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Journal of the Senate

________________

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Senate was called to order by the President.

Devotional Exercises

A moment of silence was observed in lieu of devotions.

Message from the House No. 51

     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. 541.  An act relating to extending the repeal of alternative regulation election by small eligible telecommunications carriers.

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

Message from the House No. 52

     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. 94.  An act relating to retail sales and taxing of specialty beers.

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. 360.  An act relating to employment protection and training period for Vermont National Guard members.

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


Message from the House No. 53

     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 considered a bill originating in the Senate of the following title:

S. 120.  An act relating to wine tastings at farmers’ markets.

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

The House has adopted a joint resolution of the following title:

J.R.H. 23.  Joint resolution relating to the implementation of the National Veterinary Medical Service Act.

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

The House has considered a joint resolution originating in the Senate of the following title:

J.R.S. 30.  Joint resolution relating to weekend adjournment.

And has adopted the same in concurrence.

     The House has adopted concurrent resolutions of the following titles:

     H.C.R. 101.  Concurrent resolution congratulating Katie Sullivan on being named the 2007 Vermont Teacher of the Year.

     H.C.R. 102.  Concurrent resolution congratulating the 2006–2007 University of Vermont Catamounts men’s basketball team on an outstanding season.

     H.C.R. 103.  Concurrent resolution honoring former speaker of the house Stephan Morse for his outstanding leadership as president of the Windham Foundation.

     H.C.R. 104.  Concurrent resolution in memory of U.S. Army Sgt. Carlton A. Clark of Sharon.

     H.C.R. 105.  Concurrent resolution in memory of Donald Maley.

     H.C.R. 106.  Concurrent resolution honoring Gary Palmer of Georgia for his exemplary public service as the St. Albans City fire chief.

     H.C.R. 107.  Concurrent resolution congratulating the Burr and Burton Academy Bulldogs 2007 Division II championship boys’ ice hockey team.

     H.C.R. 108.  Concurrent resolution commending the members of the Act 133 technical advisory committee for the outstanding work in response to its mandate under the act.

     H.C.R. 109.  Concurrent resolution congratulating the 2007 Crossett Brook Middle School Odyssey of the Mind state championship team.

     H.C.R. 110.  Concurrent resolution in memory of former Windsor town clerk Gloria Tansey.

     H.C.R. 111.  Concurrent resolution congratulating the Windsor High School Yellow Jackets Division III championship girls’ basketball team.

     H.C.R. 112.  Concurrent resolution congratulating the 2006 Mt. Abraham Union High School Eagles Division II championship baseball team.

     H.C.R. 113.  Concurrent resolution congratulating the 2006 Mt. Abraham Union High School Eagles Division II championship girls’ field hockey team.

     H.C.R. 114.  Concurrent resolution congratulating Carol Eckels on being named the 2007 Vermont Elementary Principal of the Year.

     H.C.R. 115.  Concurrent resolution congratulating the 2007 Woodstock Union High School Wasps girls’ Nordic and boys’ alpine state championship ski teams.

H.C.R. 116.  Concurrent resolution congratulating Taylor Horn on winning the 2007 Vermont championship of the National Geographic Bee.

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

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

     S.C.R. 18.  Concurrent resolution honoring Robert “R.J.” George for his outstanding public service as the Newport city fire chief.

     S.C.R. 19.  Concurrent resolution congratulating Reeve Lindbergh and Nathaniel Tripp on their designation as the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce's 2007 Citizen of the Year.

And has adopted the same in concurrence.

Message from the House No. 54

     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 Governor has informed the House of Representatives that on the twelfth day of April, 2007 he approved and signed bills originating in the House of the following titles:

H. 51.  An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the Village of Newbury.

H. 97.  An act relating to the ability of the unified towns and gores of Essex County to incur indebtedness.

H. 357.  An act relating to registration of lobbyists.

Message from the Governor

A message was received from His Excellency, the Governor, by Ms. Kiersten Bourgeois, Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs, as follows:

Mr. President:

I am directed by the Governor to inform the Senate that on the thirteenth day of April, 2007, he approved and signed a bill originating in the Senate of the following title:

S. 57.  An act relating to eliminating certain sunset provisions and extending the juvenile proceedings study committee.

Bills Referred

House bills of the following titles were severally read the first time and referred:

H. 94.

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

To the Committee on Rules.

H. 541.

An act relating to extending the repeal of alternative regulation election by small eligible telecommunications carriers.

To the Committee on Finance.

Bill Referred to Committee on Finance

H. 274.

House bill of the following title, appearing on the Calendar for action, and affecting the revenue of the state, under the rule was referred to the Committee on Finance:

An act relating to adult foster care.

Rules Suspended; Bill Not Referred to Committees on Finance and Appropriations

     Appearing on the Calendar for notice, and, pending referral of the bill to the Committees on Finance and Appropriations pursuant to Rule 31, Senator Shumlin moved that the rules be suspended and that House bill of the following title:

H. 526.

An act relating to education quality and cost control.

     Not be referred to the Committees on Finance and Appropriations pursuant to Senate Rule 31 (and thereby be placed on the Calendar for action),

     Which was agreed to

Rules Suspended; Committee Relieved of Further Consideration; Bill Placed on Calendar

H. 313.

On motion of Senator Cummings, the rules were suspended, and H. 313 was taken up for immediate consideration, for the purpose of relieving the Committee on Finance from further consideration of the bill. Thereupon, on motion of Senator Cummings, the Committee on Finance was relieved of House bill entitled:

An act relating to the administration and enforcement of fines within the judicial bureau,

and the bill was placed on the Calendar for notice the next legislative day.

Joint Resolution Placed on Calendar

J.R.H. 23.

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

Joint resolution relating to the implementation of the National Veterinary Medical Service Act.

Whereas, the services of veterinarians who are familiar with the care, including birth‑related support, of large food source animals is essential for the successful operation of a dairy or beef farm, and

Whereas, despite the continuing need for large animal veterinarians, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, since 1990, the number of veterinarians whose practice focuses on large animals has dropped from nearly 6,000 to below 4,500, and less than 10 percent of veterinarians in private practice focus on this type of practice, and

Whereas, the association estimates that by 2016, four out of every 100 large food animal veterinarian positions will remain vacant, and

Whereas, a significant factor causing the shortage in the supply of large food animal veterinarians is the debt that results from attending veterinary school which can reach $100,000.00 and the potential for earning a larger income from a small animal practice, and

Whereas, in response to the crisis in large food animal support and other veterinary services, in 2003, Congress enacted public law 108-161, the “National Veterinary Medical Service Act,” (the Act) and

Whereas, section two of the Act established a loan repayment program intended to repay a percentage of a veterinarian’s professional education debt for each year of an agreed period of time that the veterinarian serves in a “veterinarian shortage situation” as the Secretary of Agriculture defines the term, and

Whereas, the specific parameters of the program, including a definition of a veterinarian shortage situation, are not yet finalized, and

Whereas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service is implementing the act in a two‑phase approach with phase one limited to a persons qualifying for a previously existing loan repayment program that is limited to federal employees, and

Whereas, also during phase one, USDA will promulgate rules that define a veterinary shortage, and

Whereas, the documented crisis in providing large food animal veterinary support most definitely merits designation as a veterinary shortage for purposes of the phase-two loan repayment program under the Act, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges the United States Department of Agriculture to define the practice of veterinary medicine focusing on large food animals as a veterinary shortage for purposes of the loan repayment program under the National Veterinary Medical Service Act, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Michael Johanns; to Dr. Robert Nichols, Assistant Director of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Government Relations Division in Suitland, Maryland; to Vermont State Veterinarian Dr. Kerry Rood; and to the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation.

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

House Proposal of Amendment Concurred In

S. 124.

House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to planning and evaluating options for impatient psychiatric hospital services.

Was taken up.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  STATE HOSPITAL; PLANNING; INDEPENDENT EVALUATION

(a)  The general assembly recognizes that there are some regulatory and legislative constraints on the department of health’s planning efforts related to developing new inpatient psychiatric services.  Nevertheless, the general assembly finds:

(1)  There has been inadequate evaluation of the options available to the state regarding the provision of inpatient psychiatric hospital services which are now provided at the Vermont state hospital (VSH).

(2)  The projected costs to plan, construct, and privately operate a 40‑ to 60‑patient bed facility on the main campus of Fletcher Allen Health Care (FAHC) in Burlington have not been adequately analyzed and compared with the projected costs of a publicly operated state facility or several smaller private or public facilities across the state.  Furthermore, FAHC has not made the necessary 50‑year commitment to host and operate the facility.

(3)  As found by the Public Oversight Commission (POC) in its recommendation dated January 10, 2007 concerning the VSH Conceptual certificate of need (CON), the construction cost for new inpatient services approaches $100 million which, the POC suggested, is beyond the fiscal capability of the state if the overall components of the Futures Project, including necessary expansions to the community mental health system, were to be implemented and adequately funded.

(4)  No operating cost estimates of the proposed FAHC inpatient psychiatric facility or any other facility have been developed.

(5)  No determinative analysis has been made of the costs and policy implications that will be required to meet federal funding requirements associated with partnering or not partnering with a general hospital. 

(6)  Issues of concern to potential host communities have not been adequately addressed, including governance, accountability, and sustainability; design and development of the facility; public safety; the impact on municipal services, housing, community mental health programs, other community resources, and reimbursement to the host communities for the costs associated with such impacts.

(7)  The state’s community mental health system may be threatened by the cost to operate psychiatric inpatient services that are not adequately planned within the budgetary context of the full continuum of necessary mental health services.

(b)  The general assembly reaffirms its intent as stated in Sec. 141a of No. 122 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004) that all mental health programs, services, and supports, including inpatient psychiatric services, be provided to individuals with psychiatric disabilities or diagnoses or emotional disorders in a holistic, comprehensive continuum of care, that consumers be treated at all times with dignity and respect, that public resources be allocated efficiently and produce the best positive outcomes, and that direct services overseen and provided by the agency of human services and its community partners be client- and family-centered and -driven, accessible, and culturally competent, and it furthermore reaffirms the guiding principles identified therein for purposes of the Futures Plan.

(c)  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the remaining balance of the $1 million appropriated in Sec. 271(a)(3) of No. 215 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) shall remain subject to the requirements as directed in Sec. 4 of  No. 147 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006), subdivisions (a)(2)(A)(ii) and (a)(2)(B), for use by the department of buildings and general services for the agency of human services to continue planning, designing, and permitting associated with the creation of a new inpatient facility to replace the current Vermont state hospital, except such funds expended for consulting services described in subsection (d) of this section.

(d)(1)  The committee on committees of the senate and the speaker of the house are authorized to retain one or more consultants to:

(A)  compile, analyze, and review the planning that has been done to date for replacing the services now provided at the VSH, including a review of the feasibility of recertifying the existing state hospital and obtaining authority to secure federal funding to support its operations;

(B)  investigate and make recommendations on the necessary steps to secure federal funding for the development of one or more regional or satellite psychiatric facilities in conjunction with other general hospitals and institutions for mental diseases, or stand-alone facilities, or both;

(C)  review and make recommendations regarding the feasibility of all the options available to the state for providing inpatient psychiatric services, taking into account the capacity needed; the time required to achieve the delivery of services; projected capital and operational costs; assurances of quality of care; the extent to which there will be integration with the chronic care initiative and integration of mental health care with overall health care; and the alternatives of public, private, public-private partnership, or other combination of operation and ownership structures; and

(D)  analyze the impact of the population involved in the criminal justice system on the needs, services, and costs of inpatient psychiatric hospitalization.

(2)  The committee on committees of the senate and the speaker of the house are authorized to spend up to $100,000.00 from the appropriation referenced in subsection (c) of this section to accomplish the purposes of this subsection. 

(3)  The consultant or consultants shall report preliminary progress on or before September 1, 2007  jointly to the chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations and Institutions Committees, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, and the House Human Services Committee.  A final report shall be submitted to the above mentioned committee chairs, and to the Joint Fiscal Committee, the Mental Health Oversight Committee, the Secretary of Administration, and the Secretary of Human Services no later than November 1, 2007.

Sec. 2.  EFFECTIVE DATE 

This act shall take effect from passage.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative.

Proposal of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered

H. 400.

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

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

     Reported recommending that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill by adding a new Sec. 1a to read:

Sec. 1a.  3 V.S.A. § 477a(d) is amended to read:

(d) Any member may elect to have included in the member's creditable service all or any part of the member's service as a permanent state employee for which the member received no credit. Any member who so elects shall deposit in the annuity savings fund by a single contribution the amount or amounts determined by the system's actuary to be cost neutral to the system. Any group F member may elect to increase his or her retirement allowance for years of service as a group E member prior to January 1, 1991, for 1-1/4 percent of average final compensation to 1-2/3 percent of average final compensation. A member making an election under this subdivision shall deposit in the annuity savings fund by a single contribution an amount computed at regular interest to be sufficient to provide at normal retirement an annuity equal to 1-2/3 percent of the member's average final compensation multiplied by the number of years of service for which the member elects to increase his or her retirement allowance.  Any group F member who is actively employed on June 30, 2007, and who was a member of the group B plan prior to June 30, 1998, may elect to convert some or all of his or her group B service to group C service.  A member making an election to convert shall deposit in the fund by a single contribution an amount computed by the actuary to pay for the additional liability incurred by the increase in benefits between the group B and the group C plan multiplied by the number of years of service which the member elects to convert.

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

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

House Proposal of Amendment Concurred In

J.R.S. 22.

House proposal of amendment to joint Senate resolution entitled:

Joint resolution urging Congress to enact S. 340 the “Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2007” (the AgJOBS Act of 2007).

Was taken up.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the resolution by striking out the resolution in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Whereas, agricultural operations in Vermont require many labor intensive jobs, and

Whereas, in search of individuals to accept these jobs, Vermont’s agricultural managers have turned to foreign workers, and

Whereas, the federal H-2A program allows foreigners to enter the United States for seasonal employment in the agricultural sector, and

Whereas, for many years, Vermont apple orchards and other seasonal farm operations have availed themselves of the H-2A program with great success, and

Whereas, unlike the apple harvesting season that lasts for a limited period of time in the late summer and early fall, dairy farming continues 365 days a year, and

Whereas, there are now approximately 2,000 foreign workers who are essential to their employer’s business operations and who are employed year-round on dairy farms across the state, and

Whereas, the current H-2A program addresses the need for seasonal agricultural labor but fails to meet the needs of year-round dairy operations, and

Whereas, in order to enable these dairy farm employees and similarly situated persons in other states to remain on the job, S.340 and H.R.371, the AgJOBS Act of 2007, have been introduced in the United States Congress, and

Whereas, the provisions of the AgJOBS Act provide that undocumented foreign workers who satisfy further work requirements, have not committed serious criminal offenses, apply within the time limits provided, and are otherwise admissible under the provisions of federal immigration law, may be granted blue card status, and

Whereas, foreign workers granted blue card status would be considered “lawfully admitted for permanent residence” except for the receipt of certain federal benefits, and they would be afforded procedural rights and protections with respect to their employment, and

Whereas, the act contains provisions for a foreign worker who has been granted blue card status to gain permanent resident status subject to the completion of additional work requirements, the payment of any federal income taxes owed, and the absence of any major criminal activity, and

Whereas, the act also makes provisions for the residence of spouses and minor children, and

Whereas, the burden of producing documentation to qualify for an upgraded residency status would rest with the foreign worker, and

Whereas, the act also makes important revisions to the current H-2A temporary worker program that provide employment preferences for American citizens and green card holders while affording procedural rights and minimum working conditions for the covered foreign workers, and

Whereas, S.340 and H.R.371 represent a fair balancing of the interests of the agricultural community, American workers, foreign workers, and the federal government’s legitimate need to protect the integrity of our nation’s borders, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges Congress to enact either S.340 or H.R.371, the “Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security Act of 2007” (the AgJOBS Act of 2007), and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the members of the Vermont Congressional delegation.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative.

Thereupon, pursuant to Senate Rule 40, the title of the resolution was amended by the Secretary to read as follows:

JOINT RESOLUTION URGING CONGRESS TO ENACT S. 340 OR H.R. 371, THE “AGRICULTURAL JOB OPPORTUNITIES, BENEFITS, AND SECURITY ACT OF 2007” (THE AGJOBS ACT OF 2007).

Joint Resolution Adopted in Concurrence

J.R.H. 22.

Joint House resolution entitled:

Joint resolution relating to designating Sunday, April 15, 2007, as generosity Sunday in Vermont.

Having been placed on the Calendar for action, was taken up and adopted in concurrence.

Senate Concurrent Resolutions

     The following joint concurrent resolutions, having been placed on the consent calendar on the preceding legislative day, and no Senator having requested floor consideration as provided by the Joint Rules of the Senate and House of Representatives, are hereby adopted on the part of the Senate:

By Senators Illuzzi and Starr,

By Representative Marcotte and others,

S.C.R. 18.

     Senate concurrent resolution honoring Robert “R.J.” George for his outstanding public service as the Newport City fire chief.

Senators Kitchel and Coppenrath,

     By Representative Bostic and others,

S.C.R. 19.

     Senate concurrent resolution congratulating Reeve Lindbergh and Nathaniel Tripp on their designation as the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce's 2007 Citizen of the Year.

     [The full text of the Senate concurrent resolutions appeared in the Senate calendar addendum for Thursday, April 12, 2007, and, if adopted in concurrence by the House, will appear in the volume of the Public Acts and Resolves to be published for this session of the sixty-ninth biennial session of the Vermont General Assembly.]

House Concurrent Resolutions

     The following joint concurrent resolutions having been placed on the consent calendar on the preceding legislative day, and no Senator having requested floor consideration as provided by the Joint Rules of the Senate and House of Representatives, are hereby adopted in concurrence:

H.C.R.  101

House concurrent resolution congratulating Katie Sullivan on being named the 2007 Vermont Teacher of the Year

Offered by:  Representative Hosford

H.C.R.  102

House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2006–2007 University of Vermont Catamounts men’s basketball team on an outstanding season

Offered by:  Representative Pugh and others


H.C.R.  103

House concurrent resolution honoring former speaker of the house Stephan Morse for his outstanding leadership as president of the Windham Foundation

Offered by:  Representative Obuchowski and others

Offered by:  Senators Shumlin and White

H.C.R.  104

House concurrent resolution in memory of U.S. Army Sgt. Carlton A. Clark of Sharon

Offered by:  Representative Ainsworth and others

Offered by:  Senators Campbell, McCormack, Nitka, Ayer, Bartlett, Carris, Collins, Condos, Coppenrath, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, Lyons, MacDonald, Maynard, Mazza, Miller, Mullin, Racine, Scott, Sears, Shumlin, Snelling, Starr and White

H.C.R.  105

House concurrent resolution in memory of Donald Maley

Offered by:  Representative Donovan and others

H.C.R.  106

House concurrent resolution honoring Gary Palmer of Georgia for his exemplary public service as the St. Albans City fire chief

Offered by:  Representative Branagan and others

H.C.R.  107

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Burr and Burton Academy Bulldogs 2007 Division II championship boys’ ice hockey team

Offered by:  Representative Livingston

Offered by:  Senators Hartwell and Sears

H.C.R.  108

House concurrent resolution commending the members of the Act 133 technical advisory committee for the outstanding work in response to its mandate under the act

Offered by:  Committee on Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources


H.C.R.  109

House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2007 Crossett Brook Middle School Odyssey of the Mind state championship team

Offered by:  Representative Minter and others

H.C.R.  110

House concurrent resolution in memory of former Windsor town clerk Gloria Tansey

Offered by:  Representative Sweaney

Offered by:  Senators Campbell, McCormack and Nitka

H.C.R.  111

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Windsor High School Yellow Jackets Division III championship girls’ basketball team

Offered by:  Representative Sweaney and others

Offered by:  Senators Campbell, McCormack and Nitka

H.C.R.  112

House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2006 Mt. Abraham Union High School Eagles Division II championship baseball team

Offered by:  Representative Fisher and others

Offered by:  Senators Ayer and Giard

H.C.R.  113

House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2006 Mt. Abraham Union High School Eagles Division II championship girls’ field hockey team

Offered by:  Representative Fisher and others

Offered by:  Senators Ayer and Giard

H.C.R.  114

House concurrent resolution congratulating Carol Eckels on being named the 2007 Vermont Elementary Principal of the Year

Offered by:  Representative Jewett

Offered by:  Senators Ayer and Giard


H.C.R.  115

House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2007 Woodstock Union High School Wasps girls’ Nordic and boys’ alpine state championship ski teams

Offered by:  Representative Clarkson and others

Offered by:  Senators Campbell, McCormack and Nitka

H.C.R.  116

House concurrent resolution congratulating Taylor Horn on winning the 2007 Vermont championship of the National Geographic Bee

Offered by:  Representative Marek

     [The full text of the House concurrent resolutions appeared in the Senate calendar addendum for Thursday, April 12, 2007, and will appear in the volume of the Public Acts and Resolves to be published for this session of the sixty-ninth biennial session of the Vermont General Assembly.]

Adjournment

On motion of Senator Shumlin, the Senate adjourned, to reconvene on Tuesday, April 17, 2007, at ten o’clock in the forenoon pursuant to J.R.S. 30.

 



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The Vermont General Assembly
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