after it is no longer operating is a legitimate business cost.  S. 373 makes clear that Vermonters are guaranteed, guaranteed not to be responsible for any decommissioning costs, should that plant be decommissioned in 2012, 2032 or 2090 or whenever.”

     Rep. Kupersmith of South Burlington explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker:

      I fully appreciate the many concerns expressed in the debate on this bill yesterday. I am comfortable voting for this bill, not because these concerns have been put to rest, but rather because these concerns will be fully addressed by the entity that is equipped to do that work — that is, the Public Service Board.

     Despite much of what we have heard in this debate, the Public Service Board's ability to determine whether this proposed sale is in the public good — and whether the resources for decommissioning will be adequate, remains intact.

     The bill's specific language allows the Board to look to the "decommissioning fund, other funds and financial guarantees" to ensure that decommissioning will be paid for. The debate effectively ignored this language providing for other financial guarantees. I trust our Public Service Board to broadly interpret this language to accommodate the party's particular financial situation.

     Rep. LaVoie of Swanton explained her vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker:

     Unfortunately for the people of Vermont and the businesses that employ them, this bill calls into question the ability and credibility of the National Regulatory Commission and our own Public Service Board, as well as endangers the reliability and cost of our energy future.  Our real motives ought to be questioned.”

     Rep. Pearson of Burlington explained his vote as follows:

“Madam Speaker:

     Our action today is responsible and appropriate.  This bill protects Vermont from a potential, Enron-like financial crisis.”

Message from the Senate No. 62

     A message was received from the Senate by Mr. Marshall, its Assistant Secretary, as follows:

Madam Speaker:

I am directed to inform the House that the Senate has considered a bill originating in the House of the following title:

H. 894  An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the town of Windsor.

And has passed the same in concurrence.

The Senate has considered bills originating in the House of the following titles:

H. 558.  An act relating to waste facility franchise tax exemption for mining waste.

H. 619.  An act relating to the regulation of sexual assault nurse examiners.

     And has passed the same in concurrence with proposals of amendment in the adoption of which the concurrence of the House is requested.

The Governor has informed the Senate that on the twenty-third day of April, 2008, he approved and signed a bill originating in the Senate of the following title:

S. 280.  An act relating to prosthetic parity.

Rules Suspended; Consideration Interrupted by Recess

H. 896

Pending entrance of the bill on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Rep. Adams of Hartland,  the rules were suspended and House bill, entitled

An act relating to balancing the transportation budget and repairing deteriorating roads;

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Recess

At twelve o’clock and five minutes in the afternoon, the Speaker declared a recess until the fall of the gavel.

At one o’clock  and fifteen minutes in the afternoon, the Speaker called the House to order.

Consideration Resumed; Action Postponed

H. 896

Consideration resumed on House bill, entitled

An act relating to balancing the transportation budget and repairing deteriorating roads;

     Rep. Westman of Cambridge moved to postpone action until after consideration of S. 304, which was agreed to.

Proposal of Amendment Agreed to; Third Reading Ordered

S. 304

Rep. Anderson of Montpelier, for the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources, to which had been referred Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to a groundwater withdrawal program;

Reported in favor of its passage in concurrence with proposal of amendment as follows:

By striking 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)  the state should adhere to the policy for management of groundwater of the state as set forth in section 1410 of this title;

(2)  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, dairy processing, 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;

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

(4)  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 regulating human activities that present risks to the use 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; and

(5)  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, the requirements of this subchapter, and section 1392 of this title for the benefit of citizens who hold and share rights in such waters.  The designation of the groundwater resources of the state as a public trust resource shall not be construed to allow a new right of legal action by an individual other than the state of Vermont, except to remedy injury to a particularized interest related to water quantity protected under this subchapter. 

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 and is collected with a developed structure that is designed to locate or extract groundwater. 

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

(6)  “Water resources” means groundwater or surface water.

(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)  Beginning September 1, 2009, any person that withdraws more than 20,000 gallons per day, averaged over a calendar month at a single tract of land or place of business shall file a groundwater report with the secretary of natural resources on or before September 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 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)  dairy processors and milk handlers licensed in accordance with 6 V.S.A. § 2721;

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

(7)  closed loop, standing column, or similar non-extractive geothermal heat pumps.

(c)  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 uses, shall make a new or increased groundwater withdrawal of more than 57,600 gallons a day from any well or spring 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 after July 1, 2010 from a well or spring on a single tract of land or at a place of business of 25 percent of the baseline withdrawal or an increase of 57,600 gallons of groundwater withdrawn, whichever is smaller.

(3)  For the purposes of this subsection, the baseline withdrawal shall be the highest amount withdrawn by a person between 2005 and 2010.

(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)  dairy processors and milk handlers licensed in accordance with 6 V.S.A. § 2721;

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

(6)  closed loop, standing column, or similar non-extractive geothermal heat pumps.

(c)(1)  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.

(2)  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)  adjoining municipalities;

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

(D)  all landowners and mobile home park residents within the zone of influence of a groundwater withdrawal or within one quarter mile downstream from a withdrawal from a spring.  Notice to the officers of a condominium association shall be deemed sufficient under this subdivision for notice to residents of a condominium; and

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

(3)  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.

(4)  On its own motion or on receipt of a written request, the agency shall hold a public meeting in the municipality in which the withdrawal is proposed in order to describe the proposed project and to hear comments regarding the proposed project.  Opportunity shall be given all participants at a public meeting to ask questions and comment on all issues involved.  The agency shall prepare a responsiveness summary for each public meeting conducted.  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.

(5)  No defect in the form or substance of any notice requirements in subdivisions (1), (2), or (3) of this subsection shall invalidate an application for a permit under this section provided that reasonable efforts are made to provide adequate posting and notice.  An application for a permit under this section shall be invalid when a defective posting or notice was materially misleading in content.  If an action is ruled to be invalid by the environmental court, the applicant may reapply and provide new posting and notice.

(d)  Application for a permit shall be on a form prepared by the secretary.  An application shall, at a minimum, contain the information necessary to make the determinations contained in subsection (e) of this section, and 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 withdrawals;

(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; and

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

(e)  The secretary shall not issue a permit for a new or increased groundwater withdrawal unless the secretary determines:

(1)  that the proposed withdrawal is planned in a fashion that provides for efficient use of the water;

(2)  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 in the area of the withdrawal;

(3)  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;

(4)  that the proposed withdrawal will not have an undue adverse effect on existing uses of water dependent on the same water source;

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

(6)  that the proposed withdrawal will not have an undue adverse effect on significant 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;

(7)  that the proposed withdrawal will not violate the Vermont water quality standards; and

(8)  any other consideration that the secretary determines necessary for the conservation of water or protection of groundwater quality.

(f)  A permit issued under this section shall be valid for the period of time specified in the permit but not for more than 10 years.  A permit issued under this section shall include the following:

(1)  that groundwater withdrawals from a well or spring for drinking water supplies, farming, or dairy processing shall be given priority over other uses during times of shortage; and

(2)  any other condition that the secretary determines necessary for the conservation of water or protection of groundwater quality.

(g)  The secretary may require any person withdrawing groundwater in the state to obtain a permit under this section if the withdrawal is not exempt under subsection (b) of this section and 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 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;

(2)  A groundwater withdrawal for domestic, residential use;

(3)  A groundwater withdrawal for public water systems, except for a bottled water facility operating under a source permit issued prior to the effective date of this act, permitted under chapter 56 of this title;

(4)  A groundwater withdrawal for a potable water supply permitted under chapter 64 of this title;

(5)  A groundwater withdrawal for farming conducted in compliance with the requirements of chapter 215 of Title 6; and

(6)  A groundwater withdrawal by a dairy processor or milk handler licensed in accordance with 6 V.S.A. § 2721.

(j)  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.

(k)  Nothing contained in this subchapter shall be construed to alter or modify a right under a deed or contract to access groundwater in this state.

§ 1419.  CIRCUMVENTION

The secretary may require a person to report under section 1417 of this title or obtain a permit under section 1418 of this title when the secretary, in his or her discretion, determines that a withdrawal, subdivision of land, transfer of property, or other action is intended to circumvent the requirements of this subchapter.

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

§ 1410.  GROUNDWATER; RIGHT OF ACTION

* * *

(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.

* * *

(g)  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 57,600 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. § 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 dayBeginning July 1, 2010, the secretary shall not issue a source permit for a bottled drinking water supply unless, in addition to all other requirements for a source permit:

(1)  the permit application contains the information required by subdivisions 1418(d)(4)–(7) of this title;

(2)  the secretary finds that considerations in subdivisions 1418(e)(1)–(3) and (6)–(8) of this title have been satisfied;

(3)  the permit contains the permit conditions required by subsection (f) of this section; and

(4)  the permit applicant complies with the notice requirements of subsection 1418(c) of this title.

(h)  A public water system permitted after the effective date of this act that bottles drinking water for public distribution and sale shall obtain from the secretary a source water permit under subsection 1672(b) of this title upon renewal of its operating permit under this section and every 10 years thereafter.

Sec. 6.  10 V.S.A. § 6001d is added to read:

§ 6001d.  LARGE VOLUME GROUNDWATER WITHDRAWAL

In addition to all other applicable law, any withdrawal of more than 340,000 gallons of groundwater per day from any well or spring on a single tract of land or at a place of business, independent of the acreage of the tract of land or place of business, shall be a development under this chapter if the withdrawal requires a permit under section 1418 of this title or is by a bottled water facility regulated under chapter 56 of this title.

Sec. 7.  6 V.S.A. § 2674 is amended to read:

§ 2674.  RECORDS AND REPORTS--HANDLERS

(a)  On or before March 1 of each year all handlers shall send the secretary a full and accurate report of the amount of business done during the preceding year, together with such other statistical information as he may require.

(b)  A milk handler that is licensed under this chapter and that withdraws more than 57,600 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 section with the agency of natural resources.

Sec. 8.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up and read the second time

     Pending the question, Shall the House propose to the Senate to amend the bill as recommended by the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources? Rep. Helm of Castleton moved to amend the report of the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources as follows:

     By adding a new Sec. 7a to read:

Sec. 7a.  10 V.S.A. § 1973(j) is added to read:

(j)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, any retail sales establishment may place up to three picnic tables outdoors within the bounds of its property without being required to obtain a state permit, or permit amendment, under this chapter.

Rep. Deen of Westminster raised a Point of Order that the proposal of amendment is not germane to the bill, which Point of Order the Speaker ruled well taken.

Thereupon, Rep. Helm of Castleton moved to suspend the rules to permit consideration of a non-germane question, which was disagreed to on a Division vote.  Yeas, 36.  Nays, 49.

Thereupon, the pending the question, Shall the House propose to the Senate to amend the bill as recommended by the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources? was agreed to.

Pending the question, Shall the bill be read a third time? Rep. Deen of Westminster demanded the Yeas and Nays, which demand was sustained by the Constitutional number.  The Clerk proceeded to call the roll and the question, Shall the bill be read a third time?  was decided in the affirmative.  Yeas, 125.  Nays, 12.

Those who voted in the affirmative are:


Acinapura of Brandon

Adams of Hartland

Ainsworth of Royalton

Allard of St. Albans Town

Ancel of Calais

Anderson of Montpelier

Andrews of Rutland City

Atkins of Winooski

Audette of S. Burlington

Barnard of Richmond

Bissonnette of Winooski

Bostic of St. Johnsbury

Botzow of Pownal

Bray of New Haven

Browning of Arlington

Chen of Mendon

Cheney of Norwich

Clarkson of Woodstock

Clerkin of Hartford

Condon of Colchester

Consejo of Sheldon

Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford

Corcoran of Bennington

Courcelle of Rutland City

Crawford of Burke

Davis of Washington

Deen of Westminster

Devereux of Mount Holly

Donaghy of Poultney

Donahue of Northfield

Donovan of Burlington

Dostis of Waterbury

Edwards of Brattleboro

Emmons of Springfield

Errecart of Shelburne

Evans of Essex

Fallar of Tinmouth

Fisher of Lincoln

Fitzgerald of St. Albans City

Flory of Pittsford

Frank of Underhill

French of Randolph

Gervais of Enosburg

Gilbert of Fairfax

Godin of Milton

Grad of Moretown

Grenier of St. Johnsbury

Haas of Rochester

Head of S. Burlington

Heath of Westford

Hosford of Waitsfield

Howard of Rutland City

Howrigan of Fairfield

Hube of Londonderry

Hunt of Essex

Hutchinson of Randolph

Jerman of Essex

Jewett of Ripton

Johnson of South Hero

Johnson of Canaan

Keenan of St. Albans City

Keogh of Burlington

Kitzmiller of Montpelier

Klein of East Montpelier

Komline of Dorset

Kupersmith of S. Burlington

Larson of Burlington

Lawrence of Lyndon

Lenes of Shelburne

Leriche of Hardwick

Lewis of Derby

Livingston of Manchester

Lorber of Burlington

Maier of Middlebury

Malcolm of Pawlet

Manwaring of Wilmington

Marcotte of Coventry

Marek of Newfane

Martin, C. of Springfield

Martin of Wolcott

Masland of Thetford

McCormack of Rutland City

McCullough of Williston

McDonald of Berlin

McFaun of Barre Town

Milkey of Brattleboro

Miller of Shaftsbury

Minter of Waterbury

Mitchell of Barnard

Monti of Barre City

Mook of Bennington

Moran of Wardsboro

Morley of Barton

Morrissey of Bennington

Mrowicki of Putney

Myers of Essex

Nease of Johnson

Nuovo of Middlebury

Obuchowski of Rockingham

O'Donnell of Vernon

Ojibway of Hartford

Orr of Charlotte

Otterman of Topsham

Oxholm of Vergennes

Partridge of Windham

Pearson of Burlington

Pellett of Chester

Peterson of Williston

Potter of Clarendon

Pugh of S. Burlington

Randall of Troy

Rodgers of Glover

Scheuermann of Stowe

Sharpe of Bristol

Smith of Morristown

Spengler of Colchester

Stevens of Shoreham

Sweaney of Windsor

Valliere of Barre City

Westman of Cambridge

Wheeler of Derby

Winters of Williamstown

Wright of Burlington

Zenie of Colchester

Zuckerman of Burlington


Those who voted in the negative are:


Baker of West Rutland

Branagan of Georgia

Canfield of Fair Haven

Krawczyk of Bennington

Larocque of Barnet

Larrabee of Danville

LaVoie of Swanton

McAllister of Highgate

McNeil of Rutland Town

Peaslee of Guildhall

Trombley of Grand Isle

Turner of Milton


Those members absent with leave of the House and not voting are:


Aswad of Burlington

Brennan of Colchester

Clark of Vergennes

Helm of Castleton

Kilmartin of Newport City

Koch of Barre Town

Lippert of Hinesburg

Peltz of Woodbury

Perry of Richford

Pillsbury of Brattleboro

Shand of Weathersfield

Weston of Burlington


 

Bill Read Second Time; Third Reading Ordered

H. 896

House bill entitled

An act relating to balancing the transportation budget and repairing deteriorating roads;

Was taken up, read the second time and third reading ordered.

 

Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred in;

Committee of Conference Requested and Appointed

H. 11

The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

An act relating to the commissioner of health;

     By striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  18 V.S.A. § 104 is amended to read:

§ 104.  COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH; DUTIES

(a)  The secretary shall appoint a commissioner of health, as provided in 3 V.S.A. § 3051, who shall be either a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery in this state or a health care professional who has at least a master’s degree in public health or a related health care field and who, in addition, has had educational and practical experience in the field of public health. 

(b)  The commissioner may delegate such powers and assign such duties to members of the department as may be deemed appropriate and necessary for the proper execution of the provisions of this title.  If the commissioner is not a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery in this state, the commissioner shall fill an existing exempt position within the department by appointing a chief medical officer who shall be a physician licensed to practice medicine and surgery in this state and who shall report to the commissioner.

Pending the question, Will the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment? Rep. Donahue of Northfield moved that the House refuse to concur and ask for a Committee of Conference, which was agreed to, and the Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

Rep. Donahue of Northfield

Rep. McAllister of Highgate

Rep. Andrews of Rutland City

Senate Proposal of Amendment Concurred in

With a Further Amendment Thereto

H. 94

     The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

     An act relating to retail sales and taxing of specialty beers;

     By striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  7 V.S.A. § 2(11), (14) and (20) are amended to read:

(11)  “Hotels”: a first class hotel as determined by the liquor control board Specialty beer” means a malt beverage that contains more than eight percent alcohol and not more than 16 percent alcohol by volume at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  

(14)  “Malt beverages”:  all fermented beverages of any name or description manufactured for sale from malt, wholly or in part, or from any substitute therefor therefore, known as beer, porter, ale, and stout, containing not less than one percent nor more than eight 16 percent of alcohol by volume at 60 degrees fahrenheit Fahrenheit.  However, if such a beverage has an alcohol content of more than six percent and not more than eight percent and has a terminal specific gravity of less than 1.009, it shall be deemed to be a spirit and not a malt beverage.  The holder of the certificate of approval or the manufacturer shall certify to the liquor control board the terminal specific gravity of the beverage when the alcohol content is more than six percent and not more than eight percent.           

(20)  “Spirits”:  beverages for sale containing more than one percent of alcohol obtained by distillation, by chemical synthesis, or through concentration by freezing; and vinous beverages containing more than 16 percent of alcohol; and all vermouths of any alcohol content; malt beverages containing more than eight 16 percent of alcohol or more than six percent of alcohol if the terminal specific gravity thereof is less than 1.009; in each case measured by volume at 60 degrees fahrenheit Fahrenheit.

Sec. 2.  7 V.S.A. § 421(a) is amended to read:

§ 421.  TAX ON MALT AND VINOUS BEVERAGES

(a)  Every bottler and wholesaler shall pay to the commissioner of taxes the sum of 26 and one-half cents per gallon for every gallon or its equivalent of malt beverage containing not more than six percent of alcohol by volume at 60 degrees fahrenheit sold by them to retailers in the state and the sum of 55 cents per gallon for each gallon of malt beverage containing more than six percent and not more than eight percent of alcohol by volume at 60 degrees fahrenheit and each gallon of vinous beverages sold by them to retailers in the state and shall also pay to the liquor control board all fees for bottler’s and wholesaler’s licenses.

Sec. 3.    STUDY OF FLAVORED MALT BEVERAGES; DEPARTMENT                          OF  LIQUOR CONTROL

(a)  The department of liquor control shall study and identify best practices for the marketing, sale, and taxation of flavored malt beverages, commonly called “alcopops,” malt based beverages containing other ingredients such as flavored distilled spirits, and “alcohol energy drinks,”  which are malt beverages continuing other ingredients such as caffeine.  The department shall consider the following:

(1)  Whether these beverages should be considered spirits, malt beverages, or a completely separate category of alcoholic beverages.

(2)  Whether these beverages and other flavored malt beverages should be distributed by wholesalers or the department.

(3)  The impact and future implications of these beverages in regard to controlling underage drinking and other public health and safety concerns.

(4)  Whether these beverages should be taxed at the lower malt beverage rate, the higher spirits rate, or a different tax rate.

(5)  Legislative and regulatory activities undertaken by other states in regard to these beverages.

(b)  The department shall complete the study and issue a written report of its findings, conclusions, and recommendations on or before January 1, 2009.  The report shall be provided to the house committees on general, housing and military affairs, and on ways and means and the senate committees on economic development, housing and general affairs and on finance.

     Pending the question, Shall the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment? Rep. Wright of Burlington moved that the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment with a further amendment thereto as follows:

By striking Sec. 3 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 3.  STUDY OF FLAVORED MALT BEVERAGES; DEPARTMENT OF

             LIQUOR CONTROL

(a)  The department of liquor control shall study and identify best practices for the marketing, sale, and taxation of malt-based beverages containing other ingredients such as flavored distilled spirits, and “alcohol energy drinks,” which are malt beverages containing other ingredients such as caffeine. 

(b)  The department shall complete the study and issue a written report of its findings, conclusions, and recommendations on or before January 15, 2009.  The report shall be provided to the house committees on general, housing and military affairs, and on ways and means and the senate committees on economic development, housing and general affairs and on finance.

     Which was agreed to.

Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred in;

Committee of Conference Requested and Appointed

H. 290

The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

An act relating to underground utility damage prevention system;

     By striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  30 V.S.A. § 7001(4) is amended and (11), (12), (13), and (14) are added to read:

(4)  "Excavation activities" means activities involving the removal of earth, rock or other materials in the ground, disturbing the subsurface of the earth, or the demolition of any structure, by the discharge of explosives or the use of powered or mechanized equipment, including but not limited to digging, trenching, blasting, boring, drilling, hammering, post driving, wrecking, razing, or tunneling, within 100 feet of an underground utility facility.  Excavation activities shall not include the tilling of the soil for agricultural purposes, routine gardening outside easement areas and public rights-of-way, activities relating to routine public highway maintenance, or the use of hand tools by a company, or the company’s agent or a contractor working under the agent’s direction, to locate or service the company’s facilities, provided the company has a written damage prevention program.

(11)  “Powered or mechanized equipment” means equipment that is powered or energized by any motor, engine, or hydraulic or pneumatic device and that is used for excavation or demolition work.

(12)  “Hand tools” means tools powered solely by human energy.

(13)  “Verified” means the location and depth has been physically determined.

(14)  “Damage prevention program” means a program established to ensure employees involved in excavation activities are aware of and utilize appropriate and safe excavating practices.

Sec. 2.  30 V.S.A. § 7004(e) is added to read:

(e)  Notice of excavation activities shall be valid for an excavation site until one of the following occurs:

(1)  The excavation is not completed within 30 days of the notification;

(2)  The markings become faded, illegible, or destroyed; or

(3)  The company installs new underground facilities in a marked area still under excavation.

Sec. 3.  30 V.S.A. § 7006b is amended to read:

§ 7006b.  EXCAVATION AREA PRECAUTIONS

Any person engaged in excavating activities in the approximate location of underground utility facilities marked pursuant to section 7006 of this title shall take reasonable precautions to avoid damage to underground utility facilities, including but not limited to any substantial weakening of the structural or lateral support of such facilities or penetration, severance or destruction of such facilities.  When excavation activities involve horizontal or directional boring, the person engaged in excavation activities shall expose underground facilities to verify their location and depth, in a safe manner, at each location where the work crosses will cross a facility and at reasonable intervals when paralleling an underground facility.  Powered or mechanized equipment may only be used within the approximate location where the facilities have been verified.

Sec. 4.  30 V.S.A. § 7008 is amended to read:

§ 7008.  PENALTIES

(a)  Vermont Digsafe Program.  Any person who violates any provisions of sections 7004, 7006a, 7006b, or 7007 of this title shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.00, in addition to any other remedies or penalties provided by law or any liability for actual damages.  Notices of probable violation shall be issued within 12 months from the date the department receives the underground facility damage report, unless an ongoing investigation requires an extension of time.

(b)  Any company which does not mark the location of its underground facilities as required by section 7006 or 7006a of this title shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.00.  Notices of probable violation shall be issued within 12 months from the date the department receives the underground facility damage report, unless an ongoing investigation requires an extension of time.

* * *

(e)  Any person who violates any provisions of sections 7004 through 7007 of this title as to an underground gas distribution or transmission facility shall also be subject to the civil penalties described in section 2816 of this title.  However, a person who has been assessed a civil penalty pursuant to section 2816 of this title shall not be subject to the payment of an assessed penalty under the provisions of this section for the same violation.

Sec. 5.  30 V.S.A. § 2816(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Gas Pipeline Safety Program.  Any person who violates any statute, rule, regulation or order of the public service board relating to safety standards or safety practices applicable to transportation of gas through gas pipeline facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the public service board is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000.00 $100,000.00 for each violation for each day that the violation persists.  However, the maximum civil penalty shall not exceed $500,000.00 $1,000,000.00 for any related series of violations.  The penalty may be imposed by the board after notice to the offending person of the alleged violations and opportunity for hearing.

Sec. 6.  REPEAL

30 V.S.A. § 7004(d)(2) is repealed January 1, 2010.

After passage, the title of the bill is to be amended to read:

     AN ACT RELATING TO THE VERMONT DIG SAFE PROGRAM AND THE FEDERAL GAS PIPELINE SAFETY PROGRAM.

Pending the question, Will the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment? Rep. Kitzmiller of Montpelier moved that the House refuse to concur and ask for a Committee of Conference, which was agreed to, and the Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

Rep. Livingston of Manchester

Rep. Consejo of Sheldon

Rep. Shand of Weathersfield

Senate Proposal of Amendment Concurred in

H. 306

     The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

     An act relating to telemarketing;

First:  By adding two new sections to be numbered Secs. 1 and 2 to read as follows:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(a)  Findings. 

(1) Title 9 V.S.A. section 2464, which is part of the Consumer Fraud Act, was enacted in 1997 in response to complaints about certain telemarketing practices.  Specifically, a fraudulent telemarketer, often based in another country, would charge a Vermonter’s bank account.  The only piece of information needed to do this was the code number at the bottom of the consumer’s check, known as a “MICR” code.  Armed with that information, the telemarketer would hire a U.S.-based third-party processor to (a) print up unsigned checks, called “demand drafts,” to deposit into the telemarketer’s own bank account; or (b) electronically withdraw funds from the consumer’s account, using an “automated clearing house” or “ACH” debit.

(2) Although such debits are often used, they are usually not reported because many consumers do not know that their bank accounts can be charged without their permission.  One court action brought by the Attorney General’s Office (along with several other states and the Federal Trade Commission) against a third-party processor began with a single complaint from an elderly consumer’s daughter who found an unauthorized charge on her mother’s bank statement, which in turn led to the discovery of a handful of other related complaints and over 100 times that number of Vermont victims.

(3) Fraudulent telemarketers obtain bank account numbers by tricking consumers, by promising goods and services that they do not deliver, and by buying lists of past victims’ account information.

(4) Existing law provides protections for Vermont consumers against this type of fraud.  If a telemarketer wishes to charge a Vermonter’s bank account using a demand draft, the telemarketer must first obtain written permission.  If the telemarketer wishes to charge the consumer’s account with an ACH debit, the telemarketer can only do so based on an inbound call from the consumer, or based on a prior business relationship with the consumer, but in either event, the telemarketer must also confirm the consumer’s consent, typically with a digital voice recording.  Third-party processors hired by telemarketers must follow the same standards.

(5) Nonetheless, there are two gaps in existing law.  The first is that when telemarketers confirm a consumer’s consent to an ACH debit, they usually do so by recording just a short “verification” portion of their telemarketing call, which has little information on it and often does not reveal what the consumer is consenting to; recording the entire call instead would resolve this problem.  The second gap is that there may be a delay of years before a fraudulent telemarketer’s debits to Vermonters’ bank accounts are discovered, so it is important for state investigators to be able to check telemarketing and processor records going back more than the two years that they are now required to be kept.

Sec. 2.  9 V.S.A. § 2464(a)(4) is amended to read:

(4) "Telemarketer" means any person who initiates telephone calls to, or who receives telephone calls from, a consumer in connection with a plan, program, or campaign to market goods or services. The term "telemarketer" does not include:

* * *

(C)  Any person who initiates telephone calls to or who receives telephone calls from a consumer in connection with collection of an amount due for goods or services previously provided to the consumer.

(D)  Any company registered with and regulated by the public service board.

(E)  Any other category of persons that the attorney general may exempt by rule consistent with the purposes of this section.

     And by renumbering the remaining sections of the bill to be numerically correct.

Second:  In renumbered Sec. 3, 9 V.S.A. § 2464(a)(1)(B), at the end after the period by adding Isolated and inadvertent failure to comply with this record-keeping requirement shall not give rise to liability under this subsection, provided that the telemarketer has in place reasonable procedures designed to comply with this requirement.

Third:  In renumbered Sec. 5, in 9 V.S.A. § 2464(e), by striking out the following: “federally-insured” and inserting in lieu thereof the following: federally insured and by striking out subdivision (1) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subdivision (1) to read as follows:

(1)  fail to obtain, before processing the transaction, any prior written authorization required by subdivision (b)(2) of this section or any tape recording or copy of a written confirmation required by subdivision (b)(3) of this section as part of the consumer’s express oral authorization; or

     Which proposal of amendment was considered and concurred in.

Senate Proposal of Amendment Concurred in

H. 330

     The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

     An act relating to repeal of the law relating to municipal trailer park ordinances;

     By striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  REPEAL

(a)  As of July 1, 2008, subchapter 9 of chapter 61 of Title 24, relating to municipal ordinances for trailer parks, is repealed.

(b)  A municipal ordinance adopted under subchapter 9 of chapter 61 of Title 24 prior to July 1, 2008 shall remain in effect until July 1, 2010, unless repealed by the municipality prior to that date.

     Which proposal of amendment was considered and concurred in.

Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred in;

Committee of Conference Requested and Appointed

H. 432

The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

An act establishing Juneteenth National Freedom Day;

In Sec. 1, subdivision (4), by striking out the words “designation as a state holiday” and inserting in lieu thereof the words to be designated as a day of commemoration

Pending the question, Will the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment? Rep. Pearson of Burlington moved that the House refuse to concur and ask for a Committee of Conference, which was agreed to, and the Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

Rep. Pearson of Burlington

Rep. Jerman of Essex

Rep. Grad of Moretown

Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred in;

Committee of Conference Requested and Appointed

H. 711

The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

An act relating to agricultural, forestry, and horticultural education;

First:  In Sec. 3, subsection (a), by striking out the words “and the department of education shall jointly perform” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  , the department of education, the Vermont technical college, and the Vermont youth conservation corps jointly shall perform, in consultation with the department of corrections,

Second:  In Sec. 3, subsection (a), after the word “provide” by inserting the words recommendations for

Third:  In Sec. 3, subsection (b), subdivision (5), by striking out words “The need for a statewide specialist to provide” and inserting in lieu thereof the words Options for providing statewide leadership on

Fourth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 4 to read as follows:

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. §§ 912 and 913 are added to read:

§ 912.  Pupil’s right of refusal; animal dissection

(a)  Any student in a public or independent elementary or secondary school may refuse to dissect, vivisect, incubate, capture, or otherwise harm or destroy an animal or any part of an animal, or to observe any of these activities, as part of a course of instruction.

(b)  Not less than three weeks prior to a course exercise involving the use or dissection of an animal, a school shall notify each student enrolled in the course and his or her parent or guardian of the student’s right to refuse to participate in or observe the exercise.

(c)  A student who chooses to refrain from participating in or observing a portion of a course pursuant to this section shall be assigned an alternative education project to learn the material required by the course.  If course assessments require harmful or destructive use of animals, the student shall be offered an alternative assessment by which to demonstrate mastery of the material.  A student may refuse to participate in any alternative education project or alternative assessment that involves or necessitates the harmful use of an animal or animal parts.  A student shall not be discriminated against based upon his or her decision to exercise the right afforded by this section.

(d)  As used in this section, the word “animal” means any living organism of the kingdom animalia and includes an animal’s cadaver or the severed parts of any animal’s cadaver.

§ 913.  Animal use in science classes and science fairs

(a)  In public and independent elementary and secondary schools, live vertebrate animals shall not:

(1)  Be experimentally medicated in a manner causing painful reactions or inducing painful or lethal pathological conditions.

(2)  Be injured in any other manner, including anesthetization and electric shock. 

(b)  Live animals on school premises shall be housed and cared for in a humane and safe manner.

     And by renumbering the remaining section to be numerically correct.

Pending the question, Will the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment? Rep. Godin of Milton moved that the House refuse to concur and ask for a Committee of Conference, which was agreed to, and the Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

Rep. Godin of Milton

Rep. Stevens of Shoreham

Rep. Peltz of Woodbury

Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred in;

Committee of Conference Requested and Appointed

H. 515

The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

An act relating to the collection and disposal of mercury-added thermostats;

     By striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds:

(1)  According to a 2004 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, titled “International Mercury Market Study and the Role and Impact of U.S. Environmental Policy,” more than 10 percent of the estimated mercury reservoir in the United States is in thermostats.

(2)  In 2000, thermostat manufacturers General Electric, Honeywell, and White Rodgers established the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) that runs the program for collecting mercury‑containing thermostat discarded in Vermont.  Under the TRC program, thermostat wholesalers volunteer to place bins where heating, ventilation, and air‑conditioning (HVAC) contractors can discard thermostats.

(3)  The manufacturers of mercury‑containing thermostats, with the cooperation of the agency of natural resources, should be encouraged to submit a single unified plan for the collection of mercury‑containing thermostats, the cost of which should be appropriately apportioned between participating manufacturers.

Sec. 2.  10 V.S.A. § 7102 is amended to read:

§ 7102.  Definitions

As used in this chapter:

* * *

(6)(A)  “Manufacturer” means any person, firm, association, partnership, corporation, governmental entity, organization, combination, or joint venture that (i) produces a mercury‑added product, or (ii) serves as an importer or domestic distributor of a mercury‑added product produced outside the United States.

(B)  This definition shall not apply to retailers for whom importing is not their primary business.

(C)  In the case of a multi‑component mercury‑added product, the manufacturer is the last manufacturer to produce or assemble the product.

(D)  In the case of mercury‑containing thermostats, the manufacturer is the original equipment manufacturer.

* * *

(16)  “Mercury‑containing thermostat” means a product or device that uses a  mercury switch to sense and control room temperature through communication with heating, ventilating, or air‑conditioning equipment.  “Mercury‑containing thermostat” includes thermostats used to sense and control room temperature in residential, commercial, industrial, and other buildings but does not include a thermostat used to sense and control temperature as part of a manufacturing process.

(17)  “Person” means any individual, corporation, partnership, cooperative, association, firm, sole proprietorship, governmental agency, or other entity.

(18)  “Thermostat retailer” means a person who sells thermostats of any kind directly to homeowners or other nonprofessionals through any selling or distribution mechanism, including but not limited to sales using the internet or catalogues.  A retailer may also be a wholesaler if it meets the definition of wholesaler.

(19)  “Thermostat wholesaler” means a person that is engaged in the distribution and wholesale sale of heating, ventilation, and air‑conditioning components to contractors who install heating, ventilation, and air‑conditioning components.

Sec. 3.  10 V.S.A. § 7107 is amended to read:

§ 7107.  DISCARDED MERCURY‑ADDED PRODUCTS

(a)  Management of discarded mercury‑added products.  After July 1, 2007, discarded mercury‑added products, except for mercury‑added button cell batteries, products containing mercury‑added button cell batteries as their only mercury‑added components, and photographic film shall be managed as provided in this section.

(1)  Disposal ban.  No person shall knowingly dispose of mercury‑added products in a solid waste landfill or combustor.

(2)  Source separation.  Except as otherwise provided by this section, every person who discards solid waste shall separate mercury‑added products from that solid waste for management as hazardous waste or universal hazardous waste, according to all applicable state and federal regulations.  Any contractor who replaces or removes mercury‑added products shall assure that any discarded mercury‑added product is subject to proper separation and management as a hazardous waste or universal hazardous waste.  Any contractor who replaces a mercury‑containing thermostat from a building shall deliver the mercury‑containing thermostat to an appropriate collection location for recycling.
* * *

(d)  Removal of mercury‑added components.  The agency shall conduct a study and make recommendations for requirements to remove effectively and feasibly mercury‑added components in products prior to disposal or recycling processes.  This report shall identify removal and collection systems at public and private solid waste management facilities and salvage businesses, manufacturer‑sponsored or operated collection and take‑back programs; and other feasible programs.  The agency will identify costs mechanisms for financing such programs.  The study shall address removal and collection of mercury‑added components in automobiles and the collection of switches, relays, and gauges in home appliances, heating devices, and other equipment.  The agency shall report to the general assembly no later than January 15, 2006.  The agency shall conduct a study, and in consultation with the advisory committee on mercury pollution, make recommendations on methods to increase recycling of mercury thermostats.  The study shall identify incentive‑based programs and other feasible programs, including costs and mechanisms for financing such programs. The agency shall report to the general assembly no later than January 15, 2008.

* * *

Sec. 4.  10 V.S.A. § 7116 is added to read:

§ 7116.  MERCURY‑CONTAINING THERMOSTATS

(a)  Manufacturer responsibility.  Each thermostat manufacturer that has offered for final sale, sold at final sale, or has distributed mercury containing thermostats in Vermont shall, individually or collectively:

(1)  Not later than October 1, 2008 submit a plan to the agency for approval that describes a collection and financial incentive program for mercury thermostats.  The program contained in this plan shall ensure that the following take place:

(A)  that an effective education and outreach program shall be developed and shall be directed toward wholesalers, retailers, contractors, and homeowners.  There shall be no cost to thermostat wholesalers or thermostat retailers for education and outreach materials. 

(B)  that handling and recycling of mercury‑containing thermostats are accomplished in a manner that is consistent with the provisions of the universal waste rules adopted by the secretary.

(C)  that containers for mercury‑containing thermostat collection are provided to all thermostat wholesalers.  The cost to thermostat wholesalers shall be limited to an initial, reasonable one‑time fee per container as specified in the plan.

(D)  that collection systems are provided to all collection points registered pursuant to subdivision (d)(3) of this section.  Collection systems can include individual product mail back or multiple collection containers.  The cost to registered collection points shall be limited to an initial, reasonable one‑time fee per container as specified in the plan.

(E)  that a financial incentive is established with a minimum value of $5.00 for the return of each mercury‑containing thermostat to a thermostat wholesaler by a contractor or service technician.  The financial incentive shall be in the form of cash or coupons that are redeemable by the contractor or service technician.

(F)  that a financial incentive is established with a minimum value of $5.00 to homeowners or non‑professionals for the return of each mercury‑containing thermostat to a collection point registered with the agency.  The financial incentive shall be in the form of cash or in the form of a coupon that can be redeemed for cash from the manufacturer or can redeemed for a credit toward purchase of general merchandize in the retail location where the thermostat was returned.

(G)  mechanisms to protect against the fraudulent return of thermostats are established.

(2)  No later than April 1, 2009, implement a mercury thermostat collection plan approved by the secretary under subsection (d)(1) of this section.

(3)  Beginning in 2010, submit an annual report to the secretary by April 1 of each year that includes, at a minimum, all of the following:

(A)  The number of mercury‑containing thermostats collected and recycled by that manufacturer pursuant to this section during the previous calendar year.

(B)  The estimated total amount of mercury contained in the thermostat components collected by that manufacturer pursuant to this section.

(C)  An evaluation of the effectiveness of the manufacturer’s collection program and the financial incentive.

(D)  An accounting of the administrative costs incurred in the course of administering the collection and recycling program and the financial incentive plan.

(b)  Thermostat wholesaler and thermostat retailer responsibilities. 
(1)  By April 1, 2009, a thermostat wholesaler shall not offer for final sale, sell at final sale, or distribute thermostats unless the wholesaler:
(A)  acts as a collection site for thermostats that contain mercury.
(B)  promotes and utilizes the collection containers provided by thermostat manufacturers to facilitate a contractor collection program as established by subsection (a) of this section, and all other tasks as needed to establish and maintain a cost‑effective manufacturer collection and financial incentive program.
(2)  By April 1, 2009, a thermostat retailer shall not offer for final sale, sell, or distribute thermostats in the state unless the thermostat retailer participates in an education and outreach program to educate consumers on the collection program for mercury thermostats.

(c)  Sales prohibition.  Beginning April 1, 2009, the following sales prohibitions shall apply to manufacturers, thermostat wholesalers, and thermostat retailers:

(1)  A manufacturer not in compliance with this section is prohibited from offering any thermostat for final sale in the state, selling any thermostat at final sale in the state, or distributing any thermostat in the state.  A manufacturer not in compliance with this section shall provide the necessary support to thermostat wholesalers and thermostat retailers to ensure the manufacturer’s thermostats are not offered for final sale, sold at final sale, or distributed in this state.

(2)  A thermostat wholesaler or thermostat retailer shall not offer for final sale, sell at final sale, or distribute in this state any thermostat of a manufacturer that is not in compliance with this section.

(d)  Agency responsibilities.

(1)  Within 60 days of receipt of a complete application from a manufacturer, the agency shall review and may grant, deny, or approve with modifications a manufacturer plan required by subdivision (a)(1) of this section.  The agency shall not approve a plan unless all elements of subdivision (a)(1) are adequately addressed.  In reviewing a plan, the agency may consider consistency of the plan with collection and financial incentive requirements in other states and consider consistency between manufacturer collection programs.  In reviewing plans, the agency shall ensure that education and outreach programs are uniform and consistent to ensure ease of implementation by thermostat wholesalers and thermostat retailers.

(2)  The agency shall establish a process under which a plan submitted by a manufacturer is, prior to plan approval, available for public review and comment for 30 days.  The agency shall consult with interested persons, including representatives from thermostat manufacturers, environmental groups, thermostat wholesalers, thermostat retailers, service contractors, municipalities, and solid waste districts.

(3)  Registered collection points.  The agency shall maintain and post on the agency of natural resources’ website a list of municipalities, solid waste districts, and thermostat retailers who wish to register as collection points for mercury thermostats.

(4)  Education and outreach.  In conjunction with the educational and outreach programs implemented by manufacturers, the agency shall conduct an education and outreach program directed toward wholesalers, retailers, contractors, and homeowners to promote the collection of discarded mercury‑containing thermostats.

(5)  Report.  By January 15, 2010, and annually thereafter, the agency shall submit a report on the collection and recycling of mercury‑containing thermostats in the state to the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on natural resources and energy.  The report due in 2010 must include a description and discussion of the financial incentive plan established under this section and recommendations for any statutory changes concerning the collection and recycling of mercury‑containing thermostats.  Subsequent reports must include an evaluation of the effectiveness of the thermostat collection and recycling programs established under this section, information on actual collection rates, and recommendations for any statutory changes concerning the collection and recycling of mercury‑containing thermostats.  These reporting requirements may be combined with other reports on mercury that the agency is required to provide to the general assembly.

(e)  Rate of collection.  By July 1, 2010, the agency shall estimate the number of out‑of‑service thermostats generated in Vermont on an annual basis, in consultation with interested persons, including representatives from thermostat manufacturers, thermostat wholesalers, thermostat retailers, service contractors, environmental groups, municipalities, and solid waste districts.  Beginning July 1, 2011, should collection efforts fail to result in the collection and recycling of at least 50 percent of the out-of-service mercury‑containing thermostats in the state, the agency shall, in consultation with interested persons, require modifications to manufacturers’ collection plans in an attempt to improve collection rates in accordance with these goals.

Sec. 5.    MERCURY ADVISORY COMMITTEE REPORT ON TOXIC                                          SUBSTANCES

(a)  On or before January 15, 2009, the mercury advisory committee shall report to the senate and house committees on natural resources and energy and the house committee on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committee on health and welfare regarding whether the jurisdiction of the mercury advisory committee should be expanded to include review of additional toxic substances.  In preparing the report, the committee may consult with interested parties.  The report shall include:

(1)  A summary of existing Vermont programs and entities that identify or address the use of and risks posed by harmful toxic substances.

(2)  A summary of how other states identify and minimize the risk posed by harmful toxic substances.

(3)  A recommendation as to whether the jurisdiction of the mercury advisory committee or any other existing Vermont program or state agency should be expanded to include review of additional toxic substances.

(4)  If a recommendation under subdivision (3) of this subsection is made to expand the jurisdiction of the mercury advisory committee or the jurisdiction of any other Vermont program or state agency, the report shall include each of the following::

(A)  A recommendation of the toxic substances or categories of toxic substances that should be added to the jurisdiction of the mercury advisory committee or, if relevant, the jurisdiction of any other Vermont program or state agency, including an explanation of the criteria employed to review and identify such substances;

(B)  Recommended statutory changes to the mercury advisory committee’s statutory charge under 10 V.S.A. § 7113 or recommended statutory changes to the statutory charge of any other Vermont program or state agency, including an analysis of the impact of such expansion relative to the ability of the committee, program, or state agency to meet its current responsibilities;

(C)  A recommendation for how to improve the toxic use reduction and hazardous waste reduction programs established under 10 V.S.A. chapter 159;

(D)  A recommended date to which the repeal of the mercury advisory committee should be extended; and

(E)  The estimated cost, if any, of expanding the jurisdiction of the mercury advisory committee or expanding the jurisdiction of another Vermont program or state agency, including identification of additional resources that would be required for implementing the expanded jurisdiction.

(b)  For the purposes of this section, the mercury advisory committee shall consist of the members set forth in 10 V.S.A. § 7113(a), the attorney general of Vermont or his or her designee, the department of health state toxicologist, an employee of the department of environmental conservation designated by the secretary of the agency of natural resources, and a member of a consumer interest group to be appointed by the governor.

Sec. 6.  SUNSET

Subdivisions 7116(a)(3) (reporting requirement for manufacturers of mercury-containing thermostats) and (d)(4) (agency of natural resources reporting requirement regarding mercury-containing thermostats) of Title 10 shall be repealed on April 2, 2015.

Pending the question, Will the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment? Rep. McCullough of Williston moved that the House refuse to concur and ask for a Committee of Conference, which was agreed to, and the Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

Rep. McCullough of Williston

Rep. Randall of Troy

Rep. Martin of Springfield

 

Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred in;

Committee of Conference Requested and Appointed

H. 617

The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

An act relating to guardianships;

First:  In Sec. 1, 14 V.S.A. § 3071(b), after “3069” by striking out “and 3070” and inserting in lieu thereof and 3070

Second:  In Sec. 1, 14 V.S.A. § 3072(a), by striking out subdivision (2) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subdivision (2) to read as follows:

(2)  No individual may be appointed or serve as guardian for a person under or in need of guardianship if the individual operates a boarding home, residential care home, assisted living residence, nursing home, group home, developmental home, correctional facility, psychiatric unit at a designated hospital, or other similar facility in which the person under or in need of guardianship resides or is receiving care.

Third:  In Sec. 1, 14 V.S.A. § 3072(b), by striking out subdivisions (1) and (2) in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof new subdivisions (1) and (2) to read as follows:

(1)  the preference of the ward the nomination of a guardian in an advance directive, trust or in a will;

(2)  any current or past expressed preferences of the respondent;

Fourth:  In Sec.1, 14 V.S.A. § 3075(e), by striking out “3069(b)(2)” and inserting in lieu thereof 3069(c)(2)

Fifth:  In Sec. 1, 14 V.S.A. § 3075, by striking out subsections (g), (h), and (i) in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof new subsections (g) and (h) to read as follows:

(g)(1)  The guardian shall obtain prior written approval by the probate court following notice and hearing:

(A)  if the person under guardianship objects to the guardian’s decision, on constitutional grounds or otherwise;

(B)  if the court orders prior approval for a specific surgery, procedure, or treatment, either in its initial order pursuant to subdivision 3069(c)(2) of this title or anytime after appointment of a guardian;

(C)  except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, and unless the guardian is acting pursuant to an advance directive, before withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment other than antibiotics; or

(D)  unless the guardian is acting pursuant to an advance directive, before consenting to a do-not-resuscitate order unless a clinician as defined in subdivision 9701(5) of Title 18 certifies that the person under guardianship is likely to experience cardiopulmonary arrest before court approval can be obtained.  In such circumstances, the guardian shall immediately notify the court by telephone of the need for a decision, shall obtain the clinician’s certification prior to consenting to the do-not-resuscitate order and shall file the clinician’s certification with the court after consent has been given.

(2)  The requirements of subdivision (1)(C) of this subsection shall not apply if obtaining a court order would be impracticable due to the need for a decision before court approval can be obtained.  In such circumstances, the guardian shall immediately notify the court by telephone of the need for a decision, and shall notify the court of any decision made.

(h)  The procedures in chapter 181 of Title 18 shall be the exclusive mechanism:

(1)  For admission to inpatient psychiatric care when the person under guardianship objects to the guardian’s decision on constitutional grounds or otherwise.

(2)  To obtain approval for administration of nonemergency involuntary psychiatric medication to a person under guardianship.

Sixth:  In Sec. 1, 14 V.S.A. § 3077(a), after “Any” by adding A

Seventh:  By striking out Sec. 3 (Guardianship Task Force) in its entirety.

Pending the question, Will the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment? Rep. Jewett of Ripton moved that the House refuse to concur and ask for a Committee of Conference, which was agreed to, and the Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

Rep. Jewett of Ripton

Rep. Gervais of Enosburg

Rep. Flory of Pittsford

Senate Proposal of Amendment Concurred in

H. 777

     The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

     An act relating to the certificate of need program;

     By striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  18 V.S.A. § 9432(4) is amended to read:

(4)  “Capital expenditure” means an expenditure for the plant or equipment which is not properly chargeable as an expense of operation and maintenance and includes acquisition by purchase, donation, leasehold expenditure, or operating lease which is treated as capital expense in accordance to the accounting standards established for lease expenditures by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, calculated over the length of the lease for plant or equipment, and includes assets having an expected life of at least three years.  A capital expenditure includes the cost of studies, surveys, designs, plans, working drawings, specifications and other activities essential to the acquisition, improvement, expansion, or replacement of the plant and equipment.

Sec. 2.  18 V.S.A. § 9439(b) is amended to read:

(b)  When a letter of intent to compete has been filed, the review process is suspended and the time within which a decision must be made as provided in subdivision 9440(c)(2) 9440(d)(4) of this title is stayed until the competing application has been ruled complete or for a period of 55 days from the date of notification under subdivision 9440(b)(4) 9440(c)(8) as to the original application, whichever is shorter.

Sec. 3.  18 V.S.A. § 9440(c)(6) is amended to read:

(6)  If an applicant fails to respond to an information request under subdivision (4) of this subsection within six months or, in the case of review cycle applications under section 9439 of this title, within such time limits as the commissioner shall establish by rule, the application will be deemed inactive unless the applicant has, within said six months, filed an adequate, as determined by the commissioner, amended letter of intent requests in writing that the application be reactivated and the commissioner grants the request.  If an applicant fails to respond to an information request within 12 months or, in the case of review cycle applications under section 9439 of this title, within such time limits as the commissioner shall establish by rule, the application will become invalid unless the applicant requests, and the commissioner grants, an extension.

Sec. 4.  18 V.S.A. § 9440(c)(9) is amended to read:

(9)  The health care ombudsman’s office established under section 4089j subchapter 1A of chapter 107 of Title 8 or, in the case of nursing homes, the long-term care ombudsman’s office established under section 7502 of Title 33, is authorized but not required to participate in any administrative or judicial review of an application under this subchapter and shall be considered an interested party in such proceedings upon filing a notice of intervention with the commissioner.

Sec. 5.  18 V.S.A. § 9440(d)(4) and (7) are amended to read:

(4)  A review shall be completed and the commissioner shall make a final decision within 120 days after the date of notification under subdivision (b)(4)(c)(4) of this section.  Whenever it is not practicable to complete a review within 120 days, the commissioner may extend the review period up to an additional 30 days.  Any review period may be extended with the written consent of the applicant and all other applicants in the case of a review cycle process.

(7)  Notice of the final decision shall be sent to the applicant, competing applicants, and interested parties.  This notice The final decision shall make include written findings and conclusions stating the basis of the decision.

Sec. 5a.  18 V.S.A. § 9440(e) is amended to read:

(e)  The commissioner shall adopt rules governing procedures for the expeditious processing of applications for replacement, repair, rebuilding, or reequipping of any part of a health care facility or health maintenance organization destroyed or damaged as the result of fire, storm, flood, act of God, or civil disturbance, or any other circumstances beyond the control of the applicant, and of applications where the health care facility is affected by bankruptcy proceedings, where the commissioner finds that the circumstances require action in less time than normally required for review. If the nature of the emergency requires it, an application under this subsection may be reviewed by the commissioner only, without notice and opportunity for public hearing or intervention by any party.

Sec. 5b.  18 V.S.A. § 9440(g) is added to read:

(g)  If the commissioner has reason to believe that the applicant has violated a provision of this subchapter, a rule adopted pursuant to this subchapter, or the terms or conditions of a prior certificate of need, the commissioner may take into consideration such violation in determining whether to approve, deny, or approve the application subject to conditions.  The applicant shall be provided an opportunity to contest whether such violation occurred, unless such an opportunity has already been provided.  The commissioner may impose as a condition of approval of the application that a violation be corrected or remediated before the certificate may take effect.

Sec. 5c.  18 V.S.A. § 9445(d) is added to read:

(d)  The commissioner shall adopt by rule criteria for assessing the circumstances in which a violation of a provision of this subchapter, a rule adopted pursuant to this subchapter, or the terms or conditions of a certificate of need require that a penalty under this section shall be imposed, and criteria for assessing the circumstances in which a penalty under this section may be imposed.

Sec. 5d.  18 V.S.A. § 9440(c)(5) is amended to read:

(5)  An applicant seeking expedited review of a certificate of need application may simultaneously file a letter of intent and an application with the commissioner.  Upon making a determination that the proposed project may be uncontested and does not substantially alter services, as defined by rule, or upon making a determination that the application relates to a health care facility affected by bankruptcy proceedings, the commissioner shall issue public notice of the application and the request for expedited review and identify a date by which a competing application or petition for interested party status must be filed.  If a competing application is not filed and no person opposing the application is granted interested party status, the commissioner may formally declare the application uncontested and may issue a certificate of need without further process, or with such abbreviated process as the commissioner deems appropriate.  If a competing application is filed or a person opposing the application is granted interested party status, the applicant shall follow the certificate of need standards and procedures in this section, except that in the case of a health care facility affected by bankruptcy proceedings, the commissioner after notice and an opportunity to be heard may issue a certificate of need with such abbreviated process as the commissioner deems appropriate, notwithstanding the contested nature of the application.

Sec. 5e.  18 V.S.A. § 9440(e) is amended to read:

(e)  The commissioner shall adopt rules governing procedures for the expeditious processing of applications for replacement, repair, rebuilding, or reequipping of any part of a health care facility or health maintenance organization destroyed or damaged as the result of fire, storm, flood, act of God, or civil disturbance, or any other circumstances beyond the control of the applicant, and of applications where the health care facility is affected by bankruptcy proceedings, where the commissioner finds that the circumstances require action in less time than normally required for review. If the nature of the emergency requires it, an application under this subsection may be reviewed by the commissioner only, without notice and opportunity for public hearing or intervention by any party.

Sec. 6.  18 V.S.A. § 9444 is amended to read:

§ 9444.  REVOCATION OF CERTIFICATES; MATERIAL CHANGE

The commissioner may revoke a certificate of need for substantial noncompliance with the scope of the project as designated in the application, or for failure to comply with the conditions set forth in the certificate of need granted by the commissioner.  In the event that after a project has been approved, its proponent wishes to materially change the scope or cost of the approved project, all such changes are subject to review under this subchapter. If a change itself would be considered a new health care project as defined in subsection 9434(a) section 9434 of this title, it shall be considered as material.  If the change itself would not be considered a new health care project as defined in subsection 9434(a) section 9434 of this title, the commissioner may decide not to review the change and shall notify the applicant and all parties of such decision.  Where the commissioner decides not to review a change, such change will be deemed to have been granted a certificate of need.

Sec. 7.  18 V.S.A. § 9445 is amended to read:

§ 9445.  ENFORCEMENT

(a)  Any person who offers or develops any new health care project within the meaning of this subchapter without first obtaining a certificate of need as required herein, or who otherwise violates any of the provisions of this subchapter, shall may be subject to the following administrative sanctions by the commissioner, after notice and an opportunity to be heard:

(1)  The state shall not issue a commissioner may order that no license or certificate permitted to be issued by the department or any other state agency may be issued to any health care facility to operate, offer, or develop any new health care project in violation of this subchapter and without a certificate of need or certificate of exemption issued pursuant thereto for a specified period of time, or that remedial conditions be attached to the issuance of such licenses or certificates.

(2)  The state shall not furnish from any reimbursement program commissioner may order that payments or reimbursements to the entity for claims made under any health insurance policy, subscriber contract, or health benefit plan offered or administered by any public or private health insurer, including the Medicaid program and any other health benefit program administered by the state, nor shall any entity chartered under the laws of this state or any person doing business in the state provide reimbursement for any new health care project offered or developed in contravention of the requirements of this subchapter be denied, reduced, or limited, and in the case of a hospital that the hospital’s annual budget approved under subchapter 7 of this chapter be adjusted, modified or reduced.

(3)(b)  In addition to all other sanctions, if any person offers or develops any new health care project without first having been issued a certificate of need or certificate of exemption therefore, or violates any other provision of this subchapter or any lawful rule or regulation promulgated thereunder, the commissioner and health care providers or consumers located in the state shall have standing to maintain a civil action in the superior court of the county wherein such alleged violation has occurred, or wherein such person may be found, to enjoin, restrain, or prevent such violation.  Upon written request by the commissioner, it shall be the duty of the attorney general of the state to furnish appropriate legal services and to prosecute an action for injunctive relief to an appropriate conclusion, which shall not be reimbursed under subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(b)(c)  After notice and an opportunity for hearing, the commissioner may impose on a person who knowingly violates a provision of this subchapter, or a rule or order adopted pursuant to this subchapter or section 15 of Title 8, a civil administrative penalty of no more than $40,000.00, or in the case of a continuing violation, a civil administrative penalty of no more than $100,000.00 or one-tenth of one percent of the gross annual revenues of the health care facility, whichever is greater, which shall not be reimbursed under subdivision (a)(2) of this section, and the commissioner may order the entity to cease and desist from further violations, and to take such other actions necessary to remediate a violation.  A person aggrieved by a decision of the commissioner under this subdivision may appeal the commissioner’s decision to the supreme court.

Sec. 8.  18 V.S.A. § 9437 is amended to read:

§ 9437. CRITERIA

A certificate of need shall be granted if the applicant demonstrates and the commissioner finds that:

(1) the application is consistent with the health resource allocation plan;

(2) the cost of the project is reasonable, because:

(A) the applicant's financial condition will sustain any financial burden likely to result from completion of the project;

(B) the project will not result in an undue increase in the costs of medical care.  In making a finding under this subdivision the commissioner shall consider and weigh relevant factors including:

(i)  the financial implications of the project on hospitals and other clinical settings, including the impact on their services, expenditures, and charges; 

(ii)  whether the impact on  services, expenditures and charges is outweighed by the benefit of the project to the public; and

Sec. 9.   EMERGENCY RULES; EFFECTIVE DATE; PROSPECTIVE REPEAL

(a)  The commissioner may adopt emergency rules to carry out the purposes of Sec. 5a of this act.

(b)  This act shall take effect on July 1, 2008, except that Sec. 5a of this act shall take effect on passage, and Sec. 5e of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2009.

(c)  Subsection (a) of this section shall be repealed on June 30, 2009.

     Which proposal of amendment was considered and concurred in.

Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred in;

Committee of Conference Requested and Appointed

H. 806

The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

An act relating to public water systems;

     By striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  10 V.S.A. § 1675a is added to read:

§ 1675a.  PERMITTING EXEMPTION

(a)  The requirements of this chapter and the rules adopted under this chapter, except the construction permitting requirements, shall not apply to a public water system that:

(1)  Consists only of distribution and storage facilities and does not have any collection and treatment facilities;

(2)  Obtains all of its water from, but is not owned or operated by, a public water system to which this chapter applies;

(3)  Does not engage in the sale of water to any person.  For purposes of this section and subdivision 203(3) of title 30,  a “sale” of water does not occur when:

(A) the rate charged to the consumer by the receiving water system is the same as the rate charged by the public water system for supplying water to the receiving water system; and

(B) the receiving water system follows the uniform water and sewer disconnect requirements of chapter 129 of title 24, except that section 5147 of title 24 shall not apply and appeals shall be governed by the Vermont rules of civil procedure; and

(4)  Is not a carrier which conveys passengers in interstate commerce;

(5)  Serves less than 500 persons; and

(6)  Is served by a public water system that certifies to the secretary that:

(A)  The receiving public water system is responsible for the repair and maintenance of their own water system unless otherwise agreed to by the wholesale system; and

(B)  The public water system supplying water to the receiving water system is responsible for:

(i)  including the receiving public water system in its water quality sampling plans;

(ii)  providing consumer confidence reports to the receiving system’s users; and

(iii)  issuing public notice to the receiving system’s users if a violation of a drinking water contaminant standard exists or if the secretary determines that a condition exists that may present a risk to public health.

(b)  The water system supplying water to the receiving water system is responsible for the requirements contained in subdivision (a)(6)(B) of this section until 180 days after the water system supplying water to the receiving water system files a notice with the secretary of natural resources and the receiving system of its intent to withdraw from any obligation made under subdivision (a)(6)(B) of this section.

(c)  Notwithstanding the exemption contained in subsection (a) of this section, the secretary of natural resources may take any reasonable steps that are necessary to abate a public health threat at a public water system that is otherwise exempt

Sec. 2.  30 V.S.A. § 203(3) is amended to read:

(3) A company other than a municipality or a water system exempted under the provisions of section 1675a of title 10 engaged in the collecting, sale and distribution of water for domestic, industrial, business or fire protection purposes;

Pending the question, Will the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment? Rep. Randall of Troy moved that the House refuse to concur and ask for a Committee of Conference, which was agreed to, and the Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

Rep. Randall of Troy

Rep. Lewis of Derby

Rep. McCullough of Williston

Senate Proposal of Amendment Concurred in

H. 867

     The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

An act relating to health insurance plan coverage for athletic trainer services;

     By striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  8 V.S.A. § 4088f is added to read:

§ 4088f.  COVERAGE FOR COVERED SERVICES PROVIDED BY                                               ATHLETIC TRAINERS

(a)  To the extent a health insurance plan provides coverage for a particular type of health service or for any particular medical condition that is within the scope of practice of athletic trainers, a licensed athletic trainer who acts within the scope of practice authorized by law shall not be denied reimbursement by the health insurer for those covered services if the health insurer would reimburse another health care provider for those services.  A health insurer may require that the athletic trainer services be provided by a licensed athletic trainer under contract with the insurer.  Services provided by athletic trainers may be subject to reasonable deductibles, co-payment and co-insurance amounts, fee or benefit limits, practice parameters, and utilization review consistent with applicable rules adopted by the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration; provided that the amounts, limits, and review shall not function to direct treatment in a manner unfairly discriminative against athletic trainer care, and collectively shall be no more restrictive than those applicable under the same policy for care or services provided by other health care providers but allowing for the management of the benefit consistent with variations in practice patterns and treatment modalities among different types of health care providers.  Nothing in this section shall be construed as impeding or preventing either the provision or coverage of health care services by licensed athletic trainers within the lawful scope of athletic trainer practice.

(b)  As used in this section, “health insurance plan” means an individual or group health insurance policy, a hospital or medical service corporation or health maintenance organization subscriber contract, or another health benefit plan offered, issued, or renewed for a person in this state by a health insurer, as defined in subdivision 9402(7) of Title 18.  The term shall not include benefit plans providing coverage for specific disease or other limited benefit coverage.

Sec. 2.  26 V.S.A. § 2086 is added to read:

§ 2086.   PATIENT CARE MANAGEMENT

(a)  A physical therapist shall be professionally responsible and legally liable for all aspects of the physical therapy care of each of his or her patients.  The director of the office of professional regulation shall identify by rule physical therapy services that only a physical therapist may perform.  At a minimum, a physical therapist shall provide:

(1)  the initial examination and documentation for each of his or her patients;

(2)  periodic reexamination and documentation of each of his or her patients;

(3)  the documented discharge of the patient, including the response to therapeutic intervention at the time of discharge.

(b)  A physical therapist shall ensure the qualifications of all physical therapist assistants and physical therapy aides under his or her direction or supervision.

(c)  For each of his or her patients on each date of treatment, a physical therapist shall provide all of the therapeutic intervention that requires the expertise of a physical therapist and shall determine the use of physical therapist assistants or physical therapy aides who provide for the delivery of care that is safe, effective, and efficient, provided the assigned acts, tasks, or procedures do not exceed the person’s education or training and provided:

(1)  A physical therapist assistant shall work under a physical therapist’s supervision.  A physical therapist assistant may document care pursuant to the existing treatment plan from the supervising physical therapist.

(2)  A physical therapist may use physical therapy aides for designated routine tasks.  A physical therapy aide shall work under the on-site supervision of a physical therapist who is continuously on site and present at the facility, who is immediately available to assist the person being supervised in the services being performed, and who maintains continued involvement in appropriate aspects of each treatment session in which a component of treatment is assigned.  This supervision by the physical therapist may extend to off-site supervision of the aide only when the physical therapy aide is accompanying and working directly with a physical therapist assistant with a specific patient or when performing nonpatient-related tasks.

(d)  A physical therapist’s responsibility for patient care management shall include accurate documentation of and billing for the services provided.

(e)  A physical therapist shall be responsible for communicating the status of a patient’s progress and other relevant information to the patient’s referring health care professional unless the patient declines to authorize release of the patient’s physical therapy records.

Sec. 3.  REPEAL

(a)  26 V.S.A. § 2081a(1) (definition of assistive personnel) shall be repealed on July 1, 2009.

(b)  26 V.S.A. § 2085 (legal liability for physical therapists) shall be repealed on July 1, 2009.

Sec. 4.  EFFECTIVE DATE: APPLICABILITY

(a)  Sec. 1 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2008 and shall apply to all health benefit plans offered, issued, or renewed on or after October 1, 2008.

(b)  Sec. 2 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2009.

Which proposal of amendment was considered and concurred in.

 

 

Senate Proposal of Amendment to House Proposal

of Amendment Concurred in

S. 240

     The Senate concurred in the House proposal of amendment on House bill, entitled

     An act relating to repealing the sunset of the law enforcement exemption to the social security breach notice act;

With the following amendment thereto:

By striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  EXTENSION OF SUNSET OF LAW ENFORCEMENT EXEMPTION TO SECURITY BREACH NOTICE ACT

Sec. 5 of No. 162 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read:

Sec. 5.  SUNSET

9 V.S.A. § 2435(h) (exemption for law enforcement agencies from security breach notice act) shall be repealed June 30, 2008 2012.

The Senate further proposes that after passage, the title of the bill be amended to read:

An act relating to EXTENDING the sunset of the law enforcement exemption to the security breach notice act

     Which proposal of amendment was considered and concurred in.

Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred in;

Committee of Conference Requested and Appointed

S. 290

     The Senate concurred in the House proposal of amendment on Senate bill, entitled

     Agricultural water quality financing

With the following amendment thereto:

In Sec. 1, 6 V.S.A., § 4828, subsection (b) after the words “plan implementation” by inserting the following: and for the purchase of contract services to conduct nutrient management, including contracting with custom spreaders for application of manure.

Pending the question, Will the House concur in the Senate proposal of amendment? Rep. Spengler of Colchester moved that the House refuse to concur and ask for a Committee of Conference, which was agreed to, and the Speaker appointed as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the House:

Rep. Lawrence of Lyndon

Rep. Spengler of Colchester

Rep. Browning of Arlington

Proposal of Amendment Agreed to; Third Reading Ordered

S. 284

Rep. Kupersmith of South Burlington, for the committee on Commerce, to which had been referred Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration;

Reported in favor of its passage in concurrence with proposal of amendment as follows:

First:  By striking Sec. 1 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 1 to read as follows:

Sec. 1.  8 V.S.A. § 2201(c)(14) is added to read:

(14)  nonprofit organizations established under testamentary instruments, exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3), and which make loans for postsecondary educational costs to students and their parents, provided that the organizations provide annual accountings to the probate court pursuant to 14 V.S.A. § 2324.

Second:  By adding Secs. 9–13 to read:

Sec. 9.  8 V.S.A. § 4840(d) is amended to read:

(d)  The commissioner may waive or reduce the requirements of this section for an attorney that is under common ownership or control with a reciprocal insurer.  The commissioner may reduce by 50 percent the bond amount required by this section for an attorney that is not under common ownership or control with a reciprocal insurer if the commissioner finds sufficient evidence of financial responsibility, notwithstanding the reduction of the bond amount.

Sec. 10.  8 V.S.A. § 6006(i) is amended to read:

(i)  The provisions of subchapter 3, and subchapter 3A of chapter 101 of this title, pertaining to mergers, consolidations, conversions, mutualizations, redomestications, and mutual holding companies, shall apply in determining the procedures to be followed by captive insurance companies in carrying out any of the transactions described therein, except that:

* * *

(3)  the provisions of subsections 3423(f) and (h) of this title shall not apply, and the commissioner may waive or modify the requirement of subdivision 3423(b)(4) of this title, with respect to market value of a converted company as necessary or desirable to reflect applicable restrictions on ownership of companies formed under this chapter; and

(4)  an alien insurer may be a party to a merger authorized under this subsection; provided that the requirements for a merger between a captive insurance company and a foreign insurer under section 3431 of this title shall apply to a merger between a captive insurance company and an alien insurer under this subsection.  Such alien insurer shall be treated as a foreign insurer under section 3431 and such other jurisdictions shall be the equivalent of a state for purposes of section 3431; and

(5)  the commissioner may issue a certificate of general good to permit the formation of a captive insurance company that is established for the sole purpose of merging with or assuming existing insurance or reinsurance business from an existing Vermont licensed captive insurance company.  The commissioner may, upon request of such newly formed captive insurance company, waive or modify the requirements of subdivisions 6002(c)(1)(B) and (2) of this title.

Sec. 11.  8 V.S.A. § 6048n is amended to read:

§ 6048n.  SPONSORED CAPTIVES

In addition to the provisions of sections 6048a-6048m of this subchapter, the provisions of this section shall apply to any sponsored captive insurance company licensed as a special purpose financial captive insurance company pursuant to this subchapter.

* * *

(4)  The special purpose financial captive insurance company on behalf of a protected cell shall be entitled to assert the same claims and defenses in actions in law or equity as if the protected cell were a corporation established under Title 11A of the Vermont Statutes Annotated, including, but not limited to, claims and defenses in actions at law or equity alleging alter ego, corporate veil piercing, offset, substantive consolidation, equitable subordination, or recoupment.  In connection with the conservation, rehabilitation, or liquidation of a special purpose financial captive insurance company or one or more of its protected cells, the assets and liabilities of a protected cell shall at all times be kept separate from, and shall not be commingled with, those of other protected cells and the special purpose financial captive insurance company, and the assets of one protected cell shall not be used to satisfy the obligations or liabilities of another protected cell or the special purpose financial captive insurance company based on legal or equitable claims or defenses, including but not limited to alter ego, piercing the corporate veil, offset, substantive consolidation, equitable subordination, or recoupment, unless such claims or defenses would apply to such protected cell if it were a special purpose finance captive insurance company without separate cells.

(4)(5)  Notwithstanding subdivision 6034(1) of this chapter, the special purpose financial captive insurance company may issue securities to any person approved in advance by the commissioner.

(5)(6)  Notwithstanding section 6048g of this subchapter, the special purpose financial captive insurance company shall possess and thereafter maintain unimpaired paid-in capital and surplus of not less than $500,000.00.

(6)(7)  The “general account” of a sponsored captive insurance company licensed as a special purpose financial captive insurance company shall mean all assets and liabilities of the sponsored captive insurance company not attributable to a protected cell.

(7)(8)(A)  Any security issued by a special purpose financial captive insurance company with respect to a protected cell and any other contract or obligation of the special purpose financial captive insurance company with respect to a protected cell shall include the designation of such protected cell and shall include a disclosure in a form and content satisfactory to the commissioner to the effect that the following statement, or such other statement as may be required by the commissioner:

(i)  In the case of a security:  “The holder of such this security and any counterparty to such contract or obligation shall have no right or recourse against the special purpose financial captive insurance company and its assets other than against assets properly attributable to such the designated protected cell. and the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s general account, to the extent permitted by Vermont law.”

(ii)  In the case of a contract or obligation:  “The counterparty to this contract or obligation shall have no right or recourse against the special purpose financial captive insurance company and its assets other than against assets properly attributable to the designated protected cell and the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s general account, to the extent permitted by Vermont law.”

(B)  Notwithstanding the requirements of this subdivision (7)(8) and subject to the provisions of this chapter and other applicable law or regulation, the failure to include such disclosure, in whole or part, in such security, contract, or obligation with respect to a protected cell shall not serve as the sole basis for a creditor, ceding insurer, or any other person to have recourse against the general account of the special purpose financial captive insurance company in excess of the limitations provided for in subdivision (12)(E) of this subsection, or against the assets of any other protected cell.

(8)(9)  In addition to the provisions of section 6034 of this chapter, the special purpose financial captive insurance company shall be subject to the following with respect to its protected cells:

(A)  The special purpose financial captive insurance company shall establish a protected cell only for the purpose of insuring or reinsuring risks of one or more reinsurance contracts with a ceding insurer or two or more affiliated ceding insurers, with the intent of facilitating an insurance securitization.  A separate protected cell shall be established with respect to each such ceding insurer, provided that a separate protected cell shall be established with respect to each reinsurance contract or contracts that are funded in whole or in part by a separate securitization transaction; and

(B)  A sale, an exchange, or another transfer of assets may not be made by the special purpose financial captive between or among any of its protected cells without the prior approval of the commissioner.

(9)(10)  All attributions of assets and liabilities to the protected cells and the general account shall be in accordance with the plan of operation approved by the commissioner.  No other attribution of assets or liabilities may be made by a special purpose financial captive insurance company between its general account and any protected cell or between any protected cells.  The special purpose financial captive insurance company shall attribute all insurance obligations, assets, and liabilities relating to a reinsurance contract entered into with respect to a protected cell and shall attribute the related insurance securitization transaction, including any securities issued by the special purpose financial captive insurance company as part of the insurance securitization, to such protected cell.  The rights, benefits, obligations, and liabilities of any securities attributable to such protected cell and the performance under such reinsurance contract and the related securitization transaction and any tax benefits, losses, refunds, or credits allocated pursuant to a tax allocation agreement to which the special purpose financial captive insurance company is a party, including any payments made by or due to be made to the special purpose financial captive insurance company pursuant to the terms of such agreement, shall reflect the insurance obligations, assets, and liabilities relating to the reinsurance contract and the insurance securitization transaction that are attributed to such protected cell.

(10)(11)  For purposes of applying the provisions of chapter 145 of this title to a sponsored captive insurance company licensed as a special purpose financial captive insurance company, the definition of “insolvency” and “insolvent” in subdivision 6048c(2) shall be applied separately to each protected cell and to the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s general account.

(11)(12)  In addition to the provisions of section 6048m of this chapter:

(A)  The provisions of chapter 145 of this title shall apply to each protected cell of the special purpose financial captive. Any proceeding or action taken by the commissioner pursuant to chapter 145 of this title with respect to a protected cell of a special purpose financial captive shall not be the sole basis for a proceeding pursuant to chapter 145 of this title with respect to any other protected cell of such special purpose financial captive insurance company or the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s general account.

(B)  The receiver of a special purpose financial captive insurance company shall ensure that the assets attributable to one protected cell are not applied to the liabilities attributable to another protected cell or to the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s general account unless an asset or liability is attributable to more than one protected cell, in which case the receiver shall deal with the asset or liability in accordance with the terms of any relevant governing instrument or contract.

(C)  The insolvency of a protected cell shall not be the sole basis for the commissioner to prohibit payments by the special purpose financial captive insurance company made pursuant to a special purpose financial captive insurance company security or reinsurance contract with respect to any other protected cell or to prohibit any action required to make such payments.

(A)  Except as otherwise modified in this section, the terms and conditions set forth in chapter 145 of this title pertaining to administrative supervision of insurers and the rehabilitation, receiverships, and liquidation of insurers apply in full to special purpose financial captive insurance companies or any of the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s protected cells, independently, without causing or otherwise effecting a conservation, rehabilitation, receivership, or liquidation of the special purpose financial captive insurance company or another protected cell that is not otherwise insolvent.

(B)  Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 145 of this title, and without causing or otherwise effecting the conservation or rehabilitation of an otherwise solvent protected cell of a special purpose financial captive insurance company and subject to the provisions of subdivision (G)(v) of this subdivision (12), the commissioner may apply by petition to the superior court for an order authorizing the commissioner to conserve, rehabilitate, or liquidate a special purpose financial captive insurance company domiciled in this state on one or more of the following grounds:

(i)  embezzlement, wrongful sequestration, dissipation, or diversion of the assets of the special purpose financial captive insurance company intended to be used to pay amounts owed to the ceding insurer or the holders of special purpose financial captive insurance company securities; or

(ii)  the special purpose financial captive insurance company is insolvent; or

(iii)  the holders of a majority in outstanding principal amount of each class of special purpose financial captive insurance company securities attributable to each particular protected cell requests or consents to conservation, rehabilitation, or liquidation pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter.

(C)  Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 145 of this title, the commissioner may apply by petition to the superior court for an order authorizing the commissioner to conserve, rehabilitate, or liquidate one or more of a special purpose financial captive insurance company’s protected cells, independently, without causing or otherwise effecting a conservation, rehabilitation, receivership, or liquidation of the special purpose financial captive insurance company generally or another of its protected cells, on one or more of the following grounds:

(i)  embezzlement, wrongful sequestration, dissipation, or diversion of the assets of the special purpose financial captive insurance company attributable to the affected protected cell or cells intended to be used to pay amounts owed to the ceding insurer or the holders of special purpose financial captive insurance company securities of the affected protected cell or cells; or

(ii)  the affected protected cell is insolvent; or

(iii)  the holders of a majority in outstanding principal amount of each class of special purpose financial captive insurance company securities attributable to that particular protected cell request or consent to conservation, rehabilitation, or liquidation pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter.

(D)  Except where consent is given as described in subdivisions (B)(iii) and (C)(iii) of this subdivision (12), the court may not grant relief provided by subdivision (B) or (C) of this subdivision (12) unless, after notice and a hearing, the commissioner, who shall have the burden of proof, establishes by clear and convincing evidence that relief must be granted.  The court’s order may be made in respect of one or more protected cells by name, rather than the special purpose financial captive insurance company generally.

(E)  Notwithstanding another provision in this title, regulations adopted under this title, or another applicable law or regulation, upon any order of conservation, rehabilitation, or liquidation of a special purpose financial captive insurance company, or one or more of the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s protected cells, the receiver shall manage the assets and liabilities of the special purpose financial captive insurance company or the applicable protected cell pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter.  The assets attributable to one protected cell shall not be applied to the liabilities attributable to another protected cell, unless an asset or liability is attributable to more than one protected cell, in which case the receiver shall deal with the asset or liability in accordance with the terms of any relevant governing instrument or contract.  Recourse to the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s general account in connection with the conservation, rehabilitation, or liquidation of a protected cell shall be limited to the greater of the amount of assets in the general account as of the date such proceeding is commenced or the required minimum capital for the general account as of the date such proceeding is commenced.  Assets attributable to one protected cell or the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s general account shall not be set off against the liabilities attributable to another protected cell or to the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s general account.  Relief shall not be granted nor shall any order be issued based on equitable theories of recovery, including substantive consolidation, equitable subordination, or recoupment, to attach or seize the assets of any solvent protected cell for the benefit of another protected cell or special purpose financial captive insurance company, or to pierce the corporate veil of any protected cell, in connection with the conservation, rehabilitation, or liquidation of a special purpose financial captive insurance company or one or more protected cells, unless such equitable theories, attachment, seizure or corporate veil piercing would apply to such cell if it were a special purpose financial captive insurance company without separate cells.

            (F)  With respect to amounts recoverable under a reinsurance contract, the amount recoverable by the receiver of a special purpose financial captive insurance company must not be reduced or diminished as a result of the entry of an order of conservation, rehabilitation, or liquidation with respect to the ceding insurer, notwithstanding another provision in the contract or other documentation governing the insurance securitization.

(G)  Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 145 of this title or other laws of this state:

          (i)  An application or petition, or a temporary restraining order or injunction issued pursuant to the provisions of chapter 145 of this title, with respect to a ceding insurer, does not prohibit the transaction of business by a special purpose financial captive insurance company with the ceding insurer, including any payment by a special purpose financial captive insurance company made pursuant to a security issued by a special purpose financial captive insurance company with respect to a protected cell, or any action or proceeding against a special purpose financial captive insurance company or its assets.

(ii)  The commencement of a summary proceeding or other interim proceeding commenced before a formal delinquency proceeding with respect to a special purpose financial captive insurance company, and any order issued by the court, does not prohibit the payment by a special purpose financial captive insurance company made pursuant to a security issued by a special purpose financial captive insurance company with respect to a protected cell or special purpose financial captive insurance company contract or the special purpose financial captive insurance company from taking any action required to make the payment.

(iii)  A receiver of a ceding insurer may not void a nonfraudulent transfer by the ceding insurer to a special purpose financial captive insurance company of money or other property made pursuant to a reinsurance contract.

(iv)  A receiver of a special purpose financial captive insurance company may not void a nonfraudulent transfer by the special purpose financial captive insurance company of money or other property made to a ceding insurer pursuant to a reinsurance contract or made to or for the benefit of any holder of a special purpose financial captive insurance company security issued with respect to a protected cell, or a special purpose financial captive insurance company security.

(v)  In the event of an insolvency of a special purpose financial captive insurance company where one or more protected cells remain solvent, the commissioner shall separate the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s solvent protected cells from the insolvent special purpose financial captive insurance company, shall allow on petition of the sponsor for the conversion of such solvent protected cells into one or more special purpose financial captive insurance companies, and shall issue such orders as the commissioner deems necessary to protect the solvency of the remaining solvent protected cells.  In the event of an insolvency of a protected cell, the special purpose financial captive insurance company’s assets shall be accounted for and managed in compliance with subdivision (E) of this subdivision (12) and the other laws of this state.

(H)  Subdivision (G) of this subdivision (12) does not prohibit the commissioner from taking any action permitted under chapter 145 of this title with respect only to the conservation or rehabilitation of a special purpose financial captive insurance company with protected cell or cells, provided the commissioner would have had sufficient grounds to seek to declare the special purpose financial captive insurance company insolvent; subject to and without otherwise affecting the provisions of subdivision (G)(v) of this subdivision (12).  In this case, with respect to the solvent protected cell or cells, the commissioner may not prohibit payments made by the special purpose financial captive insurance company pursuant to the special purpose financial captive insurance company security, reinsurance contract, or otherwise made under the insurance securitization transaction that are attributable to these protected cell or cells or prohibit the special purpose financial captive insurance company from taking any action required to make these payments.

(I)  With the exception of the fulfillment of the obligations under a special purpose financial captive insurance company contract, and notwithstanding another provision of this title or other laws of this state, the assets of a special purpose financial captive insurance company, including assets held in trust, shall not be consolidated with or included in the estate of a ceding insurer in any delinquency proceeding against the ceding insurer pursuant to the provisions of this title for any purpose, including, without limitation, distribution to creditors of the ceding insurer.

Sec. 12.  8 V.S.A. § 3614(a) is amended to read: 

§ 3614.  BOARD OF DIRECTORS

(a)  The board of directors of the association shall consist of not less than five nor more than nine persons serving, at least three of whom shall be persons who are officers, directors, or employees of insurance companies incorporated under the laws of this state, unless there are fewer than three such companies, in which case there shall be one director for each such company.  The directors shall serve terms as established in the plan of operation.  The members of the board shall be selected by member insurers subject to the approval of the commissioner.  Vacancies on the board shall be filled for the remaining period of the term by a majority vote of the remaining board members, subject to the approval of the commissioner.  Not less than one-half of the directors shall be persons who are officers, directors or employees of insurance companies incorporated under the laws of this state.

Sec. 13.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect July 1, 2008, except for Sec. 2, which shall take effect upon passage.

The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up, read the second time and the recommendation of proposal of amendment agreed to and third reading ordered.

Proposal of Amendment Agreed to; Third Reading Ordered

S. 311

Rep. Randall of Troy, for the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources, to which had been referred Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to the use value appraisal program;

Reported in favor of its passage in concurrence with proposal of amendment as follows:

By striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS; INTENT

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

(1)  Continues to achieve the goals of the program although the goal of protecting natural ecological systems could be better met by amending the 20‑percent rule to allow for more flexibility in the enrollment of ecological areas, such as rare or exemplary natural communities, riparian buffers, wetlands, vernal pools, and significant wildlife habitat;

(2)  Needs electronic coordination;

(3)  Appears to need appropriate staff increases at the division of property valuation and review and at the department of forests, parks and recreation;

(4)  Needs administrative streamlining;

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

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

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

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

* * * New Application at Time of Transfer of Ownership and Increase of the Application Fee * * *

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

(e)  Once a use value appraisal has been applied for and granted under this section, such appraisal shall remain in effect for subsequent tax years pursuant to the provisions of subsection (f) of this section, and until the property concerned is transferred to another owner or is no longer eligible under provisions of section 3752 or 3755 of this chapter, or due to a change of use or as otherwise provided in section 3757 of this chapter.  If enrolled property is transferred to another owner, the new owner shall be entitled to continue to have the eligible property appraised at its use value, provided the property remains eligible and provided the new owner shall elect the continuation of use value appraisal on the property transfer tax return at the time of transfer and, within 30 days after the property tax transfer return is received by the department, has applied to the director and paid the fees described in this subsection.  The grant of use value appraisals of agricultural forest land and farm buildings shall be recorded in the land records of the municipality by the clerk of the municipality.  The department of taxes may collect from applicants Applications shall include the fees specified in subdivision 1671(a)(6) or subsection 1671(c) of this title, and a fee of $25.00 for deposit in a special fund established and managed pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of this title, and which. The fund shall be available as payment for the fees of the clerk of the municipality and for the improvement of the management of the program.

Sec. 3.  32 V.S.A. § 3757(e)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  of any transfer of ownership.  A transfer of ownership, alone, will not affect eligibility of the parcel, and no new maps will be required solely because of a transfer, but failure to provide maps, a new application, or transfer information to the division of property valuation and review within 30 days of a request being sent by certified mail by the director will result in removal of the parcel from the program.

Sec. 4.  PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX RETURN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sec. 7.  COMMISSIONER OF FORESTS, PARKS AND RECREATION

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

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

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

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

(4)  The amended standards shall be in effect on or before April 15, 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sec. 10.  32 V.S.A. § 3760 (a) is amended to read:

(a)(1)  Annually the state shall pay to each town municipality the amount necessary to limit its tax rate increase in the prior year due to the loss of municipal property tax revenue for that year based on use value of enrolled property as compared to municipal property tax revenue for that year based on fair market value of enrolled property, to zero.

(2)  The director of property valuation and review shall determine the amount of the available funds under this section to be paid to each town municipality, and a town municipality may appeal the director's decision in the same manner and under the same procedures as an appeal from a decision of a board of civil authority, as set forth in subchapter 2 of chapter 131 of this title.

(3)  On November 1 of each year, the director of property valuation and review shall pay to each municipality the amount calculated as described in this section.  If the appropriation for the year is insufficient to pay the full amount due to every town municipality under this subsection, payments in that year shall be made to such towns proportionately.

(4)  If the appropriation for the year is insufficient to pay the full amount due to any municipality for enrolled property owned by another municipality, the municipality in which the property is located may assess the other municipality and the other municipality shall pay the difference.

(5)  The director's calculation of payment amounts to municipalities shall be based on grand list values and total tax appropriations as submitted to the director for the prior year.

Sec. 11.  ELECTRONIC COORDINATION PROJECT AND REPORT

The department of information and innovation in collaboration with the division of property valuation and review, the agency of natural resources, and the agency of agriculture, food and markets, the Vermont Assessors and Listers Association, and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns shall continue in the effort to bring electronic coordination to the use value appraisal program. No later than January 15, 2009, the department shall submit a report on this project to the house committees on ways and means and on fish, wildlife and water resources and the senate committees on finance and on natural resources and energy.  The report shall address the recommendations on administrative matters of the use value appraisal task force and include a proposed budget and time frame for the different parts of the project.  The report shall include a review of different funding options to make the administration of the program self-sustainable.

Sec. 12.  OUTREACH AND EDUCATION ABOUT THE PROGRAM

(a)  The department of forests, parks and recreation, the division of property valuation and review, the agency of agriculture, food and markets, and the current use advisory board shall consult with the Vermont Assessors and Listers Association, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the Vermont Use Value Appraisal Coalition, the Vermont Farm Bureau, the Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Forest Products Association, Rural Vermont, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, and other stakeholders to

(1)  develop an outreach and education program to address possible misperceptions about the program identified by the use value appraisal task force in its report. The program shall be comprehensive and shall outline a strategy to communicate with the general public, listers, potentially eligible landowners, enrolled landowners, attorneys, and realtors.

(2)  include a plan to address the areas of further investigation identified by the task force, including:

(A)  the program definitions of “agricultural land” and “farmer”;

(B)  whether there should be different valuations of land based on the kind of use of the land;

(C)  use of the Geographic Information System in the program;

(D)  review of the results of the amendment to the 20-percent rule;

(E)  whether conserved parcels managed for ecological purposes should be enrolled in the program;

(F)  ongoing monitoring of the program.

(b)  The group shall submit a detailed report on its efforts on or before January 15, 2009 to the house committees on fish, wildlife and water resources and on agriculture and the senate committees on natural resources and energy and on agriculture.

Sec. 13.  EFFECTIVE DATE

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

Rep. Winters of Williamstown, for the committee on Ways and Means, recommends the bill ought to pass in concurrence when amended as recommended by the committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources and when further amended as follows:

First:  In Sec. 2, 32 V.S.A. § 3756(e), in the second sentence, by striking “is received by the department” and inserting in lieu thereof “has been received by the municipality for recording”, and by striking the words “property tax transfer” and inserting in lieu thereof “property transfer tax”; and in the fourth sentence, by striking “$25.00” and inserting in lieu thereof “$30.00

Second:  In Sec. 8, 32 V.S.A. § 4111(e), in the second sentence, at the end before the period, by adding “or the adjustment of that value by the common level of appraisal” and in subsection (g), in the second sentence, at the end before the period, by adding “or the adjustment of that value by the common level of appraisal

Rep. Hutchinson of Randolph, for the committee on Appropriations, recommended the bill ought to pass in concurrence when amended as recommended by the committees on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources and Ways and Means.

The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up, read the second time and the recommendation of proposal of amendment offered by the committees on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources, Ways and Means and Appropriations agreed to and third reading ordered.

Bills Messaged to Senate Forthwith

On motion of Rep. Adams of Hartland, the rules were suspended and the following bills were ordered messaged to the Senate forthwith:

S. 114

Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to enhancing mental health parity

S. 336

Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to juvenile judicial proceedings;

S. 354

Senate bill, entitled

An act relating to public agency deferred compensation plans.

H. 11

House bill, entitled

An act relating to the commissioner of health;

H. 94

     House bill, entitled

     An act relating to retail sales and taxing of specialty beers;

H. 290

The Senate proposed to the House to amend House bill, entitled

An act relating to underground utility damage prevention system;

H. 432

House bill, entitled

An act establishing Juneteenth National Freedom Day;

H. 515

House bill, entitled

An act relating to the collection and disposal of mercury-added thermostats;

H. 617

House bill, entitled

An act relating to guardianships;

H. 711

House bill, entitled

An act relating to agricultural, forestry, and horticultural education;

H. 806

House bill, entitled

An act relating to public water systems;

S. 290

     Senate bill, entitled

     Agricultural water quality financing

Proposal of Amendment Agreed to; Consideration Interrupted by Recess

S. 345

Rep. Kitzmiller of Montpelier, for the committee on Commerce, to which had been referred Senate bill, entitled

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

Reported in favor of its passage in concurrence with proposal of amendment as follows:

by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds the following:

(1)  The workers’ compensation program was established in 1915 to dispense with the concept of negligence by providing compensation to any employee who is injured on the job and to limit employers’ exposure to lawsuits for negligence in the workplace.  In addition, this program removed the need for injured employees to rely on tax-funded public assistance programs.

(2)  The National Council on Compensation Insurance, NCCI, the nation’s largest provider of workers’ compensation and employee injury data, recommends to the Vermont department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration proposed workers’ compensation voluntary market loss costs and assigned risk market rates by classification codes.

(3)  In March 2008, the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration approved an average 4.2 percent decrease in both the voluntary market loss costs and assigned risk market rates, representing the largest decrease in a decade.  This decrease provided many Vermont employers, including sawmill, logging, and carpentry operations, hospitals, restaurants, and ski areas, with a modest decrease in their workers’ compensation premiums. Other Vermont employers with good safety records may enjoy even higher premium rate reductions.

(4)  The decrease is attributed mainly to a decline in workplace injuries.  Two major cost drivers of workers’ compensation premiums are the frequency of claims and the seriousness of claims.  Another cost driver is medical costs which are increasing more rapidly than the rate of inflation.  The duration of claims also adds to workers’ compensation costs.

(5)  Despite recent stability in workers’ compensation rates, the comparatively high cost of workers’ compensation insurance in Vermont remains an issue of great concern to many Vermont employers.

(6)  The increased implementation of safety training programs and measures by Vermont employers has reduced the frequency of workplace injuries, which is the most effective way to reduce workers’ compensation costs.

(7)  The fact that only 8.5 percent of the Vermont employers are in the residual market validates that workers’ compensation insurers perceive that the Vermont workers’ compensation program is working effectively.  The residual market is less than half the size it was five years ago indicating that many employers have found appropriate coverage in the voluntary market, in which employers can benefit from competition between carriers.  The lack of competition among carriers for certain industries such as dairy farming presents a disadvantage for those industries.

(8)   Workers’ compensation premiums for farmers are increasing while premiums for most other employer categories are going down. Farming is inherently more hazardous than many other industries, and the pool of farmers to spread the risk is small.  Agricultural workers have a higher frequency and suffer more serious work injuries than other workers, particularly those working on farms with hoofed animals.

(9)  It is important to provide incentives to improve farm safety through comprehensive training programs.  Extensive outreach and safety education will go a long way toward reducing workers’ compensation premium rates for farmers. The Vermont farm bureau, the agency of agriculture, the U.S. department of agriculture, the university of Vermont extension service, and other organizations are working to develop enhanced farm safety training programs.

(10)  A significant number of employers are improperly classifying employees as “independent contractors” either due to a lack of understanding or knowingly to avoid legal obligations under federal and state labor and tax laws governing payment of wages, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and income and social security taxation.

(11)  Misclassification of employees as “independent contractors” adversely impacts the Vermont economy because it deprives workers of legal protections and benefits; reduces compliance with employment and safety standards; gives employers who misclassify an improper financial competitive advantage over law-abiding businesses; deprives the state of substantial revenue; and imposes indirect costs from decreased legitimate business activity and increased demand for social services.  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.

(12)  Historically, compliance and enforcement have been divided among various governmental entities, which reduces efficiency and effectiveness.  Improved cooperation, sharing information, and joint enforcement of serious violations would be effective approaches to reducing employer misclassification.

(13)  While a reduction in workers’ compensation benefits would lower workers’ compensation premiums across all class codes, this reduction would be at the expense of injured workers and provide little incentive for improving safety.

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

Sec. 2.  DEFINITIONS

For the purposes of this act:

(1)  “Misclassification” means improperly classifying employees as independent contractors for the purposes of workers’ compensation insurance or unemployment insurance, as the context dictates.

(2)  “Miscoding” means the improper categorization of employees under the national council on compensation insurance (NCCI) worker classification codes, which account for varying levels of risk attributable to different job types for the purposes of determining workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

* * * Fraud and Misclassification * * *

Sec. 3.  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. 4.  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. 5.  CREATION OF WORKERS’ COMPENSATION EMPLOYEE

             CLASSIFICATION AND CODING TASK FORCE

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

(1)  The commissioner of labor or designee.

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

(3)  The attorney general or designee.

(4)  One member from the house committee on commerce to be appointed by the speaker.

(5)  One member of the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs to be appointed by the committee on committees.

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

(7)  Two 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)  One member who represents labor.

(B)  One member who represents management.

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

(c)  For attendance at a meeting when the general assembly is not in session, the legislative members shall be entitled to the same per diem compensation and reimbursement of necessary expenses as provided to members of standing committees under 2 V.S.A. § 406.

(d)  The task force shall:

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

(A)  Coordination, speed, and efficiency of communication among appropriate governmental entities and law enforcement organizations in the prevention, investigation, and enforcement of actual and suspected employee misclassification and miscoding.

(B)  Ways to improve outreach to and public education for businesses and labor to promote wider understanding of and compliance with the requirements for classifying and coding employees.  This outreach and education shall identify costs associated with misclassification and miscoding, help businesses identify incidents of misclassification and miscoding, and encourage filing of complaints and identification of potential violators.

(2)  The task force shall issue a progress 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 progress report shall outline the task force’s advancement in its investigation, and the final report shall outline the task force’s findings and recommendations regarding the following:

(A)  A description of progress made by state government to reduce the frequency of employee misclassification and miscoding, including the number of employers cited for violations related to misclassification and miscoding, a description of the types of misclassification and miscoding 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 both in regard to workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation.

(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. 6.  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 department of labor shall issue a progress report on or before February 1, 2009, and a final report on or before October 15, 2009.  Both reports shall be provided to the governor, the house committee on commerce, and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs.  The progress report shall outline the department of labor’s advancement in its assessment, and the final report shall contain a comprehensive outline of the assessment and legislative proposals.

* * * Safety Incentives * * *

Sec. 7.    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 investigate and, as appropriate, propose specific legislation and administrative rules that affect the following:

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

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

(3)  Reviewing the fairness of the distribution of workers’ compensation liability for preexisting conditions.

(4)   Surveying 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)  Improving 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)  Assuring the application of best practices to the vocational rehabilitation system in order to improve its functionality and effectiveness in increasing employability.

(7)  Identifying and facilitating the implementation of industry best practices and other methods designed to increase substantially workplace safety.   

(b)  The department of labor shall issue a progress report on or before February 1, 2009, and a final report on or before October 15, 2009.  Both reports shall be provided to the governor, the house committee on commerce, and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs.  The progress report shall outline the department of labor’s advancement in its study, and the final report shall contain a comprehensive outline of the study, as well as suggestions for legislation and administrative rulemaking.

* * * First‑Aid‑Only Injuries and Deductible Policies * * *

Sec. 8.  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 shall 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 for which 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. 9.  21 V.S.A. § 687(e) is added to read:

(e)  All insurance carriers authorized to write workers’ compensation insurance coverage in Vermont 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. 10.  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 as the commissioner of labor, in consultation with the department of labor advisory council established in 21 V.S.A. § 1306, 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. 11.  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. 12.  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 continues 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. 13.  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. 14.  VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

(a)  The commissioner of labor shall consult with the department of labor advisory council established in 21 V.S.A. § 1306 to review current practices and activities in the following areas:

(1)  Insurance carriers providing timely notification to the department of labor of all claimants who have been out of work for 90 consecutive days and the department 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 issue a written report to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs on or before March 15, 2009.  The report shall outline any deficiencies discovered under subsection (a) of this section and any rules to be adopted to solve the deficiencies.

* * * Attorney Fees * * *

Sec. 15.  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, he or she 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. 16.  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. 17.  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 service 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.

Sec. 18.  FIRST-AID-ONLY INJURIES AND DEDUCTIBLE POLICIES;

STUDY

By July 1, 2012, the department of labor shall report to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs on the utilization of 21 V.S.A. § 640(e) and 21 V.S.A. § 687(e).  The report shall summarize the frequency of use, the insurer experience, and realized cost savings of the provisions, as well as a recommendation of whether the provisions should be retained in statute, repealed, or terminated at a future point certain through the addition of a sunset provision.

Rep. Keenan, for the committee on Appropriations, recommended the bill ought to pass in concurrence when amended as recommended by the committee on Commerce.

The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up, read the second time and the report of the committees on Commerce and Appropriations agreed to.

Rep. Chen of Mendon in Chair.

Pending the question, Shall the bill be read a third time? Reps. Bray of New Haven, Lawrence of Lyndon, Potter of Clarendon, Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford, Leriche of Hardwick, Marcotte of Coventry, Clarkson of Woodstock, Evans of Essex, Haas of Rochester, Jewett of Ripton, Malcolm of Pawlet, McCullough of Williston, Perry of Richford, Randall of Troy, Sharpe of Bristol, Keenan of St. Albans City, Botzow of Pownal, Helm of Castleton, and Peltz of Woodbury moved to amend the House proposal of amendment as follows:

     By adding Sec. 19 to read as follows:

Sec. 19.  DEPARTMENT OF LABOR STUDY OF SAFETY STANDARDS

               FOR FORESTRY AND FOREST PRODUCTS INDUSTRIES

(a)  The general assembly finds that workers’ compensation insurance rates for the forestry and forest products industries are significantly higher than industry rates in neighboring states and significantly higher than those of the vast majority of other industries within the state.

(b)  The commissioner of labor, in consultation with the commissioner of forests, parks and recreation shall convene a working group to develop safety standards for the forestry and forest products industries that will help reduce injury rates and workers’ compensation insurance rates for the industries.  In developing the safety standards, the commissioner shall use the safety standards adopted in other states, including Maine, as a guide.  On or before February 1, 2009, the commissioner of labor shall report to the house and senate committees on commerce, the house and senate committees on natural resources and energy, and the house and senate committees on agriculture with the results of the working group.  The report shall include:

(1)  Proposed safety standards for the forestry and forest products industries;

(2)  A recommended methodology for implementing the proposed safety standards in the forestry and forest products industries;

(3)  An estimate of the cost to implement the proposed safety standards, including the cost to the department of labor, the department of forests, parks and recreation, insurance providers, and members of the forestry and forest products industries; 

(4)  A proposed schedule for implementing the proposed safety standards.

(c)  The working group shall consist of:

(1)  The commissioner of labor or his or her designee;

(2)  The commissioner of forests, parks and recreation or his or her designee;

(3)  One member of the senate, appointed by the senate pro tempore;

(4)  Two members of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house;

(5)  Two members of the forestry industry appointed by the governor;

(6)  One member of the forest products industry appointed by the governor; and

(7)  One member of the insurance industry, appointed by the governor.

(d)  The working group may elect a chair and vice chair and may hold public hearings.  The department of labor and the department of forests, parks and recreation shall provide support for the working group.

(e)  All members of the committee shall serve on the committee for the duration of the working group unless circumstances dictate a permanent replacement, except that the legislative members shall serve for the term of their election.  Vacancies shall be appointed in the same manner as an original appointment.

(f)  Legislative members of the working group are entitled to per diem payment and reimbursement for expenses pursuant to 2 V.S.A. § 406.

Which was agreed to.

Pending the question, Shall the bill be read a third time? Rep. McDonald of Berlin moved to amend the House proposal of amendment as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, by striking subdivision (13) in its entirety

Second:  In Sec. 1, by adding a new subdivision (6) and renumbering the following subdivisions to be numerically sequential.  New subdivision (6) shall read as follows:

(6)  The cost of workers’ compensation insurance can be lowered without dramatically disrupting medical and indemnity benefits to injured workers by creating a balanced approach to benefits that meets the needs of employees and employers and promotes return to work programs aimed at gainful employment in the following ways:

(A)  Increasing and improving workplace safety.

(B)  Addressing benefits to be more balanced when compared to national and regional norms.

(C) Improving accountability.

(D)  Improving enforcement of workers’ compensation fraud.

(E)  Promoting return-to-work programs by modifying rehabilitation laws to encourage employee participation.

Second:  By adding a new Sec. 11a to read as follows:

Sec. 11a.  21 V.S.A. §601(18) is amended to read:

(18) "Maximum weekly compensation" shall mean means a sum of money equal to 150 125 percent of the average compensation, rounded to the next higher dollar.

Recess

At four o’clock and twenty-seven minutes in the afternoon, the Speaker declared a recess until the fall of the gavel.

At five o’clock and twenty-five minutes in the afternoon, the Speaker called the House to order.

Consideration Resumed; Proposal of Amendment Agreed to;

Third Reading of the Bill Ordered

S. 345

Consideration resumed on Senate bill, entitled

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

Pending the question, Shall the House proposal of amendment be amended as recommended by Rep. McDonald of Berlin? Rep. Adams of Hartland demanded the Yeas and Nays, which demand was sustained by the Constitutional number.  The Clerk proceeded to call the roll and the question, Shall the House proposal of amendment be amended as recommended by Rep. McDonald of Berlin?  was decided in the negative.  Yeas, 44. Nays, 88.

Those who voted in the affirmative are:


Acinapura of Brandon

Adams of Hartland

Baker of West Rutland

Bostic of St. Johnsbury

Branagan of Georgia

Canfield of Fair Haven

Clark of Vergennes

Clerkin of Hartford

Crawford of Burke

Devereux of Mount Holly

Donaghy of Poultney

Donahue of Northfield

Errecart of Shelburne

Flory of Pittsford

Grenier of St. Johnsbury

Helm of Castleton

Hube of Londonderry

Johnson of Canaan

Kilmartin of Newport City

Komline of Dorset

Krawczyk of Bennington

Larocque of Barnet

Larrabee of Danville

Lawrence of Lyndon

Lewis of Derby

Livingston of Manchester

Manwaring of Wilmington

Marcotte of Coventry

McAllister of Highgate

McDonald of Berlin

McNeil of Rutland Town

Morley of Barton

Morrissey of Bennington

Myers of Essex

O'Donnell of Vernon

Oxholm of Vergennes

Peaslee of Guildhall

Scheuermann of Stowe

Turner of Milton

Valliere of Barre City

Westman of Cambridge

Wheeler of Derby

Winters of Williamstown

Wright of Burlington


Those who voted in the negative are:


Allard of St. Albans Town

Ancel of Calais

Anderson of Montpelier

Andrews of Rutland City

Atkins of Winooski

Audette of S. Burlington

Barnard of Richmond

Bissonnette of Winooski

Botzow of Pownal

Bray of New Haven

Browning of Arlington

Chen of Mendon

Cheney of Norwich

Clarkson of Woodstock

Condon of Colchester

Consejo of Sheldon

Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford

Corcoran of Bennington

Courcelle of Rutland City

Davis of Washington

Deen of Westminster

Donovan of Burlington

Dostis of Waterbury

Edwards of Brattleboro

Emmons of Springfield

Evans of Essex

Fallar of Tinmouth

Fisher of Lincoln

Fitzgerald of St. Albans City

Frank of Underhill

French of Randolph

Gervais of Enosburg

Gilbert of Fairfax

Godin of Milton

Grad of Moretown

Haas of Rochester

Head of S. Burlington

Heath of Westford

Howard of Rutland City

Howrigan of Fairfield

Hutchinson of Randolph

Jerman of Essex

Jewett of Ripton

Johnson of South Hero

Keenan of St. Albans City

Keogh of Burlington

Kitzmiller of Montpelier

Klein of East Montpelier

Kupersmith of S. Burlington

Lenes of Shelburne

Leriche of Hardwick

Lorber of Burlington

Maier of Middlebury

Malcolm of Pawlet

Marek of Newfane

Martin, C. of Springfield

Martin of Wolcott

Masland of Thetford

McCormack of Rutland City

McCullough of Williston

McFaun of Barre Town

Milkey of Brattleboro

Minter of Waterbury

Mitchell of Barnard

Mook of Bennington

Moran of Wardsboro

Mrowicki of Putney

Nease of Johnson

Nuovo of Middlebury

Obuchowski of Rockingham

Ojibway of Hartford

Orr of Charlotte

Partridge of Windham

Pearson of Burlington

Pellett of Chester

Peterson of Williston

Potter of Clarendon

Pugh of S. Burlington

Randall of Troy

Rodgers of Glover

Shand of Weathersfield

Sharpe of Bristol

Smith of Morristown

Spengler of Colchester

Stevens of Shoreham

Sweaney of Windsor

Zenie of Colchester

Zuckerman of Burlington


Those members absent with leave of the House and not voting are:


Ainsworth of Royalton

Aswad of Burlington

Brennan of Colchester

Hosford of Waitsfield

Hunt of Essex

Koch of Barre Town

Larson of Burlington

LaVoie of Swanton

Lippert of Hinesburg

Miller of Shaftsbury

Monti of Barre City

Otterman of Topsham

Peltz of Woodbury

Perry of Richford

Pillsbury of Brattleboro

Trombley of Grand Isle

Weston of Burlington


 

     Thereupon, third reading of the bill was ordered.

Message from the Senate No. 63

     A message was received from the Senate by Mr. Marshall, its Assistant Secretary, as follows:

Madam Speaker:

I am directed to inform the House that the Senate has on its part adopted a joint resolution of the following title:

J.R.S. 66.  Joint resolution relating to weekend adjournment.

In the adoption of which the concurrence of the House is requested.

The Senate has considered a joint resolution originating in the House of the following title:

J.R.H. 62.  Joint resolution commemorating Observance of Equal Pay Day.

And has adopted the same in concurrence.

Pursuant to the request of the House for Committees of Conference on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the following House bills the President pro tempore announced the appointment as members of such Committees on the part of the Senate:

H. 615.  An act relating to juvenile judicial proceedings.

          Senator Nitka

          Senator Kitchel

          Senator Sears

H. 709.  An act relating to campgrounds.

          Senator Illuzzi

          Senator Miller

          Senator Carris

H. 889.  An act relating to the state’s transportation program.

          Senator Mazza

          Senator Scott

          Senator Kitchel

H. 891.  An act relating to making appropriation for support of government.

          Senator Bartlett

          Senator Sears

          Senator Snelling

Rules Suspended; Bill Read the Third Time and Passed; Rules Suspended and Bill Ordered Messaged to Senate Forthwith

H. 896

House bill, entitled

An act relating to balancing the transportation budget and repairing deteriorating roads;

On motion of Rep. Adams of Hartland, the rules were suspended and the bill placed on all remaining stages of passage. 

Pending third reading of the bill, Rep. Leriche of Hardwick moved to amend the bill as follows:

     By striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  AUTHORIZATION

(a)  The general assembly hereby authorizes a special $3 million program within the agency of transportation, to be known as “Operation Smooth Ride,”  to improve the condition of selected state highways and class 1 town highways that have incurred some of the worst damage caused by the severe winter weather of 2007-08.

(b)  The Operation Smooth Ride program will identify state highways and class 1 town highways to which the agency of transportation can make simple, cost-effective repairs designed to last more than one year and which will provide a smooth traveling experience for several years to come.

(c)  In choosing the locations to be repaired under Operation Smooth Ride, the agency of transportation, through its nine maintenance districts, will identify roadway segments where the application of a thin overlay of asphalt will last several years into the future.

Sec. 2.  SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION; TRANSFER OF

             APPROPRIATIONS

(a)  Notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 706, the secretary of transportation, to implement the Operation Smooth Ride program authorized by this act, may transfer balances of fiscal year 2008 appropriations not to exceed $388,162 within or between the department of motor vehicles and divisions or sections of the agency of transportation.  The secretary shall report on any balances transferred to the joint transportation oversight committee meeting in September 2008.

(b)  Notwithstanding 19 V.S.A. §10g(h), the secretary of transportation, in addition to the Operation Smooth Ride program authorized by this act, is authorized to add additional class 1 town highway paving projects to the extent that funds are available from savings in approved capital projects in the transportation program.

Sec. 3.  FISCAL YEAR 2008 APPROPRIATION ADJUSTMENTS

(a)  Fiscal year 2008 transportation appropriations shall be reduced by the following amounts in the transportation fund:

(1)  town highway emergency fund               $  690,000

(2)  policy and planning                         $  300,000

(3)  town highway bridge                              $  330,969

(4)  department of motor vehicles                 $  100,000

(5)  rail                                                        $1,296,451

(b)  Fiscal year 2008 transportation appropriations shall be reduced by the following amount in federal funds:

(1)  town highway bridge                              $1,323,878

(c)  Fiscal year 2008 transportation appropriations shall be increased by the following amount:

(1)  program development                            $2,027,838

Sec. 4.  REVERSIONS

(a)  Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, in fiscal year 2008, the following amount shall revert to the transportation fund from the account indicated:

8100001900 Transportation - town highway Vermont local roads $ 37,838

Sec. 5.  FISCAL YEAR 2008 FUND TRANSFERS

Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, in fiscal year 2008:

(1)  $72,580 shall be transferred from the downtown development transportation and related capital improvement fund established by 24 V.S.A. § 2796 to the transportation fund.

(2)  $1,000,000 shall be transferred from the central garage fund to the transportation fund.

Sec. 6.  FISCAL YEAR 2009 APPROPRIATION ADJUSTMENTS AND

             FUND TRANSFERS

(a)  The transportation – program development operating expenses appropriation shall be reduced by $500,000 in transportation funds.

(b)  In addition to the transfer pursuant to 19 V.S.A. § 13(c) but notwithstanding any other provisions of law, in fiscal year 2009, $500,000 shall be transferred to the central garage fund from the transportation fund.

Sec. 7.  19 V.S.A. § 10c(k) is added to read:

(k)  To the extent that federal regulations permit, signage for all state and town bridge projects spanning more than 20 feet in length shall be erected on both sides of the project for the duration of the project as follows:

(1)  The agency of transportation shall design the signs, and the contractor shall purchase and install the signs as part of the contract bid price.

(2)  The signs shall indicate the cost of the project.

(3)  Signs for state bridge projects shall include the following:  “This is an agency of transportation project paid for with your tax dollars.”

(4)  Signs for town bridge projects shall include the following:  “This is a project sponsored by (name of municipality) and the agency of transportation, and paid for with your tax dollars.”

Sec. 8.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect from passage.

Which was disagreed to.

Thereupon, the bill was read the third time and passed and, on motion of Rep. Adams of Hartland the rules were suspended and the bill was ordered messaged to the Senate forthwith.

Adjournment

At six o’clock and ten minutes in the evening, on motion of Rep. Komline of Dorset, the House adjourned until tomorrow at nine o’clock and thirty minutes in the forenoon.

 

 

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us