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Journal of the Senate

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

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

Devotional Exercises

A moment of silence was observed in lieu of devotions.

Pledge of Allegiance

The President pro tempore then led the members of the Senate in the pledge of allegiance.

Committee Bill Introduced

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

S. 358.

By the Committee on Transportation,

An act relating to enhanced driver licenses.

Joint Resolution Placed on Calendar

J.R.S. 49.

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

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

     J.R.S. 49.  Joint resolution relating to the collection of United States census data in Vermont.

Whereas, the many variables of demographic data the U.S. Bureau of the Census, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, collects have a direct impact on the lives of thousands of Vermonters, and

Whereas, the census data, especially the data traditionally collected in the decennial long form, are essential for measuring critical issues for Vermonters such as the availability of affordable housing, the prevalence of child poverty, and employment trends, and they are the basis for funding numerous federal programs that assist Vermonters in important ways, and

Whereas, the professional staff at the Vermont State Data Center at the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont, who serve as independent advocates on behalf of the integrity of the data that the census provides to the state and towns, has expressed a strong concern that recent major changes in the methods of collecting and reporting data may result in a loss of important federal funding for the state and municipalities and a disconnection of census data from its traditional and essential uses, and

Whereas, in recent decades, information relating to income, poverty, and other demographic data has been gathered through the long form questionnaires issued as part of the decennial United States census, and

Whereas, the long form version of the decennial census has been eliminated, and its replacement is a revised American Community Survey (ACS), which is an annual sample-based survey, and

Whereas, the new ACS data is now being released as a replacement for information previously drawn from answers to the decennial census long form with full implementation by 2010, and

Whereas, under the previous “most of the time residence rule,” the decennial census long form included only a town’s primary residents; however, under the new “more than two months” residence rule, the ACS data will now include seasonal residents, a change with potentially significant impact in Vermont where many towns have substantial seasonal populations, and

Whereas, because seasonal residents, even if their primary residence is also in Vermont, often earn higher incomes than a town’s permanent residents, their inclusion in a sample could result in a town being denied funds for essential social services to which it would otherwise be entitled, and

Whereas, in a few towns, the inclusion of seasonal residents may have the reverse effect and artificially skew significant statistical thresholds downward, and

Whereas, the ACS data may be of lower integrity than the long form results because the percentage of the population sample will be smaller, and

Whereas, because the ACS data for localities is being released as five-year averages, the statistical value and conclusions that towns may draw from the data, may be of more limited use, and

Whereas, because the ACS data will include margins of error, it is effectively being presented as numerical ranges and not single numbers, and this new formatting will necessitate the state and towns making corresponding changes in their statistical analysis, and

Whereas, because of all these changes in data sampling and reporting, the long-standing ability to track historic trends could be greatly impaired, and

Whereas, Vermont could potentially lose significant federal revenues and informational resources as a result of these administrative decisions, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges the United States Bureau of the Census to work with state and local officials, including the professional staff at the state data centers nationwide, to address the inequalities that will result due to the  alterations of the bureau’s statistical gathering and reporting methodologies, and be it further

Resolved:  That the General Assembly urges the United States Bureau of the Census, if it intends to maintain the new “more than two months” residence rule for the American Community Survey, to create, within the survey’s reports, methods for disclosing the inclusion of seasonal residents and the means to isolate residents who meet the former “most of the time” criteria, and be it further 

Resolved:  That the General Assembly urges the United States Congress to commit the financial resources necessary for the United States Bureau of the Census to address and eliminate the data collection and reporting inequalities and concerns referred to in this resolution, and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, to the Director of the United States Bureau of the Census, Steven Murdock, Ph.D., to the Vermont State Data Center, and to the Vermont Congressional delegation.

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

Bill Passed in Concurrence

H. 590

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

An act relating to the spelling of the name of the town and village of Alburg.

Message from the House No. 14

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

Mr. President:

     I am directed to inform the Senate the House has passed bills of the following titles:

     H. 575.  An act relating to small eligible telecommunications carriers.

     H. 665.  An act relating to political party state committee membership.

     H. 669.  An act relating to the Vermont historic downtown.

     H. 691.  An act relating to executive and judicial branch fees.

     H. 737.  An act relating to fiscal year 2008 budget adjustments.

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

The Governor has informed the House of Representatives that on the first day of February, 2008, he approved and signed a bill originating in the House of the following title:

H. 550.  An act relating to approval of amendment to the charter of the city of South Burlington regarding voter approval of city and school district budgets.

Adjournment

On motion of Senator Mazza, the Senate adjourned until one o’clock and thirty minutes in the afternoon on Wednesday, February 6, 2008.

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us