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Journal of the Senate

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Friday, February 29, 2008

The Senate was called to order by the President.

Devotional Exercises

Devotional exercises were conducted by the Reverend David Hall of Montpelier.

Message from the House No. 29

     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. 352.  An act relating to reducing lead hazards in housing.

     H. 867.  An act relating to health insurance plan coverage for athletic trainer services.

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

The House has considered Senate proposal of amendment to House bill of the following title:

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

And has concurred therein.

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

J.R.H. 45.  Joint resolution urging Congress to repeal the planned competitive loan auction pilot program for the federal family education loan program’s plus loans to parent.

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

Message from the House No. 30

     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. 135.  An act relating to increasing the age for mandatory participation in the corrections system education program.

     H. 432.  An act relating to establishing Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

     H. 775.  An act relating to low-profit limited liability companies.

     H. 865.  An act relating to Vermont milk commission.

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

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

S. 257.  An act relating to Medicaid coverage of naturopathic physicians.

And has passed the same in concurrence.

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

S. 351.  An act relating to consolidating management of public records.

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

The House has considered Senate proposal of amendment to House bill of the following title:

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

And has concurred therein.

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

J.R.H. 53.  Joint resolution urging Congress to address the dramatic rise of electronic payment interchange rates that merchants and consumers are assessed.

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

Bill Referred to Committee on Appropriations

S. 360.

Senate bill of the following title, appearing on the Calendar for notice and carrying an appropriation or requiring the expenditure of funds, under the rule was referred to the Committee on Appropriations:

An act relating to increasing substance abuse treatment, vocational training, and transitional housing for offenders in order to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and reduce corrections costs.

Bills Referred

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

H. 135.

An act relating to increasing the age of mandatory participation in the corrections system education program.

To the Committee on Institution.

H. 352.

An act relating to reducing lead hazards in housing.

To the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.

H. 432.

An act relating to establishing Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

To the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.

H. 775.

An act relating to low-profit limited liability companies.

To the Committee on Finance.

H. 865.

An act relating to Vermont milk commission.

To the Committee on Agriculture.

H. 867.

An act relating to health insurance plan coverage for athletic trainer services.

To the Committee on Finance.

Joint Resolution Referred

J.R.H. 45.

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

Joint resolution urging Congress to repeal the planned Competitive Loan Auction Pilot program for the Federal Family Education Loan program’s PLUS LOANS to parents.

Whereas, the Higher Education Act of 1965 represented a major milestone in the expansion of the availability of a college education for millions of American youths, and

Whereas, an essential element in extending the affordability of a college education has been the availability of federally guaranteed loans through the Federal Family Education Loan program, and

Whereas, in the summer of 2007, Congress passed and the President signed an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965, Public Law 110-84, known as the “College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007,” and

Whereas, although this legislation contained many improvements to the accessibility and affordability of federal financial assistance, in the form of both grants and loans, for the nation’s college students, one extremely troublesome aspect of the Act is Section 701, directing the U.S. Secretary of Education to establish a “Competitive Loan Auction Pilot Program” that would require all of the prequalified participating lenders in each state of PLUS loans to parents under the Federal Family Education Loan program to submit a bid to serve as one the state’s two exclusive lenders of these loans, beginning in July 2009 for all new loan applicants, and

Whereas, the two lowest bidders would be designated as the exclusive PLUS loan originators in their respective states for a two-year period, and

Whereas, although the auction process would not be applicable to the lending of PLUS loans to graduate students or federal Stafford Loans, or to the interest rate on PLUS loans charged to parents, it could significantly impair parents’ accessibility to PLUS loans, and

Whereas, the auction process proposed under the Act is to be based on the procedure that the Federal Communications Commission uses to award certain frequencies on the broadcast spectrum, and

Whereas, the Center for American Progress has stated that the FCC spectrum auctions “neither serve the public interest nor realize the promised market efficiencies” and “have systematically resulted in market concentration and the growth of oligopolistic market power of major actors in the telecommunications industry,” and

Whereas, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has stated in a discussion paper that “loan auctions are riddled with problems for both taxpayers and borrowers,” and the paper predicts that families of college students who do not qualify for sources of need-based aid other than PLUS Loans “will be the biggest losers . . . and may be stuck with higher costing student loans,” and

Whereas, a 2001 study by the U.S. General Accounting Office suggested that “the diversity of lenders would likely decline” were an auctioning system for PLUS loans adopted, and

Whereas, the adoption of the auction system serves no beneficial purpose and will possibly add new financial burdens on the families of college students, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges Congress to repeal the planned Competitive Loan Auction Pilot program for the Federal Family Education Loan program’s PLUS LOANS to parents, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation. 

Thereupon, in the discretion of the President, under Rule 51, the joint resolution was treated as a bill and referred to the Committee on Education.

J.R.H. 53.

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

Joint resolution urging Congress to address the dramatic rise of electronic payment interchange rates that merchants and consumers are assessed

Whereas, consumers are increasingly using credit and debit card electronic payment systems to purchase goods and services, and annually these purchases now exceed the number of check transactions, and

Whereas, in order for merchants to accept these payment systems, merchants are required to pay interchange fees to banks and credit card providers, and

Whereas, these interchange fees are usually hidden and not disclosed to the consumer, and

Whereas, in recent years, improved technology combined with consumer preference has triggered increases in the use of electronic payment systems, and

Whereas, the interchange fees are ultimately passed on to the consumers, including those who pay with cash or a check and who, in effect, subsidize rewards given to credit card customers, and

Whereas, the number of rewards cards in circulation is rapidly increasing, and the new rewards cards are more costly for both merchants and consumers, and

Whereas, the interchange fees, including those paid on food and gasoline, are typically almost double the profit margin of the merchant, and

Whereas, the resulting impact on consumer prices is significant, and on each transaction, the bank or credit card provider earns a higher amount than the amount of the merchant’s net profit, and

Whereas, traditional economic models are not applicable because only a few businesses process these electronic payment transactions, and merchants are forced to accept terms dictated often without notice or recourse, and

Whereas, small businesses struggle to absorb the constant increases in the cost of accepting electronic payments, and

Whereas, it is advantageous that economic models facilitate a highly competitive marketplace, and

Whereas, the increased consumer use of electronic payments requires Congress to assure the existence of a highly competitive and vibrant market that promotes an economic playing field that is fair to consumers, merchants, and card providers, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges Congress to address the current anticompetitive nature of credit and debit interchange fees charged to merchants and consumers, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to the Vermont Congressional Delegation.

Thereupon, in the discretion of the President, under Rule 51, the joint resolution was treated as a bill and referred to the Committee on Finance.

Message from the Governor

Appointments Referred

     A message was received from the Governor, by Dennise R. Casey, Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs, submitting the following appointments, which were referred to committees as indicated:

     Paul Hansen of South Alburg - Member of the Vermont Citizens Advisory Committee on Lake Champlain’s Future, - from March 1, 2008, to February 28, 2011.

     To the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

     John McClain of Randolph - Member of the Current Use Advisory Board, - from February 27, 2008, to January 31, 2011.

     To the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

     Patrick M. Bartlett of Woodstock - Member of the Current Use Advisory Board, - from February 27, 2008, to January 31, 2011.

     To the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

     Donnamarie Carey of Montpelier - Member of the Vermont Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board, - from February 27, 2008, to January 31, 2011.

     To the Committee on Health and Welfare.

     Brian S. Flynn of Shelburne - Member of the Vermont Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board, - from February 27, 2008, to January 31, 2011.

     To the Committee on Health and Welfare.

Bills Passed

Senate bills of the following titles were severally read the third time and passed:

S. 245.

An act relating to crime victims.

S. 280.

An act relating to prosthetic parity.

S. 281.

An act relating to end-of-life care and pain management.

Bill Referred to Committee on Appropriations

S. 363.

Senate committee bill entitled:

An act relating to workers’ compensation in agriculture.

Having appeared on the Calendar for notice for one day, was taken up.

Thereupon, pending the second reading of the bill, on motion of Senator Bartlett the bill was referred to the Committee on Appropriations.


Third Reading Ordered

J.R.H. 27.

Senator Scott, for the Committee on Transportation, to which was referred joint House resolution entitled:

Joint resolution requesting Congress to maximize to the greatest extent possible the federal funding for state transportation construction projects and grant the states the maximum degree of flexibility in prioritization of projects to be financed.

Reported that the joint resolution ought to be adopted in concurrence.

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

Point of Order; Third Reading Ordered

J.R.H. 39.

Senator Collins, for the Committee on Transportation, to which was referred joint House resolution entitled:

Joint resolution relating to requesting Congress to reduce green house gas emissions through the authorization of 90,000 pound weight limitation for all vehicles with a minimum of five axles traveling on interstate highways in Vermont.

Reported that the joint resolution ought to be adopted in concurrence.

Thereupon, the joint resolution was read the second time by title only pursuant to Rule 43, and pending the question, Shall the joint resolution be read a third time?, Senator McCormack moved that the resolution be committed to the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy?,

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the resolution be committed to the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy?, Senator McCormack raised a point of order on the ground that remarks of Senator Collins were not germane to the question and therefore could not be considered by the Senate.

The President overruled the point of order, stating that, while he was sympathetic to the point raised, the debate was relevant to the question.

Thereupon, the question, Shall the bill be referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy?, was decided in the negative on a roll call, Yeas 1, Nays 23.

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

Roll Call

The Senator who voted in the affirmative was: McCormack.

Those Senators who voted in the negative were: Ayer, Bartlett, Campbell, Carris, Collins, Condos, Coppenrath, Cummings, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Lyons, MacDonald, Maynard, Miller, Mullin, Nitka, Racine, Scott, Snelling, Starr, White.

Those Senators absent and not voting were: Doyle, Kitchel, Kittell, Mazza, Sears, Shumlin.

Thereupon, the recurring question, Shall the resolution be read the third time?, was decided in the affirmative on a roll call, Yeas 23, Nays 1.

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

Roll Call

Those Senators who voted in the affirmative were: Ayer, Bartlett, Campbell, Carris, Collins, Condos, Coppenrath, Cummings, Flanagan, Giard, Hartwell, Illuzzi, Lyons, MacDonald, Maynard, Miller, Mullin, Nitka, Racine, Scott, Snelling, Starr, White.

The Senator who voted in the negative was: McCormack.

Those Senators absent and not voting were: Doyle, Kitchel, Kittell, Mazza, Sears, Shumlin.

Senate Concurrent Resolutions

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

S.C.R. 34.

By Senators Doyle, Cummings and Scott,

     By Representative Hosford,

Senate concurrent resolution in memory of Dr. Lawrence Myers of Waitsfield.


S.C.R. 35.

By Senators Doyle, Cummings and Scott,

     By Representative McDonald and others,

Senate concurrent resolution honoring Barre City Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Stratton on his service to the community.

S.C.R. 36.

By Senators Doyle, Cummings and Scott,

     By Representatives Grad and Donahue,

Senate concurrent resolution honoring Moretown Town Clerk-Treasurer and Trustee of Public Money Susan Goodyear for her public service.

     [The full text of the Senate concurrent resolutions appeared in the Senate calendar addendum for Thursday, February 28, 2008, and, if adopted in concurrence by the House, will appear in the volume of the Public Acts and Resolves to be published for this session of the sixty-ninth biennial session of the Vermont General Assembly.]

House Concurrent Resolutions

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

H.C.R. 217

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Vermont Girl Scouts selected to attend the 52nd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

Offered by:  Representative Morrissey and others

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

H.C.R. 218

House concurrent resolution honoring Barbara Oles for her public service as Guilford town clerk and treasurer and as a leader among her colleagues

Offered by:  Representative O’Donnell


H.C.R. 219

House concurrent resolution honoring Laurence Rossi for his civic service in the town of Woodbury

Offered by:  Representatives Peltz and Smith

Offered by:  Senators Cummings, Doyle and Scott

H.C.R. 220

House concurrent resolution congratulating Arthur Briggs for a half-century of civic service as a member of the Cavendish Volunteer Fire Department

Offered by:  Representative Shand

Offered by:  Senators Campbell, McCormack and Nitka

H.C.R. 221

House concurrent resolution congratulating Sarah Hurlbut on being named the recipient of the Franklin County person of the year award

Offered by:  Representative Pillsbury and others

Offered by:  Senators Collins and Kittell

H.C.R. 222

House concurrent resolution congratulating the Frederic Duclos Barstow Memorial School on its 75th anniversary

Offered by:  Representative Chen and others

Offered by:  Senators Carris and Mullin

H.C.R. 223

House concurrent resolution congratulating Frank Pecora on being named a St. Michael’s College unsung hero

Offered by:  Representative Donahue and Grad

Offered by:  Senator Cummings, Doyle and Scott

H.C.R. 224

House concurrent resolution congratulating Colchester town clerk and treasurer Karen Richard on being named the 2007 Vermont town clerk of the year

Offered by:  Representative Condon and others

Offered by:  Senator Mazza


H.C.R. 225

House concurrent resolution honoring Carolyn Wells for her outstanding public service in the town of Worcester

Offered by:  Representatives Peltz and Smith

Offered by:  Senators Cummings, Doyle and Scott

H.C.R. 226

House concurrent resolution honoring Henry Andrew Raymond for his tireless community service in the town of Fairfax

Offered by:  Representatives Gilbert and Branagan

Offered by:  Senators Collins and Kittell

     [The full text of the House concurrent resolutions appeared in the Senate calendar addendum for Thursday, February 28, 2008, and will appear in the volume of the Public Acts and Resolves to be published for this session of the sixty-ninth biennial session of the Vermont General Assembly.]

Adjournment

On motion of Senator Campbell, the Senate adjourned, to reconvene on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, at ten o’clock in the forenoon pursuant to J.R.S. 43.

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us