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Journal of the Senate

________________

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Senate was called to order by the President.

Devotional Exercises

Devotional exercises were conducted by the Reverend Linda Kulas of Northfield.

Joint Resolution Placed on Calendar

J.R.H. 19.

Joint resolution originating in the House of the following title was read the first time and is as follows:

Joint resolution relating to Boys’ State use of the state house.

Whereas, the American Legion in Vermont sponsors the Green Mountain Boys’ State program which provides an opportunity for high school students to study the workings of state government in Montpelier, and

Whereas, as part of their visit to the state’s capital city, the boys conduct a mock legislative session in the State House, and

Whereas, this is an invaluable educational experience that provides firsthand knowledge about the legislative process, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the Sergeant at Arms shall make available the chambers and committee rooms of the State House for the Green Mountain Boys’ State program on Thursday, June 21, 2007 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Thereupon, in the discretion of the President, under Rule 51, the joint resolution was placed on the Calendar for action tomorrow.

Consideration Postponed

S. 143.

Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to authorizing the use of racing fuel containing the additive MTBE or other gasoline ethers.

Was taken up.

Thereupon, without objection consideration of the bill was postponed until the next legislative day.

Bill Amended; Bill Passed

S. 164.

Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to campaign finance and the Vermont campaign finance option.

Was taken up.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator White moved to amend the bill in Sec. 4, 17  V.S.A. §2805(g), by striking out the following:  “subsections (a) through (e) and (g)” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  subsections (a) through (d) and (f)

Which was agreed to.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senators Mullin and Coppenrath moved to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 4, 17 V.S.A. § 2805, by striking out subsection (c) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

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

A political committee, other than a political committee of a candidate, or a political party shall not accept contributions totaling more than $2,000.00 from a single source, political committee or political party in any two-year general election cycle.

and by striking out subsection (d) in its entirety and relettering the remaining subsections to be alphabetically correct

Second:  In Sec. 4, 17 V.S.A. § 2805, by striking out existing subsection (f) in its entirety and relettering the remaining subsections to be alphabetically correct.

Third:  In Sec. 4, 17  V.S.A. §2805, in existing subsection (g), by striking out the following:  “(e) and (g)” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  (c) and (e)

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the bill be amended as recommended by Senators Mullin and Coppenrath?, Senator Mullin asked that the question be divided, which was agreed to.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the bill be amended as firstly recommended by Senators Mullin and Coppenrath?, was disagreed to on a division of Senate, Yeas 8, Nays 13.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the bill be amended as secondly recommended by Senators Mullin and Coppenrath?, was disagreed to on a roll call, Yeas 6, Nays 20.

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: Coppenrath, Illuzzi, Maynard, Mullin, Scott, Starr.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Ayer, Bartlett, Carris, Collins, Condos, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Kitchel, Kittell, MacDonald, McCormack, Miller, Nitka, Racine, Sears, Snelling, White.

Those Senators absent and not voting were: Campbell, Lyons, Mazza, Shumlin.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the bill be amended as thirdly recommended by Senators Mullin and Coppenrath?, Senator Mullin requested and was granted leave to withdraw the third proposal of amendment.

Thereupon, the bill was read the third time and passed on a roll call, Yeas 23, Nays 3.

Senator Illuzzi 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, Carris, Collins, Condos, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Kitchel, Kittell, MacDonald, McCormack, Miller, Mullin, Nitka, Racine, Scott, Sears, Snelling, Starr, White.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Coppenrath, Illuzzi, Maynard.

Those Senators absent and not voting were: Campbell, Lyons, Mazza, Shumlin.

Bill Amended; Bill Passed

S. 170.

Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to the rights of family members, funeral directors, and crematory operators concerning the disposition of bodily remains and funeral services.

Was taken up.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senators Sears and Illuzzi moved to amend the bill in Sec. 5, 18 V.S.A. §5201 subsection (b), in the second sentence by striking out the following “If the attorney general, a state’s attorney, or any law enforcement officer” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  If the attorney general or a state’s attorney

Which was agreed to.

Thereupon, the bill was read the third time and passed on a roll call, Yeas 26, Nays 0.

Senator Illuzzi 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, Carris, Collins, Condos, Coppenrath, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, MacDonald, Maynard, McCormack, Miller, Mullin, Nitka, Racine, Scott, Sears, Snelling, Starr, White.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: None.

Those Senators absent and not voting were: Campbell, Lyons, Mazza, Shumlin.

Bill Amended; Third Reading Ordered; Rules Suspended; Bill Passed; Rules Suspended; Bill Messaged

S. 67.

Senator Illuzzi, for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Services, to which was referred Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to closure of the Bennington state office building.

     Reported recommending that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:


Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds the following:

(1)  The state of Vermont has owned and operated the Bennington state office building (BSOB) located at 200 Veteran’s Memorial Drive since 1977.

(2)  In 1990, the state of Vermont completed a significant addition to the BSOB increasing the total square footage to 63,500 square feet.  At the end of 2006, approximately 135 people were employed at the BSOB.

(3)  Results of a health survey conducted by the Vermont department of health in 2006 found that the occupants of the BSOB reported higher than expected rates of sarcoidosis.

(4)  Sarcoidosis is a disease of unknown causes characterized by inflammation in one or more organ.

(5)  To date, six current or former state employees who worked in the BSOB report that they have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis.  According to the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research, nationally, sarcoidosis occurs at a rate of one in 10,000 people. 

(6)  The workers’ compensation system was established to provide benefits to individuals who suffer injury or illness arising out of and in the course of employment and represents a public policy compromise in which workers who suffer injury or illness arising out of and in the course of employment give up the right to sue the employer for negligence in return for which the employer assumes strict liability and the obligation to provide a speedy and certain remedy for work-related injuries and illnesses.  Gerrish v. Savard, 169Vt. 468 (1999).

(7)  Workers’ compensation laws are to be construed liberally to accomplish the humane purposes for which they were passed.  Giguere v. E.B. & A.C. Whiting Co., 107 Vt. 151(1935).

(8)  In workers’ compensation cases, the claimant has the burden of establishing all facts essential to the rights asserted.  Goodwin v. Fairbanks, 123 Vt. 161 (1962).

(9)  The claimant has the burden of showing a causal connection between the injury and employment, and that the claimant is therefore entitled to relief under the workers’ compensation act.  Egbert v. Book Press 144 Vt. 367 (1984).

(10)  There must be created in the mind of the trier of fact something more than a possibility, suspicion, or surmise that such was the cause, and the inference from the facts proved must be at least the more probable hypothesis, with reference to the possibility of other hypotheses.  Burton v. Holden & Martin Lumber Co., 112 Vt. 17 (1941).

(11)  It is difficult to prove a causal connection between sarcoidosis and the workplace, since the cause of sarcoidosis is unknown.  

(b)  The purpose of this act is:

(1)  To minimize the difficulty of proving causation by providing a mechanism for employees at the Bennington state office building who are diagnosed with sarcoidosis to be deemed eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, provided they meet the criteria identified in subsection (a) of this section.

(2)  To retain and not to contravene, amend, overturn, or in any way alter the conclusions of law in the cases referenced in subdivisions (a)(8), (9), and (10) of this section, except that claimants who satisfy the criteria of subsection (a) of this section are entitled to the presumption created by this act and shall not be required to satisfy the standards of proof regarding causation articulated in those cases.

Sec. 2.  WORKERS’ COMPENSATION; PRESUMPTION OF COMPENSABILITY; STATE EMPLOYEES; BENNINGTON STATE OFFICE BUILDING 

Any person who has worked as a state employee at the Bennington state office building for at least six consecutive months prior to January 1, 2007, and who, after that six-month period of employment, is or has been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, shall be presumed to have suffered a work illness, injury, or disease caused by exposure to the air quality of the work environment in the Bennington state office building, unless it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the illness, injury, or disease was proximately caused by nonwork‑related risk factors or exposure and shall be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to chapter 9 of Title 21, notwithstanding any statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim.  Such state employee shall be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits beginning the first day that the employee was or is diagnosed with sarcoidosis, and those benefits shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of chapter 9 of Title 21.

Sec. 3.  BENNINGTON STATE OFFICE BUILDING; CLOSURE

(a)  No state employee with a workplace in the Bennington state office building shall be permitted to work in that building after April 1, 2007, until such time as the air quality and health conditions of the building have been determined by the department of health to be safe and free from levels of airborne pathogens, particulates, mold, and other environmental contaminants that are likely to cause injury or disease to humans.  This prohibition shall not apply to employees who are properly equipped to work in the building to perform rehabilitation and reconstruction work necessary to make the building habitable as an office. 

(b)  The department of buildings and general services shall on or before August 1, 2007, review available air test results and consider whether to accept or voluntarily advance payment of workers’ compensation benefits for employees diagnosed with asthma and who otherwise would qualify for the presumption set forth in subsection (a) of this section.

Sec. 4.  BENNINGTON STATE OFFICE LOCATION TASK FORCE; CREATION

(a)  The Bennington state office location task force is created for the purpose of evaluating the best alternatives for permanent relocation of the state employees in downtown Bennington in a single building, or if not, that the buildings are within easy walking distance of each other. 

(b)  The task force shall be composed of 12 members to include the following:

(1)  The chair of the Bennington selectboard, who shall be chair of the task force.

(2)  The Bennington town manager.

(3)  The director of planning and development from Bennington.

(4)  A member of the Bennington planning commission.

(5)  A member of the board of directors of the Better Bennington Corporation.

(6)  The executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation.

(7)  A member of the board of directors of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.

(8)  The executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce.

(9)  A member or employee of the Vermont state employees’ association.

(10)  The secretary of human services or designee.

(11)  The commissioner of buildings and general services or designee.

(12)  The senior member of the house of representatives from Bennington district 2-2.

(c)  The task force shall hold its first meeting no later than April 1, 2007 and will meet as needed thereafter until October 1, 2007.  No later than January 15, 2008, the task force shall issue a written report of its findings and recommendations for downtown office space for state employees in Bennington to the Bennington selectboard, the Vermont general assembly, and the governor. 

And that when so amended the bill ought to pass.

Senator Sears, for the Committee on Appropriations, to which the bill was referred, reported recommending that the bill be amended as recommended by the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs with the following amendment thereto:

     By striking out Sec. 4 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the a new Sec. 4 to read as follows:

Sec. 4.  BENNINGTON STATE OFFICE LOCATION TASK FORCE

(a)  The Bennington state office location task force is created to act as the representative of the “legislative body of the municipality” as that term is used in 24 V.S.A. §2794(a)(12).  The task force is created specifically to evaluate the best alternatives for permanent relocation of the state employees in the event that the department of health determines that the Bennington state office building cannot be reoccupied and used as an office building.  If relocation is necessary, the task force shall consider multiple locations within the downtown area that are within easy walking distance of each other in the designated downtown district of Bennington. The task force shall carry out the purposes of this section consistent with chapter 76a of Title 24.  

(b)  The task force shall be composed of nine members to include the following:

(1)  The chair of the Bennington selectboard, who shall be chair of the task force.

(2)  The Bennington town manager, or designee.

(3) The director of planning and development for Bennington, or designee.

(4)  A member of the Bennington planning commission.

(5)  The executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation, or designee.

(6)  The executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, or designee.

(7)  A member or employee of the Vermont state employees’ association.

(8)  A member of the house of representatives representing Bennington appointed by the speaker of the house.

(9)  A member of the senate from Bennington district appointed by the committee on committees.

(c)  The task force shall hold its first meeting within 30 days after the diagnostic report on the building is issued, and shall meet as needed thereafter.  No later than January 15, 2008, the task force shall issue a written report of its findings and recommendations for office space for state employees in the designated downtown of Bennington to the Bennington selectboard, the commissioner of buildings and general services, the senate committee on institutions and appropriations and the house committees on institutions and appropriations. 

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, and the recommendation of amendment of the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Services was amended as recommended by the Committee on Appropriations.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the bill be amended as recommended by the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, as amended?, Senator Illuzzi moved to amend the recommendation of amendment of the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, as amended, in Sec. 1(b) by striking out subdivision (2) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subdivision (2) to read as follows:

(2)  To retain and not to contravene, amend, overturn, or in any way alter the conclusions of law in the cases referenced in subdivisions (a)(8), (9), and (10) of this section, except that claimants who satisfy the criteria of Sec. 2 of this act are entitled to the presumption created by this act and shall not be required to satisfy the standards of proof regarding causation articulated in section (a).

Which was agreed to.

Thereupon, the recurring question, Shall the bill be amended as recommended by the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, as amended?, was decided in the affirmative.

Thereupon, third reading of the bill was ordered on a roll call Yeas 28, Nays 0.

Senator Illuzzi 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, Carris, Collins, Condos, Coppenrath, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, MacDonald, Maynard, Mazza, McCormack, Miller, Mullin, Nitka, Racine, Scott, Sears, Shumlin, Snelling, Starr, White.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: None.

Those Senators absent and not voting were: Campbell, Lyons.

Thereupon, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the bill was placed on all remaining stages of its passage forthwith.

Thereupon, the bill was read the third time and passed.

Thereupon, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended, and the bill was ordered messaged to the House forthwith.

Bill Amended; Third Reading Ordered

S. 190.

Senate committee bill entitled:

An act relating to establishing a brownfields advisory committee.

Was taken up.

Senator Shumlin, for the Committee on Appropriations, to which the bill was referred reported recommending that the bill be amended as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, subsection (a), by striking out subdivisions (8) and (9) in their entirety and by renumbering the remaining subdivisions to be numerically correct

Second:  In Sec. 1, by striking out subsection (c) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

(c)  The agency of natural resources shall provide administrative support to the committee. 

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, and third reading of the bill was ordered.


Proposals of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered

H. 357.

Senator Flanagan, for the Committee on Government Operations, to which was referred House bill entitled:

An act relating to registration of lobbyists.

Reported recommending that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 4, 2 V.S.A. § 264b, in subsection (a), in the first sentence, by striking out “a disclosure report which includes”,

Second:  In Sec. 4, 2  V.S.A. §264b subsection (b), in the first sentence, by striking out “Disclosure reports under this section shall be due on the same day as are lobbyist disclosure reports under subsection 264(a) of this title and” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  Every lobbying firm shall file a disclosure report on the same day as lobbyist disclosure reports are due under subsection 264(a) of this title which

And that the bill ought to pass in concurrence with such proposals of amendment.

Thereupon, the bill was read the second time by title only pursuant to Rule 43, the proposals of amendment were collectively agreed to, and third reading of the bill was ordered.

Rules Suspended; Bill Messaged

On motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended, and the following bill was ordered messaged to the House forthwith:

S.170.

Message from the House No. 40

     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 bills of the following titles:

     H. 99.  An act relating to a legislative interim study committee on public libraries.

     H. 380.  An act relating to the regulation of health care facilities.

     H. 400.  An act relating to recapture of health insurance benefits by Group C members of the Vermont state retirement system.

     H. 402.  An act relating to recapture of health insurance benefits by Group F members of the Vermont state retirement system.

H. 429.  An act relating to underground and aboveground storage tanks.

H. 521.  An act relating to miscellaneous substantive tax amendments.

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

Adjournment

On motion of Senator Shumlin, the Senate adjourned until eleven o’clock and forty-five minutes in the morning.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us