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Journal of the Senate

________________

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Senate was called to order by the President.

Devotional Exercises

Devotional exercises were conducted by the Reverend Ward Wilson of Wells River.

Bill Referred

House bill of the following title was read the first time and referred:

H. 523.

An act relating to moving families out of poverty.

To the Committee on Rules.

Bill Referred to Committee on Finance

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

H. 520.

An act relating to the conservation of energy and increasing the generation of electricity within the state by use of renewable resources.

Senate Resolution Placed on Calendar

S.R. 15.

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

   By the Committee on Judiciary,

     S.R. 15.  Senate resolution relating to designating April as sexual violence awareness month.

Whereas, sexual violence continues to be a major social crisis and epidemic in our communities, state, and society, and

Whereas, sexual violence affects every adult and child in Vermont as a victim-survivor, family member, significant other, friend, neighbor, or co‑worker of a victim-survivor, and

 Whereas, volunteers and service providers in our communities are working to provide a continuum of care to sexual violence survivors through 24-hour hotlines, counseling, support groups, advocacy, medical care, and education, and

Whereas, the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and its 16 member programs seek to provide comprehensive support services for victims-survivors of sexual violence and prevent future victimization through public awareness and prevention work with Vermont youth, and

Whereas, the Senate has in recent years taken important steps toward improving the state’s response to sexual violence through expanded efforts to investigate and prosecute crimes of sexual violence, support victims-survivors, and prevent future crimes of sexual violence, and

Whereas, this legislative body recognizes the vital importance of increasing the general public’s awareness of sexual violence and supporting the agencies that provide services to people victimized by perpetrators of sexual violence, and

Whereas, we hold forth a vision of a state free from sexual violence in its many forms, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate:

That the Senate of the State of Vermont designates April as sexual violence awareness month, and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of the Senate be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Montpelier.

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

Bill Passed in Concurrence with Proposal of Amendment

H. 137.

House bill of the following title was read the third time and passed in concurrence with proposal of amendment:

An act relating to the restoration of a department of mental health and a commissioner of mental health.


Proposals of Amendment; Bill Passed in Concurrence with Proposal of Amendment

H. 526.

House bill entitled:

An act relating to education quality and cost control.

Was taken up.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Shumlin moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment as follows:

     First:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 15a to read as follows:

Sec. 15a.  32 V.S.A. § 5402b is amended to read:

§ 5402b.  STATEWIDE EDUCATION TAX RATE ADJUSTMENTS

(a)  Annually, by December 1, the commissioner of taxes shall recommend to the general assembly, after consultation with the department of education, the secretary of administration and the joint fiscal office, the following adjustments in the statewide education tax rates under subdivisions 5402(a)(1) and (2) of this title:

* * *

(b)  If the commissioner makes a recommendation to the general assembly to adjust the education tax rates under section 5402 of this title, the commissioner shall also recommend a proportional adjustment to the applicable percentage base for homestead income based adjustments under section 6066 of this title, but the applicable percentage base shall not be adjusted below 1.8 percent.

     Second:  In Sec. 19 by adding a new subsection (e), to read as follows:

(e)  Sec. 15a (no annual adjustment of the 2% "applicable percentage") shall take effect upon passage and shall apply to claims filed in 2008 and after.

     And by relettering the remaining subsection to be alphabetically correct.

Which was agreed to on a roll call, Yeas 16, Nays 13.

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

Roll Call

Those Senators who voted in the affirmative were: Bartlett, Campbell, Carris, Collins, Coppenrath, Doyle, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, Maynard, Mazza, Miller, Mullin, Scott, Sears, Shumlin.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Ayer, Condos, Cummings, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Lyons, McCormack, Nitka, Racine, Snelling, Starr, White.

The Senator absent and not voting was: MacDonald.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Mullin moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment as follows:

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

* * * Consolidations of Supervisory Unions * * *

Sec. 8a.  16 V.S.A. § 261 is amended to read:

§ 261.  ORGANIZATION AND ADJUSTMENT OF SUPERVISORY UNIONS

(a)  The state board shall review on its own initiative or when requested as per subsection (b) of this section and may regroup the organize school districts, except for interstate school districts, into 16 supervisory unions of the state or create new supervisory unions in such manner as to afford increased efficiency or greater convenience and economy and to facilitate K-12 curriculum planning and coordination as changed conditions may seem to require which, to the extent possible, shall follow the same boundaries as the technical center service regions created pursuant to section 1531 of this title.

(b)  Any school district which has so voted at its annual school district meeting, if said the meeting has been properly warned regarding such a vote, may apply to the state board of education for adjustment of the existing supervisory union of which it is a component district.  The state board shall give timely consideration to such requests and may regroup the school districts of the area so as to ensure reasonable supervision of all public schools therein.

(c)  The state board may designate any school district, including a unified union district, as a supervisory district if it will offer schools in grades K-12 and is large enough to support the planning and administrative functions of a supervisory union.  [Deleted.]

(d)  Upon application by a supervisory union board, the state board may waive any requirements of chapter 5 or 7 of this title with respect to the supervisory union board structure, board composition, or board meetings, or the staffing pattern of the supervisory union, if it can be demonstrated that such a waiver will result in efficient and effective operations of the supervisory union; will not result in any disproportionate representation; and is otherwise in the public interest.

Second:  In Sec. 19, by adding a new subsection (b) to read as follows:

(b)  Effective date of Sec. 8a: 

(1)  The state board of education shall, after holding at least four public hearings in different geographic regions of the state, propose supervisory union district boundaries pursuant to Sec. 8a of this act on or before June 1, 2008.  Following publication of the proposal, the board shall take public comment and shall establish supervisory union boundaries pursuant to Sec. 8a of this act no later than January 1, 2009.

(2)  Notwithstanding the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 262, the new supervisory unions shall not be established until July 1, 2009.  The new supervisory unions shall hold organizational meetings and enter into agreements pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 262 et seq. between January 1 and July 1, 2009.

And by relettering the other subsections to be alphabetically correct.

Which was disagreed to on a roll call, Yeas 4, Nays 24.

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: Coppenrath, Hartwell, Maynard, Mullin.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Ayer, Bartlett, Campbell, Carris, Collins, Condos, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Kitchel, Kittell, Lyons, Mazza, McCormack, Miller, Nitka, Racine, Scott, Sears, Shumlin, Snelling, Starr, White.

Those Senators absent and not voting were: Illuzzi, MacDonald.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Mullin moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment by adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 8b to read as follows:

* * * School Budget; Direct Education Costs * * *

Sec. 8b.  16 V.S.A. § 563(11) is amended to read:

§ 563. POWERS OF SCHOOL BOARDS

The school board of a school district, in addition to other duties and authority specifically assigned by law:

* * *

(11) Shall prepare and distribute annually a proposed budget for the next school year according to such major categories as may from time to time be prescribed by the commissioner. The proposed budget shall include the percentage of spending allocated to direct classroom instruction, as defined by the commissioner, and any other information prescribed by the commissioner.  At a school district's annual meeting, the electorate may vote to provide notice of availability of the school budget required by this subdivision to the electorate in lieu of distributing the budget. If the electorate of the school district votes to provide notice of availability, it must specify how notice of availability shall be given, and such notice of availability shall be provided to the electorate at least 30 days before the district's annual meeting. The proposed budget shall be prepared and distributed at least ten days before a sum of money is voted on by the electorate. Any proposed budget shall show the following information in a format prescribed by the commissioner of education:

(A) all revenues from all sources and expenses, including as separate items any assessment for a union school district or a supervisory union of which it is a member, and any tuition to be paid to a technical center;

(B) the specific amount of any deficit incurred in the most recently closed fiscal year and how the deficit was or will be remedied;

(C) the anticipated homestead tax rate and the percentage of household income used to determine income sensitivity in the district as a result of passage of the budget; including those portions of the tax rate attributable to the union school and supervisory union assessments; and

(D) in the case of a school district: (1) other than a union school district, the definition of "education spending," the number of pupils and number of equalized pupils in the school district, and the district's education spending per equalized pupil in the proposed budget and in each of the prior three years; or (2) in the case of a union school district, the amount of the assessment to each of the member districts and the amount of the assessments per equalized pupil in the proposed budget and for the past three years.

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

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Mullin moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment by adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 18a to read as follows

Sec. 18a.  16 V.S.A. § 563(32) is added to read:

§ 563. POWERS OF SCHOOL BOARDS

The school board of a school district, in addition to other duties and authority specifically assigned by law:

* * *

(32)  Shall contract for an energy audit of all buildings owned by the district at least once in every period of three years, and shall file the audit, together with a plan to reduce energy consumption, with the commissioner.

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

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Mullin moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment by adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 18a to read as follows:

Sec. 18a.  VOLUNTARY CONSOLIDATION; TAX BENEFIT

There is created a committee consisting of two members to be appointed by the committee on committees of the senate, two members to be appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, and four members to be appointed by the governor, and a chair to be jointly chosen by all three leaders to develop a system to provide tax incentives to school districts that voluntarily consolidate.  The chair shall convene the first meeting of the committee on or before July 1, 2007.  The department of education shall provide administrative support to the committee.  The committee shall present a detailed plan to provide tax benefits to consolidating districts to the general assembly on or before December 1, 2007.  Committee members shall receive no financial compensation for service on the committee.

Which was agreed to on a roll call, Yeas 30, 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, Coppenrath, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, Lyons, MacDonald, Maynard, Mazza, McCormack, Miller, Mullin, Nitka, Racine, Scott, Sears, Shumlin, Snelling, Starr, White.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: None.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Coppenrath moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment in Sec. 13, by adding a new subsection (d) to read as follows:

(d)  The commissioner of education shall examine the expansion of parental school choice to include all public schools in the state, on a space available basis,  On or before December 1, 2007, the commissioner shall submit a report to the house and senate committees on education outlining the results of the examination, detailing potential fiscal impacts, and making proposals for such expansion.

Which was disagreed to.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Coppenrath moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment as follows:

First:  By adding two new sections to be Secs.15a and 15b to read as follows:

Sec. 15a.  16 V.S.A. § 4032 is added to read:

§ 4032.  EDUCATION COST CONTAINMENT GRANTS

In any year in which a district's education spending per equalized pupil is less than 103 percent of its prior-year education spending per equalized pupil, any municipality which is a member of that school district shall receive a cost containment grant to be used to provide homestead education property tax credits on the municipality's education property tax bills for the current year.  An education cost containment grant shall be equal to 60 percent of the difference between 103 percent of the district's prior-year education spending and its current-year education spending, and the grant shall be distributed by the commissioner of education to the member municipality or pro-rata to the member municipalities, based on each member's portion of the education tax assessment for the current-year school budget.  A homestead tax credit under this section shall be shown on the taxpayer's homestead education property tax bill, and shall be calculated as a percentage of the unadjusted education property tax liability, using the same percentage for all taxpayers.

Sec. 15b.  16 V.S.A. § 4025(b)(4) is added to read:

(4) To make payments required under section 4032 of this title for education cost containment.

Second:  In Sec. 16, by adding a new subsection to be subsection (d) to read as follows:

(d)  Secs. 15a and 15b of this act (education cost containment grants and tax credits) shall take effect January 1, 2008.

Which was disagreed to on a roll call, Yeas 3, Nays 27.

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

Roll Call

Those Senators who voted in the affirmative were: Coppenrath, Mullin, Starr.

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

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator MacDonald moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment by adding a new section to be Sec. 14a, to read as follows:

Sec. 14a.  32 V.S.A. § 6067 is amended to read:

§ 6067. CREDIT LIMITATIONS

     (a)  Only one individual per household per taxable year shall be entitled to a benefit under this chapter. An individual who received a homestead exemption or adjustment with respect to property taxes assessed by another state for the taxable year shall not be entitled to receive an adjustment under this chapter. No taxpayer shall receive a total adjustments adjustment under this chapter in excess of $10,000.00 $6,000.00, increased as provided under subsection (b) of this section, related to any one property tax year; except that a taxpayer may elect to receive a total adjustment under this chapter in excess of $6,000.00, increased as provided under subsection (b) of this section, in any of up to five years.

(b)  The $6,000.00 limitation in subsection (a) of this section shall be increased annually, beginning January 1, 2009, by the most recent United States Department of Labor Northeastern Consumer Price Index increase, if any, as of September 1 preceding the January 1 adjustment date, from calendar year 2008 projected through the calendar year for which the new limitation amount is being determined.

     Which was disagreed to on a roll call, Yeas 10, Nays 20.

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


Roll Call

Those Senators who voted in the affirmative were: Cummings, Flanagan, Giard, Kittell, MacDonald, Maynard, Racine, Sears, Starr, White.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Ayer, Bartlett, Campbell, Carris, Collins, Condos, Coppenrath, Doyle, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Lyons, Mazza, McCormack, Miller, Mullin, Nitka, Scott, Shumlin, Snelling.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Racine moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment as follows:

First:  In Sec. 16, at the end of the last sentence, immediately before the final period, by adding the following:  ; provided that the proposed and prior budget amounts used to calculate the percentage by which the proposed budget exceeds the prior year’s budget shall not include district costs for health insurance, special education services, safety improvements, or compliance with amendments to Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as made in the reauthorization of the act under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Second:  In Sec. 17, at the end of the last sentence, immediately before the final period, by adding the following: ; provided that the proposed and prior budget amounts used to calculate the percentage by which the proposed budget exceeds the prior year’s budget shall not include district costs for health insurance, special education services, safety improvements, or compliance with amendments to Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as made in the reauthorization of the act under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Which was disagreed to on a roll call, Yeas 9, Nays 21.

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

Roll Call

Those Senators who voted in the affirmative were: Condos, Cummings, Flanagan, Giard, McCormack, Nitka, Racine, Snelling, Starr.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Ayer, Bartlett, Campbell, Carris, Collins, Coppenrath, Doyle, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, Lyons, MacDonald, Maynard, Mazza, Miller, Mullin, Scott, Sears, Shumlin, White.

     Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Mullin moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment by adding new Sec. 15a to read:

Sec. 15a.  32 V.S.A. § 5405(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Annually, on or before April 1, the commissioner shall determine the equalized education property tax grand list and coefficient of dispersion for each municipality in the state, but in no case shall the common level of appraisal used to determine the equalized education property tax grand list for any town be more than five percentage points below that town’s prior-year common level of appraisal.

Which was disagreed to on a roll call, Yeas 7, Nays 23.

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: Coppenrath, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Maynard, Mullin, Nitka, Starr.

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

Thereupon, the bill was read the third time and passed in concurrence with proposal of amendment on a roll call, Yeas 19, Nays 11.

Senator Condos 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, Coppenrath, Doyle, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, Maynard, Mazza, Miller, Mullin, Nitka, Scott, Sears, Shumlin.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: *Campbell, Condos, Cummings, Flanagan, Lyons, MacDonald, McCormack, Racine, Snelling, Starr, White.

     *Senator Campbell explained his vote as follows:

     “While I believe it is imperative for the General Assembly to do everything possible to lower the property tax burden in the State of Vermont, I firmly believe the Governor’s supermajority mandated expenditure caps are not only draconian in nature but will not provide the relief the Governor and his administration have stated.  Furthermore, I strongly believe these caps are an insult to our local school boards and the citizens of Vermont.”

Message from the House No. 57

     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. 77.  An act relating to transferring title to a motor vehicle to a surviving spouse.

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

Adjournment

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

 



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The Vermont General Assembly
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