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Journal of the Senate

________________

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Senate was called to order by the President.

Devotional Exercises

A moment of silence was observed in lieu of devotions.

Bills Referred

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

H. 330.

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

To the Committee on Rules.

H. 542.

     An act relating to approval of amendment to the charter of the City of Vergennes.

To the Committee on Government Operations.

H. 547.

An act relating to fiscal year 2007 supplemental appropriations.

To the Committee on Appropriations.

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

H. 520.

House bill entitled:

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

Was taken up.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Illuzzi moved to amend the bill by adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 24a to read as follows:

Sec. 24a.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS; EXISTING OUTDOOR WOOD BOILERS GRANDFATHERED; IMPROPER USE; NEW RULE 05-P41 EFFECTIVE MARCH 31, 2008

The general assembly finds:

(1)  confusion and misinformation has caused some current owners of outdoor wood boilers to incorrectly conclude that they may be unable to use their units when Rule 05-P41 goes into effect;

(2)  Rule 05-P41, recently adopted by the agency of natural resources, raises emission standard requirements for new outdoor wood boilers purchased after March 31, 2008, and does not in any way affect Vermonters who currently own outdoor wood boilers, the proper use of which will be grandfathered unless a nuisance is created;

(3)  Rule 05-P41 for new outdoor wood boilers does not take effect until March 31, 2008, thereby giving fair warning to dealers and manufacturers;

(4)  Rule 05-P41 and 10 V.S.A. § 561 (variances) authorizes the secretary of natural resources, on application from an affected party, to extend the implementation date of the rule if the available technology cannot satisfy the air quality standards in the rule; and

(5)  it is unlawful for a person to use an outdoor wood boiler, as it is for other wood-burning equipment, to burn rubber, tires, plastics, common household waste, or hazardous waste of any kind, which when combusted often cause high levels of toxins to be emitted into our communities, in turn resulting in dirty and toxic air with complaints to municipal and state governments, and demands for stricter air quality rules.  See 24 V.S.A. § 2201 (relating to enforcement of solid waste law violations and municipal enforcement) and 10 V.S.A. Chapters 23 and 159 and the rules adopted thereunder (relating to the definitions of solid waste).

Which was agreed to.

     Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Mullin moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment by striking out Sec. 16 [Unanticipated Revenues Surcharge] in its entirety, and by inserting a new Sec. 16 to read as follows:

Sec 16.  NON ELECTRIC ENERGY EFFICIENCY SERVICES FUND; TRANSFER

     Following the sixteenth item of appropriation of the Fiscal Year 2007 General Fund Balance provided in Section 277 of H. 537, the Fiscal Year 2008 General Appropriations act, as passed by the Senate, there is hereby appropriated the amount of $2,000,000 to the non-electric energy efficiency fund established and managed by the Public Service Board under the provisions of section 203a of title 30.  Expenditures from the fund may be made in fiscal year 2008 by the Board or by the administrator appointed by the board for the purposes of energy efficiency services as authorized by that section; and pursuant to that section and Sec. 31 of this act (requiring a collaborative process), the board shall review and report to the general assembly on the adequacy of the fund and recommendations for future sustainable funding sources to support energy efficiency services.

     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, Doyle, Maynard, Mullin, Racine, Snelling, Starr.

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

Thereupon, the bill was read the third time and passed in concurrence with proposal of amendment, was decided in the affirmative on a roll call, Yeas 18, Nays 12.

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: Ayer, Campbell, Carris, Condos, Cummings, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kittell, Lyons, MacDonald, McCormack, Miller, Racine, Sears, Shumlin, White.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Bartlett, Collins, *Coppenrath, Doyle, Kitchel, Maynard, Mazza, Mullin, Nitka, Scott, **Snelling, Starr.

     *Senator Coppenrath explained his vote as follows:

     “Mr. President:

     “I voted No because:

          “1.  It provides preferential tax treatment for one renewable energy source over other sources before planning has indicated it should be a priority.

          “2.  Removes a source of revenue from the education fund to subsidize wind development, thereby increasing the property taxes of others.

          “3.  Raises revenue that is bad public policy and appears to violate Chapter II, Section 8 of the Vermont Constitution that states clearly “all revenue bills shall originate in the House of Representatives” and the stated sole purpose of this bill is to raise revenue to fund a program.”

     **Senator Snelling explained her vote as follows:

     “Mr. President:

     “It’s with great regret and sadness that I must cast a No vote on this significant energy bill.  I’ve worked hard all session on these urgent and critical issues.  However, as much as I support the bill I cannot condone the funding as proposed.  I know that some will see a No vote as being anti-environmental; however, I hope that my constituents will respect my record on the environment as well as my principles for conducting the business of the legislature with complete integrity.”

Proposal of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered

H. 449.

Senator Lyons, for the Committee on Health and Welfare, to which was referred House bill entitled:

An act relating to foster care services and supports.

     Reported recommending that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  33 V.S.A. § 4901 is amended to read:

§ 4901.  STATEMENT OF PURPOSES

The department may cooperate with the appropriate federal agency for the purpose of establishing, extending, and strengthening services which supplement or substitute for parental care and supervision including:

(1)  Preventing, remedying, or assisting in the solution of problems which may result in neglect, abuse, exploitation, or delinquency of children.

(2)  Protecting and caring for homeless, dependent or neglected children.

(3)  Protecting and promoting the welfare of children of working parents.

(4) Otherwise protecting and promoting the welfare of children, including the strengthening of their homes where possible or, where needed, providing adequate care away from their homes in child-care facilities.

(5)  Assisting youth in a successful transition to an independent adulthood, including the avoidance of homelessness, incarceration, and substance abuse.

Sec. 2.  33 V.S.A. § 4904 is added to read:

§ 4904.  FOSTER CARE; TRANSITIONAL YOUTH SERVICES

(a)  For purposes of this section, “youth” means a person between 18 and 22 years of age who either:

(1)  attained his or her 18th birthday while in the custody of the commissioner for children and families; or

(2)  while he or she was between 10 and 18 years of age, spent at least five of those years in the custody of the commissioner for children and families.

(b)(1)  The department shall provide foster care services as described in subsection (c) of this section to:

(A) any youth who elects to continue receiving such services after attaining the age of 18.

(B)  any individual under the age of 22 who leaves state custody after the age of 16 and at or before the age of 18 or any youth provided he or she voluntarily requests additional support services.

(2)  The department shall require a youth receiving services under this section to be employed or to attend an educational or vocational program, and, if the youth is working, require that he or she contribute to the cost of services based on a sliding scale, unless the youth meets the criteria for an exception to the employment and educational or vocational program requirements of this section based on a disability or other good cause.  The department shall establish rules for the requirements and exceptions under this subdivision.

(c)  The commissioner shall establish by rule a program to provide a range of age-appropriate services for youth to ensure a successful transition to adulthood, including foster care and other services provided under this chapter to children as appropriate, housing assistance, transportation, case management services, assistance with obtaining and retaining health insurance or employment, and other services.

(d)  The commissioner shall establish a method for measuring, evaluating, and reporting the outcomes of transitional services provided under this section to the house committee on human services and the senate committee on health and welfare annually on January 15.

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

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 Not Concurred In; Committee of Conference Requested

S. 39.

House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to health insurance plan reimbursement for covered services by naturopathic physicians.

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.  8 V.S.A. § 4088d is added to read:

§ 4088d.  COVERAGE FOR COVERED SERVICES PROVIDED BY NATUROPATHIC PHYSICIANS

(a)  A health insurance plan shall provide coverage for medically necessary health care services covered by the plan when provided by a naturopathic physician licensed in this state for treatment within the scope of practice described in chapter 81 of Title 26.  Health care services provided by naturopathic physicians may be subject to reasonable deductibles, co-payment and co-insurance amounts, fee or benefit limits, practice parameters, cost-effectiveness and clinical efficacy standards, and utilization review consistent with any applicable regulations published by the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration. Any amounts, limits, standards, and review shall not function to direct treatment in a manner unfairly discriminative against naturopathic care, and collectively shall be no more restrictive than those applicable under the same policy to care or services provided by other health care providers, but may allow for the management of the benefit consistent with variations in practice patterns and treatment modalities among different types of health care providers.  A health insurance plan may require that the naturopathic physician’s services be provided by a licensed naturopathic physician under contract with the insurer or shall be covered in a manner consistent with out-of-network provider reimbursement practices for primary care providers.  Nothing contained herein shall be construed as impeding or preventing either the provision or the coverage of health care services by licensed naturopathic physicians, within the lawful scope of naturopathic practice, in hospital facilities on a staff or employee basis.

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

Sec. 2.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall be effective on October 1, 2007.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, on motion of Senator Racine, the Senate refused to concur in the House proposal of amendment and requested a Committee of Conference.

Senate Resolution Adopted

S.R. 18.

Senate resolution entitled:

Senate resolution relating to recognizing William McKibben and students from Middlebury College for their insightful leadership and foresight on climate change policy.

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

Joint Resolution Adopted in Concurrence

J.R.S. 35.

Joint Senate resolution entitled:

Joint resolution relating to urging Congress to adopt the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2007.

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


Rules Suspended; Third Reading Ordered

H. 47.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the city of South Burlington which require voter approval of the city and school district budgets.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Flanagan, for the Committee on Government Operations, to which the bill was referred, reported that the bill ought to pass in concurrence.

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

Rules Suspended; Proposal of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered

H. 99.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

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

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

     Senator Nitka, for the Committee on Education, to which the bill was referred, reported recommending that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE STAFF STUDY OF LIBRARIES IN OTHER STATES 

(a)  The joint fiscal office (JFO) and the legislative council (LC) shall identify other states that are comparable to Vermont in terms of population or population density.  Once identified, the JFO and LC, in consultation with the Vermont department of libraries and the Vermont library association, shall examine those states regarding:

(1)  The number of public libraries per capita. 

(2)  The funding mechanisms for libraries.

(3)  The governance structures of libraries. 

(4)  The services provided to libraries from the state library.

(b)  After acquiring information regarding libraries in states of comparable population, the JFO and LC shall:

(1)  Determine the number of public libraries operating in Vermont.

(2)  Examine the demand for the services provided by  public libraries , including circulation of materials, use of electronic resources, prevalence of literacy programs, and interlibrary loan transactions,.

(3)  Examine the current and potential involvement of public libraries in providing adult education.

(4)  Explore the current and potential role of public libraries in connection with workforce training and development.

(5)  Compare the level of state funding provided to public libraries in Vermont to state funding provided to public libraries in states of similar population.

(6)  Identify the additional funding that will be required to meet the growing demand for services from public libraries in Vermont and maintain the quality of their operations.

(7)  Identify those libraries in the state at which existing toilet facilities are not accessible and determine the total cost of making necessary accessibility improvements to them.

(8)  Identify the number of incorporated libraries in the state that do not have the ability to install toilet facilities; explore the implications of providing them with exemptions to existing law to enable installation; and make recommendations to facilitate a solution.

(c)  The JFO and LC shall submit a report detailing the results of their study to the general assembly by January 15, 2008.

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 proposal of amendment was agreed to, and third reading of the bill was ordered.

Rules Suspended; Proposals of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered

H. 294.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to executive branch fees.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

     Senator Cummings, for the Committee on Finance, to which the bill was referred, reported recommending that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill as follows:

* * * Department of Health * * *

      First:  By adding two new sections to be numbered Secs. 11a and 11b to read as follows:

Sec. 11a.  18 V.S.A. § 1752(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The commissioner shall certify risk assessors, designers, laboratories, inspectors, lead-safe renovation contractors, lead contractors, supervisors, abatement workers, and other persons engaged in lead-based paint activities when such persons have successfully completed an accredited training program and met such other requirements as the secretary may, by rule, impose.

Sec. 11b.  18 V.S.A. § 1753 is amended to read:

§ 1753.  ACCREDITATION AND LICENSE FEES

(a)  The commissioner shall assess fees for accrediting training programs and for certifications, licenses, and license renewals issued in accordance with this chapter.  Fees shall not be imposed on any state or local government or nonprofit training program and may be waived for the purpose of training state employees.

(b)  Each accredited training program and licensee shall be subject to the following fees:

Training courses                          $400.00 $480.00 per year

Lead contractors                                     $500.00 $600.00 per year

Lead workers                                         $ 50.00 $60.00 per year

Supervisors                                             $100.00 $120.00 per year

Inspectors                                               $150.00 $180.00 per year

Risk assessors                                         $150.00 $180.00 per year

Designers                                                $150.00 $180.00 per year

Laboratories                                           $500.00 $600.00 per year

Lead-safe renovation contractors $50.00 per year

(c)  Each lead abatement permitted project shall be subject to the following fees:

(1)  Lead abatement permit fee                $50.00

(2)  Lead abatement permit revision         $25.00

(d)  Fees imposed by this section shall be deposited into the lead paint abatement accreditation and licensing special fund.  Monies in the fund may be used by the commissioner only to support departmental accreditation, certification, and licensing activities related to this chapter.  The fund shall be subject to the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32.

* * * Department of Labor * * *

      Second:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 22a to read as follows:

Sec. 22a.  33 V.S.A. § 504(a)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  Federally funded vocational rehabilitation and independent living services for persons with disabilities in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act.  The division of vocational rehabilitation may contract with clients at up to $51.00 per year per employee, or may charge up to $70.00 per hour, for services rendered by the employee assistance program.  The division shall charge $160.00 for each injured worker screening defined in the department of labor rules.  Fees shall be retained by the division.

* * *BISHCA* * *

      Third:  By striking out Sec. 23 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 23 to read as follows:

Sec. 23.  9 V.S.A. § 5302 is amended to read:

§ 5302.  NOTICE FILING

(a)  With respect to a federal covered security, as defined in 15 U.S.C. § 77r(b)(2), that is not otherwise exempt under sections 5201 through 5203 of this chapter, a rule adopted or an order issued under this chapter may require the filing of any or all of the following records:

(1)  before the initial offer of a federal covered security in this state, all records that are part of a federal registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under 15 U.S.C. § 77a et seq. and a consent to service of process complying with section 5611 of this chapter signed by the issuer and the payment of a registration fee as set forth in subsection (d)(e) of this section;

(2)  after the initial offer of the federal covered security in this state, all records that are part of an amendment to a federal registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission under 15 U.S.C. § 77a et seq.; and

(3)  to the extent necessary or appropriate to compute fees, a report of the value of the federal covered securities sold or offered to persons present in this state in such form and at such time as the commissioner may prescribe if the state‑specific sales data are not included and available in records filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

(b)  A notice filing under subsection (a) of this section is effective for one year from the date the notice filing is accepted as complete by the office of the commissioner.  On or before expiration, the issuer may renew a notice filing by filing a copy of those records filed by the issuer with the Securities and Exchange Commission that are required by rule or order under this chapter to be filed and by paying an annual renewal fee as set forth in subsection (d)(e) of this section.  A previously filed consent to service of process complying with section 5611 of this chapter may be incorporated by reference in a renewal.  A renewed notice filing becomes effective upon the expiration of the filing being renewed.

(c)  With respect to a security that is a federal covered security under 15 U.S.C. § 77r(b)(4)(D), a rule under this chapter may require a notice filing by or on behalf of an issuer to include a copy of Form D, including the Appendix, as promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and a consent to service of process complying with section 5611 of this chapter signed by the issuer not later than 15 days after the first sale of the federal covered security in this state and the payment of a fee as set forth in subsection (d)(e) of this section.

(d)  Subject to the provisions of 15 U.S.C. § 77r(c)(2) and any rules adopted thereunder, with respect to any security that is a federal covered security under 15 U.S.C. § 77r(b)(3) or (4)(A)–(C) and that is not otherwise exempt under sections 5201–5203 of this chapter, a rule adopted or order issued under this chapter may require any or all of the following with respect to such federal covered securities, at such time as the commissioner may deem appropriate:

(1)  the filing of documents as deemed appropriate by the commissioner;

(2)  the filing of a consent to service of process complying with section 5611 of this chapter; and

(3)  the payment of fees as set forth in subsection (e) of this section, including but not limited to fees for renewal of a notice filing, as appropriate.  The notice filing shall be effective for one year from the date the notice filing is accepted as complete by the office of the commissioner.   

(e)  At the time of the filing of the information prescribed in subsections (a), (b), or (c), or (d) of this section, the issuer shall pay to the commissioner a fee of $1.00 for each $1,000.00 of the aggregate amount of the offering of the securities to be sold in this state for which the issuer is seeking to perfect a notice filing under this section, but in no case shall such fee be less than $400.00 nor more than $1,250.00.  If the notice filing is withdrawn or otherwise terminated, the commissioner shall retain the fee paid.  Open‑end investment companies subject to 15 U.S.C. § 80a‑1 et seq. shall pay an initial notice filing fee and annual renewal fee for each portfolio or class of investment company securities for which a notice filing is submitted. 

(e)(f)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the notice filing or payment of notice filing fees with respect to variable annuities or variable life insurance products.

(f)(g)  Except with respect to a federal covered security under 15 U.S.C.

§ 77r(b)(1), if the commissioner finds that there is a failure to comply with a notice or fee requirement of this section, the commissioner may issue a stop order suspending the offer and sale of a federal covered security in this state.  If the deficiency is corrected, the stop order is void as of the time of its issuance and no penalty may be imposed by the commissioner.

* * * Fish and Wildlife * * *

      Fourth:  In Sec. 26 by striking out all after the first sentence and inserting in lieu thereof: “The tuition shall be $175.00.” and by adding a new Sec. 26a to read as follows:

Sec. 26a.  10 V.S.A. §4132(e) is amended to read:

(e) The commissioner, subject to the direction and approval of the secretary, shall adopt and publish regulations in the name of the agency for reasonable fees or charges for the use of the lands, roads, buildings, and other property, and the use of a tuition for the Green Mountain Conservation Camps, notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 603. Fees collected for the use of fish and wildlife lands and properties shall be deposited in the fish and wildlife fund.

* * * DEC * * *

Fifth:  By striking out Sec. 30 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof two new sections to be numbered Secs.30 and 30aa to read as follows:

Sec. 30.  3 V.S.A. § 2822(j) and (k) are amended to read:

(j)  In accordance with subsection (i) of this section, the following fees are established for permits, licenses, certifications, approvals, registrations, orders, and other actions taken by the agency of natural resources.

* * *

(2)  For discharge permits issued under 10 V.S.A. chapter 47 and orders issued under 10 V.S.A. § 1272, an administrative processing fee of $100.00 shall be paid at the time of application for a discharge permit in addition to any application review fee and any annual operating fee, except for permit applications under subdivisions (j)(2)(A)(iii)(III) and (IV) of this section subsection:

(A)  Application review fee

* * *

(iii)  Stormwater discharges.

* * *

(I)  Individual operating permit                          $300.00 $400.00 per acre

                     or application to operate                             impervious area;

                     under general operating                              minimum $150.00

                     permit for collected                                    per application.

                     stormwater runoff

                     which is discharged

                     Class B waters: original

                     application; amendment

                     for increased flows;

                     amendment for change

       in treatment process.

* * *

(III)  Individual permit or appli-                      $300.00 per

               cation to operate under                                     project for

               general permit for                                           construction

               construction activities;                                       projects five

               original application;                                       acres or greater

               amendment for increased                               in size; $30.00

               acreage.                                                           per project for     construction projects between one and five acres in size.

(aa)  Projects with low risk                        $30.00 per project;

to waters of the state.                                                    original application.

(bb)  Projects with                                     $250.00 per project;

moderate risk to waters of the state.                                      original application.

(cc)  Projects that                                     $500.00 per project;

require an individual permit.                                                     Original application.

* * *

(B)  Annual operating fee

* * *

(v)  Indirect discharge or under-

            ground injection control, exclud-

            ing stormwater discharges:

(I) Sewage

(aa) Individual permit           $385.00 plus $0.0317

$0.0617 per gallon of design capacity above 6,500 gpd. $350.00 minimum; maximum $27,500.00

(bb) Approval under                        $220.00

        general permit

(II) Nonsewage

(aa) Individual permit                       $0.013 $0.043 per gallon of design capacity. $100.00 minimum;

                                                                      maximum $5,500.00.

* * *

(4)  For potable water supply and wastewater permits issued under 10 V.S.A. chapter 64:

(A)  Subdivision of land

 (i)  Original application; major            $0.50 per gallon

amendments.                                                              per lot of daily design flow of potable water or wastewater whichever is greater.Minimum per lot $210.00.


(I)  Municipal or private                 $0.25 per gallon per lot of

sewer system and public water supply.               design flow of potable

water or wastewater, whichever is greater.  Minimum per lot $105.00.

(II)  All other projects.            $0.50 per gallon per lot of design flow of potable water or wastewater, whichever is greater.  Minimum per lot $210.00.

(ii)  Minor amendments.           $50.00

(B)  Potable water supply or wastewater system

(i)  Original application or          $0.50 per gallon of

major amendment when both                            design flow of

potable water and wastewater                           potable water or

are being constructed. New or                          wastewater, which

replacement systems.                                        is greater. Minimum per

                                                   application $210.00.

                  Maximum per

                  application $15,000.00.

(I)  Municipal or private            $0.25 per gallon

sewer system and public water supply.                 per lot of design flow of

   potable water or wastewater,     whichever is greater.  Minimum per lot $105.00.  Maximum per application $15,000.00.

(II)  All other projects. $0.50 per gallon of design flow of potable water or wastewater, whichever is greater.  Minimum per application $210.00.  Maximum per application $15,000.00.

(ii)  Original application or            $0.30 per gallon of

 major amendment when either potable           design flow. Mini-

water daily or wastewater, but not both,         mum per application

is being constructed.                                       $210.00.

New or replacement systems.                         Maximum per application $15,000.00


(I)  Municipal or private          $0.15 per gallon per lot

sewer system and public water supply. of design flow.

                                            Minimum per lot $105.00. 

 Maximum per application     $15,000.00.

(II)  All other projects. $0.30 per gallon of design flow.

Minimum per application

$210.00.  Maximum per application $15,000.00.

(iii)  Original application or          $0.50 per gallon

major amendment when design                       of increased daily

flow of potable water or                                 design flow of

wastewater is increased but no                       potable water or

construction is required.                                  wastewater, which

                                                           is greater.  Minimum per

                                              application $135.00. Maximum per

                                              application $15,000.00.

(I)  Municipal or private          $0.25 per gallon of

sewer system and public water supply.            increased design flow of potable water or wastewater, whichever is greater.  Minimum per lot $67.50.  Maximum per application $15,000.00.

(II)  All other projects. $0.50 per gallon of increased design flow of potable water or wastewater, whichever is greater.  Minimum per application $135.00.  Maximum per application $15,000.00.

* * *

(5)  For well drillers licenses issued

under 10 V.S.A. chapter 48:                                         $105.00 $155.00 per year.

Fees shall be paid on an annual basis over the term of the license.

* * *

(7)  For public water supply and bottled water permits and approvals issued under 10 V.S.A. chapter 56 and interim groundwater withdrawal permits and approvals issued under 10 V.S.A. chapter 48:

(A)  For public water supply construction permit applications: $275.00 $350.00 per application plus $0.0055 per gallon of design capacity.  Amendments $110.00 per application.

(B)  For water treatment plant applications, except those applications submitted by a municipality as defined in section 126 of Title 1 or a consolidated water district established under section 3342 of Title 24: $0.003 per gallon of design capacity. Amendments $110.00 per application.

(C) For source permit applications for community water systems: $615.00 $715.00 per source. Amendments $110.00 per application.

(D) For public water supplies and bottled water facilities, annually:

(i) Transient noncommunity:                       $45.00

(ii) Nontransient, noncommunity:                                        $0.0294 $0.0394 per 1,000 gallons of water produced          annually or $70.00,       whichever is greater.

(iii) Community:                                                                 $0.0295 per 1,000 gallons of water produced annually for fiscal year 2005; $0.0325 per 1,000 gallons

of water produced annually for fiscal year 2006; and $0.0359 $0.0409 per 1,000 gallons of water produced annually for fiscal          year 2007 and thereafter.

(iv) Bottled water:                                                          $550.00 $1,000.00 per permitted facility.

(E) Amendment to bottled water facility permit, $110.00 per application.

(F)  For permit applications for interim groundwater withdrawal permits:  $960.00 per facility.  Amendments $110.00 per application.

(G)  In calculating flow-based fees under this subsection, the secretary will use metered production flows where available.  When metered production flows are not available, the secretary shall estimate flows based on the standard design flows for new construction.

(G)(H)  The secretary shall bill public water supplies and bottled water companies for the required fee.  Annual fees may be divided into semiannual or quarterly billings.

(8)  For public water system operator certifications issued under 10 V.S.A. § 1674:

Class I IA and IB                     $40.00 per initial certificate or renewal.

                                                Fee is waived for operators who are permittees under the transient noncommunity water system general permit.

            All Other Classes                      $70.00 per initial certificate or renewal.

(9)(A)  For solid waste hauler permits issued under 10 V.S.A. § 6607a $25.00 $35.00 per vehicle used, by the commercial hauler that is permitted, for transporting waste.  This fee shall be submitted with the permit application and each year thereafter for the duration of the permit, at the time of the filing of the annual statement required by 10 V.S.A. § 6605f(m).

(B)  For hazardous waste hauler permits issued under 10 V.S.A. § 6607a: $100.00 per vehicle used, by the commercial hauler that is permitted, for transporting waste.  This fee shall be submitted with the permit application and each year thereafter for the duration of the permit, at the time of the filing of the annual statement required by 10 V.S.A. § 6605f(m).

* * *

(16)  For underground storage tank permits issued under 10 V.S.A.

chapter 59:                                                     $35.00 $135.00 per tank per year.

* * *

(25)  For hazardous waste generator registrations required by 10 V.S.A. § 6608(f).

(A)  small quantity generators           $40.00 $100.00 per year.

(B)  large quantity generators           $300.00 $500.00 per year.

* * *

(k)  Commencing with registration year 1993 and for each year thereafter, any person required to pay a fee to register an air contaminant source under 10 V.S.A. § 555(c) in addition shall pay fees for any emissions of the following types of hazardous air contaminants.  The following fees shall not be assessed for emissions resulting from the combustion of any fuels, except solid waste, in fuel burning or manufacturing process equipment.

(1)  Contaminants which cause short-term irritant effects--$0.008 per pound of emissions;

(2)  Contaminants which cause chronic systemic toxicity (low potency) -$0.084 $0.015 per pound of emissions;

(3)  Contaminants which cause chronic systemic toxicity (high potency) -$0.02 per pound of emissions;

(4)  Contaminants known or suspected to cause cancer (low potency) -$0.84 $0.55 per pound of emissions;

(4)(5)  Contaminants known or suspected to cause cancer (high potency) - $8.40 $10.00 per pound of emissions.

Sec. 30aa.  3 V.S.A. § 2805 is amended to read:

§ 2805.  ENVIRONMENTAL PERMIT FUND

There is hereby established a special fund to be known as the environmental permit fund for the purpose of implementing the programs specified under the provisions of 3 V.S.A. § 2822(i) and (j).  Revenues to the fund shall be those fees collected in accordance with 3 V.S.A. § 2822(i) and (j), and 10 V.S.A. § 2625 and gifts and appropriations. The secretary of natural resources shall be responsible for the fund and shall account for the revenues and expenditures of the agency of natural resources.  Any fee required to be collected under 3 V.S.A. § 2822(j)(1) shall be utilized solely to cover all reasonable (direct or indirect) costs required to support the operating permit program authorized under 10 V.S.A. chapter 23.  Any fee required to be collected under 3 V.S.A. § 2822(k), (l), or (m) for air pollution control permits or registrations or motor vehicle registrations shall be utilized solely to cover all reasonable (direct or indirect) costs required to support the programs authorized under 10 V.S.A. chapter 23.  Fees collected pursuant to subsections 2822(k), (l), and (m) of this title shall be used by the secretary to fund activities related to the secretary's hazardous or toxic contaminant monitoring programs and motor vehicle-related programs.  Annually, $370,000.00 of funds collected under subdivisions 2822(j)(2)(A)(iii)(I), (2)(B)(v)(I)(aa), (5), (7)(B), (7)(C), (7)(D)(ii)-(iv), and (16) shall be used by the secretary to conduct groundwater mapping under chapter 48 of Title 10. The revenue dedicated to groundwater mapping under this section shall not revert to the general fund at the close of the fiscal year. The environmental permit fund shall be subject to the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that any unencumbered environmental permit fund balance in excess of those fees collected under subdivision 2822(j)(1) and subsections (k), (l), and (m) of this title, and in excess of $350,000.00 from those fees collected from environmental permit fund sources other than subdivision 2822(j)(1) and subsections (k), (l), and (m) at the close of a fiscal year shall revert to the general fund.

      Sixth:  By striking out Secs. 30a and 30b in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new section to be numbered Sec. 30a to read as follows:

Sec. 30a.  3 V.S.A. § 2822(i) is amended to read:

(i)  The secretary shall not process an application for which the applicable fee has not been paid unless the secretary specifies that the fee may be paid at a different time or unless the person applying for the permit is exempt from the permit fee requirements pursuant to section 710 of Title 32.  In addition, the persons who are exempt under section 710 of Title 32 are also exempt from the application fees for stormwater operating permits specified in subdivisions (j)(2)(A)(iii)(I) and (II) of this section if they otherwise meet the requirements of section 710.  Municipalities shall be exempt from the payment of fees under this section except for those fees prescribed in subdivisions (j)(1), (2), (7), (8), (14), and (15) of this section for which a municipality may recover its costs by charging a user fee to those who use the permitted services, except that a municipality shall also be exempt from those fees for orphan stormwater systems prescribed in subdivision (j)(2)(A)(iii) of this section when the municipality agrees to become an applicant or co-applicant for an orphan stormwater system under section 1246c of title 10.

* * * Vermont Criminal Information Center * * *

      Seventh:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33b to read as follows:

Sec. 33b.  20 V.S.A. § 2063 is amended to read:

§ 2063.  CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD FEES; CRIMINAL HISTORY   RECORD CHECK FUND

* * *

(b)  Requests made by criminal justice agencies for criminal justice purposes or other purposes authorized by state or federal law shall be exempt from all record check fees.  The following types of requests shall be exempt from the Vermont criminal record check fee:

* * *

(4)  Requests made by the Vermont state housing authority and other public housing authorities pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 4010(c).

* * *

* * * Agency of Transportation * * *

      Eighth:  By adding two new sections to be numbered Secs. 33c and 33d to read as follows:

Sec. 33c.  23 V.S.A. § 3502(b) is amended to read:

(b)  An all-terrain vehicle registration shall become void two years from the first day of the month following the month of issue  The provisions of section 305 of this title shall apply to a registration, except the registration of a vehicle registered under subsection 3504(b) of this title shall become void on the last day of February next following the date of issue.  The provisions of section 305 of this title shall apply to a registration.

Sec. 33d.  23 V.S.A. § 3504(a) is amended to read:

§ 3504.  REGISTRATION FEES AND PLATES

(a)  The registration fee for all-terrain vehicles other than as provided for in subsection (b) of this section is $35.00 $25.00.  Duplicate registration certificates may be obtained upon payment of $5.00 to the department.

* * * Department of Corrections * * *

      Ninth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33e to read as follows:

Sec. 33e.  28 V.S.A. § 102(c) is amended to read:

(c)  The commissioner is charged with the following responsibilities:

* * *

(21)  The commissioner is authorized to contract for payment processing services for receiving deposits to inmate financial accounts.  The department, directly or through a processing agent, may assess a fee for deposits to each account so long as the fee does not exceed the costs incurred.

* * * Town Clerk Fees * * *

      Tenth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33f to read as follows:

Sec. 33f.  32 V.S.A. § 1712(5) is amended to read:

(5)  $9.50 for each certified copy of birth, death, civil union, or marriage certificate Fees for vital records shall be equivalent to those received by the commissioner of health or the commissioner of buildings and general services pursuant to subsection 1715(a) of this title.

* * * Judiciary * * *

Eleventh:  By adding three new sections to be numbered Secs. 33g, 33h and 33i to read as follows:

Sec. 33g.  4 V.S.A. § 1105(b) is amended to read:

(b)  A person who is charged with a violation shall have 20 days from the date the complaint is issued to admit or deny the allegations or to state that he or she does not contest the allegations in the complaint.  The judicial bureau shall assess against a defendant a fee of $10.00 for failure to answer a complaint within the time allowed.  The fee shall be assessed in the default judgment and deposited in the court technology special fund established pursuant to section 27 of this title.

Sec. 33h.  4 V.S.A. § 1109(b) is added to read:

(b)  A judicial bureau judgment shall provide notice that a $15.00 fee shall be assessed for failure to pay within 30 days.  If the defendant fails to pay the amount due within 30 days, the fee shall be added to the judgment amount and deposited in the court technology special fund established pursuant to section 27 of this title.

Sec. 33i.  DEBT COLLECTION BY JUDICIARY

The court administrator is authorized to send a notice to defendants who have failed to pay judicial bureau and district court judgments issued prior to September 25, 2006 to inform them of the judiciary’s intent to collect the debt through any authorized means, and that the debt will be subject to procedures for tax setoffs under 32 V.S.A. § 5941.  Concurrent with providing the notice to the debtor, the judiciary shall assess a $10.00 collection fee which shall be added to the judgment amount and deposited in the court technology special fund established pursuant to section 27 of this title.  If the defendant satisfies the judgment within 20 days, the fee shall be waived.  The court administrator may charge the cost of preparing and sending the notice against revenues collected in this effort.  This authorization shall expire on June 30, 2009.

      Twelfth:  By striking out Sec. 34 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 34 to read as follows:


Sec. 34.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  This section and Secs. 1, 9, 22a, 23, 24, 25, and 33e shall take effect on passage.

(b)  Secs. 26, 27, 28, and 29 shall take effect on January 1, 2008.

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

Senator Kitchel, for the Committee on Appropriations, to which the bill was referred, reported recommending that the bill be amended as recommended by the Committee on Finance with the following amendments thereto:

First:  By striking out the fifth proposal of amendment in its entirety

Second:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33j to read as follows:

Sec. 33j.  SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE LICENSE PLATES

(a)  Legislative intent.  The general assembly intends this section to allow the design, purchase, sale, and display of specialty motor vehicle license plates commemorating an organization or special interest.

(b)  Authority.  Organizations are authorized to design, produce, purchase, distribute, and sell commemorative motor vehicle plates as described in subsection (a) of this section.  Plates shall not be produced, sold, distributed, or displayed unless approved by the commissioner of the department of motor vehicles.  An organization applying for a special plate under this subsection shall present the commissioner with a name and emblem that is not obscene, offensive, or confusing to the general public and does not promote, advertise, or endorse a product, brand, or service provided for sale, or promote any specific religious belief or political party.  The organization's name and emblem must not infringe or violate trademarks, trade names, service marks, copyrights, or other proprietary or property rights, and the organization must have the right to use the name and emblem.  An organization may have only one design, regardless of the number of individual organizational units within the state.   Requests which are received during the course of the calendar year will be approved for distribution in the following calendar year.

(c)  Fee.  Pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 603, the commissioner may set and charge a fee to each organization applying for a specialty plate under subsection (b) of this section.  

(d)  Use.  Residents of the state of Vermont may display one approved commemorative plate on the front of any registered motor vehicle.  The commemorative plates shall not replace regular registration plates, nor are they required to be displayed on a motor vehicle.  The commemorative plate may be displayed on a motor vehicle registered as a pleasure car or a motor truck registered for less than 26,001 pounds, excluding vehicles registered under the International Registration Plan by covering the front registration plate with the commemorative plate for the period January 1 of the year issued through December 31 of the following year.  The regular front registration plate shall not be removed.  The rear registration plate shall be in place and clearly visible at all times. 

(e)  Price.  The retail price shall be established by the issuing organization.

Third:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33k to read as follows:

Sec. 33k.  28 V.S.A. § 801 is amended to read:

§ 801.  MEDICAL CARE OF INMATES

* * *

(d)  The department is authorized to deduct a fee of up to $5.00 from inmate accounts for each request for sick call by an inmate.  This fee shall not be imposed for scheduled medical interventions or follow-ups.  The department shall establish a sliding scale for indigent inmates based on the balance in their accounts.  The fee shall be deposited in a special fund administered pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, to be used only for costs related to providing medical services.

(e)  The department shall establish and maintain policies for the delivery of health care in accordance with the above standards in this section.

Fourth:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33l to read as follows:

Sec. 33l.  32 V.S.A. § 1671(a)(6) is amended to read:

(6)  For Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, for the recording or filing, or both, of any document that is to become a matter of public record in the town clerk's office, or for any certified copy of such document, a fee of $7.00 $8.00 per page shall be charged;

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, and pending the question, Shall the proposal of amendment of the Committee on Finance be amended as recommended by the Committee on Appropriations?, Senator Cummings requested that the question be divided.

Which was agreed to.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the proposal of amendment of the Committee on Finance be amended as firstly and fourthly recommended by the Committee on Appropriations?, was decided in the affirmative.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the proposal of amendment of the Committee on Finance be amended as secondly recommended by the Committee on Appropriations?, was decided in the affirmative.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the proposal of amendment of the Committee on Finance be amended as thirdly recommended by the Committee on Appropriations?, Senator Sears requested and was granted leave to withdraw the third proposal of amendment of the Committee on Appropriations.

Thereupon, the proposals of amendment recommended by the Committee on Finance, as amended, were agreed to.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the bill be read the third time?, Senator Mullin moved to amend the proposals of amendment of the Committee on Finance, as amended, by striking out the sixth proposal of amendment in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sixth: By striking out Sec. 30a in its entirety and adding in lieu thereof a new Sec. 30a to read as follows:

Sec. 30a. 3 V.S.A. § 2822(i) is amended to read:

(i)  The secretary shall not process an application for which the applicable fee has not been paid unless the secretary specifies that the fee may be paid at a different time or unless the person applying for the permit is exempt from the permit fee requirements pursuant to section 710 of Title 32.  In addition, the persons who are exempt under section 710 of Title 32 are also exempt from the application fees for stormwater operating permits specified in subdivisions (j)(2)(A)(iii)(I) and (II) of this section if they otherwise meet the requirements of section 710.  Municipalities shall be exempt from the payment of fees under this section except for those fees prescribed in subdivisions (j)(1), (2), (7), (8), (14), and (15) of this section for which a municipality may recover its costs by charging a user fee to those who use the permitted services, except that a municipality shall also be exempt from those fees for orphan stormwater systems prescribed in subdivision (j)(2)(A)(iii) of this section when the municipality agrees to become an applicant or co-applicant for an orphan stormwater system under section 1246c of title 10.  Applicants operating under SIC codes 2411, 2421, 2426, and 2429 shall be exempt from administrative processing fees pursuant to subdivision  (j)(2) of this section and application review fees pursuant to subdivision  (j)(2)(A)(iii)(IV) of this section.

Which was agreed to on a roll call, Yeas 15, Nays 15.

There being a tie, the Secretary took the casting vote of the President, who voted “Yea”.

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: Carris, Collins, Coppenrath, Doyle, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Maynard, Miller, Mullin, Nitka, Scott, Sears, Snelling, Starr.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Ayer, Bartlett, Campbell, Condos, Cummings, Flanagan, Giard, Kittell, Lyons, MacDonald, Mazza, McCormack, Racine, Shumlin, White.

Thereupon, third reading of the bill was ordered.

Rules Suspended; Bills Passed in Concurrence with Proposal of Amendment

H. 449.

Pending entry on the Calendar for action tomorrow, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to foster care services and supports.

Was placed on all remaining stages of its passage in concurrence with proposal of amendment forthwith.

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

H. 99.

Pending entry on the Calendar for action tomorrow, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

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

Was placed on all remaining stages of its passage in concurrence with proposal of amendment forthwith.

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


Rules Suspended; Bill Passed in Concurrence

H. 47.

Pending entry on the Calendar for action tomorrow, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to approval of amendments to the charter of the city of South Burlington which require voter approval of the city and school district budgets.

Was placed on all remaining stages of its passage in concurrence forthwith.

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

Committees of Conference Appointed

S. 39.

An act relating to health insurance plan reimbursement for covered services by naturopathic physicians.

Was taken up.  Pursuant to the request of the Senate, the President announced the appointment of

                                         Senator Mullin

                                         Senator White

                                         Senator Flanagan

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.

H. 521.

An act relating to miscellaneous substantive tax amendments.

Was taken up.  Pursuant to the request of the House, the President announced the appointment of

                                         Senator Cummings

                                         Senator Condos

                                         Senator Maynard

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.

H. 537.

     An act making appropriations for the support of government.

Was taken up.  Pursuant to the request of the House, the President announced the appointment of


                                         Senator Bartlett

                                         Senator Sears

                                         Senator Snelling

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.

Rules Suspended; Bills Messaged

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

S. 39; H. 47; H. 99; H. 449; H. 520.

Rules Suspended; Action Messaged

On motion of Senator Shumlin, the action on the following bills was ordered messaged to the House forthwith:

H. 521; H. 537.

Recess

On motion of Senator Shumlin the Senate recessed until 2:00 P.M.

Message from the House No. 72

     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 Senate bills of the following titles:

S. 7.  An act relating to the compassionate use of marijuana for medical purposes.

S. 82.  An act relating to the use of Vermont addresses and representations of Vermont origin.

S. 116.  An act relating to miscellaneous election law amendments.

S. 121.  An act relating to autism spectrum disorders.

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.  21.  Joint resolution in support of the worldwide ONE campaign and urging Congress to appropriate and the President to spend an additional one percent of the federal budget on the goals of the ONE campaign.

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

Called to Order

At 2:10 P.M. the Senate was called to order by the President.

Rules Suspended; Proposal of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered

H. 531.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to ensuring success in health care reform.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

     Senator Racine, for the Committee on Health and Welfare, to which the bill was referred, reported recommending that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

* * * Increasing Access to Affordable Health Care Coverage * * *

Sec. 1.  OUTREACH AND ENROLLMENT PRINCIPLES

In order to achieve the general assembly’s goal that 96 percent of Vermonters have health insurance by 2010, as expressed in subdivision 902(a)(3)(D) of Title 2, an aggressive and innovative outreach and enrollment plan based on the following principles will be necessary and should be applied in all outreach and enrollment efforts conducted for Catamount Health and state health care benefit programs, including premium assistance programs.  

(1)  Outreach for all health care programs, including Catamount Health and state health care benefit programs, should be coordinated throughout state government and be a priority for all agencies that administer such programs.

(2)  Outreach activities should proactively identify potentially eligible Vermonters, and use web‑based tools, an inquiry tracking system establishing a case file for potential applicants at the first point of contact, and professional staff, community volunteers, and organizations to assist with individualized screening, counseling, and application assistance. 

Sec. 2.  ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS

(a)  The agency of human services shall make available to health care professionals, at the point of health care service or treatment, the necessary information, forms, access to eligibility or enrollment computer systems, and billing procedures to facilitate enrollment for individuals eligible for Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, Dr. Dynasaur, any Global Commitment for Health waiver program, any state‑funded pharmacy program, Catamount Health, Catamount Health Assistance, or the employer‑sponsored‑insurance assistance program. 

(b)  No later than October 2007, the agency shall provide a single, uniform, simplified form to enable individuals to assess their potential eligibility for Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, Dr. Dynasaur, any state‑funded pharmacy program, Catamount Health Assistance, or the employer‑sponsored‑insurance assistance programs.  Within a reasonable time frame, the agency shall develop web‑based application tools to ensure that any individual eligible for these programs has the opportunity to apply easily.  The agency shall determine if the individual is eligible and in which program the individual should be enrolled.  The agency shall refer applications for Catamount Health as appropriate. 

(c)  After submission of the application, the agency shall determine if the applicant meets full eligibility requirements.  Beginning January 1, 2008, if the individual is found eligible for the Vermont health access plan, the agency shall, subject to approval from the center for Medicare and Medicaid services, provide payment for any services received by the individual beginning with the date the application was received by the agency. 

Sec. 3.  33 V.S.A. § 1984 is amended to read:

§ 1984.  INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS

(a)  The agency shall provide assistance to individuals eligible under this subchapter to purchase Catamount Health.  The For the lowest cost plan, the amount of the assistance shall be the difference between the premium for the lowest cost Catamount Health plan and the individual’s contribution as defined in this section subdivision (c)(1) of this section.  For plans other than the lowest cost plan, the assistance shall be the difference between the premium for the lowest cost plan and the individual’s contribution as set out in subdivision (c)(1) of this section.  

(b)  Subject to amendment in the fiscal year 2008 budget, the agency of administration or designee shall establish individual and family contribution amounts for Catamount Health under this subchapter for the first year as established in this section and shall index the contributions in future years to the overall growth in spending per enrollee in Catamount Health as established in section 4080f of Title 8.  The agency shall establish family contributions by income bracket based on the individual contribution amounts and the average family size.  In fiscal year 2008, for the lowest‑cost Catamount Health plan offered by all carriers, the individual’s contribution shall be as established in subsection (c) of this section.  The agency shall determine the percentages that the amounts in subsection (c) are of the lowest‑cost plan and set the individual’s contribution for any other plan at the percentage for that income level.  In future years, after adjusting the individual premiums in subsection (c) of this section, the same methodology shall be used to determine the individual premiums for any other plans.

(c)(1)  An For the lowest cost plan, an individual’s contribution shall be:

(1)(A)  Income less than or equal to 200 percent of FPL:  $60.00 per month.

(2)(B)  Income greater than 200 percent and less than or equal to 225 percent of FPL: $90.00 per month.

(3)(C)  Income greater than 225 percent and less than or equal to 250 percent of FPL:  $110.00 per month.

(4)(D)  Income greater than 250 percent and less than or equal to 275 percent of FPL:  $125.00 per month.

(5)(E)  Income greater than 275 percent and less than or equal to 300 percent of FPL:  $135.00 per month.

(6)(F)  Income greater than 300 percent of FPL:  the actual cost of Catamount Health.

(2)  For plans other than the lowest cost plan, an individual’s contribution shall be the sum of:

(A)  the applicable contribution as set out in subdivision (1) of this subsection; and

(B)  the difference between the premium for the lowest cost plan and the premium for the plan in which the individual is enrolled.  

* * * Blueprint * * *

Sec. 4.  DIRECTOR OF THE BLUEPRINT

In fiscal year 2008, there is established in the agency of administration one (1) new exempt position, to be titled the director of the blueprint for health, who shall report directly to the secretary or designee.  

Sec. 5.  18 V.S.A. § 702 is amended to read:

§ 702.  BLUEPRINT FOR HEALTH; STRATEGIC PLAN

(a)  As used in this section, “health insurer” shall have the same meaning as in section 9402 of this title.

(b)  In coordination with the secretary of administration under section 2222a of Title 3 the commissioner of health shall be responsible for The director of the blueprint, in collaboration with the commissioner of health, shall oversee the development and implementation of the blueprint for health, including the five‑year strategic plan.  Whenever private health insurers are concerned, the director shall collaborate with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration.

(b)(c)(1)  The commissioner secretary shall establish an executive committee to advise the commissioner director of the blueprint on creating and implementing a strategic plan for the development of the statewide system of chronic care and prevention as described under this section.  The executive committee shall consist of no fewer than 10 individuals, including the commissioner of health, a representative from the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration; the office of Vermont health access; the Vermont medical society; the Vermont program for quality in health care a statewide quality assurance organization; the Vermont association of hospitals and health systems; two representatives of private health insurers; consumer; a representative of the complementary and alternative medicine profession; and a primary care professional serving low income or uninsured Vermonters; and a representative of the state employees’ health plan, who shall be designated by the director of human resources and who may be an employee of the third party administrator contracting to provide services to the state employees’ health plan.  In addition, the director of the commission on health care reform shall be a nonvoting member of the executive committee.

(2)  The executive committee shall engage a broad range of health care professionals who provide services as defined under section 4080f of Title 18, health insurance plans, professional organizations, community and nonprofit groups, consumers, businesses, school districts, and state and local government in developing and implementing a five‑year strategic plan.

(c)(1)(d)  The blueprint shall be developed and implemented to further the following principles:

(1)  the primary care provider should serve a central role in the coordination of care and shall be compensated appropriately for this effort;

(2)  use of information technology will be maximized;

(3)  local service providers should be used and supported, whenever possible;

(4)  transition plans should be developed by all involved parties to ensure a smooth and timely transition from the current model to the blueprint model of health care delivery and payment;

(5)  implementation of the blueprint in communities across the state should be accompanied by payment to providers sufficient to support care management activities consistent with the blueprint, recognizing that interim or temporary payment measures may be necessary during early and transitional phases of implementation; and

(6)  interventions designed to prevent chronic disease and improve outcomes for persons with chronic disease should be maximized, should target specific chronic disease risk factors, and should address changes in individual behavior, the physical and social environment, and health care policies and systems. 

(e)(1)  The strategic plan shall include:

(A)  a description of the Vermont blueprint for health model, which includes general, standard elements established in section 1903a of Title 33, patient self‑management, community initiatives, and health system and information technology reform, to be used uniformly statewide by private insurers, third party administrators, and public programs;

(B)  a description of prevention programs and how these programs are integrated into communities, with chronic care management, and the blueprint for health model;

(C)  a plan to develop and implement reimbursement systems aligned with the goal of managing the care for individuals with or at risk for conditions in order to improve outcomes and the quality of care;

(D)  the involvement of public and private groups, health care professionals, insurers, third party administrators, associations, and firms to facilitate and assure the sustainability of a new system of care;

(E)  the involvement of community and consumer groups to facilitate and assure the sustainability of health services supporting healthy behaviors and good patient self‑management for the prevention and management of chronic conditions;

(F)  alignment of any information technology needs with other health care information technology initiatives;

(G)  the use and development of outcome measures and reporting requirements, aligned with existing outcome measures within the agency of human services, to assess and evaluate the system of chronic care;

(H)  target timelines for inclusion of specific chronic conditions to be included in the chronic care infrastructure and for statewide implementation of the blueprint for health;

(I)  identification of resource needs for implementation and sustaining the blueprint for health and strategies to meet the needs; and

(J)  a strategy for ensuring statewide participation no later than January 1, 2009 2011 by health insurers, third‑party administrators, health care professionals, hospitals and other professionals, and consumers in the chronic care management plan, including common outcome measures, best practices and protocols, data reporting requirements, payment methodologies, and other standards.  In addition, the strategy should ensure that all communities statewide will have implemented at least one component of the blueprint by January 1, 2009. 

(2)  The strategic plan shall be reviewed biennially and amended as necessary to reflect changes in priorities.  Amendments to the plan shall be reported to the general assembly included in the report established under subsection (d)(i) of this section.

(f)  The director of the blueprint shall facilitate timely progress in adoption and implementation of clinical quality and performance measures as indicated by the following benchmarks:

(1)  by July 1, 2007, clinical quality and performance measures are adopted for each of the chronic conditions included in the Medicaid Chronic Care Management Program.  These conditions include, but are not limited to, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.

(2)  at least one set of clinical quality and performance measures will be added each year and a uniform set of clinical quality and performance measures for all chronic conditions to be addressed by the blueprint will be available for use by health insurers and health care providers by January 1, 2010. 

(3)  in accordance with a schedule established by the blueprint executive committee, all clinical quality and performance measures are reviewed for consistency with those used by the Medicare program and updated, if appropriate. 

(g)  The director of the blueprint shall facilitate timely progress in coordination of chronic care management as indicated by the following benchmarks:

(1)  by October 1, 2007, risk stratification strategies are used to identify individuals with or at risk for chronic disease and to assist in the determination of the severity of the chronic disease or risk thereof, as well as the appropriate type and level of care management services needed to manage those chronic conditions.

(2)  by January 1, 2009, guidelines for promoting greater commonality, consistency, and coordination across health insurers in care management programs and systems are developed in consultation with employers, consumers, health insurers, and health care providers.  

(3)  beginning July 1, 2009, and each year thereafter, health insurers, in collaboration with health care providers, report to the secretary on evaluation of their disease management programs and the progress made toward aligning their care management program initiatives with the blueprint guidelines. 

(h)(1)  No later than January 1, 2009, the director shall, in consultation with employers, consumers, health insurers, and health care providers, complete a comprehensive analysis of sustainable payment mechanisms.  No later than January 1, 2009, the director shall report to the health care reform commission and other stakeholders, his or her recommendations for sustainable payment mechanisms and related changes needed to support achievement of blueprint goals for health care improvement, including the essential elements of high quality chronic care, such as care coordination, effective use of health care information by physicians and other health care providers and patients, and patient self‑management education and skill development. 

(2)  By January 1, 2009, and each year thereafter, health insurers will participate in a coordinated effort to determine satisfaction levels of physicians and other health care providers participating in the blueprint care management initiatives, and will report on these satisfaction levels to the director and in the report established under subsection (i) of this section.

(d)(1)(i)  The commissioner of health director shall report annually, no later than January 1, on the status of implementation of the Vermont blueprint for health for the prior calendar year, and shall provide the report to the house committee on health care, the senate committee on health and welfare, the health access oversight committee, and the commission on health care reform.  The report shall include the number of participating insurers, health care professionals and patients; the progress for achieving statewide participation in the chronic care management plan, including the measures established under subsection (c)(e) of this section; the expenditures and savings for the period; the results of health care professional and patient satisfaction surveys; the progress toward creation and implementation of privacy and security protocols; information on the progress made toward the requirements in subsections (g) and (h) of this section; and other information as requested by the committees.  The surveys shall be developed in collaboration with the executive committee established under subsection (b)(c) of this section.

(2)  If statewide participation in the blueprint for health is not achieved by January 1, 2009, the commissioner shall evaluate the blueprint for health and recommend to the general assembly changes necessary to create alternative measures to ensure statewide participation by health insurers, third party administrators, and health care professionals.

(j)  It is the intent of the general assembly that health insurers shall participate in the blueprint for health no later than January 1, 2009 and shall engage health care providers in the transition to full participation in the blueprint. 

Sec. 6.  Blueprint for Health: Plan for Regulatory Enforcement

(a)  Findings:

(1)  The blueprint for health is based on a voluntary collaborative approach which has to date achieved significant progress toward its goals. 

(2)  If, based on the  director’s annual report required by subsection 702(i) of Title 18, it appears that a voluntary approach is unlikely to meet the goal set forth in subsection 702(j) of Title 18, a regulatory approach will become necessary. 

(b)  The commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration is directed to prepare an implementation plan, including recommendations for enhanced authority, outlining the steps necessary to ensure that health insurers will successfully implement the blueprint by January 1, 2009.  The implementation plan need not address Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, Dr. Dynasaur, any Global Commitment for Health waiver program, any state‑funded pharmacy program, Catamount Health Assistance, or the employer‑sponsored‑insurance assistance program.  This plan should be delivered to the senate committee on health and welfare, the house committee on health care, and the commission on health care reform by January 1, 2008.

* * * Integrating Care Coordination and
Payment Reform into the Blueprint * * *

Sec. 7.  INTEGRATED EARLY IMPLEMENTATION OF BLUEPRINT PROGRAMS

(a)(1)  Findings.

(A)  A core goal of the blueprint for health is to create a greater degree of cohesiveness in the delivery of care to people with chronic conditions.

(B)  Given the complexity of the health care delivery system, it is necessary to test, within a small number of early implementation communities, how to integrate the various key components of the chronic care model.

(C)  Health insurers currently assume the costs (both in claims costs and administrative expenses for existing disease management programs) for care coordination and for provider payment.

(2)  Purpose and intent.  It is the intent of the general assembly that all health insurers, including those who offer the state employees’ health plan or who administer chronic care management for state health benefits programs, shall voluntarily participate in early implementation projects.

(b)  The director shall establish early implementation projects necessary to demonstrate and evaluate best practices in the integration and delivery of chronic care as part of the blueprint for health.  Projects shall include those listed in subsections (e), (f), and (g) of this section.  The director shall develop the projects using the medical home project as the baseline and shall consider the options for community‑based care coordination described in subsection (f) and the options for payment reform described in subsection (g) of this section as options for the final design of the early implementation projects.  The director shall, in designing these early implementation projects, integrate the other components of the blueprint such as patient self‑management, the use of decision support tools such as the chronic care information system, and the development of community resources. 

(c)  Early implementation projects shall meet the following criteria:

(1)  Communities.  The implementation should occur concurrently within one or more of the existing blueprint communities and, if the director approves, in the Vermont rural health alliance.   

(2)  Timetable.  The program design, integration and implementation plan, and selection of the initial community for the early implementation projects should be completed by October 1, 2007.  Implementation in the initial community should be commenced by January 1, 2008.  Implementation into at least one additional community should begin by July 1, 2008. 

(3)  Evaluation.  The implementation plan should include ongoing structured feedback from the major stakeholders to help inform the implementation while it is occurring, and, as part of the annual report required by 18 V.S.A. § 702(i), a more formal evaluation after one year of operation.  During implementation, the director shall consult with the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration to determine whether statewide implementation of the early implementation projects would have an impact on health insurance premium rates, and the extent to which implementation costs would be offset by reduced administration costs or savings in medical claims.  

(d)  For fiscal year 2008, the department of health shall provide a grant to the Vermont rural health alliance for the early implementation projects described in this section upon the approval by the commissioner and upon receipt by the alliance of $185,000.00 of federal grant or other matching funds. 

(e)  Medical home project chronic care management systems integration.

(1)  The director, with assistance from the commissioner of health, the director of the office of Vermont health access, the commissioner of human resources, and the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, shall establish a medical home project for use with Medicaid beneficiaries, Catamount Health, and the state employees’ health plan.  The director shall also encourage other health insurers to participate in the project and adopt and pay similar care management fees.

(2)  The project shall facilitate provision of accessible, continuous, and coordinated family‑centered care to high‑need populations.  The project shall ensure that:

(A)  Medicaid, Catamount Health carriers, and the state employees’ health plan pay care management fees to primary care providers providing care management under the project and in compliance with subsection (e) of this section;

(B)  incentive payments for demonstrated compliance with established clinical protocols are paid to primary care providers participating in practices that provide services as a medical home.

(3)  The director, with assistance from the commissioner of health, the director of the office of Vermont health access, the commissioner of human resources, and the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, shall develop a care management fee schedule and shall determine the amount of care management and incentive payments. 

(4)  A primary care provider participating in the project shall:

(A)  Provide ongoing support, oversight, and guidance to implement a plan of care that provides an integrated, coherent, cross‑discipline plan for ongoing medical care developed in partnership with patients and including all other physicians furnishing care to the patient.  

(B)  Use evidence‑based medicine and clinical decision support tools to guide decision‑making at the point of care based on patient‑specific factors.

(C)  Use health information technology, which may include remote monitoring and patient registries, to monitor and track the health status of patients and to provide patients with enhanced and convenient access to health care services.

(D)  Encourage patients to engage in the management of their own health through education and community support systems, including the blueprint healthier living workshops or similar evidence‑based, self‑management tools. 

(5)  The director shall include an evaluation of this project for the previous calendar year, with recommendations for expansion of the project, in the annual report required by 18 V.S.A. § 702(i). 

(6)  To the extent that it is not inconsistent with provisions herein, this section shall be construed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109‑432, § 204, 120 Stat 2922, 2987–89 (2006) (Medicare Medical Home Demonstration Project). 

(7)  For purposes of this subsection:

(A)  “Coordinated care management” is a system that includes at least the following components:

(i)  population identification processes;

(ii)  evidence‑based practice guidelines;

(iii)  collaborative practice models to include physician and support‑service providers;

(iv)  patient self‑management education, which may include primary prevention, behavior modification programs, and compliance surveillance;

(v)  process and outcome measurement, evaluation, and management; and

(vi)  routine reporting and sharing of information among the patient, primary care provider, ancillary providers, and health insurers.

(B)  “Health insurer” shall have the same meaning as in section 9402 of this title.

(C)  “High‑need population” means individuals with chronic illnesses that require regular medical monitoring, advising, or treatment areas.

(D)  “Medical home” means a primary care provider practice that is responsible for:

(i)  targeting patients for participation in the project; and

(ii)  providing safe and secure technology to promote patient access to personal health information;

(iii)  developing a health assessment tool for the individuals targeted; and

(iv)  providing training programs for personnel involved in the coordination of care.

(E)  “Primary care provider” means a health care provider who:

(i)  is board certified, if applicable;

(ii)  provides first contact and continuous care for individuals under his or her care; and

(iii)  has staff and resources sufficient to manage the comprehensive and coordinated health care of each such individual.

(f)  Community‑based care coordination.

(1)  The director shall encourage the development of community‑based care coordination teams, which will provide local support to primary care providers in a community, particularly those serving as medical homes to patients with chronic conditions.  Such teams will collaborate with the medical home practices to:

(A)  Devise care plans through assessment of current treatments, services, and resources that directly address patients’ needs.

(B)  Ensure patient compliance with the care plan and monitor appropriate emergency room use, hospitalizations, length of stay, and discharge planning.

(C)  Strive to enhance the relationship between the patient and his or her medical home, and to educate patients on how to become more proactive in meeting their own health care needs.

(D)  Utilize community‑based resources, where feasible, to support the formation of care plans, to ensure compliance with such care plans, and to enhance patient education.

(2)  The director, supported by the commissioner of health, the director of the office of Vermont health access, and the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, and in collaboration with health insurers, as defined in section 9402 of Title 18, shall examine methods of funding, including the use of funds from existing disease management programs, to support community based care coordination teams.

(g)  Chronic care payment reform.  In addition to the care management fee and incentive payments to be made pursuant to the medical home project required by subsection (e) of this section, the director should consider other payment reforms in the early implementation of blueprint programs, such as: 

(1)  A bundled payment provided on a monthly basis that includes 90 percent of the cost associated with providing all evidence‑based preventive services for the applicable chronic disease state, as developed in the blueprint.  Additional payments of up to 10 percent could be provided in cases where all of the recommended evidence‑based preventive services are provided.

(2)  Separate fee‑for‑service payments for office visits (Payments for care management services that fall outside the office visit should not result in a reduction in payments for office visits.).

(3)  Other projects designed to set payment based on the quality of the outcome, which may include projects such as shared savings for reductions in hospitalizations associated with physician‑coordinated care management in the office setting.

* * * Support for Primary Care Providers * * *

Sec. 8.  PRIMARY CARE PROVIDERS; NURSE AUTHORITY STUDY; AHEC APPROPRIATION

(a)  Findings:

(1)  Primary care providers are essential to the success of the blueprint.

(2)  Loan repayment is an essential component of recruiting and retaining a strong primary care provider workforce. 

(b)  No later than September 1, 2007, the commissioner of health, the director of the office of professional regulation, and the board of nursing shall establish a work group to study and make recommendations on the advisability of eliminating the requirement for an advance practice nurse to work in a collaborative practice with a licensed physician, with the goal of evaluating whether advance practice nurses might serve a greater role as primary care providers who provide essential chronic care management.  The work group shall include a representative of the Vermont Nurse practitioner association and a representative of the medical practice board.  The work group shall make its recommendations in a report delivered to the house committee on health care, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the commission on health care reform no later than January 15, 2008. 


Sec. 9.  18 V.S.A. § 9409a is added to read: 

§ 9409a.  Health care insurance reimbursement survey

In order to understand the impact of reimbursement on access to health care, the cost shift, the workforce shortages and recruitment and retention of health care professionals, the commissioner shall annually survey health insurers to determine the reimbursement paid for the ten most common billing codes for primary care health services.  Each insurer shall report the average reimbursement paid for a specific service.  The survey shall be managed by the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, and any public reports shall be sufficiently aggregated so that they would not enable readers to determine the amount of reimbursement paid for specific services to any particular provider or facility.  No provider‑specific or facility‑specific reimbursement information shall be included in the public survey reports, or be available through public records requests.  When published, survey data will be at least 90 days old.  Only the department will have access to the underlying survey responses.  The department shall provide a copy of the survey results to the house committee on health care and the senate committee on health and welfare.

Sec. 10.  3 V.S.A. § 631 is amended to read:

§ 631.  GROUP INSURANCE FOR STATE EMPLOYEES; SALARY DEDUCTIONS FOR INSURANCE, SAVINGS PLANS, AND CREDIT UNIONS

(a)(1)  The secretary of administration may contract on behalf of the state with any insurance company or nonprofit association doing business in this state to secure the benefits of franchise or group insurance.  Beginning July 1, 1978, the terms of coverage under the policy shall be determined under section 904 of this title, but it may include:

(A)  life, disability, health, and accident insurance and benefits for any class or classes of state employees; and

(B)  hospital, surgical, and medical benefits for any class or classes of state employees or for those employees and any class or classes of their dependents.

* * *

(c)(1)  At least every five years, the secretary of administration shall advertise for bids on the insurance contracts and shall award the contract to the person whose bid or quotation is in the best interest of the state.  The secretary of administration may reject any bids or quotations and may request additional bids.  Upon publication of the request for proposals, health care professional and trade associations may register with the secretary of administration to be provided a list of bidders.  Such associations may then submit information about the business practices of the bidders for the secretary of administration to consider in the course of evaluating bids and request meetings with the secretary to discuss the information. 

(2)  Annually, the secretary of administration shall submit a report to the house committee on health care and the senate committee on health and welfare that includes:

(A)  an assessment of the status of alignment between chronic care management programs provided to state employees through the health coverage benefit and the Vermont blueprint for health strategic plan developed under section 702 of Title 18;

(B)  the results of provider satisfaction assessments, developed in consultation with health care professional and trade associations, the blueprint director, and the commissioner of health, which assessments shall be designed to evaluate whether the contractor for administrative services for health benefits has created and maintained adequate provider networks and has entered into participating provider agreements designed to effectively and efficiently compensate providers for delivering services in a manner consistent with the blueprint for health principles.

(C)  if the secretary determines that provider satisfaction levels are creating a barrier to successful implementation of the blueprint for health for the state employees health plan, an action plan to improve provider satisfaction relative to the blueprint implementation and institute changes to the chronic care management program.  Prior to the secretary’s determination, health care professional and trade associations may request the opportunity to meet with the secretary to review and discuss the results of the provider satisfaction assessments.

(3)  At least annually, the secretary shall hold discussions with established health care professional and trade associations in regard to provider regulation, provider reimbursement, or quality of health care. 

* * *

* * * Health Information Technology * * *

Sec. 11.  22 V.S.A. § 903 is added to read:

§ 903.  HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

(a)  The commissioner shall facilitate the development of a statewide health information technology plan that includes the implementation of an integrated electronic health information infrastructure for the sharing of electronic health information among health care facilities, health care professionals, public and private payers, and patients.  The plan shall include standards and protocols designed to promote patient education, patient privacy, physician best practices, electronic connectivity to health care data, and, overall, a more efficient and less costly means of delivering quality health care in Vermont.

(b)  The health information technology plan shall:

(1)  support the effective, efficient, statewide use of electronic health information in patient care, health care policymaking, clinical research, health care financing, and continuous quality improvements;

(2)  educate the general public and health care professionals about the value of an electronic health infrastructure for improving patient care;

(3)  promote the use of national standards for the development of an interoperable system, which shall include provisions relating to security, privacy, data content, structures and format, vocabulary, and transmission protocols;

(4)  propose strategic investments in equipment and other infrastructure elements that will facilitate the ongoing development of a statewide infrastructure;

(5)  recommend funding mechanisms for the ongoing development and maintenance costs of a statewide health information system, including funding options and an implementation strategy for a loan and grant program;

(6)  incorporate the existing health care information technology initiatives in order to avoid incompatible systems and duplicative efforts;

(7)  integrate the information technology components of the blueprint for health established in chapter 13 of Title 18, the global clinical record, and all other Medicaid management information systems being developed by the office of Vermont health access, information technology components of the quality assurance system, the program to capitalize with loans and grants electronic medical record systems in primary care practices, and any other information technology initiatives coordinated by the secretary of administration pursuant to section 2222a of Title 3; and

(8)  address issues related to data ownership, governance, and confidentiality and security of patient information.

(c)(1)  The commissioner shall contract with the Vermont information technology leaders (VITL), a broad‑based health information technology advisory group that includes providers, payers, employers, patients, health care purchasers, information technology vendors, and other business leaders, to develop the health information technology plan, including applicable standards, protocols, and pilot programs.  In carrying out their responsibilities under this section, members of VITL shall be subject to conflict of interest policies established by the commissioner to ensure that deliberations and decisions are fair and equitable.

(2)  VITL shall be designated in the plan to operate the exclusive

statewide health information exchange network for this state, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (g) of this section requiring the recommendation of the commissioner and the approval of the general assembly before the plan can take effect.  Nothing in this section shall impede local community providers from the exchange of electronic medical data.

(d)  The following persons shall be members of VITL:

(1)  the commissioner, who shall advise the group on technology best practices and the state’s information technology policies and procedures, including the need for a functionality assessment and feasibility study related to establishing an electronic health information infrastructure under this section;

(2)  the director of the office of Vermont health access or his or her designee;

(3)  the commissioner of health or his or her designee; and

(4)  the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration or his or her designee.

(e)  On or before July 1, 2006, VITL shall initiate a pilot program involving at least two hospitals using existing sources of electronic health information to establish electronic data sharing for clinical decision support, pursuant to priorities and criteria established in conjunction with the health information technology advisory group.

(1)  Objectives of the pilot program shall include:

(A)  supporting patient care and improving quality of care;

(B)  enhancing productivity of health care professionals and reducing administrative costs of health care delivery and financing;

(2)  Objectives of the pilot program may include:

(A)  determining whether and how best to expand the pilot program on a statewide basis;

(B)  implementing strategies for future developments in health care technology, policy, management, governance, and finance; and

(C)  ensuring patient data confidentiality at all times.

(f)  The standards and protocols developed by VITL shall be no less stringent than the “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information” established under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and contained in 45 C.F.R., Parts 160 and 164, and any subsequent amendments.  In addition, the standards and protocols shall ensure that there are clear prohibitions against the out‑of‑state release of individually identifiable health information for purposes unrelated to treatment, payment, and health care operations, and that such information shall under no circumstances be used for marketing purposes.  The standards and protocols shall require that access to individually identifiable health information is secure and traceable by an electronic audit trail.

(g)  On or before January 1, 2007, VITL shall submit to the commission on health care reform, the secretary of administration, the commissioner, the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, the director of the office of Vermont health access, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the house committee on health care a preliminary health information technology plan for establishing a statewide, integrated electronic health information infrastructure in Vermont, including specific steps for achieving the goals and objectives of this section.  A final plan shall be submitted July 1, 2007.  The plan shall include also recommendations for self‑sustainable funding for the ongoing development, maintenance, and replacement of the health information technology system.  Upon recommendation by the commissioner and approval by the general assembly, the plan shall serve as the framework within which certificate of need applications for information technology are reviewed under section 9440b of Title 18 by the commissioner.

(h)  Beginning January 1, 2006, and annually thereafter, VITL shall file a report with the commission on health care reform, the secretary of administration, the commissioner, the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration, the director of the office of Vermont health access, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the house committee on health care.  The report shall include an assessment of progress in implementing the provisions of this section, recommendations for additional funding and legislation required, and an analysis of the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of the pilot program authorized under subsection (e) of this section, including, to the extent these can be measured, reductions in tests needed to determine patient medications, improved patient outcomes, or reductions in administrative or other costs achieved as a result of the pilot program.  In addition, VITL shall file quarterly progress reports with the secretary of administration and the health access oversight committee and shall publish minutes of VITL meetings and any other relevant information on a public website.

(i)  VITL is authorized to seek matching funds to assist with carrying out the purposes of this section.  In addition, it may accept any and all donations, gifts, and grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials, and services from the federal or any local government, or any agency thereof, and from any person, firm, or corporation for any of its purposes and functions under this section and may receive and use the same, subject to the terms, conditions, and regulations governing such donations, gifts, and grants.

(j)  The commissioner, in consultation with VITL, may seek any waivers of federal law, of rule, or of regulation that might assist with implementation of this section.

(k)  VITL, in collaboration with the commissioner, health insurers, the Vermont Association of Hospitals & Health Systems, Inc., and other departments and agencies of state government, shall establish a loan and grant program to provide for the capitalization of electronic health records systems in blueprint communities and at other primary care practices serving low and moderate income Vermonters.  Health information technology acquired under a grant or loan authorized by this section shall comply with data standards for interoperability adopted by VITL and the state health information technology plan.  An implementation plan for this loan and grant program shall be incorporated into the state health information technology plan.

Sec. 12.  HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INTERIM FUND AND ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORD PILOT PROGRAM

(a)  Purpose.  It is the intent of the general assembly that use of electronic health records for all Vermonters shall be promoted and encouraged.  The general assembly recognizes that the use and sharing of electronic health records has the potential to improve the quality of care delivered to Vermonters and, in the long term, to help contain increases in the costs of medical care.  Since many providers, especially primary care providers serving low and moderate income Vermonters, lack the capital to acquire the information technology necessary to implement electronic health records for their patients, a financing program is needed to facilitate the adoption of electronic health record use by providers. 

(b)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Commissioner” shall mean the commissioner of the department of information and innovation.

(2)  “Department” shall mean the department of information and innovation.

(3)  “Pilot site” shall mean a blueprint community and primary care providers serving low and moderate income Vermonters in other communities. 

(c)  VITL shall establish a health information technology fund which shall be used only during the duration of the electronic health record pilot program described in this section.  The interim fund shall be used for the purposes of:

(1)  encouraging and facilitating the development and utilization of electronic health records by pilot sites; and

(2)  promoting the sharing of electronic health records using the Vermont health information infrastructure created and managed by the Vermont health technology leaders. 

(d)  VITL and the secretary of administration shall engage in activities designed to achieve the goal of raising at least $1 million for the interim fund created by this section and shall seek to raise these funds from a broad range of stakeholders who would benefit from electronic health records, including commercial health insurers, in relation to the number of insured and self‑insured lives each services in Vermont, the Vermont Association of Hospitals & Health Systems, Inc., self‑insured employers, other payers, and other sources.  On or before September 1, 2007, VITL and the secretary of administration shall report the results of the fundraising activities to the house committee on health care, the senate committee on health and welfare and the commission on health care reform. 

(e)  On or before October 1, 2007, VITL shall issue a request for proposals:

(1)  to provide computer software or systems, or both, in connection with the development and implementation of a system to enable electronic health records use by pilot sites; and

(2)  for implementation consulting vendors to assist pilot sites with related training and system configuration support and upgrades to enable the implementation and use of electronic health record systems.  

(f)  On or before November 1, 2007, VITL shall establish criteria and award conditions for the selection of pilot sites. 

(g)  On or before January 1, 2008, VITL shall commence awarding pilot sites licenses to implement electronic health record systems making use of the vendors selected in the process described in subsection (d) of this section. 

(h)  VITL shall include in the annual report required pursuant to section 9417 of Title 18 information concerning the interim fund and pilot program created pursuant to this section and shall additionally provide that report to the commissioner of the department of health.  Information concerning this program in the report shall include:

(1)  an assessment of progress in implementing the provisions of this section including the acceptance of electronic health record use by providers, patients, and payers;

(2)  recommendations for additional funding and legislation required; and

(3)  an analysis of the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of the health information technology fund.   

(i)  VITL may use a portion of the interim fund for its costs in implementing and managing the electronic health record pilot program.

* * * Other Provisions * * *

Sec. 13.  33 V.S.A. § 1986(d) is amended to read:

(d)  All monies received by or generated to the fund shall be used only as allowed by appropriation of the general assembly for the administration and delivery of the Catamount Health assistance program under this subchapter, employer‑sponsored insurance premium assistance under section 1974 of this title, immunizations under section 1130 of Title 18, development and implementation of the blueprint for health under section 702 of title 18, and the nongroup health insurance market assistance under section 4062d of Title 8, and for transfers to the state health care resources fund established in section 1901d of this title as approved by the general assembly.

Sec. 14.  33 V.S.A. § 1974(c)(3) is amended to read:

(3)  The premium assistance program under this subsection shall provide a subsidy of premiums or cost-sharing amounts based on the household income of the eligible individual, with greater amounts of financial assistance provided to eligible individuals with lower household income and lesser amounts of assistance provided to eligible individuals with higher household income.  Until an approved employer-sponsored plan is required to meet the standard in subdivision (4)(B)(ii) of this subsection, the subsidy shall include premium assistance and assistance to cover all cost-sharing amounts for chronic care health services covered by the Vermont health access plan that are related to evidence-based guidelines for ongoing prevention and clinical management of the chronic condition specified in the blueprint for health in section 702 of Title 18.  


Sec. 15.  8 V.S.A. § 4080f(f)(1) is amended to read:

(f)(1)  Except as provided for in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the carrier shall pay health care professionals the least of contracted rates for such professionals, billed charges, or, using the Medicare payment methodologies, at a level ten percent greater than for levels paid under the Medicare program in 2006.  Payments based on Medicare payment methodologies under this subsection shall be indexed to the Medicare economic index developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sec. 16.  REPEAL

18 V.S.A. § 9417 (health information technology) is repealed.

Sec. 17.  EFFECTIVE DATE

     Secs. 4 and 15 of this act shall take effect upon passage.  All other sections shall take effect July 1, 2007. 

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

Senator Kitchel, for the Committee on Appropriations, to which the bill was referred, reported recommending that the bill be amended as recommended by the Committee on Health and Welfare with the following amendments thereto: By striking out Secs. 11 and 12 and renumbering the subsequent sections accordingly.

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, and the recommendation of proposal of amendment of the Committee on Health and Welfare was amended as recommended by the Committee on Appropriations.

Thereupon, the proposals of amendment recommended by the Committee on Health and Welfare, as amended, were agreed to and third reading of the bill was ordered.

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.


Rules Suspended; Proposal of Amendment; Bill Passed in Concurrence with Proposal of Amendment

H. 294.

Pending entry on the Calendar for action tomorrow, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to executive branch fees.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

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

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Sears, moved to amend the Senate proposal of amendment by adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 33k to read as follows:

Sec. 33k.  28 V.S.A. § 801 is amended to read:

§ 801.  MEDICAL CARE OF INMATES

* * *

(d)  The department is authorized to deduct a fee of up to $5.00 from inmate accounts for each request for sick call by an inmate.  This fee shall not be imposed for scheduled medical interventions or follow-ups.  The department shall establish a sliding scale for indigent inmates based on the balance in their accounts.  The fee shall be deposited in a special fund administered pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, to be used only for costs related to providing medical services.

(e)  The department shall establish and maintain policies for the delivery of health care in accordance with the above standards in this section.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the Senate proposal of amendment be amended as recommended by Senator Sears?, Senator Kittell moved to amend the proposal of amendment of Senator Sears, by adding a new subdivision (e) to read as follows:

(e)  Before enacting a fee system pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, the department shall, in consultation with the department of health, review alternative strategies for distinguishing between inmates inappropriately using the department’s healthcare system and those with legitimate healthcare needs.


And by relettering the remaining subsection to be alphabetically correct.

Which was agreed to.

Thereupon, the proposal of amendment of Senator Sears, as amended, was agreed to.

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

Rules Suspended; Proposals of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered

H. 534.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to prekindergarten education.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Collins, for the Committee on Education, to which the bill was referred, reported recommending that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 2, § 11(a)(31), after the words not eligible for by inserting the words or enrolled in

Second:  By striking out Sec. 3 in its entirety and inserting a new Sec. 3 to read as follows:

Sec. 3.  16 V.S.A. § 829 is added to read:

§ 829.  PREKINDERGARTEN EDUCATION; RULES

The board of education, in consultation with the secretary of human services, shall adopt rules under chapter 25 of Title 3:

(1)  To ensure that, before a school district begins a prekindergarten education program or expands a prekindergarten education program by adding three-year-old children to a program established to serve four-year-old children and intends to enroll students who are included in its average daily membership, the district engage the community in a collaborative process that includes an assessment of the need for the program in the community and an inventory of the existing service providers.

(2)  To ensure that, if a school district begins a prekindergarten education program or expands a prekindergarten education program by adding three-year-old children to a program established to serve four-year-old children and intends to include any of the students in its average daily membership, the district shall use existing qualified service providers to the extent that existing
qualified service providers have the capacity to meet the district’s needs effectively and efficiently.

(3)  To require that the school district provides opportunities for effective parental participation in the prekindergarten education program. 

(4)  To establish a process by which a parent or guardian residing in the district or a provider, or both, may request a school district to enter into a contract with a provider located in or outside the district. 

(5)  To identify the services and other items for which state funds may be expended when prekindergarten children are counted for purposes of average daily membership, such as tuition reduction, quality improvements, or professional development for school staff or private providers.

(6)  To ensure transparency and accountability by requiring private providers under contract with a school district to report costs for prekindergarten programs to the school district and by requiring school districts to report these costs to the commissioner of education.

(7)  To require school districts to include identifiable costs for prekindergarten programs and essential early education services in their annual budgets and reports to the community.

(8)  To provide an appeal process for:

(A)  A parent, guardian, or provider to challenge an action of the school district when the appellant believes that the district is in violation of state statute or rules regarding prekindergarten education.

(B)  A school district to challenge an action of a state agency, department, or board if the district believes the state entity has acted in violation of state statute or rules regarding prekindergarten education. 

(9)  To establish the minimum quality standards necessary for a district to include prekindergarten children within its average daily membership.  At a minimum, the standards shall include the following requirements:

(A)  A provider must have received:

(i)  National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation; or

(ii)  At least four stars in the department for children and families STARS system with at least two points in each of the five arenas; or

(iii)  Three stars in the STARS system if the provider has developed a plan, approved by the commissioner for children and families and the commissioner of education, to achieve four or more stars within three years with at least two points in each of the five arenas, and the provider has met intermediate milestones; and

(B)  A licensed center shall employ or contract for the services of at least one teacher who is licensed and endorsed in early childhood education or in early childhood special education under chapter 51 of this title; and

(C)  A registered home shall receive regular, active supervision and training from a teacher who is licensed and endorsed in early childhood education or in early childhood special education under chapter 51 of this title.

(10)  To establish a process for documenting the progress of children enrolled in prekindergarten programs and to require public and private providers to use the process to collect and report child progress data to the commissioner of education on an annual basis.

Third:  In Sec. 6, § 4001, subdivision (1)(C), by striking out the following:  Although there is no limit on the total number of children who may be enrolled in prekindergarten education or who receive essential early education services, the total number of prekindergarten children that a district may include within its average daily membership shall be limited as follows:” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  Although the total number of prekindergarten children that a district may include within its average daily membership shall be limited as set forth in subdivisions (i) and (ii) below, there is no limit on the total number of children who may be enrolled in prekindergarten education or who receive essential early education services.  Each school district shall have sole discretion regarding the manner in which it limits total enrollment.

Fourth:  In Sec, 7, § 4010, subdivision (c)(3), by striking out the numeral “1.25” and inserting in lieu thereof the numeral 1.13

Fifth:  In Sec. 10, subdivision (3), after the words The statewide cost by inserting the following:  , including the cost to the education fund,

Sixth:  In Sec. 10, by adding three new subdivisions to be subdivisions (7) through (9) to read as follows:

(7)  The measurable positive and negative effects that the prekindergarten programs covered by this act have had on the early development and learning experiences of young children in Vermont, including the programs’ effectiveness in addressing the extreme behavioral needs of young children.

(8)  The effect that the limits on the number of prekindergarten children that may be included within a district’s ADM established in Sec. 6 of this act have had on the ability to serve the needs of young children.

(9)  The advisability of eliminating or amending the ADM limits established in Sec. 6 of this act, including:

(A) An analysis of whether the elimination of the limits would effectively be a requirement that all districts provide prekindergarten education programs.

(B)  An analysis of the effect that elimination or amendment of the limits would be likely to have on the education fund.  

Seventh:  By striking out Sec. 11 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 11 to read as follows:

Sec. 11.  TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

Any district that offered prekindergarten education during the 2006–2007 academic year shall not be affected by the provisions of 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(C) in Sec. 6 of this act that limit the total number of prekindergarten children who may be counted within the district’s average daily membership; rather, the district may instead choose to include within its average daily membership the total number of prekindergarten children enrolled in its program, provided that the number does not exceed the highest number of prekindergarten children enrolled in any one of the following three academic years: 2004-2005, 2005-2006, or 2006-2007.  If, at any time, the district elects to determine its average daily membership of prekindergarten children based on the limitations in 16 V.S.A. § 4001(1)(C), the decision shall be final, and the district shall at all times be bound by that subdivision. 

Eighth:  By striking out Sec. 12 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 12 to read as follows:

Sec. 12.  CONSTRUCTION

Nothing in this act shall be construed to require a school district to provide a prekindergarten education program.

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

Senator Bartlett, for the Committee on Appropriations, to which the bill was referred, reported the same without recommendation.

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

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the bill be read the third time?, Senators Coppenrath and Illuzzi, moved that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill as follows:

First:  In Sec. 3, by adding a new subdivision to be numbered subdivision (11) to read as follows:

(11)  To establish a process by which state funds received by a district as a result of including eligible prekindergarten children within its average daily membership be made available to private providers, deemed eligible pursuant to the rules adopted under subdivision (9) of this section, in the form of “scholarships to empower parents.”

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

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 4001(15) and (16) are added to read:

(15)  “Prekindergarten child” means a three‑ or four‑year‑old child who is enrolled in a prekindergarten program offered by or through a public school pursuant to rules adopted under section 829 of this title or who is receiving essential early education services offered pursuant to section 2956 of this title.   Prekindergarten child also means a five‑year‑old child who otherwise meets the terms of this definition if that child is not yet eligible for or enrolled in kindergarten. 

(16)  “Eligible prekindergarten child” means a prekindergarten child who lives in a household that is at or below 185 percent of the poverty level, who has a learning disability, or for whom English is a second language.  Eligible prekindergarten children may be counted within a school district’s average daily membership pursuant to subdivision (1)(C) of this section.

Third:  In Sec. 6, subdivision (1), by striking out subdivision (C) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subdivision (C) to read as follows:

(C)  The full‑time equivalent enrollment for each eligible prekindergarten child as follows:  If an eligible prekindergarten child is enrolled in 10 or more hours of prekindergarten education per week or receives 10 or more hours of essential early education services per week, the child shall be counted as one full‑time equivalent pupil.  If a child is enrolled in six or more but fewer than 10 hours of prekindergarten education per week or if a child receives fewer than 10 hours of essential early education services per week, the child shall be counted as a percentage of one full‑time equivalent pupil, calculated as one multiplied by the number of hours per week divided by ten.  A child enrolled in prekindergarten education for fewer than six hours per week shall not be included in the district’s average daily membership.  Although there is no limit on the total number of children who may be enrolled in prekindergarten education or who receive essential early education services, the total number of prekindergarten children that a district may include within its average daily membership shall be limited to those defined as eligible prekindergarten children pursuant to subdivision 4001(16) of this title, including all children receiving essential early education services. 

Fourth:  By striking out Sec. 7 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 7 to read as follows:

Sec. 7.  16 V.S.A. § 4010 is amended to read:

§ 4010.  DETERMINATION OF WEIGHTED MEMBERSHIP

(a)  On or before the first day of December during each school year, the commissioner shall determine the average daily membership of each school district for the current school year.  The determination shall list separately:

(1)  resident Resident eligible prekindergarten children;

(2)  Resident pupils being provided elementary or kindergarten education; and

(2)  resident (3)  Resident pupils being provided secondary education.

* * *

(c)  The commissioner shall determine the weighted long‑term membership for each school district using the long‑term membership from subsection (b) of this section and the following weights for each class:

Grade Level Weight

(1)  Eligible prekindergarten 0.46

(2)  Elementary or kindergarten 1.0

(3)  Secondary 1.25 1.13

* * *

Fifth:  By striking out Sec. 10 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 10 to read as follows:

Sec. 10.  REPORT TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY

On or before January 1, 2010, the commissioners of education and for children and families shall file a written report with the house and senate committees on education regarding:

(1)  The per‑district enrollment of all children who are in prekindergarten education programs and who are receiving essential early education services, and the per-district enrollment of eligible prekindergarten children who are in prekindergarten education programs and who are receiving essential early education services.

(2)  The statewide cost of providing prekindergarten programs by or through school districts and any changes to that cost since the effective date of this act.

(3)  The annual public expenditures spent in support of prekindergarten care and education, with distinct figures provided for expenditures made from the general fund and those made from the education fund, from the effective date of this act forward. 

(4)  The information and data required through rulemaking in 16 V.S.A. § 829(5) through (7).

(5)  The effectiveness of prekindergarten programs in reaching quality program standards set forth in department of education rule.

Which was disagreed to on a roll call, Yeas 5, Nays 25.

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: Campbell, Coppenrath, Illuzzi, Maynard, Scott.

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

Thereupon, third reading of the bill was ordered on a roll call, Yeas 26, Nays 4.

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, Campbell, Carris, Collins, Condos, Cummings, Doyle, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Kitchel, Kittell, Lyons, Maynard, Mazza, Miller, Mullin, Racine, Scott, Sears, Shumlin, Snelling, Starr, White.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Coppenrath, MacDonald, McCormack, Nitka.


Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred In; Committee of Conference Requested

S. 93.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposals of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to miscellaneous changes to education law.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:

First:  By striking out Secs. 3 and 3a in their entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following: 

Sec. 3.  [Deleted.]

Sec. 3a.  [Deleted.]

Second:  By adding a new section to be numbered Sec. 6a to read as follows:

Sec. 6a.  16 V.S.A. § 823(a) is amended to read:

§ 823.  ELEMENTARY TUITION

(a)  Tuition for elementary pupils shall be paid by the district in which the pupil is a resident.  The district shall pay the full tuition charged its students attending a public elementary school.  However, if If a payment made to a public elementary school is three percent more or less than the calculated net cost per elementary pupil in the receiving school district for the year of attendance, the district shall be reimbursed, credited, or refunded pursuant to section 836 of this title, unless otherwise agreed to by.  Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection or of subsection 825(b) of this title, the boards of both the receiving and sending districts may enter into tuition agreements with terms differing from the provisions of those subsections, provided that the receiving district must offer identical terms to all sending districts, and further provided that the statutory provisions apply to any sending district that declines the offered terms.

Third:  By striking out Sec. 8 in its entirety and inserting a new Sec. 8 to read as follows:

Sec. 8.  [Deleted.]

Fourth:  By striking out Sec. 10 in its entirety and inserting a new Sec. 10 to read as follows:

Sec. 10.  16 V.S.A. § 4028(c) is amended to read: 

(c)  Any district which has adopted a school budget that includes excess spending, as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12), shall, upon timely notice, be authorized to use a portion of its excess spending penalty in obtaining an education operations consultant, as follows:  The district may employ a consultant for recommendations on how to reduce its future education spending, and the department of education shall pay the consulting costs from the property tax revenue to be generated by the excess spending increase to the district’s spending adjustment as estimated by the commissioner, up to a maximum of $5,000.00.  “Timely notice” for this purpose means written notice from the district to the commissioner within 60 days after the budget is adopted.  The consultant may not be an employee of the district or of the department of education.  A copy of the consultant’s final recommendations shall be submitted to the commissioner, and each affected town shall include in its next town report an executive summary of the consultant’s final recommendations and notice of where a complete copy is available.  No district is authorized to obtain consulting funds under this section more often than once every five years.

(c)(1)  Any district that has adopted a school budget which includes high spending, as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12), shall, upon timely notice, be authorized to use a portion of its high spending penalty to reduce future education spending as follows:

(A)  By entering into a contract with an education operations or budget consultant.

(B)  By entering into a contract with an energy or facilities management consultant.

(C)  By engaging in discussions with other school districts about reorganization or consolidation for better service delivery at a lower cost. 

(2)  To the extent approved by the commissioner, the department shall pay the district from the property tax revenue to be generated by the high spending increase to the district’s spending adjustment as estimated by the commissioner, up to a maximum of $5,000.00.  For the purposes of this subsection, “timely notice” means written notice from the district to the commissioner by September 30 of the budget year.  If the district enters into a contract with a consultant pursuant to this subsection, the consultant shall not be an employee of the district or of the department of education.  A copy of the consultant’s final recommendations or a copy of the district’s recommendations regarding reorganization, as appropriate, shall be submitted to the commissioner, and each affected town shall include in its next town report an executive summary of the consultant’s or district’s final recommendations and notice of where a complete copy is available.  No district is authorized to obtain funds under this section more than once in every five years.

Fifth:  By striking out Sec. 12 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new Sec. 12 to read as follows:

Sec. 12.  SCHOOL DISTRICTS; ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING HIGH SPENDING

(a)  The commissioner of education shall explore and analyze the reasons school districts exceed the excess spending threshold defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(12) and develop recommendations for exempting school districts from the consequences of exceeding the excess spending threshold in the following circumstances:

(1)  The district has high costs for special education services, the department has recommended ways to lower the costs, the district has followed the recommendations, and the district still exceeds the threshold; or

(2)  The district has high costs for special education services, the department has been unable to identify ways to lower the costs, and the district still exceeds the threshold; or

(3)  The district pays tuition for all or most of its students to attend one or more schools outside the district and the commissioner determines that it is not possible for the district to make alternative arrangements that would enable it to stay beneath the high spending threshold.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2008, the commissioner shall file a report with the house and senate committees on education and on appropriations regarding the recommendations required by this section.  The report shall include a detailed fiscal analysis of the recommendations and related draft legislation.  It shall also include an analysis of the effectiveness of 16 V.S.A. § 4028(c), which permits high spending districts to hire a budget consultant with money paid as a consequence of exceeding the threshold.

Sixth:  By striking out Sec. 13 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof two new sections to be numbered Secs. 13 and 13a to read as follows:

Sec. 13.  16 V.S.A. § 2975 is added to read:

§ 2975.  UNUSUAL SPECIAL EDUCATION COSTS; FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

The commissioner may use up to two percent of the funds appropriated for special education expenditures, as that term is defined in subsection 2967(b) of this title, to directly assist school districts with special education expenditures of an unusual or unexpected nature.  These funds shall not be used for exceptional circumstances that are funded under section 2963a of this title.  The commissioner’s decision regarding a district’s eligibility for and amount of assistance shall be final.

Sec. 13a.  REPEAL

Sec. 9(a) of No. 117 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000) (financial assistance for unusual special education costs), as amended by Sec. 18 of No. 107 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004), is repealed.

Seventh:  By striking out Sec. 16 in its entirety and adding six new sections to be numbered Secs. 16‑21 to read as follows:

Sec. 16.  16 V.S.A. § 4001(1) is amended to read: 

(1) “Average daily membership” of a school district, or if needed in order to calculate the appropriate homestead tax rate, of the municipality as defined in 32 V.S.A. § 5401(9), in any year means:

(A)  the full‑time equivalent enrollment of pupils, as defined by the state board by rule, who are legal residents of the district or municipality attending a school owned and operated by the district, attending a public school outside the district under an interdistrict agreement, or for whom the district pays tuition to one or more approved independent schools or public schools outside the district during the annual census period.  The census period consists of the first 40 days 11th day through the 31st day of the school year in which school is actually in session; and

(B)  the full‑time equivalent enrollment in the year between the end of before the last census period and the end of the current census period, of any state‑placed students as defined in subdivision 11(a)(28) of this title.  A school district which provides for the education of its students by paying tuition to an approved independent school or public school outside the district shall not count a state‑placed student for whom it is paying tuition for purposes of determining average daily membership.  A school district which is receiving the full amount, as defined by the state board by rule, of the student’s education costs under subsection 2950(a) of this title, shall not count the student for purposes of determining average daily membership.  A state‑placed student who is counted in average daily membership shall be counted as a student for the purposes of determining weighted student count.


Sec. 17.  16 V.S.A. § 4010(h) is added to read:

§ 4010.  DETERMINATION OF WEIGHTED MEMBERSHIP

* * *

(h)  On December 1 each year, the commissioner shall determine the equalized pupil count for the next fiscal year for district review.  The commissioner shall make any necessary corrections on or before December 15, on which date the count shall become final for that year.

Sec. 18.  STATEWIDE NETWORK FOR DISTANCE LEARNING

(a)  The department of education shall examine, analyze, and make recommendations concerning a process by which the state could develop a statewide, managed network offering shared, high‑quality distance‑learning opportunities to all Vermont schools through accredited, online course offerings from nationally recognized distance learning schools and through Vermont‑based distance learning courses.

(b)  The department shall present its analysis and recommendations in the form of a report to the general assembly on or before January 1, 2008.  The report shall:

(1)  Explain the impediments that have prevented the creation of this network and describe how the department would overcome these impediments.

(2)  Outline in detail a process by which the department would create a network of high‑quality distance‑learning opportunities for all Vermont schools, which would include:

(A)  A professional development program to improve the skills of Vermont educators in creating course offerings and overseeing the distance learning system.

(B)  A warehouse of content‑based, electronic resources for educators.

(C)  Shared infrastructure services such as e‑mail, content filtering, spam filtering, and security services.

(3)  Include a detailed fiscal analysis of the funding required for initial and ongoing implementation of the proposed network, including proposed sources of funding.

(4)  Include a detailed timeline for implementation.


Sec. 19.  PREGNANT AND PARENTING PUPILS ATTENDING TEEN PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAMS

(a)  Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, a school district of residence shall make the following payments for a publicly funded pregnant or parenting pupil attending a teen parent education program: 

(1)  The school district shall pay the teen parent education program 83 percent of the base education payment for the year of attendance prorated based on the pupil’s full‑time equivalent enrollment, as defined by state board rule, in academic courses at the teen parent education program.

(2)  If the district of residence does not maintain a school, the otherwise qualified pregnant or parenting pupil may enroll in any public school or approved independent school (the “enrolling school”) in which any other legal pupil in the district of residence may enroll at public expense.  In this situation, the district of residence shall reimburse the enrolling school for coordinating the pregnant or parenting pupil’s education plan at the teen parent education program and for planning and facilitating the pupil’s subsequent education plan and transition to the enrolling school, at a rate of 17 percent of the base education payment for the year in which the pupil attends the teen parent education program.

(b)(1)  The pregnant or parenting pupil must be enrolled in a school maintained by the school district of residence or, if the district does not maintain a school, enrolled at a public school or an approved independent school at the district’s expense. 

(2)  The teen parent education program must be recognized by the department for children and families.

(3)  As determined by the district of residence or by the enrolling school if the district does not maintain a school, the pupil must be taking academic courses at the teen parent education program that are the substantial equivalent of the courses required by the district of residence or enrolling school, as applicable, to obtain a high school diploma.  The sending district or enrolling school, as applicable, will collaborate with the teen parent education program regarding the pupil’s programs and progress.

(4)  In the event of a dispute, the pupil, the teen parent education program, the district of residence, or the enrolling school may request a ruling from the commissioner of education which shall be final.

(5)  On or before January 8, 2008, the commissioner of education shall report to the house and senate committees on education regarding information gathered from the teen parent education programs and recommendations for future legislation.  The report shall include an overview of the pupils served, current funding mechanisms, and a description of the academic resources offered by the programs.  The report shall also include data regarding the pupils’ educational success rates, including the number of pupils taking academic courses at the teen parent programs, the number of courses taken by the pupils, the number of pupils who remain in the program and the number who drop out, the number of pupils who return to the school in their district of residence or to the enrolling school, and the number of pupils who obtain a high school diploma or GED after receiving services at the teen parent education center.

Sec. 20.  Sec. 168a of No. 122 of the Acts of the 2003 Adj. Sess. (2004) is amended to read:

Sec. 168a.  SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION; TRANSITION AID; APPROPRIATION SUNSET

(a)  In its first year of operation After voter approval of the establishment of a union, unified union, or interstate school district, the commissioner of education shall pay to a joint contract, the board of the union, unified union, or interstate school district which began operation during or after school year 2003‑2004 a facilitation grant of five percent of the base education payment amount in 16 V.S.A. § 4001(13) based on October 1 enrollment for that year the combined enrollment of the participating districts on October 1 of the year in which the successful vote was taken or $150,000.00, whichever is less, from the education fund.  The funds grant shall be in addition to funds received under 16 V.S.A. § 4028 and for districts beginning operation during or after school year 2004‑2005 shall be paid in thirds in the same manner that other state education aid is paid under that section

(b)  This section shall sunset on June 30, 2008 2010.

Sec. 21.  EFFECTIVE DATES; SUNSET

(a)  Sec. 19 shall take effect on July 1, 2007 and shall remain in effect until July 1, 2008.

(b)  All other sections of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2007.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment?, on motion of Senator Collins, the Senate refused to concur in the House proposal of amendment and requested a Committee of Conference.


Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment Concurred In

S. 137.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to reducing the amount of phosphorus allowed in household cleansing products used in dishwashers.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

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.  10 V.S.A. § 1382 is amended to read:

§ 1382.  PROHIBITIONS

(a)  No household cleansing products except those used in dishwashers, for cleansing medical and surgical equipment, food and beverage processing equipment, and dairy equipment may be distributed, sold, offered, or exposed for sale at retail, after April 1, 1978, or at wholesale, after January 1, 1978, or used in a commercial establishment in this state, after April 1, 1978, which shall contain a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of a trace quantity.

(b)  No household cleansing products used in dishwashers, for cleansing medical and surgical equipment and food and beverage processing equipment, may be distributed, sold, offered, or exposed for sale at retail, after April 1, 1978, or at wholesale, after January 1, 1978, or used in a commercial establishment in this state, after April 1, 1978, which shall contain a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of 8.7 percent by weight expressed as elemental phosphorus. 

(a)  No household cleansing products containing a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of a trace quantity may be distributed, sold, offered for sale at retail or wholesale, exposed for sale at retail or wholesale, or used in a commercial establishment in this state, except as set forth in subsections (b) and (c) of this section.

(b)  No household cleansing product used in a dishwasher in a commercial establishment, used to cleanse food and beverage processing equipment, including dishes, pots, pans and utensils, used to cleanse medical or surgical equipment, or used to cleanse dairy equipment may be distributed, sold, offered for sale at retail or wholesale, exposed for sale at retail or wholesale, or used in a commercial establishment if it contains a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of 8.7 percent by weight expressed as elemental phosphorus.

(c)  As of July 1, 2010, no household cleansing product used in a residential dishwasher may be distributed, sold, offered for sale at retail or wholesale, or exposed for sale at retail or wholesale if it contains a phosphorus compound in concentrations in excess of a trace quantity, except for product inventory purchased by retailers prior to July 1, 2010.

(c) (d)  The provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit the phosphorus content of household cleansing products used in agricultural production and for cleansing equipment used in processing of agricultural products.

(d) (e)  The provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit the phosphorus content of household cleaning products approved by the commissioner of health for use in lead hazard management projects.

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

Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment to Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred In; Committee of Conference Requested

H. 148.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate proposal of amendment to House bill entitled:

An act relating to child abuse registry.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the Senate proposal of amendment as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, 33 V.S.A. § 4916d, by striking out section 4916d in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new section 4916d to read as follows:

§ 4916d.  AUTOMATIC EXPUNGEMENT OF REGISTRY RECORDS

Registry entries concerning a person who was substantiated for behavior occurring before the person reached 10 years of age shall be expunged when the person reaches the age of 18, provided that the person has had no additional substantiated registry entries.

Second:  In Sec. 6, by adding a new subdivision (a)(5) to read as follows:

(5)  Issues related to the substantiation of minors, including the availability of psychological treatment for a minor suspected of committing an act of abuse, placement of a minor’s name on the child abuse registry once the commissioner determines the minor committed an act of abuse, and expungement of a minor’s registry records once the minor reaches the age of 18.  The house committee on judiciary shall consult with the house committee on human services while considering the issues in this subdivision.

Third:  By striking out Secs. 7-11 in their entirety and renumbering the remaining section to be numerically correct.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment to the Senate proposal of amendment? On motion of Senator Sears, the Senate refused to concur in the House proposal of amendment to the Senate proposal of amendment and requested a Committee of Conference.

Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment to the Senate Proposal of Amendment Not Concurred In; Committee of Conference Requested

H. 154.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House proposal of amendment to Senate proposal of amendment to House bill entitled:

An act relating to stormwater management.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the proposal of amendment by striking out  Sec. 7 in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 7.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds and declares that:

(1)  It is the settled policy of the state as set forth in 10 V.S.A. § 1250 to protect and enhance the existing quality, character, and usefulness of surface water and to seek over the long term to upgrade the quality of the surface waters of the state.

(2)  The adoption of any water management types within the classifications of state surface waters shall conform to the state water policy.

(3)  During the process preceding adoption of revised basin plans for the state, the secretary of natural resources shall maximize public participation and public input in a manner consistent with the department of conservation’s 2004 Vermont watershed initiative guidelines for watershed planning.

(4)  Basin plans or water management type designations and redesignations proposed by the agency of natural resources shall include sufficient information and documentation to ensure transparency regarding agency decision-making.

(5)  The agency of natural resources is expected to and should strive to update all 17 basin plans for the state by the 2010 deadline authorized by this act.

Sec. 8.  10 V.S.A. § 1251a(c) is added to read:

(c)  The secretary of natural resources shall propose for point source discharges to state waters an implementation process for the antidegradation policy of the water quality standards of the state and shall seek the concurrence of the water resources panel of the board prior to initiating rulemaking for adoption of an implementation process.

Sec. 9.  10 V.S.A. § 1253(d) is amended to read:

(d)  The board shall determine what degree of water quality and classification should be obtained and maintained for those waters not classified by it before 1981 following the procedures in sections 1254 and 1258 of this title.  Those waters shall be classified in the public interest.  The secretary shall revise all 17 basin plans by January 1, 2006 December 31, 2010, and update them every five years thereafter.  Prior to July 1, 2008, the secretary may adopt revised basin plans without including proposals for water management types in Class B waters to ensure that the strategies to improve and restore waters contained in the basin plans are available to the people of the state.  On or before January 1 15 of each year, the secretary shall report to the house committees on agriculture and natural resources and energy on fish, wildlife and water resources and to the senate committees on agriculture and on natural resources and energy regarding the progress made and difficulties encountered in revising basin plans.  By January 1, 1993, the secretary shall prepare an overall management plan to ensure that the water quality standards are met in all state waters.

Sec. 10.  EFFECTIVE DATE

(a)  This section and Secs. 1 (secretary issuance of TMDLs), 2 (notice of deferral of permit), 3 (extension of interim stormwater permit program), 4 (agency of natural resources TMDL report), 6 (clean and clear action plan audit), 7 (findings), 8 (antidegradation policy), and 9 (basin planning) of this act shall take effect upon passage.

(b)  Sec. 5 (Lake Champlain TMDL review and reopening) shall take effect July 1, 2008.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the Senate concur in the House proposal of amendment to the Senate proposal of amendment? On motion of Senator Lyons, the Senate refused to concur in the House proposal of amendment and requested a Committee of Conference.

Rules Suspended; Bills Passed in Concurrence with Proposals of Amendment

H. 531.

Pending entry on the Calendar for action tomorrow, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to ensuring success in health care reform.

Was placed on all remaining stages of its passage in concurrence with proposal of amendment forthwith.

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

H. 534.

Pending entry on the Calendar for action tomorrow, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to prekindergarten education.

Was placed on all remaining stages of its passage in concurrence with proposals of amendment forthwith.

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

Rules Suspended; Bills Messaged

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

H. 294; H. 531; H. 534.

Rules Suspended; Bill Delivered

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

S. 137.


Recess

On motion of Senator Shumlin the Senate recessed until 4:30 P.M.

Called to Order

At 4:45 P.M. the Senate was called to order by the President.

Rules Suspended; Proposals of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered

H. 248.

Pending on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and House bill entitled:

An act relating to establishing the Vermont telecommunications authority to advance broadband and wireless communications infrastructure throughout the state.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Illuzzi, for the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, to which the bill was referred, reported recommending that the Senate propose to the House to amend the bill by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

* * * Vermont Telecommunications Authority * * *

Sec. 1.  30 V.S.A. chapter 91 is added to read:

CHAPTER 91.  VERMONT TELECOMMUNICATIONS AUTHORITY

§ 8060.  LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds that:

(1)  The availability of mobile telecommunications and broadband services is essential for promoting the economic development of the state, the education of its young people and life-long learning, the delivery of cost-effective health care, the public safety, and the ability of citizens to participate fully in society and civic life.

(2)  Private entities have brought mobile telecommunications and broadband services to many households, businesses and locations in the state, but significant gaps remain.

(3)  A new level of creative and innovative strategies (including partnerships and collaborations among and between state entities, nonprofit organizations, municipalities, the federal government, and the private sector) is necessary to extend and complete broadband coverage in the state, and to ensure that Vermont maintains a telecommunications infrastructure that allows residents and businesses to compete fairly in the national and global economy.

          (4)  When such partnerships and collaborations fail to achieve the goal of providing high-quality broadband access and service to all areas and households, or when some areas of the state fall behind significantly in the variety and quality of services readily available in the state, it is necessary for an authority of the state to support and facilitate the construction of infrastructure and access to broadband service through financial and other incentives.

(5)  Small broadband enterprises now offering broadband service in Vermont have limited access to financial capital necessary for expansion of broadband service to unserved areas of the state.  The general assembly recognizes these locally based broadband providers for their contributions to date in providing broadband service to unserved areas despite the limitations on their financial resources.

(6)  The universal availability of adequate mobile telecommunications and broadband services promotes the general good of the state.

     (b)  Therefore, it is the goal of the general assembly to ensure:

(1)  that all residences and business in all regions of the state have access to affordable broadband services not later than the end of the year 2010;

(2)  the ubiquitous availability of mobile telecommunication services including voice and high-speed data throughout the state by the end of the year 2010; and

(3)  the investment in telecommunications infrastructure in the state which will support the best available and economically feasible service capabilities.

(4)  that telecommunications and broadband infrastructure in all areas of the state is continuously upgraded to reflect the rapid evolution in the capabilities of available mobile telecommunications and broadband technologies, and in the capabilities of mobile telecommunications and  broadband services needed by persons, businesses, and institutions in the state.

(5)  the most efficient use of both public and private resources through state policies by encouraging the development of open access telecommunications infrastructure that can be shared by multiple service providers.

§ 8061.  ESTABLISHMENT OF AUTHORITY; ORGANIZATION

(a)  The Vermont telecommunications authority is hereby created and established as a body corporate and politic and a public instrumentality of the state.  The exercise by the authority of the powers conferred upon it in this chapter constitutes the performance of essential governmental functions.

(b) The authority shall have a board of directors of 11 members selected as follows:

(1)  the state treasurer or his or her designee;

(2)  the executive director of the Vermont economic development Authority or his or her designee;

(3)  the secretary of administration or his or her designee;

(4) one representative appointed by the board of the Vermont league of cities and towns;

(5) three at-large members appointed by the speaker of the house, who may not be members of the general assembly at the time of appointment;

(6)  three at-large members appointed by the committee on committees of the senate, who may not be members of the general assembly at the time of appointment; and

     (7)  one member appointed jointly by the governor, the speaker of the house, and the president pro tempore of the senate, who shall be chair of the board of directors, and who need not be a member of the general assembly or an employee or officer of the state at the time of appointment.

     (c)  The authority’s powers are vested in the board of directors, and a quorum shall consist of seven members.  No action of the authority shall be considered valid unless the action is supported by a majority vote of the members present and voting and then only if at least six members vote in favor of the action.

(d)  In making appointments of at-large members and the chair, the appointing authorities shall give consideration to citizens of the state with knowledge of telecommunications technology, telecommunications regulatory law, transportation rights-of-way and infrastructure, finance, and environmental permitting. However, the six at-large members and the chair may not be persons with a financial interest in or owners or employees of an enterprise that provides broadband or cellular service or that is seeking in-kind or financial support from the authority.  The six at-large members and the chair shall serve terms of four years beginning July 1 of the year of appointment.  However, two of the at-large members first appointed by the speaker, and two of the at-large members first appointed by the committee on committees shall serve an initial term of two years.  Any vacancy occurring among the at-large members or the chair shall be filled by the respective appointing authority and be filled for the balance of the unexpired term.  A member may be reappointed.

(e)  The authority shall hire and employ an executive director who shall serve as the authority’s chief administrative officer and shall direct and supervise the authority’s administrative affairs and technical activities in accordance with any rules, regulations, and policies set forth by the authority.  In addition to any other duties, the executive director shall:

(1)  Attend all meetings of the authority, act as its secretary, and keep minutes of its proceedings;

(2)  Approve all accounts of the authority, including but not limited to accounts for salaries, per diems, and allowable expenses of any employee or consultant thereof and expenses incidental to the operation of the authority;

(3)  Make an annual report to the authority documenting the actions of the authority and such other reports as the authority may request;

(4)  Perform such other duties as may be directed by the authority in the carrying out of the purposes of this chapter.

(f)  Except for those members otherwise regularly employed by the state, the compensation of the authority’s members shall be the same as that provided by 32 V.S.A. § 1010(a).  All members of the authority, including those members otherwise regularly employed by the state, shall receive their actual and necessary expenses when away from home or office upon their official duties.

§ 8062.  PURPOSE; POWERS AND DUTIES

(a)  The authority shall ensure that the goals of the general assembly, set out in subsection 8060(b) of this title, to provide all residences and businesses in all regions of the state with access to affordable broadband services and to ensure the ubiquitous availability of mobile voice and high-speed data telecommunications services are achieved not later than the end of the year 2010;

(b)  To achieve these goals, the authority is directed:

(1)  from information reasonably available after public notice to and written requests made of broadband service providers, to develop and maintain an inventory of locations at which mobile telecommunications and broadband services are not available within the state, develop and maintain an inventory of infrastructure that is available or reasonably likely to be available to support provision of services to areas unserved, and develop and maintain an inventory of infrastructure necessary for provision of these services to the areas unserved;


(2)  to identify the types and locations of infrastructure and services needed to accomplish the goals of this chapter;

(3)  to coordinate the agencies of the state to make public resources available to support the extension of mobile telecommunications and broadband infrastructure and services to all unserved areas;

(4)  to coordinate and establish public-private partnerships to extend availability of mobile telecommunications and broadband services, and to promote development of the infrastructure that enables the provision of these services;

(5)  to support and facilitate local initiatives to extend the availability of mobile telecommunications and broadband services, and to promote development of the infrastructure that enables the provision of these services;

          (6)  to provide resources to local, regional, public and private entities in the form of loans, grants, and other incentives funded through bonded capital and other resources;

(7)  to solicit and consider input from local municipal authorities, districts designated by the federal economic development administration, regional planning commissions, and metropolitan planning organizations on specific projects the authority plans to undertake;

(8)  to inventory and assess the potential to use federal radio frequency licenses held by instrumentalities of the state to enable broadband service in unserved areas of the state; take whatever steps are consistent with the powers granted the authority under this chapter to promote the use of those licensed radio frequencies for that purpose; and recommend to the general assembly any further legislative measures with respect to ownership, management, and utilization of these licenses as would promote the general good of the state; and

(9)  to the extent not inconsistent with the goals of this chapter, to promote utilization of existing buildings and structures, historic or otherwise, as sites for visually-neutral placement of mobile telecommunications and wireless broadband antenna facilities.

(c)  The authority shall have the following powers, which shall be exercised to further the authority’s purpose, and shall have all other powers necessary to carry out the duties imposed on the authority by law:

(1)  to establish partnerships and contracts with providers of telecommunications services and related facilities to serve unserved people and areas of the state; and to provide financial and other assistance to providers who agree in return to provide mobile telecommunications or broadband services to unserved people and areas of the state; and to facilitate directly or indirectly the efforts of other entities to advance the availability of mobile voice and high speed data or broadband services.

(2)  to provide financial assistance in the form of loans, grants, guarantees, other financial instruments, or, in accordance with section 8064 of this title, to issue bonds backed by project revenues, the state, or its political subdivisions, or both, for the purpose of building infrastructure capable of delivering mobile telecommunications and broadband services to all Vermonters;

(3)  to consult, contract, or partner with the Vermont economic development authority and the Vermont municipal bond bank to provide financial assistance for purposes authorized by this chapter;

(4) to coordinate access to and pursue regional and local revolving loan funding and all state, federal, and private funding that is available for telecommunications infrastructure, including financial assistance that may be available to rural economic area partnership (REAP) zones, as designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and to contract with financial assistance providers;

(5)  to receive and accept grants, gifts, loans, or contributions from any source subject to the provisions of 32 V.S.A. § 5.

(6)  to incorporate one or more nonprofit corporations in Vermont to fulfill the goals of this chapter.  Such corporations shall be empowered to borrow money and to receive and accept gifts, grants, or contributions from any source, subject to the provisions of 32 V.S.A. § 5.  The board of directors of any nonprofit corporation created under this subsection shall be the board of directors of the authority.  The corporation shall be organized and operate under the nonprofit corporation laws of the state of Vermont.  The authority may contract with the corporation to provide staff and management needs of the corporation;

(7)  to aggregate and broker access at reduced prices to services and facilities required to provide wireless telecommunications and broadband services;  and to waive or reduce state fees for access to state‑owned rights‑of‑way in exchange for comparable value to the state, unless payment for use is otherwise required by federal law;

(8)  to own, acquire, sell, trade, and lease equipment, facilities, and other infrastructure that could be accessed and used by multiple service providers, the state and local governments, including fiber optic cables, towers, shelters, easements, rights of way, and wireless spectrum of frequencies; provided that any agreement by the authority to sell infrastructure that is capable of use by more than one service provider shall contain conditions that will ensure continued shared use or co-location at reasonable rates;

(9)  in collaboration with the Vermont municipal bond bank, to act as agent and advisor for municipalities that wish to offer municipally backed financial assistance, consistent with chapter 53 of Title 24, to develop telecommunications infrastructure or services in their communities;

(10)  to apply for and obtain required permits for the construction of telecommunications infrastructure;

(11)  in collaboration with the agency of administration, to lead the management of marketing of state properties to encourage and expedite collocation of infrastructure;

(12)  to consult with agencies and departments on establishing charges or payments for use by wireless telecommunications and broadband service providers of state property, easements, and rights‑of‑way to the extent such charges or payments are required by law, and establish the criteria for waiver of such charges or payments when providers offer to furnish comparable value to the state to meet the public good;

(13)  to sue and be sued in its own name and plead and be impleaded;

(14)  to administer its own funds and to invest or deposit funds which are not needed currently to meet the obligations of the authority; and

(15)  to borrow money and give other evidence of indebtedness or obligations and security consistent with the authority’s purpose and needs.

(d)  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to grant power to the authority to offer the sale of telecommunications services to the public. 

§ 8063.  INTERAGENCY COOPERATION AND ASSISTANCE

(a)  Other departments and agencies of state government shall assist and cooperate with the authority and shall make available to it information and data as needed to assist the authority in carrying out its duties. The secretary of administration shall establish protocols and agreements among the authority and departments and agencies of the state for this purpose.  Nothing in this section shall be construed to waive any privilege or protection otherwise afforded to the data and information under exemptions to the public records act or under other laws due solely to the fact that the information or data is shared with the authority pursuant to this section. 

(b)  With the consent of the governor, and under terms and conditions of transfer approved by the governor, a state agency shall transfer ownership and control to the authority of the agency’s interest in any telecommunications facility designated by the authority as appropriate to assist the authority in meeting its statutory purposes.  “Telecommunications facility” includes antennae, towers and other support structures, wires and cables, and other equipment.

(c)  To the extent that the authority issues loans, it shall consult with the Vermont economic development authority to ensure that the lending activities and programs of each are coordinated and are not in competition.  The authority may, through contract or agreement, engage the assistance of the Vermont economic development Authority in planning and administering lending activities and in evaluating credit worthiness of the borrower for purposes of this chapter.

(d)  The authority shall also strive to identify, consult with, and coordinate lending programs with the administrators of local and regional revolving loan funds in order to leverage the lending capacity of the authority and the regional and local funds, and to ensure that the lending activities of the authority and the revolving loan funds are not in competition.

(e)  No instrumentality of the state shall sell, lease, or otherwise divest itself of ownership or control of radio frequency spectrum without prior notice to and approval of the authority.  

§ 8064.  BONDS AND NOTES

(a)(1)  The authority may issue its negotiable notes and bonds in such principal amount as the authority determines to be necessary to provide sufficient funds for achieving any of its corporate purposes, including the payment of interest on notes and bonds of the authority, establishment of reserves to secure the notes and bonds including the reserve funds created under section 8065 of this title, and all other expenditures of the authority incident to and necessary or convenient to carry out its corporate purposes and powers.  However, the bonds or notes of the authority outstanding at any one time shall not exceed $40,000,000.00.  No bonds shall be issued under this section without the prior approval of the governor and the state treasurer or their respective designees.

(2)  The authority shall have the power, from time to time, to issue bonds and notes, to renew, defease, and refund notes and bonds to pay bonds and notes, including the interest thereon, and, whenever it deems refunding expedient, to refund any bonds by the issuance of new bonds, whether the bonds and notes to be refunded have or have not matured, and to issue bonds and notes partly to refund bonds then outstanding and partly for any of its corporate purposes.


(3)  Except as may otherwise be expressly provided by resolution of the authority, every issue of its notes and bonds shall be general obligations of the authority payable out of any revenues or moneys of the authority, subject only to any agreements with the holders of particular notes or bonds pledging any particular revenues.

(b)  The notes and bonds shall be authorized by resolution or resolutions of the authority, shall bear such date or dates and shall mature at such time or times as the resolution or resolutions may provide, except that no bond shall mature more than 30 years from the date of its issue.  The bonds may be issued as serial bonds or as term bonds or as a combination thereof.  The notes and bonds shall bear interest at such rate or rates or the manner of determining such rate or rates, as provided in sections 1881-1887 of Title 24, be in such denominations, be in such form, carry such registration privileges, be executed in such manner, be payable in such medium of payment, at such place or places within or without the state, and be subject to such terms of redemption as the resolution or resolutions may provide; provided, however, that at the time of the authorization of the issuance of such bonds or notes the authority determines in such resolution that the authority will derive receipts, revenues, or other income from the facilities or projects to be financed with the proceeds of such bonds or notes sufficient to provide, together with all other available receipts, revenues, and income of the authority, for the payment of such bonds or notes and the payment of all costs and expenses incurred by the authority with respect to the program or purpose for which such bonds or notes are issued and all other expenses of the authority incurred under this title.  The notes and bonds of the authority may be sold by the authority at public or private sale, at such price or prices as the authority shall determine.

(c)  Any resolution or resolutions authorizing any notes or bonds or any issue thereof may contain provisions, which shall be a part of the contract or contracts with the holders thereof, as to:

(1)  pledging all or any part of the revenues of the authority to secure the payment of the notes or bonds or of any issue thereof, subject to such agreements with note holders or bondholders as may then exist;

(2)  pledging all or any part of the assets of the authority to secure the payment of the notes or bonds or of any issue of notes or bonds, subject to such agreements with note holders or bondholders as may then exist;

(3)  the use and disposition of the revenues of the authority and payments upon other obligations held by the authority;

(4)  the setting aside of reserves or sinking funds and the regulation and disposition thereof;

(5)  limitations on the purpose to which the proceeds of sale of notes or bonds may be applied and pledging the proceeds to secure the payment of the notes or bonds or of any issue thereof;

(6)  limitations on the issuance of additional notes or bonds; the terms upon which additional notes or bonds may be issued and secured; and the refunding of outstanding or other notes or bonds;

(7)  the procedure, if any, by which the terms of any contract with note holders or bondholders may be amended or abrogated, the amount of notes or bonds the holders of which must consent thereto, and the manner in which consent may be given;

(8)  limitations on the amount of moneys to be expended by the authority for operating expenses of the authority;

(9)  vesting in a trustee or trustees, within or without the state, such property, rights, powers, and duties in trust as the authority may determine, which may include any or all of the rights, powers, and duties of the trustee appointed by the bondholders pursuant to this chapter and limiting or abrogating the right of the bondholders to appoint a trustee under this chapter or limiting the rights, powers, and duties of the trustee;

(10)  defining the acts or omissions to act that shall constitute a default in the obligations and duties of the authority to the holders of the notes or bonds and providing for the rights and remedies of the holders of the notes or bonds in the event of such default, including as a matter of right the appointment of a receiver; provided, however, that the rights and remedies shall not be inconsistent with the general laws of the state and other provisions of this chapter; and

(11)  any other matters, of like or different character, which in any way affect the security or protection of the holders of the notes or bonds.

(d)  Any pledge made by the authority shall be valid and binding from the time when the pledge is made; the revenues, moneys, or property so pledged and thereafter received by the authority shall immediately be subject to the lien of such pledge without any physical delivery thereof or further act; and such pledge shall be valid and binding as against all parties having claims of any kind in tort, contract, or otherwise against the authority, irrespective of whether such parties have notice thereof.

(e)  Bonds, notes, and other obligations authorized under this chapter may, in the discretion of the authority, be issued with such terms as will cause the interest thereon to be subject to federal income taxation.  To the extent required for the sale of the obligations, the authority may register such obligations under applicable federal and state securities laws.  No person executing any bonds, notes, and other obligations issued by the authority or others under authority of this chapter shall be subject to any personal liability or accountability by reason of the issuance thereof.  The authority shall indemnify any person who shall have served as a member, officer, or employee of the authority against financial loss or litigation expense arising out of or in connection with any claim or suit involving allegations that pecuniary harm has been sustained as a result of any transaction authorized by this chapter, unless such person is found by a final judicial determination not to have acted in good faith and for a purpose that the person reasonably believed to be lawful and in the best interest of the authority.

(f)  The authority, subject to such agreements with note holders or bondholders as may then exist, shall have power out of any funds available therefore to purchase notes or bonds of the authority, which shall thereupon be cancelled, at a price not exceeding:

(1)  if the notes or bonds are then redeemable, the redemption price then applicable plus accrued interest to the next interest payment thereon; or

(2)  if the notes or bonds are not then redeemable, the redemption price applicable on the first date after such purchase upon which the notes or bonds become subject to redemption plus accrued interest to such date.

(g)  In the discretion of the authority, the notes or bonds may be secured by a trust indenture by and between the authority and a corporate trustee, which may be any trust company or bank having the power of a trust company within or without the state.  The trust indenture may contain such provisions for protecting and enforcing the rights and remedies of the note holders or bondholders as may be reasonable and proper and not in violation of law, including covenants setting forth the duties of the authority in relation to the exercise of its corporate powers and the custody, safeguarding, and application of all moneys.  The authority may provide by such trust indenture for the payment of the proceeds of the notes or bonds and the revenues to the trustee under such trust indenture or other depository and for the method of disbursement thereof, with such safeguards and restrictions as it may determine.  All expenses incurred in carrying out the trust indenture may be treated as a part of the operating expenses of the authority.  If the notes or bonds shall be secured by a trust indenture, the note holders and bondholders shall have no authority to appoint a separate trustee to represent them.

(h)  Any law to the contrary notwithstanding, a bond or note issued under this chapter is fully negotiable for all purposes of sections 1–101 et seq. of Title 9A, and each holder or owner of a bond or note or of any coupon appurtenant thereto, by accepting the bond or note or coupon, shall be conclusively deemed to have agreed that the bond, note, or coupon is fully negotiable for those purposes.

(i)  Any provision of this chapter or of any other law or any recitals in any bonds or notes issued under this chapter to the contrary notwithstanding, all bonds, notes, and interest coupons appertaining thereto issued by the authority shall have and are hereby declared to have all the qualities and incidents, including negotiability, of investment securities under sections 1–101 et seq. of Title 9A, but no provision of those sections respecting the filing of a financing statement to perfect a security interest shall be applicable to any security interest created in connection with the issuance of the bonds, notes, or coupons.

(j)  In case any of the members, executive director, or officers of the authority whose signatures appear on any notes or bonds or coupons shall cease to be members, executive director, or officers before the delivery of such notes or bonds, the signatures shall, nevertheless, be valid and sufficient for all purposes, the same as if such members, executive director, or officers had remained in office until such delivery.

(k)  The authority may enter into one or more agreements for the exchange of interest rates, cash flows, or payments to reduce net borrowing costs, to achieve desirable net effective interest rates in connection with its issuance and sale of debt obligations, and to provide for an efficient means of debt management.

§ 8065.  RESERVE FUNDS

(a)  The authority may create and establish one or more special funds, herein referred to as “debt service reserve funds,” and shall pay into each such debt service reserve fund:

(1)  any moneys appropriated and made available by the state for the purpose of such fund;

(2)  any proceeds of the sale of notes or bonds, to the extent provided in the resolution or resolutions of the authority authorizing the issuance thereof; and

(3)  any other moneys which may be made available to the authority for the purpose of such fund from any other source or sources.

(b)  All moneys held in any debt service reserve fund, except as hereinafter provided, shall be used, as required, solely for the payment of the principal of bonds secured in whole or in part by such fund or of the sinking fund payments hereinafter mentioned with respect to such bonds, the purchase or redemption of such bonds, the payment of interest on such bonds or the payment of any redemption premium required to be paid when such bonds are redeemed prior to maturity; provided, however, that moneys in any such fund shall not be withdrawn therefrom at any time in such amount as would reduce the amount of such fund to less than the debt service reserve requirement established by resolution of the authority for such fund as hereafter provided except for the purpose of making with respect to bonds secured in whole or in part by such fund payments, when due, of principal, interest, redemption premiums, and the sinking fund payments hereinafter mentioned for the payment of which other moneys of the authority are not available.  Any income or interest earned by, or increment to, any debt service reserve fund due to the investment thereof may be transferred by the authority to other funds or accounts of the authority to the extent it does not reduce the amount of such debt service reserve fund below the debt service reserve requirement for such fund.

(c)  The authority shall not at any time issue bonds or notes secured in whole or in part by a debt service reserve fund if upon the issuance of such bonds or notes the amount in such debt service reserve fund will be less than the debt service reserve requirement established by resolution of the authority for such fund, unless the authority at the time of issuance of such bonds shall deposit in such fund from the proceeds of the bonds or notes so to be issued, or from other sources, an amount that, together with the amount then in such fund, will not be less than the debt service reserve requirement established for such fund.  The debt service reserve requirement for any debt service reserve fund shall be established by resolution of the authority prior to the issuance of any bonds or notes secured in whole or in part by such fund and shall not be required to exceed “maximum debt service.”  For the purposes of this section, the term “maximum debt service” shall mean, as of any particular date of computation, an amount of money equal to the greatest of the respective amounts, for the then current or any future fiscal year of the authority, of annual debt service on the bonds of the authority secured or to be secured in whole or in part by such debt service reserve fund, such annual debt service for any fiscal year being the amount of money equal to the aggregate of:

(1)  all interest payable during such fiscal year on all bonds secured in whole or in part by such debt service reserve fund outstanding on the date of computation; plus

(2)  the principal amount of all such bonds outstanding on such date of computation that mature during such fiscal year; plus

(3)  all amounts specified in any resolution of the authority authorizing such bonds as payable during such fiscal year as a sinking fund payment with respect to any of such bonds that mature after such fiscal year.


(d)  In computing the amount of the debt service reserve funds for the purpose of this section, securities in which all or a portion of such funds shall be invested shall be valued at par if purchased at par or at amortized value, as such term is defined by resolution of the authority, if purchased at other than par.

(e)  In order to assure the maintenance of the debt service reserve requirement in each debt service reserve fund established by the authority, there may be appropriated annually and paid to the authority for deposit in each such fund such sum as shall be certified by the chair of the authority to the governor, the president of the senate, and the speaker of the house as is necessary to restore each such debt service reserve fund to an amount equal to the debt service reserve requirement for such fund.  The chair shall annually, on or about February 1, make and deliver to the governor, the president of the senate, and the speaker of the house his or her certificate stating the sum required to restore each such debt service reserve fund to the amount aforesaid, and the sum so certified may be appropriated, and if appropriated, shall be paid to the authority during the then current state fiscal year.  The principal amount of bonds or notes outstanding at any one time and secured in whole or in part by a debt service reserve fund to which state funds may be appropriated pursuant to this subsection shall not exceed $40,000,000.00, provided that the foregoing shall not impair the obligation of any contract or contracts entered into by the authority in contravention of the Constitution of the United States of America.

(f)  The authority shall create and establish such other fund or funds as may be necessary or desirable for its corporate purposes.

§ 8066.  REFUNDING OBLIGATIONS – ISSUANCE AND SALE

(a)  The authority may provide for the issuance of refunding obligations for the purpose of refunding any obligations then outstanding that have been issued under the provisions of this chapter, including the payment of any redemption premium thereon and any interest accrued or to accrue to the date of redemption of such obligations and for any corporate purpose of the authority.  The issuance of such obligations, the maturities and other details thereof, the rights of the holders thereof, and the rights, duties, and obligations of the authority in respect of the same shall be governed by the provisions of this chapter that relate to the issuance of obligations, insofar as those provisions may be appropriate. 

(b)  Refunding obligations issued as provided in this section may be sold or exchanged for outstanding obligations issued under this chapter and, if sold, the proceeds thereof may be applied, in addition to any other authorized purposes, to the purchase, redemption, or payment of such outstanding obligations.  Pending the application of the proceeds of any refunding obligations, with any other available funds, to the payment of the principal, accrued interest and any redemption premium on the obligations being refunded, and, if so provided or permitted in the resolution authorizing the issuance of such refunding obligations or in the trust agreement securing them to the payment of any interest on such refunding obligations and any expenses in connection with such refunding, such proceeds may be invested in direct obligations of, or obligations the principal of and the interest on which are unconditionally guaranteed by, the United States of America, and which shall mature or which shall be subject to redemption by the holders thereof, at the option of such holders, not later than the respective dates when the proceeds, together with the interest accruing thereon will be required for the purposes intended.

§ 8067.  REMEDIES OF BONDHOLDERS AND NOTE HOLDERS

(a)  In the event that the authority defaults in the payment of principal or of interest on any bonds or notes issued under this chapter after they become due, whether at maturity or upon call for redemption, and the default continues for a period of 30 days, or in the event that the authority fails or refuses to comply with the provisions of this chapter or defaults in any agreement made with the holders of an issue of bonds or notes of the authority, the holders of 25 percent in aggregate principal amount of the bonds or notes of such issue then outstanding, by instrument or instruments filed in the office of the secretary of state and proved or acknowledged in the same manner as a deed to be recorded, may appoint a trustee to represent the holders of such bonds or notes for the purposes herein provided.

(b)  Such trustee may, and upon written request of the holders of 25 percent in principal amount of such bonds or notes then outstanding shall, in his or her or its own name:

(1)  enforce all rights of the bondholders or note holders, including the right to require the authority to carry out any agreements with the holders of such bonds or notes and to perform its duties under this chapter;

(2)  enforce all rights of the bondholders or note holders, including the right to collect and enforce the payment of amounts due to the authority, so as to carry out any contract as to, or pledge of revenues, and to require the authority to carry out and perform the terms of any contract with the holders of such bonds or notes or its duties under this chapter;

(3)  bring suit upon all or any part of such bonds or notes;

(4)  by action or suit, require the authority to account as if it were the trustee of an express trust for the holders of such bonds or notes;

(5)  by action or suit, enjoin any acts or things that may be unlawful or in violation of the rights of the holders of such bonds or notes;

(6)  declare all such bonds or notes due and payable, and, if all defaults shall be made good, with the consent of the holders of 25 percent of the principal amount of such bonds or notes then outstanding to annul the declaration and its consequences.

(c)  The trustee shall in addition to the foregoing have and possess all the powers necessary or appropriate for the exercise of any functions specifically set forth herein or incident to the general representation of bondholders or note holders in the enforcement and protection of their rights.

(d)  Before declaring the principal of bonds or notes due and payable, the trustee shall first give 30 days’ notice in writing to the governor, to the authority, and to the attorney general of the state.

(e)  The superior courts or courts with equity jurisdiction shall have jurisdiction of any suit, action, or proceeding by the trustee on behalf of bondholders or note holders.

§ 8068.  PLEDGE OF THE STATE

The state does hereby pledge to and agree with the holders of the notes and bonds issued under this chapter that the state will not limit or restrict the rights hereby vested in the authority to perform its obligations and to fulfill the terms of any agreement made with the holders of its bonds or notes or in any way impair the rights and remedies of the holders until the notes and bonds, together with interest thereon, and interest on any unpaid installments of interest, are fully met, paid, and discharged.  The authority is authorized to execute this pledge and agreement of the state in any agreement with the holders of the notes or bonds.

§ 8069.  SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY; CREDIT OF STATE NOT PLEDGED

The authority shall have the benefit of sovereign immunity to the same extent as the state of Vermont.  Members, officers, employees, and the executive director of the authority shall be deemed employees of the state for purposes of 12 V.S.A. chapter 189 (tort claims against state) and 3 V.S.A. chapter 29 (claims against state employees).  Notwithstanding the foregoing, obligations issued under the provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to constitute a debt or liability or obligation of the state or of any political subdivision thereof or a pledge of the faith and credit of the state or of any political subdivision but shall be payable solely from the revenues or assets of the authority.  Each obligation issued under this chapter shall contain on the face thereof a statement to the effect that the authority shall not be obligated to pay the same nor the interest thereon except from the revenues or assets pledged therefor and that neither the faith and credit nor the taxing power of the state or of any political subdivision thereof is pledged to the payment of the principal of or the interest on such obligations.

§ 8070.  NOTES AND BONDS AS LEGAL INVESTMENTS

Notwithstanding any other law, the state and all public officers, governmental units, and agencies thereof, all banks, trust companies, savings banks and institutions, building and loan associations, savings and loan associations, investment companies, and other persons carrying on a banking business, all insurance companies, insurance associations and other persons carrying on an insurance business, all credit unions, and all executors, administrators, guardians, trustees, and other fiduciaries may legally invest any sinking funds, moneys, or other funds belonging to them or within their control in any bonds or notes issued under this chapter, and the bonds or notes are authorized security for any and all public deposits.

§ 8071.  ANNUAL REPORTS; AUDIT

(a)  On or before the last day of January of each calendar year, the authority shall submit a report of its activities for the preceding fiscal year to the governor and to the general assembly.  Each report shall set forth a complete operating and financial statement covering its operations during the year.  The authority shall cause an audit of its books and accounts to be made at least once in each year by certified public accountants; the cost shall be considered an expense of the authority and a copy shall be filed with the state treasurer. 

(b)  The auditor of accounts of the state and his or her duly authorized representatives may at any time examine the accounts and books of the authority including its receipts, disbursements, contracts, sinking funds, investments, and any other matters relating to its financial statements.

§ 8072.  LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT REPORTS

(a)  In addition to the annual and audit reports required by section 8071 of this title, the authority shall provide initial legislative oversight reports to the general assembly on or before January 1, 2008, July 1, 2008, January 1, 2009, and July 1, 2009.  Each legislative oversight report shall contain: 

(1)  An inventory of the locations within the state in which mobile telecommunications and broadband service are currently available.

(2) A report of the progress made to date by the authority in developing its capabilities to undertake or sponsor projects that expand the availability of mobile telecommunications and broadband service.

(3)  A projected outlook on progress by the authority, including:

(A)  An assessment of the authority’s capabilities to perform the powers granted the authority, and to contribute to the improvement of broadband service availability and mobile telecommunications service coverage in the state; and

(B)  An assessment of the foreseeable extent of broadband service availability and mobile telecommunications service coverage in the state.

(4)  A summary of the status and results of any competitive solicitation processes undertaken or planned for the purpose of increasing broadband service availability and mobile telecommunications coverage in the state, including:

(A)  an assessment of the level of interest among potential service providers;

(B)  a summary of the numbers and types of entities participating;

(C)  a description of measures taken or under consideration by the authority to enhance the level of interest among potential bidders; and

(D)  terms of any arrangements entered between the authority and service providers.

(5)  A description of all authority activities to develop or facilitate development of telecommunications infrastructure that furthers the objective of this chapter.

(6)  Financial statements of the authority, a summary of expenditures by the authority since inception, and a forecast of expenditures.

          (7)  A summary of any financial commitments made by the authority.

          (8) A list and summary of all contracts and agreements entered into by the authority, and a list and summary of any rail right-of-way agreements entered into by the authority including any waivers of charges for comparable value to the state granted under 19 V.S.A. § 26a.

(9)  A summary of any and all instances in which service providers that have entered into contracts or binding commitments with the authority have materially defaulted, been unable to fulfill their commitments, or have requested or been granted relief from contractual or binding commitments.

          (10)  A current business plan for the authority, including an explanation of significant changes subsequent to the most recent previous report.

          (11)  A list and description of all actions taken by the authority to transfer control of state-owned telecommunications facilities to the authority.

          (12)  A description of the extent of the authority’s assistance to and participation in proceedings before local zoning and development review boards, district environmental commissions, or project applicants seeking to construct or alter communications facilities located in the state.

          (13)  Recommendations, if any, for further legislative action to promote the objectives of this chapter.

(b)  On or before December 31, 2010, the authority shall make a final and comprehensive oversight report to the general assembly describing the extent and manner in which it has achieved the goals of providing wireless telecommunications and broadband coverage as set out in this chapter.  The report shall be sent by electronic mail to the home “e-mail” address of all members of the general assembly in office on that date, with printed copies provided by regular mail to any member or members lacking electronic mail services. 

§ 8073.  AUTHORIZATION TO ACCEPT APPROPRIATED MONIES

The authority is authorized to accept and expend such monies as may be appropriated or approved from time to time by the general assembly for effectuating its corporate purposes including, without limitation, the payment of the initial expenses of administration and operation and the establishment of reserves or contingency funds to be available for the payment of the principal of and the interest on any bonds, notes, or other obligations of the authority.

§ 8074.  TAX EXEMPTION

(a)  All property of the authority is public property devoted to an essential public and governmental function and purpose and is exempt from all taxes, franchise fees, and special assessments of whatever nature of the state or any subdivision.  All bonds or notes issued by the authority or a municipality under this chapter are issued by a body corporate and public of this state and for an essential public and governmental purpose, and those bonds and notes and the interest thereon and the income therefrom and all activities of the authority and fees, charges, funds, revenues, incomes, and other moneys of the authority, whether or not pledged or available to pay or secure the payment of those bonds or notes, or interest thereon, are exempt from all taxation, franchise fees, or special assessments of whatever kind except for transfer, inheritance, and estate taxes.

(b)  The authority is not required to make or file any reports, statements, or informational returns required of any other bodies corporate except as provided in this chapter.

§ 8075.  LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION

Neither this chapter nor anything herein contained is or shall be construed as a restriction or limitation upon any powers that the authority might otherwise have under any laws of this state, and this chapter is cumulative to any such powers.  This chapter does and shall be construed to provide a complete, additional, and alternative method for the doing of the things authorized thereby and shall be regarded as supplemental and additional to powers conferred by other laws.

§ 8076.  INCONSISTENT PROVISIONS IN OTHER LAWS SUPERSEDED

Insofar as the provisions of sections 8064 through 8074 of this title are inconsistent with the provisions of any other law, general, special, or local, the provisions of this chapter shall be controlling.

§ 8077.  ESTABLISHMENT OF MINIMUM TECHNICAL SERVICE CHARACTERISTIC OBJECTIVES

(a)  The department of public service, shall, as part of the state telecommunications plan prepared pursuant to section 202d of this title, identify minimum technical service characteristics which ought to be available as part of broadband services commonly sold to residential and small business users throughout the state.  For the purposes of this chapter, “broadband” means high speed internet access.  The department shall consider the performance characteristics of broadband services needed to support current and emerging applications of broadband services. 

(b)  The authority shall give priority in its activities toward projects which expand the availability of broadband services that meet the minimum technical services characteristics established by the state telecommunications plan.

(c)  Until the department of public service adopts a revision to the state telecommunications plan, the authority shall give priority to the expansion of broadband services which deploy equipment capable of a data transmission rate of not less than 3 megabits per second and offer a service plan with a data transmission rate of not less than 1.5 megabits per second in at least one direction to unserved areas. 

§ 8078.  SELECTION OF PROPOSALS TO PROVIDE SERVICE; COMPETITIVE  PROCESS

(a)  Broadband service; competitive process.

(1)  For the purposes of this chapter, a premise is “served” with broadband service if it has access to mass-market broadband services meeting the minimum technical characteristics identified pursuant to section 8077 of this title.  For the purposes of this chapter, with respect to broadband service, “unserved area” shall mean a contiguous geographic area of the state, without regard to municipal boundaries or size of geographic area, which contains premises that can obtain basic telephone service but are not served.

(2)  By not later than December 1, 2007, the authority shall identify all served and unserved areas within the state.  The authority may rely on readily and publicly available information to estimate the extent of these areas.

(3)  The authority shall seek to enable the development of networks and telecommunications infrastructure necessary to support provision of mass-market broadband services, in all unserved areas of the state, which meet or exceed the minimum technical characteristics identified pursuant to section 8077 of this title.

(4)  The authority shall establish and utilize an open and competitive process to solicit proposals to eliminate unserved areas by the end of the year 2010 through the development of telecommunications facilities or through binding commitments from service providers to offer broadband service to all unserved areas in a given region.  For the purposes of this process, the authority may divide the state into one or more regions.  The authority shall undertake substantial efforts to complete the process of competitively soliciting proposals by January 31, 2008.  The authority shall solicit and accept broadband service expansion commitments in a manner that allows small locally based broadband providers a reasonable opportunity to contribute toward realization of the policy objectives of this chapter. In evaluating proposals, the authority shall consider:

(A)  the proposed data transfer rates and other data transmission characteristics of services which would be available to consumers;

(B)  the price to consumers of services;

(C)  the proposed cost to consumers of any new construction, equipment installation service, or facility required to obtain service;

(D)  whether the proposal would utilize the best available technology which is economically feasible; and

(E)  the ability to achieve the authority’s objectives in the most cost-effective manner.

(5)  The authority may support or undertake projects that enable provision of broadband service in geographic areas currently served; provided that:

(A)  such projects are the most cost-effective method for providing broadband services in nearby unserved areas; and

     (B)  before undertaking such projects, the authority makes reasonable effort to distinguish served areas and populations from unserved areas and populations within the geographic area that the project would serve, including recognition and consideration of known or probable service extensions or upgrades.

(b)  Cellular service, competitive process.

(1)  The authority shall seek to eliminate areas without access to commercial mobile radio service licensed by the Federal Communications Commission by 2010 through the construction of facilities and binding commitments from commercial mobile radio service providers. 

(2)  The authority shall seek to expand access to all services that utilize the technical standards which are commonly in use for providing voice and data services through commercial mobile radio service.

(3)  The authority shall establish and utilize an open and competitive process to solicit proposals to eliminate areas without coverage from a provider of commercial mobile radio services within the state of Vermont by 2010 through the development of telecommunications facilities and through binding commitments from service providers to expand service, including all unserved areas in a given region.  For the purposes of this process, the authority may divide the state into one or more regions.  The authority shall undertake substantial efforts to complete the process of competitively soliciting proposals by January 31, 2008.  In evaluating proposals, the authority shall consider the extent to which a proposal meets coverage objectives while limiting environmental impact and providing opportunities for future development of wireless communications services.

* * * Appropriation; North-Link  * **

Sec. 1a.  APPROPRIATION; NORTHLINK

It is the intention of the general assembly to appropriate the amount of $500,000 in each of fiscal years 2009 and 2010 for construction and advancement of the North-Link project of Northern Enterprises, Inc. for the purposes of this act.


* * * Broadband Grant Program * * *

Sec. 3.  BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT GRANT PROGRAM

(a)  Such sums as are appropriated by the general assembly may be utilized by the Vermont telecommunications authority to fund broadband development grants as authorized by this section.

(b)  The authority may award grants to municipalities, telecommunications infrastructure developers, and service providers in an amount not to exceed $100,000.00 for any project. 

(c)  The authority shall select projects that will provide broadband service in areas of the state that do not currently have broadband service or projects that provide one or more Wi‑Fi hotspots in municipalities without a Wi‑Fi hotspot located in area open to and commonly frequented by members of the general public.  If appropriated funds are available, the authority shall grant at least $50,000.00 annually to projects that provide one or more Wi-Fi hotspots.  The authority shall select projects that:

(1)  Provide availability of broadband service to all residents and businesses throughout a logical and contiguous service area; or

(2)  Provide for the establishment of new Wi‑Fi hotspots available to the general public. 

(d)  The authority shall use a competitive application process to award grants.  When evaluating proposals to provide broadband service throughout an unserved area, the authority shall consider the proposed price to consumers for the service, the proposed data transfer rates, the cost to the consumers of any new construction, equipment installation service, or facility required for the connection, and the degree to which the grant is required to make the project financially sustainable.  When evaluating proposals to establish new Wi‑Fi hotspots, the authority shall give preference to Wi‑Fi hotspot proposals which provide at least limited free usage to the public.  When evaluating proposals to provide broadband service throughout an unserved area, the authority shall give preference to applications from service providers which provide broadband service in Vermont and have fewer than 25 employees at the time of the application and which demonstrate that their proposed project is technically feasible and economically viable with the assistance of the program.

(e)  The authority may award grants in one or more rounds, including separate rounds to fund Wi‑Fi hotspots and expansion of broadband service.  The authority may combine the award of a grant provided under this section with any other financial assistance that the authority is authorized to provide under section 8061 of Title 30.  In lieu of a grant to an applicant, the authority may transfer funds to:

(1)  the Vermont economic development authority to be used to guarantee a loan made by the Vermont economic development authority to the applicant under the technology infrastructure financing program adopted pursuant to subchapter 10 of chapter 12 of Title 10; or

(2)  the Vermont municipal bond bank to be used to guarantee a loan made by the Vermont municipal bond bank to the applicant pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 119 of Title 24 for the purpose of constructing or acquiring communications infrastructure necessary for the provision of broadband service.

(f)  Each applicant shall identify the equipment, facilities, or services to be purchased with the grant.  The authority shall establish award contracts with each recipient specifying performance requirements.  For failure to perform during the specified period or for failure to provide service for the minimum period, the authority may, after notice and opportunity to correct the failure, take ownership of any equipment or facilities for which grant funds were used to purchase.

* * * Public Safety Pilot Project * * *

Sec. 3a.  SATELLITE ENABLED COMMUNICATIONS; PILOT PROJECT; NORTHEAST KINGDOM, NEW HAMPSHIRE, AND CANADA

(a) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the department of public safety, with input from interested economic development districts and public safety providers in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, western New Hampshire, and the Province of Quebec in Canada, is hereby authorized and directed to develop a pilot project to identify the cost, obstacles and effectiveness of a satellite-enabled public safety communication system serving interested public safety providers located in northeastern Vermont, northwestern New Hampshire, and the southern portions of the Province of Quebec.  To accomplish this purpose, the department is authorized to accept in kind contributions and grants from providers capable of deploying this technology, to utilize federal funds from any source as authorized by the funding source, and to expend a portion of its budget to develop the necessary terrestrial infrastructure to support satellite enabled communications. 

(b)  The Commissioner of the department of public safety shall report the status of the pilot project to the senate committee on economic development and the house committee on commerce on or before January 15, 2008, and annually thereafter until such time as the demonstration project is complete.  


* * * Municipal Communications plant and service ***

Sec. 4.  Chapter 54 of Title 24 is added to read:

Chapter 54.  Communications plant and service

§ 1911.  DEFINITIONS

The following terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meaning:

(1)  “Acquire” shall mean to purchase, to acquire by eminent domain, to hire, to lease, to construct, to reconstruct, or to replace.

(2)  “Communications plant” shall mean any and all parts of any communications system owned by the municipality, whether using wires, cables, fiber optics, wireless, other technologies, or a combination thereof, and used for the purpose of transporting or storing information, in whatever forms, directions, and media, together with any improvements thereto hereafter constructed or acquired, and all other facilities, equipment, and appurtenances necessary or appropriate to such system. However, the term “communications plant” and any regulatory implications or any restrictions under this chapter regarding either “communications plant” or “communications service” shall not apply to facilities or portions of any communications facilities intended for use by, and solely used by, the municipality and the municipality’s own officers and employees in the operation of municipal departments or systems of which such communications are merely an ancillary component.

(3) “Communications service” shall include ownership, operation, and utilization of a communications plant within or without the corporate limits of the municipality to transport or store information in any form and medium.

(4)  “Improve” shall mean to acquire or construct any improvement, whether consisting of real or personal property.

(5)  “Improvement” shall mean any extension, betterment, addition, alteration, reconstruction, and extraordinary repair, equipping, or reequipping of the communications plant of the municipality.

§ 1912   COMMUNICATIONS PLANT; AUTHORITY TO ACQUIRE, CONSTRUCT, OPERATE, IMPROVE, EXTEND, AND BETTER.

(a)  A municipality is authorized and empowered to own, maintain, operate, improve, and extend, or otherwise acquire, and to sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of, in accordance with and in any situation or manner not prohibited by law, its communications plant for the furnishing of communications services within or without the corporate limits of the municipality, for public, domestic, commercial, and industrial use, and for the provision of communications service.  For the aforesaid purposes, the municipality may hire, lease, purchase, own, hold, and acquire by contract, agreement, or eminent domain proceedings any buildings, land, rights-of-way, and any other real property necessary or convenient to the operation of the communications plant, and may use any public highway over which it may be necessary or desirable to pass with the poles and wire of the same, provided that the use of such public highway for the purpose of public travel is not thereby unnecessarily impaired.  These powers may be exercised through a taking by eminent domain in the manner prescribed by law.  All of the foregoing powers are in addition to and not in substitution for or in limitation of any other powers conferred by law.

(b)  Before a municipality may sell any service using its communications plant subject to public service board jurisdiction and for which a certificate of public good is required under chapter 5 or 13 of Title 30, it shall obtain a certificate of public good for such service.  Each such certificate of public good shall be nonexclusive and shall not contain terms or conditions more favorable than those imposed on existing certificate holders authorized to serve the municipality. 

§ 1913.  COMMUNICATIONS PLANT; OPERATION AND REGULATION

(a)  A municipality shall operate its communications plant in accordance with the applicable state and federal law and regulation, and chapter 53 of Title 24, relating to municipal indebtedness, with regard to the financing, improvements, expansion, and disposal of the municipal communications plant and its operations.  However, the powers conferred by such provisions of law shall be supplemental to, construed in harmony with, and not in restriction of, the powers conferred in this chapter.

(b)  A municipality’s operation of any communications plant shall be supported solely by the revenues derived from the operation of such communications plant, except that portion which is used for its own municipal purposes.

(c)  A municipality may finance any capital improvement related to its operation of such communications plant for the benefit of the people of the municipality in accordance with the provisions of chapter 53 of Title 24, provided that revenue-backed bonds shall be paid from net revenues derived from the operation of the communications plant.

(d)  Any restriction regarding the maximum outstanding debt that may be issued in the form of general obligation bonds shall not restrict the issuance of any bonds issued by a municipality and payable out of the net revenues from the operation of a public utility project under chapter 53 of subchapter 2 of Title 24.

(e)  To the extent that a municipality constructs communication infrastructure with the intent of providing communications services, whether wholesale or retail, the municipality shall ensure that any and all losses from these businesses, or in the event these businesses are abandoned or curtailed, any and all costs associated with the investment in communications infrastructure, are not borne by the municipality’s taxpayers.

§ 1914.  VALIDATION OF BONDS VOTED FOR COMMUNICATIONS CONSTRUCTION

     No action shall be brought directly or indirectly attacking, questioning or in any manner contesting the legality or validity of bonds, issued or unissued, voted by any municipality, after six months from the date upon which voters in such municipal entity met pursuant to warning and voting affirmatively to issue bonds to defray costs of communications improvements or upon vote of a question of rescission thereof, whichever occurs later.  This section shall be liberally construed to effect the legislative purpose to validate and make certain the validity of bonds issued or authorized by municipalities for communications system purposes, and to bar every right to question in any manner the validity of bonds voted for such purposes, and to bar every remedy therefore, notwithstanding any defects or irregularities, jurisdictional, or otherwise, after the expiration of the six-month period.

Sec. 5.  24 V.S.A. § 1789 is added to read:

§1789.  ALTERNATIVE FINANCING OF ASSETS

(a)  A municipality, including a fire district, either singly or as a participant in an interlocal contract entered into under sections 4901 and 4902 of this title, may acquire personal property, fixtures, technology and intellectual property by means of leases, lease-purchase agreements, installment sales agreements, and similar agreements wherein payment and performance on the part of the municipality is conditioned expressly upon the annual approval by the municipality of an appropriation sufficient to pay when next due rents, charges, and other payments accruing under such leases and agreements.    

(b)  The legislative body of the municipality shall enter into leases and agreements identified in subsection (a) of this section on behalf of the municipality and under such terms as it deems to be in the best interest of the municipality.

(c)  The undertaking of a municipality to make payments under a lease or agreement identified in subsection (a) of this section shall not be a general or special obligation of the municipality, but shall be treated as a current operating expense.  Payments made or to be made under such lease or agreement shall not be taken into account in calculating the debt limit of a municipality for any purpose. 

* * * Cable Line Extension Requirements * * *

Sec. 5a.  30 V.S.A. § 517 is added to read:

§ 517.  LINE EXTENSIONS

(a) A company may enter into agreements under this section with government, nonprofit, or private entities, including but not limited to projects authorized or affiliated with the Vermont telecommunications authority, a municipality or fire district pursuant to section 2601 of Title 20, or a regional aggregation and deployment project, to satisfy cable television line extension requirements.

(b)  Upon petition of a company, the board shall modify the line extensions that a company would otherwise be required to construct if the company agrees to undertake alternative actions including but not limited to the extension of facilities that support alternative technologies for delivering broadband to users.  Copies of the petition shall be filed with the department and the Vermont telecommunications authority.  The board shall approve such alternative methods of satisfying line extension requirements after notice and opportunity for hearing if it finds the petition promotes the general good of the state.  In reaching its determination, the board shall consider whether the company’s proposal:

(1)  is consistent with the activities and initiatives of the Vermont telecommunications authority;

(2)  is likely to provide broadband access to a greater number of unserved consumers than would the foregone cable television line extension requirements;

(3)  supports the expansion of broadband services at prices and service levels comparable to those commonly available throughout the state, but not less than the minimum technical service characteristics required by section 8077 of this title;

(4)  provides a fair balancing of the benefits to the public compared to benefits realized by the company; and

(5)  the modified line-extension obligations will not unreasonably affect the time at which customers to whom a company would otherwise be obligated to extend cable services will have access to broadband services.

(c)  This section shall not apply to line extensions previously identified and planned for construction as of the effective date of this section.

(d)  The board shall not require a company to overbuild another company, or provide cable television service to locations served by another company or to which another company is required to extend cable television service.

(e)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the board may require the construction of cable television line extensions when a company receives a bona fide request for service from a reasonable number of verified customers or with reasonable contributions in aid of construction from customers.

(f)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the line extension construction obligation for additional miles identified in Paragraph 41 of Comcast Communication’s certificate of public good, granted by the public service board, of September 27, 2006, may be modified only with the approval of the board.

Sec. 5b.  REVISIONS TO CABLE LINE EXTENSION POLICIES

The public service board shall, in consultation with interested parties, revise its cable television line extension requirements no later than December 1, 2008.  In so revising, the board shall consider:

(1)  the effect of the establishment of the Vermont telecommunications authority and the other changes in law and policy contained in this act;

(2)  the convergence of technologies and the availability of different modes of delivery for video programming and broadband services;

(3)  fair treatment for competing providers of services; and

(4)  the public interest in making a broad range of cable television services available to customers.

* * * Board Rules on Pole Attachments * * *

Sec. 6.  30 V.S.A. § 209(g) is added to read:

(g)  For the purposes of board rules on attachments to poles owned by companies subject to regulation under this title, broadband service providers shall be considered “attaching entities” with equivalent rights to attach facilities as those provided to “attaching entities” in the rules, regardless of whether such broadband providers offer a service subject to the jurisdiction of the board.  The board shall adopt rules in accordance with chapter 25 of Title 3 to further implement this section.  The rules shall be aimed at furthering the state’s interest in ubiquitous deployment of mobile telecommunications and broadband services within the state.


* * * Rights-of-Way Usage * * *

Sec. 7.  30 V.S.A. § 2513 is amended to read:

§ 2513.  LINES ALONG RAILROAD TRACKS; WIRELESS AND OTHER  TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES

(a)  A company subject to the jurisdiction of the public service board may erect and maintain its telecommunications or electric transmission and distribution lines and facilities along the sides of railroad tracks within the limits of lands owned or held by a railroad on paying reasonable compensation to the railroad.  If they cannot agree upon the amount of reasonable compensation, it shall be determined by the transportation board which shall ascertain the compensation.

(b)  Wireless telecommunications and broadband facilities may be erected and maintained within the limits of lands owned or held by a railroad in the same manner as other utility facilities.

(c)  For purposes of this section, “broadband” shall have the same definition as in the rules adopted by the public service board for purposes of attachment to utility poles. 

Sec. 8.  5 V.S.A. § 3431 is amended to read:

§ 3431.  RAILROAD RIGHTS‑OF‑WAY

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 213 of Title 1, when railroad operations cease on railroad rights‑of‑way owned by the state or municipality the title or interest held by the state or municipality in such rights‑of‑way shall be retained by the state or municipality for future transportation purposes and such other purposes as are not inconsistent with future transportation purposes; except that such rights‑of‑way shall not be used by members of the general public without permission of the state or municipality.  The state or municipality shall allow abutting farm operations to use the land over which the rights‑of‑way pass for agricultural purposes.  Unless use and occupancy of railroad rights‑of‑way adversely affect railroad safety, broadband facilities and wireless and other telecommunications facilities that are installed along or within the railroad right‑of‑way in compliance with applicable operations and safety standards at the time of installation are consistent with existing and future transportation purposes. 


Sec. 9.  30 V.S.A. § 2502 is amended to read:

§ 2502.  LINES OR WIRES ALONG HIGHWAYS; WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES; BROADBAND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION; RESTRICTION

Lines of telegraph, telephone, and electric wires, as well as two‑way wireless telecommunications facilities and broadband facilities, may, subject to the provisions of section 1111 of Title 19, be constructed and maintained by a person or corporation upon or under a highway, in such manner as not to interfere with repairs of such highway or the public convenience in traveling upon or using the same.

Sec. 10.  19 V.S.A. § 26a is amended to read:

§ 26a.  DETERMINATION OF RENT TO BE CHARGED FOR LEASING OR LICENSING STATE‑OWNED PROPERTY UNDER THE AGENCY’S JURISDICTION

(a)  Except as otherwise provided by subsection (b) of this section, or as otherwise provided by law, leases or licenses negotiated by the agency under sections 204 and 3405 of Title 5 and section 26 of this title ordinarily shall require the payment of fair market value rent, as determined by the prevailing area market prices for comparable space or property.  However, the agency may lease or license state‑owned property under its jurisdiction for less than fair market value when the agency determines that the proposed occupancy or use serves a public purpose or that there exist other relevant factors, such as a prior course of dealing between the parties, that justify setting rent at less than fair market value.

(b)  Unless otherwise required by federal law, the agency shall assess, collect and deposit in the transportation fund a reasonable charge or payment with respect to leases or licenses for access to or use of state‑owned rights‑of‑way by providers of broadband or wireless communications facilities or services.  The Vermont telecommunications authority, established by chapter 91 of Title 30, may waive such charge or payment in whole or in part if the provider offers to provide comparable value to the state so as to meet the public good as determined by the authority.  For the purposes of this section, the terms “comparable value to the state” shall be construed broadly to further the state’s interest in ubiquitous broadband and wireless service availability at reasonable cost.  Any waiver of charges or payments for comparable value to the state granted by the authority may not exceed five years.  Thereafter, the authority may extend any waiver granted for an additional period not to exceed five years if the authority makes affirmative written findings demonstrating  that the state has received and will continue to receive value that is comparable to the value to the provider of the waiver, or it may revise the terms of the waiver in order to do so.  The authority, in consultation with the agency of transportation, shall adopt rules under chapter 25 of Title 3 to implement this section.

Sec. 11.  BROADBAND AND WIRELESS USE OF RIGHTS OF WAY; EXPEDITED RULE-MAKING

(a)  For the purpose of establishing rules to implement this act by July 1, 2007, or as soon thereafter as possible, the Vermont telecommunications authority is authorized to adopt rules under the expedited rulemaking procedures of this section.

(b)  Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 25 of Title 3, the authority, in consultation with the agency of transportation,  may adopt rules relating to reasonable payments, granting waivers and determining comparable value to the state for access to state rights of way under subsection 26a (b) of Title 19, pursuant to the following expedited rulemaking process:

(1)  The authority shall file proposed rules with the secretary of state and the legislative committee on administrative rules under 3 V.S.A. § 841 after publication in three daily newspapers with the highest average circulation in the state of a notice that lists the rules to be adopted pursuant to this process and a seven-day public comment period following publication.

(2)  The authority shall file final proposed rules with the legislative committee on administrative rules 14 days after the public comment period.

(3)  The legislative committee on administrative rules shall review and may approve or object to the final proposed rules under 3 V.S.A. § 842, except that its action shall be completed no later than 14 days after the final proposed rules are filed with the committee.

(4)  The authority may adopt a properly filed final proposed rule after the passage of 14 days from the date of filing final proposed rules with the legislative committee on administrative rules or after receiving notice of approval from the committee, provided the authority:

(A)  has not received a notice of objection from the legislative committee on administrative rules; or

(B)  after having received a notice of objection from the committee, has responded pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 842.

(5)  Rules adopted under this section shall be effective upon being filed with the secretary of state and shall have the full force and effect of rules adopted pursuant to chapter 25 of Title 3.  Rules filed by the authority with the secretary of state pursuant to this section shall be deemed to be in full compliance with 3 V.S.A. § 843 and shall be accepted by the secretary of state if filed with a certification by the authority that the rule is required to meet the purposes of this section.

(c)  Nothing in this section or in Sec. 10 of this act shall be construed to impair any contractual rights existing on the effective date of this act.  The state shall have no authority under this section or Sec. 10 of this act to waive any sums due to a railroad.  The state shall also not offer any grants or waivers of charges for any new broadband installations in segments of rail corridor where an operating railroad has installed or allowed installation of fiber optic facilities prior to the effective date of this act unless the state offers equivalent terms and conditions to the owner or owners of existing fiber optic facilities. 

* * * Act 250, Sec. 248, and Municipal Permitting * * *

Sec. 12.  10 V.S.A. § 6001c is amended to read: 

§ 6001c.  JURISDICTION OVER BROADCAST AND COMMUNICATION  SUPPORT STRUCTURES and related improvements

In addition to other applicable law, any support structure proposed for construction, which is primarily for communication or broadcast purposes and which will extend vertically 20 feet, or more, above the highest point of an attached existing structure or 50 feet, or more, above ground level in the case of a proposed new support structure, in order to transmit or receive communication signals for commercial, industrial, municipal, county, or state purposes, shall be a development under this chapter, independent of the acreage involved.  If jurisdiction is triggered for such a support structure, then jurisdiction will also extend to the construction of improvements ancillary to the support structure, including buildings, broadcast or communication equipment, foundation pads, cables, wires, antennas or hardware, and all means of ingress and egress to the support structure.  To the extent that future improvements are not ancillary to the support structure and do not involve an additional support structure, those improvements shall not be considered a development, unless they would be considered a development under this chapter in the absence of this section.  The criteria and procedures for obtaining a permit under this section shall be the same as for any other development.

Sec. 13.  10 V.S.A. § 6001(26) is amended to read:

(26)  “Telecommunications facility” means a support structure which is primarily for communication or broadcast purposes and which will extend vertically 20 feet, or more, above the highest point of an attached existing structure or 50 feet or more above ground level in the case of a proposed new support structure, in order to transmit or receive communication signals for commercial, industrial, municipal, county or state purposes. 

Sec. 14.  24 V.S.A. § 2291 is amended to read:

§ 2291.  ENUMERATION OF POWERS

For the purpose of promoting the public health, safety, welfare, and convenience, a town, city, or incorporated village shall have the following powers:

* * *

(19)  To regulate the construction, alteration, development, and decommissioning or dismantling of wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements where the city, town, or village has not adopted zoning or where those activities are not regulated pursuant to a duly adopted zoning bylaw.  Regulations regarding the decommissioning or dismantling of telecommunications facilities and ancillary structures may include requirements that bond be posted, or other security acceptable to the legislative body, in order to finance facility decommissioning or dismantling activities.  These regulations are not intended to prohibit seamless coverage of wireless telecommunications services.  With respect to the construction or alteration of wireless telecommunications facilities subject to regulation granted in this section, the town, city, or incorporated village shall vest in its local regulatory authority the power to determine whether the installation of a wireless telecommunications facility, whatever its size, will impose no impact or merely a de minimis impact on the surrounding area and the overall pattern of land development, and if the local regulatory authority, originally or on appeal, determines that the facility will impose no impact or a de minimis impact, it shall issue a permit.  No ordinance authorized by this section may have the purpose or effect of limiting or prohibiting a property owner’s ability to place or allow placement of antennae used to transmit, receive, or transmit and receive communications signals on that property owner’s premises if the aggregate area of the largest faces of the antennae is not more than eight square feet, and if the antennae and the mast to which they are attached do not extend more than 12 feet above the roof of that portion of the building to which they are attached.

Sec. 15.  24 V.S.A. § 4412(8) and (9) are added to read:

(8)  Antennae exemption.  No bylaw authorized by this chapter may have the purpose or effect of limiting or prohibiting a property owner’s ability to place or allow placement of antennae used to transmit, receive, or transmit and receive communications signals on that property owner’s premises if the aggregate area of the largest faces of the antennae is not more than eight square feet, and if the antennae and the mast to which they are attached do not extend more than 12 feet above the roof of that portion of the building to which they are attached.

(9)  Administrative review of minor telecommunications facilities.  Bylaws shall provide for permitted use classification of minor facilities used for telecommunications by administrative review of minor installations and modifications, by an officer or entity designated by the municipality, whose decision shall be subject to appeal to the appropriate municipal body.  The designated officer or entity, and the appropriate municipal body on appeal, shall approve any application where these modifications or installation will impose no impact or merely de minimis impact on the surrounding area and the overall pattern of land development.  Prior to making an administrative determination, notice of such applications shall be provided to all adjoining landowners, to the appropriate municipal panel, and to the legislative body of the municipality.  Upon making a determination under this subdivision, the designated officer or entity shall provide notice of that determination to all adjoining landowners, to the appropriate municipal panel, and to the legislative body of the municipality.

Sec. 16.  30 V.S.A. § 248(n) is added to read:

(n)(1)  No company as defined in section 201 of this title and no person as defined in 10 V.S.A. § 6001(14) may place or allow the placement of wireless communications facilities on an electric transmission or generation facility located in this state, including a net‑metered system, without receiving a certificate of public good from the public service board pursuant to this subsection.  The public service board may issue a certificate of public good for the placement of wireless communications facilities on electric transmission and generation facilities if such placement is in compliance with the criteria of this section and board rules or orders implementing this section.  In developing such rules and orders the board:

(A)  may waive the requirements of this section that are not applicable to wireless telecommunication facilities, including but not limited to criteria that are generally applicable to public service companies as defined in this title;

(B)  may modify notice and hearing requirements of this title as it deems appropriate;

(C)  shall seek to simplify the application and review process as appropriate; and

(D)  shall be aimed at furthering the state’s interest in ubiquitous mobile telecommunications and broadband service in the state.

(2)  Notwithstanding subdivision (1)(B) of this subsection, if the board finds that a petition filed pursuant to this subsection does not raise a significant issue with respect to the criteria enumerated in subdivisions (b)(1), (3), (4), (5) and (8) of this section, the board shall issue a certificate of public good without a hearing.  If the board fails to issue a final decision or identify a significant issue with regard to a completed petition made under this section within 60 days of its filing with the clerk of the board and service to the director of public advocacy for the department of public service, the petition is deemed approved by operation of law. The rules required by this subsection shall be adopted within six months of the effective date of this section, and rules under this section may be adopted on an emergency basis to comply with the dates required by this section.  For purposes of this subsection, “wireless communication facilities” include antennae, related equipment, and equipment shelter. 

Sec. 17.  30 V.S.A. § 248a is added to read:

§ 248a.  CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC GOOD FOR MULTIPLE TELECOMMUNICATIONS FACILITIES

(a)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the  applicant  in a single application seeks approval for the construction or installation within three years of three or more telecommunications facilities as part of an interconnected network the   applicant  may obtain a certificate of public good issued by the public service board under this section, which the board may grant if it finds that the facilities will promote the general good of the state consistent with subsection 202c(b) of this title. 

(b)  For the purposes of this section:

     (1)  “Telecommunications facility” means any support structure extending more than 50 feet above the ground that is proposed for construction or installation which is primarily for communications purposes and which supports facilities that transmit and receive communications signals for commercial, industrial, municipal, county, or state purposes.

          (2)  Telecommunications facilities are “part of an interconnected network” if those facilities would allow one or more communications services to be provided throughout a contiguous area of coverage created by means of the proposed facilities or by means of the proposed facilities in combination with other facilities already in existence.

(c)  Before the public service board issues a certificate of public good under this section, it shall find that the proposed facilities, in the aggregate, will:

(1)  not unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region, with substantial deference having been given to the following, unless there is good cause to find otherwise: the recommendations of the municipal and regional planning commissions, the recommendations of the municipal legislative bodies, and the land conservation measures contained in the plan of any affected municipality;

(2)  not have an undue adverse effect on aesthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment, and the public health and safety, with due consideration having been given to the criteria specified in subsection 1424a(d) and subdivisions 6086(a)(1) through (8) and (9)(K) of Title 10.

(d)  When issuing a certificate of public good under this section, the board shall give due consideration to all conditions in an existing state or local permit and shall harmonize the conditions in the certificate of public good with the existing permit conditions to the extent feasible.  

(e)  No less than 45 days prior to filing a petition for a certificate of public good under this section, the applicant shall serve written notice of an application to be filed with the board pursuant to this section to the legislative bodies and municipal and regional planning commissions in the communities in which the applicant proposes to construct or install facilities; the secretary of the agency of natural resources; the commissioner of the department of public service and its director for public advocacy; and the landowners of record of property adjoining the project sites.  Upon motion or otherwise, the public service board shall direct that further public or personal notice be provided if the board finds that such further notice will not unduly delay consideration of the merits and that additional notice is necessary for fair consideration of the application. 

(f)  Unless the public service board identifies that an application raises a substantial issue, the board shall issue a final determination on an application filed pursuant to this section within 90 days of its filing or, if the original filing did not substantially comply with the public service board’s rules, within 90 days of the date on which the clerk of the board notifies the applicant that the filing is complete.  If the board rules that an application  raises a substantial issue, it shall issue a final determination on an application filed pursuant to this section within 180 days of its filing or, if the original filing did not substantially comply with the public service board’s rules, within 180 days of the date on which the clerk of the board notifies the applicant that the filing is complete.  

(g)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an applicant from executing a letter of intent or entering into a contract before the issuance of a certificate of public good under this section, provided that the obligations under that letter of intent or contract are made subject to compliance with the requirements of this section.

(h)  An applicant using the procedures provided in this section shall not be required to obtain a local zoning permit or a permit under the provisions of chapter 151 of Title 10 for the facilities subject to the application or to a certificate of public good issued pursuant to this section.  Ordinances adopted pursuant to subdivision 2291(19) of Title 24 or a municipal charter that would otherwise apply to the construction or installation of facilities subject to this section are preempted.  Disputes over jurisdiction under this section shall be resolved by the public service board, subject to appeal as provided by section 12 of this title. 

* * * Role of Electric Utilities * * *

Sec. 18.  ROLE OF VERMONT’S ELECTRIC UTILITIES TO FURTHER TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEPLOYMENT THROUGHOUT VERMONT

The public service board shall convene a proceeding within 60 days of the effective date of this act to examine regulatory policy regarding the use or role of Vermont’s electric utilities to facilitate deployment of telecommunications infrastructure and services, whether wireless, broadband, or otherwise, throughout the state and take whatever action the board finds is consistent with the public good and within its existing authority. The board shall provide notice of the proceeding to the state’s electric utilities and certificated telecommunications carriers.  The department of public service shall provide a report to the general assembly by January 15, 2008 with the department’s recommendations for any necessary legislative action. 

Sec. 18a.  NETWORK EVOLUTION AND MODERNIZATION

(a)  The department of public service and public service board, in investigating the petition of Verizon New England Inc. for the transfer of its telecommunication plant, shall, in addition to reviewing the proposed transaction pursuant to other provisions of Title 30, assess:    

(1)  Whether it is the intention and within the capabilities of an acquiring company to sufficiently contribute to the timely advancement of the goals of the general assembly, as expressed in section 8060 of Title 30, and, if so, how the acquiring company intends to do so.  In this assessment, the board shall presume that regular reevaluation of the definition of “broadband” under Chapter 91 of Title 30 will call for increasing speed and capacity at a rapid rate during the coming decades.  In this context, the board shall evaluate:

(A)  whether and how the acquiring company will utilize its current and proposed infrastructure and investments to keep pace with rapidly increasing needs;

(B)  whether there are any inherent limits on the geographic scope, capacity and speed of the infrastructure the acquiring company will acquire and that it intends to construct; and, if so, how the telecommunications services necessary to support broadband beyond those limits will be provided when required.   

(2)  Whether the acquiring company will have the requisite financial resources to sufficiently contribute to the timely advancement of the goals of the general assembly, and, if not, how it intends to obtain the necessary resources.

(3)  Whether the resources available to the acquiring company to continuously upgrade the Vermont infrastructure will be greater or less than those available to Verizon New England Inc.

(b)  The board shall either condition its approval of the proposed transactions as necessary to enable favorable findings with respect to each of subdivisions (a)(1), (2), and (3) of this section, or deny the petition.  The department shall make its recommendation to the board in accordance with these same standards.

(c)  This section shall not be construed to waive or reduce other existing standards for review established under Title 30 that are applicable to this petition.

Sec. 19.  DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS

     Effective July 1, 2010, no new applications for certificates of public good under 30 V.S.A. § 248a may be considered by the board.

Sec. 20.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect from passage.

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

Senator Cummings, for the Committee on Finance, 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 amendments thereto:

First: In Sec. 1, in §8061(b)(4), following the words “cities and towns” by inserting the following: ; provided that the person appointed may not be a resident of a municipality owning communications plant or operating a communications service authorized by Chapter 54 of Title 24.

Second: In Sec 1, in §8062, by striking out subsection (a), and relettering subsections (b), (c) and (d) to be subsections (a), (b) and (c) respectively, and in subsection (a), as relettered, by striking out the words “To achieve these goals” and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  To achieve the goals under section 8060 (b) of this title.

Third: In Sec. 1, in §8062(a), as relettered, in subdivision (1), following the words “written requests made of” by inserting the words mobile telecommunications and 

Fourth:  In Sec. 1, in §8062 (b), as relettered, in subdivision (8), after the words “reasonable rates” by inserting the following: ; and provided further, that any agreement by the authority to sell or divest such infrastructure shall be subject to the approval of the emergency board of the state established in subchapter 2 of chapter 3 of title 32.

Fifth:  In Sec. 1, in §8063 (c), in the second sentence, by striking out the word “may” and inserting in lieu thereof the word shall

Sixth:   In Sec. 1, in §8064(a)(1), by adding a sentence at the end to read as follows:  In addition, before the authority may initially exercise its bonding authority granted by this section, it shall submit to the emergency board of the state a current business plan including an explanation of the bond issue or issues initially proposed and obtain the approval of the emergency board for the issuance.

Seventh: In Sec. 1, in §8072, in the head note, by striking out the word “LEGISLATIVE” and inserting in lieu thereof the word ANNUAL, by striking out the subsection designation “(a)” and all that follows through the colon, and inserting in lieu thereof the following:  In addition to the annual and audit reports required by section 8071 of this title, the authority shall provide annual oversight reports to the general assembly on or before January 1 each year.  Each annual oversight report shall contain: and by striking out subsection (b) in its entirety.

Eighth:  In Sec. 1, in §8072, in subdivision (3), by inserting a new subdivision (C) to read:

(C) An assessment of the actual and foreseeable land use impacts associated with broadband service availability and mobile telecommunications service coverage in the state.

Ninth:  In Sec. 1, in §8074 (a), by adding a sentence to read as follows:  This section shall not prevent a municipality from assessing and collecting from the authority any excavation or construction fees otherwise charged by the municipality.

Tenth: In Sec. 1, in §8074, by adding a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

(c) Any property of the authority exempted from property taxation under this section shall be considered “state owned property” for the purposes of the state payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) provisions of subchapter 4 of chapter 123 of Title 32.

Eleventh:  In Sec. 3, in subsection (d), in the last sentence, before the word “employees” by striking out the number “25” and inserting in lieu thereof the number 125

Twelfth: In Sec. 10, in §26a, by inserting a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

(c) Nothing in this section shall authorize the agency to impose a charge or payment for the use of a highway right-of-way which is not otherwise authorized or required by state or federal law.

Thirteenth: In Sec. 14, in §2291 (14), after the words “No ordinance authorized by this section” by inserting the following:  , except to the extent structured to protect historic landmarks and structures listed on the state or national register of historic places.

Fourteenth: By striking out Sec. 15, and by inserting a new Sec. 15 to read as follows:

Sec. 15.  24 V.S.A. § 4412(6) is amended and (8) and (9) are added to read as follows:

(6) Heights of certain structures. The height of antenna structures, wind turbines with blades less than 20 feet in diameter, or rooftop solar collectors less than 10 feet high, any of which are mounted on complying structures, shall not be regulated unless the bylaws provide specific standards for regulation.  In addition, the regulation of antennae that are part of a telecommunications facility, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 248a, may be exempt from review under this chapter according to the provisions of that section. However, if an antenna structure is less than 20 feet in height and its primary function is to transmit or receive communication signals for commercial, industrial, municipal, county, or state purposes, it shall not be regulated under this chapter if it is located on a structure located within the boundaries of a downhill ski area and permitted under this chapter. For the purposes of this subdivision, "downhill ski area" means an area with trails for downhill skiing served by one or more ski lifts and any other areas within the boundaries of the ski area and open to the public for winter sports.

(8)  Antennae exemption.  No bylaw authorized by this chapter, except to the extent structured to protect historic landmarks and structures listed on the state or national register of historic places, may have the purpose or effect of limiting or prohibiting a property owner’s ability to place or allow placement of antennae used to transmit, receive, or transmit and receive communications signals on that property owner’s premises if the aggregate area of the largest faces of the antennae is not more than eight square feet, and if the antennae and the mast to which they are attached do not extend more than 12 feet above the roof of that portion of the building to which they are attached.

(9)  Minor telecommunications facilities.  Bylaws shall provide for permitted use classification of minor facilities used for telecommunications.

Fifteenth:  By inserting a new Sec. 15a to read as follows:

Sec. 15a.  24 V.S.A. § 4414 is amended to read:

§ 4414. ZONING; PERMISSIBLE TYPES OF REGULATIONS

Any of the following types of regulations may be adopted by a municipality in its bylaws in conformance with the plan and for the purposes established in section 4302 of this title.

* * *

(12) Wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements. A municipality may adopt bylaws to regulate wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements in a manner consistent with state or federal law. These bylaws may include requiring the decommissioning or dismantling of wireless telecommunications facilities and ancillary improvements, and may establish requirements that a bond be posted, or other security acceptable to the legislative body, in order to finance facility decommissioning or dismantling activities.

Sixteenth:  In Sec. 17, in 30 V.S.A. §248a, by striking out subsection (c), and by inserting a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

(c)  Before the public service board issues a certificate of public good under this section, it shall find that:

(1)  the proposed facilities, in the aggregate, will not have an undue adverse effect on aesthetics, historic sites, air and water purity, the natural environment, and the public health and safety, with due consideration having been given to the relevant criteria specified in subsection 1424a(d) and subdivisions 6086(a)(1) through (8) and (9)(K) of Title 10;

(2) unless there is good cause to find otherwise, substantial deference in determinations under this subsection have been given to the recommendations of the municipal and regional planning commissions, the recommendations of the municipal legislative bodies, and the plan of any affected municipality;

(3) the proposed facilities are in conformance with the regional plan.

Seventeenth:  In Sec. 17, in 30  V.S.A. §248a(e), after the first sentence, by inserting a new sentence to read as follows:  In addition, at least one copy of each application shall be filed with each of these municipal and regional planning commissions.

Eighteenth:  By inserting new two new sections to be numbered Secs. 17a and 17b to read as follows:

Sec. 17a.  30 V.S.A. § 227d(b)(5) is amended to read:

(5)  The carrier shall limit its prices as follows:

(A)  the carrier shall not increase its price for basic exchange telecommunications service during the first year following such election and, during the second and third years following the end of the year in which the carrier has made such election, the carrier shall not increase its price for basic exchange telecommunications service by more than nine percent or by $1.50, whichever is less;

(B)  the carrier shall not increase its prices for local measured service during the first two years following such election;

(C)  the carrier shall not increase its price for nonbasic telecommunications services by more than nine percent during the first two years following such election; provided that, for the purposes of this section, nonbasic telecommunications services shall mean any optional telecommunications services other than basic exchange telecommunications services and local measured service that were included in the carrier's intrastate tariff at the time of the election;

(D)  the carrier shall not increase its intrastate switched access rates for the three years following the end of the year in which the carrier has made such election.

Sec. 17b.  Sec. 2 of No. 73 of the Acts of 2005 (repeal of section 227d of Title 30) is amended to read:

Sec. 2.  REPEAL

30 V.S.A. § 227d shall be repealed on July 1 December 31, 2008.

Nineteenth:  By renumbering Sec. 20 to be Sec. 21, and by inserting a new Sec. 20 to read as follows:

Sec. 20.  STUDY OF EFFECT ON LAND USE LAW

(a) There is established a study committee on broadband and mobile telecommunications facilities, to consist of the following, who shall be experts in municipal and regional planning and development: a representative of the natural resources board, a municipal official designated by the league of cities and towns, a representative of a regional planning commission designated by the Vermont association of planning and development agencies, a representative of the department of public service, and one representative each of the broadband and the mobile telecommunications businesses appointed by the governor.

(b)  The study committee shall review the pertinent parts of the state’s municipal, regional, and state-level regulatory and planning processes that are involved in making broadband and mobile telecommunications services available to all the citizens of the state and shall develop recommendations that will allow the expeditious deployment of broadband and mobile telecommunications services in a manner acceptable to the communities of the state.  As part of this review, the committee shall consider and evaluate the likely effects of enactment of this act.

(c)  The committee shall be entitled to the administrative services of the department of public service.  By no later than January 15, 2008, the study committee shall present its recommendations together with any appropriate suggestions for legislative change to the House and Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Energy, the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, and the House Committee on Commerce.

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, and pending the question, Shall the proposal of amendment of the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs be amended as recommended by the Committee on Finance?, Senator Cummings, requested and was granted leave to withdraw the Sixteenth proposal of amendment.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the proposal of amendment of the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs be amended as recommended by the Committee on Finance, in it 1st-15th and 17th-20th proposals of amendment?, was decided in the affirmative.

Thereupon, the proposal of amendment recommended by the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, as amended, was agreed to and third reading of the bill was ordered.

Rules Suspended; Report of Committee of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate

H. 360.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on House bill entitled:

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

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator White, for the Committee of Conference, submitted the following report:

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The Committee of Conference to which were referred the disagreeing votes of the two Houses upon House bill entitled:

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

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House accede to the Senate proposal of amendment and that the bill be amended further in Sec. 1, 21 V.S.A. § 491(a), in the third sentence, by striking out the following: “full-time” and inserting in lieu thereof the following: permanent

                                                                        JEANETTE K. WHITE

                                                                        GEORGE R. COPPENRATH

                                                                        WILLIAM T. DOYLE

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        HELEN HEAD

                                                                        RICHARD J. HOWRIGAN

                                                                        LEO M. VALLIERE

                                                                 Committee on the part of the House

Thereupon, the question, Shall the Senate accept and adopt the report of the Committee of Conference?, was decided in the affirmative.


Message from the House No. 73

     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 Senate bills of the following titles:

S. 51.  An act relating to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

S. 133.  An act relating to the operation of a motor vehicle by junior operators and primary safety belt enforcement.

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 considered Senate proposals of amendment to House bills of the following titles:

H. 113.  An act relating to all-age access for tobacco cessation programs.

H. 368.  An act relating to the regulation of professions and occupations.

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

H. 518.  An act relating to technical tax amendments.

And has severally concurred therein.

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

H. 78.  An act relating to reconsideration or rescission of votes in local elections.

And has refused to concur therein and asks for a Committee of Conference upon the disagreeing votes of the two Houses;

And the Speaker has appointed as members of such Committee on the part of the House

                                         Rep. Martin of Wolcott

                                         Rep. Jerman of Essex

                                         Rep. Hudson of Lyndon

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

H. 229.  An act relating to corrections and clarifications to the Health Care Affordability Act of 2006 and related legislation.

And has refused to concur therein and asks for a Committee of Conference upon the disagreeing votes of the two Houses;

And the Speaker has appointed as members of such Committee on the part of the House

                                         Rep. Leriche of Hardwick

                                         Rep. McFaun of Barre Town

                                         Rep. Maier of Middlebury

The House has adopted a Joint Resolution of the following title:

J.R.H.  28.  Joint resolution commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Vermont Vietnam veterans memorial and all Vietnam War veterans.

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

Committees of Conference Appointed

S. 93.

An act relating to miscellaneous changes to education law.

Was taken up.  Pursuant to the request of the Senate, the President announced the appointment of

                                         Senator Collins

                                         Senator Doyle

                                         Senator Giard

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.

H. 78.

     An act relating to reconsideration or rescission of votes in local elections.

Was taken up.  Pursuant to the request of the House, the President announced the appointment of

                                         Senator Ayer

                                         Senator Coppenrath

                                         Senator White

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.


H. 148.

     An act relating to the child abuse registry.

Was taken up.  Pursuant to the request of the Senate, the President announced the appointment of

                                         Senator Sears

                                         Senator Nitka

                                         Senator Mullin

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.

H. 154.

     An act relating to stormwater management.

Was taken up.  Pursuant to the request of the Senate, the President announced the appointment of

                                         Senator Lyons

                                         Senator Snelling

                                         Senator Hartwell

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.

H. 229.

     An act relating to corrections and clarifications to the health care affordability act of 2006 and related legislation.

Was taken up.  Pursuant to the request of the House, the President announced the appointment of

                                         Senator Racine

                                         Senator Mullin

                                         Senator Lyons

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.

H. 274.

     An act relating to adult foster care.

Was taken up.  Pursuant to the request of the House, the President announced the appointment of


                                         Senator Racine

                                         Senator Ayer

                                         Senator White

as members of the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate to consider the disagreeing votes of the two Houses.

Rules Suspended; Bills Messaged

On motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended, and the following bills, or the actions taken thereon, were ordered messaged to the House forthwith:

S. 93; H. 78; H. 148; H. 154; H. 229; H. 274; H. 360.

Adjournment

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

 



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Montpelier, Vermont


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