Download this document in MS Word format


AutoFill Template

Journal of the Senate

________________

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Senate was called to order by the President pro tempore.

Devotional Exercises

Devotional exercises were conducted by the Rabbi Tobie Weisman of Montpelier.

Bills Introduced

Senate bills of the following titles were severally introduced, read the first time and referred:

S. 181.

By Senator White,

An act relating to requiring nuclear facilities to comply with fence line radiation levels established by the department of health.

To the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

S. 182.

By Senators Flanagan and White,

An act relating to Catamount Health for the underinsured.

To the Committee on Health and Welfare.

Committee Bill Introduced

Senate committee bill of the following title was introduced, read the first time, and, under the rule, placed on the Calendar for notice tomorrow:

S. 183.

By the Committee on Transportation,

An act relating to the federal motor vehicle REAL ID Act.

Bill Introduced

Senate bill of the following title was introduced, read the first time and referred:

S. 184.

By Senators Illuzzi, Carris, Condos, Miller and Racine,

An act relating to the uniform environmental covenants act.

To the Committee on Judiciary.

Bills Referred to Committee on Appropriations

Senate bills of the following titles, appearing on the Calendar for notice and carrying appropriations or requiring the expenditure of funds, under the rule were referred to the Committee on Appropriations:

S. 119.

An act relating to a civics educator in the Legislative Council.

S. 121.

An act relating to autism.

Joint Resolution Adopted on the Part of the Senate

Joint Senate resolution of the following title was offered, read and adopted on the part of the Senate, and is as follows:

   By Senator Shumlin,

     J.R.S. 23.  Joint resolution relating to weekend adjournment.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That when the two Houses adjourn on Friday, March 16, 2007, it be to meet again no later than Tuesday, March 20, 2007.

Joint Resolutions Referred

J.R.S. 24.

Joint Senate resolution of the following title was offered, read the first time and is as follows:

   By Senator Lyons,

     J.R.S. 24.  Joint resolution relating to the federal "fast track" process for Congressional review of international trade agreements.

Whereas, the State of Vermont benefits greatly from international trade, which is responsible for a greater percentage of its gross state product than is the case for any other state, and

Whereas, to a considerable degree, the state’s success in international trade is tied to the fact that the character, beauty, and environment of the state itself, the Vermont brand and Vermont products are internationally recognized to be of high quality, and

Whereas, Vermont laws developed by generations of sensible and independent civic-minded citizen legislators are a major reason why the products produced within the state achieve that quality and why the state itself remains attractive and open to foreign visitors, service providers and investors alike, and

Whereas, as international trade has evolved in recent years as supervised by Congress under the so-called “fast track” authority by which it reviews international trade agreements, which is due to expire on June 30, 2007, significant and troubling questions have developed with respect to the continuing ability of states to retain their character, environmental controls and quality of life, and to assure the continued quality of their products, and

Whereas, under “fast track” rules, Congressional review of complex trade agreements is limited to an up-or-down vote, after limited time for consideration, without possibility of amendments, and

Whereas, the relationship among the states, the federal government, foreign investors, foreign countries and tribunals made up of international trade attorneys has evolved during the existence of “fast track” in ways that could not have been anticipated and most likely would not have been tolerated by the founders, and that strain the bounds of our Constitutional framework, and

Whereas, despite the variety of significant impacts that trade and investment agreements have been demonstrated to have on state governance, taxation authority, environmental protection, land use regulation and many other areas of intense state interest, states and local governments have not yet received assurances that their concerns will be adequately addressed in any “fast track” renewal process, and

Whereas, in the absence of improvements in this Congressional review process, the ironic and sad result may be that international trade agreements that are intended to help states increase their mutually beneficial involvement in international trade may themselves provide the tools that destroy the ability of a state such as Vermont to retain and develop the very laws that make its character, environment and quality of life attractive to foreign visitors and investors and that make its products desirable worldwide, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That “fast track” should not be extended in its current form by Congress, upon its expiration, and be it further

Resolved:  That federal legislation should clarify the negotiating agenda of the United States Trade Representative in a way that establishes a much stronger role for states, which in turn must be prepared to do their part to communicate with the federal executive branch and the Congress with respect to state concerns, and be it further

Resolved:  That the following requirements must be included in any trade legislation governing future international trade agreements:

1.  Each state must be provided with better economic data and trade impact‑related information from the federal government, together with resources for its own studies regarding the likely effects of a particular trade agreement on the laws, people, businesses and natural resources of the state, while trade agreements are being developed;

2.  Each state desiring to do so must have meaningful input and an actual seat at the table, regarding provisions trade agreements should include and subjects they should address;

3.  State legislative concurrence must be required, in addition to gubernatorial approval, in order for a state to consent to be bound by a trade agreement;

4.  Federal legislation on trade, in general, and agreements entered under that authority must be revised to acknowledge explicitly that facilitating international trade is not the only goal of federal policy, and must be crafted to assure that other important state and local values are accorded due consideration and respect;

5.  Trade agreements must not be crafted to contain intentionally vague terms that are left to international tribunals to construe, which experience shows may well happen in a manner that adversely and unpredictably affects crucially important state and local laws;

6.  Trade agreements must mandate that any dispute resolution procedures give due deference to rational state policy decisions;

7.  “Necessity tests” and other commitments that subordinate state and local decision-making to “least trade restrictive” international standards must be firmly rejected;

8.  Foreign investors must not be empowered to sue the United States directly before international tribunals, a power that may accord them greater substantive rights than investors from the United States;

9.  States must be reimbursed any costs incurred in participating in the United States defense against attacks before international tribunals that are based on state laws; and

10. As a matter of intergovernmental policy, not to mention federal Constitutional law, state and federal court determinations must not be subject to re-litigation before international tribunals, and be it further

Resolved:  That Congress must retain the ability in any extension of trade promotion authority to review fully and amend any international trade agreements as necessary to assure that any future agreements comply with the substantive requirements recommended in this resolution, and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Vermont Governor James H. Douglas, Vermont’s Congressional delegation, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the legislative leaders of the other 49 states, and the United States Trade Representative.

Thereupon, the President pro tempore, in his discretion, treated the joint resolution as a bill and referred it to the Committee on Economic Development Housing and General Affairs.

J.R.S. 25.

Joint Senate resolution of the following title was offered, read the first time and is as follows:

   By Senator Lyons,

     J.R.S. 25.  Joint resolution urging Congress to develop legislation with respect to international trade agreements to protect state environmental and land use laws.

Whereas, the citizens of the State of Vermont, concerned with retaining the state’s attractive, historic and small town character, have placed a premium on retaining a healthy environment; and

Whereas, to preserve the environment of the state, the legislature over the years has regulated the disposal of waste and the preservation of scenic vistas, and has adopted important land use laws, including the following:  Act 250, which regulates large developments and subdivisions from both a state and local perspective; 24  V.S.A. chapter 117, which enables local and regional planning and zoning; and 30 V.S.A. § 248, which requires a determination of public good with respect to facilities that propose to generate electricity within the state; and

Whereas, the state of Vermont welcomes responsible investors, domestic or foreign, on a non-discriminatory basis; and

Whereas, it is possible and desirable to attain the advantages of international trade in a manner that establishes a standard of review pursuant to which international arbiters who are assigned international disputes on these matters are required to defer to reasonable requirements established in state law; and

Whereas, in the absence of deference to reasonable state and local enactments, under investment chapters included in regional trade agreements such as CAFTA and NAFTA that allow corporations to sue nations, plaintiffs in international trade disputes have attacked legitimate traditional exercises of the police power for basic environmental protection purposes, in areas such as:

(1) product bans designed to protect the groundwater from pollutants;

(2) disposal site requirements designed to protect aquifers from contamination;

(3) land reclamation requirements for open pit mining;

(4) bans on certain extractive industries so as to preserve important cultural assets; and

(5) water supply services provided by governmental entities, possibly in competition with private service providers; and

Whereas, in the absence of deference to reasonable state and local enactments, under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), Vermont’s ability to regulate land use under Act 250, as well as the ability of Vermont’s local governments to regulate land use under Chapter 117, may be subject to attack to the extent that they relate to the regulation of the wholesale or retail sales sectors, or the hotel and restaurant sectors, on the grounds that those regulations may limit the number of service suppliers, the total value of service transactions, the quantity of service output, or the number of natural persons that a business may employ; and

Whereas, in the absence of deference to reasonable state and local enactments, under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), Vermont’s ability to regulate electricity under section 248 may be subject to attack:

(1)  for not being “objective,” when it requires a regulatory body to make a subjective finding that an applicant’s project would serve the public good;

(2) for containing an “economic needs test” for the construction of any new facility;

(3) for putting foreign suppliers of wholesale services at a disadvantage when it requires electric utilities to meet portfolio standards that require increased use of renewable resources, that are defined to exclude large scale hydroelectric projects;

(4) for limiting the number of service suppliers in a given service territory, for example where a municipality operates an electric system; and

Whereas, an integral part of the state’s environmental regulatory scheme is the role of the state’s courts in evenhandedly and predictably adjudicating cases arising under the environmental statutes; and

Whereas, as illustrated above, under the status quo, the ability of states to take reasonable steps to protect the environment is threatened by provisions on services and investment in a range of trade agreements; and

Whereas, Congress is considering different approaches to updating the President’s trade promotion authority, including the inclusion of provisions ensuring that future trade agreements provide adequate safeguards for the protection of the environment; and

Whereas, in order for any international trade agreement to protect adequately the environment, the federal government should engage in and finance an information sharing process with the states that is designed to inform both the United States trade officials and state trade officials of the impacts certain agreements might have on the states, before an agreement has been entered, a practice not followed in the development of GATS or of international investor agreements; and

Whereas, states will continue to support the expansion of international trade agreements to the extent that the varied interests of the states are considered in an appropriate way; and

Whereas, the continued function of state and federal courts is absolutely essential to the enforcement of democratically agreed-upon environmental protections; and

Whereas, if Congress desires to protect the environment in the context of international trade, it must retain and protect the role of state and local governments in protecting the environment; and to accomplish this, it must retain in itself, the Congress, the ability to fully consider and amend proposed trade agreements that fail to take the actions recommended by this resolution; now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That Vermont’s delegation in the Congress is requested to develop trade legislation that provides for the following:

(1) a meaningful consultation process with the state and local government, together with resources to help analyze the likely effects of a particular trade or investment proposal or agreement;

(2) requirements that trade agreements contain provisions that establish a standard of review that requires adjudicatory bodies to defer to legitimate and rational state and local requirements relating to environmental and land use laws, and to other areas similarly addressed by legitimate and rational state and local enactments;

(3) preservation of the role and jurisdiction of state and federal courts, and provisions that prevent state or federal court decisions from being re-litigated in front of international tribunals; and

(4) retention in the Congress of the ability to consider freely and to amend investment agreements that fail to protect the ability of states to protect the environment or that otherwise intrude upon the sovereignty of the states as envisioned by the Constitution of the United States; and be it further

Resolved:  that the Secretary of State be directed to provide a copy of this resolution to Vermont Governor James H. Douglas, the members of Vermont’s Congressional delegation, to the office of the United States Trade Representative, and to the legislatures of the other states.

Thereupon, the President pro tempore, in his discretion, treated the joint resolution as a bill and referred it to the Committee on Economic Development Housing and General Affairs.

Bill Amended; Bill Passed

S. 116.

Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to miscellaneous election law amendments.

Was taken up.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the bill pass?, Senator White requested and was granted leave to offer a recommendation of amendment after third reading, which was agreed to.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the bill pass?, Senator White moved to amend the bill as follows:

By striking out Sec. 11 [Rules for counting ballots] in its entirety and renumbering the remaining sections of the bill to be numerically correct.

Which was agreed to.

Thereupon, the recurring question, Shall the bill pass?, was decided in the affirmative.


Bill Amended; Third Reading Ordered

S. 51.

Senator Sears, for the Committee on Judiciary, to which was referred Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Reported recommending that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  By adding Sec. 18a to read as follows:

Sec. 18a.  LEGISLATIVE INTENT

It is the intent of the general assembly that 21 V.S.A. § 495(g) be construed to permit an employer to establish a reasonable dress code for the workplace.

Second:  In Sec. 21, subsection (a), by striking out the words terms “gender expression” and and inserting in lieu thereof the word term

Third:  In Sec. 21, subsection (b), by striking out the words terms “gender expression” and and inserting in lieu thereof the word term

And that when so amended the bill ought to pass.

Thereupon, the bill was read the second time by title only pursuant to Rule 43, the recommendations of amendment were collectively agreed to on a roll call, Yeas 26, Nays 0.

Senator Mullin having demanded the yeas and nays, they were taken and are as follows:

Roll Call

Those Senators who voted in the affirmative were: Ayer, Bartlett, Campbell, Carris, Collins, Condos, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, Lyons, MacDonald, Maynard, Mazza, McCormack, Mullin, Nitka, Racine, Scott, Sears, Snelling, White.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: None.

Those Senators absent or not voting were: Coppenrath, Miller, Shumlin (presiding), Starr.

Thereupon, third reading of the bill was ordered on a roll call, Yeas 26, Nays 0.

Senator Sears having demanded the yeas and nays, they were taken and are as follows:


Roll Call

Those Senators who voted in the affirmative were: Ayer, Bartlett, Campbell, Carris, Collins, Condos, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, Lyons, MacDonald, Maynard, Mazza, McCormack, Mullin, Nitka, Racine, Scott, Sears, Snelling, White.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: None.

Those Senators absent or not voting were: Coppenrath, Miller, Shumlin (presiding), Starr.

Message from the House No. 31

     A message was received from the House of Representatives by Ms. Wrask, its Second Assistant Clerk, as follows:

Mr. President:

I am directed to inform the Senate the House has passed a bill of the following title:

H. 72.  An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the city of Barre.

In the passage of which the concurrence of the Senate is requested.

The House has considered Senate proposal of amendment to House bill of the following title:

H. 302.  An act relating to fiscal year 2007 budget adjustments.

And has concurred therein with proposals of amendment in the adoption of which the concurrence of the Senate is requested.

Adjournment

On motion of Senator Mazza, the Senate adjourned until eleven o’clock and thirty minutes in the morning.

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us