Download this document in MS Word format


AutoFill Template

Journal of the Senate

________________

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Senate was called to order by the President.

Devotional Exercises

Devotional exercises were conducted by the Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo of Lincoln.

Message from the House No. 44

     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 adopted a joint resolution of the following title:

J.R.H. 52.  Joint resolution urging Congress to enact legislation establishing an Office of the National Nurse.

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

Joint Resolution Placed on Calendar

J.R.H. 52.

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

Joint resolution urging Congress to enact legislation establishing an Office of the National Nurse.

Whereas, everyday, nurses provide critical health care services to individuals in hospitals, clinics, nursing facilities, and doctors’ offices, and as nurse practitioners, and

Whereas, there is a severe shortage of nurses throughout the United States, including Vermont, and

Whereas, during the 109th Congress, Representative Lois Capps of California introduced HR 4903, also known as the “National Nurse Act of 2006,” that would have established an Office of the National Nurse within the U.S. Office of Public Health and Science, and

Whereas, the legislation required the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to appoint a registered nurse to head the Office of the National Nurse, and

Whereas, under this bill, the National Nurse was directed to:

“(1)  carry out activities to encourage individuals to enter the nursing

profession, including providing education on the distinct role of nurses in the health professions and examining nursing issues that would increase public safety, such as issues relating to staff levels, working conditions, and patient input;

“(2)  carry out activities to encourage nurses to become educators in schools of nursing;

“(3)  carry out activities to promote the public health, including encouraging nurses to be volunteers to projects that educate the public on achieving better health; and

“(4)  conduct media campaigns and make personal appearances for purposes of paragraphs (1) through (3)”, and

Whereas, in accordance with the proposed HR 4903, on an annual basis, the National Nurse was instructed to designate four methods of achieving better health, and

Whereas, the National Nurse was also assigned the responsibility of making grants to nonprofit organizations for the purpose of developing and implementing community-based public health information programs in conjunction with designated state coordinators who would establish volunteer teams of nurses to serve as the onsite community educators, and

Whereas, this legislation would also have authorized appropriations, for a period of five years, to implement its provisions, and

Whereas, HR 4903 as introduced n the 109th Congress merits further congressional examination, and its provisions should be reintroduced in new legislation during the 110th Congress, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges Congress to enact legislation establishing an Office of the National Nurse, and be it further

Resolved:  That the secretary of state be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Peggy Sharpe, president of the Vermont State Nurses Association in South Burlington, to U.S. Representative Lois Capps, and to the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation.

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

Senate Resolution Placed on Calendar

S.R. 25.

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

   By Senators Scott, Cummings and Doyle,

     S.R. 25.  Senate resolution in support of the creation of a veterans' transitional housing facility in central Vermont.

Whereas, according to federal government statistics, one-fourth of the nation’s homeless population consists of United States military veterans, and

Whereas, according to The Veterans Place, Inc., an organization founded to create a transitional housing facility for veterans in central Vermont, there are an estimated 150 homeless veterans in the state, and approximately 30 of these individuals reside in central Vermont, and

Whereas, because of this state’s proportionally large number of homeless veterans, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has ranked Vermont high on the priority list for the receipt of grant money for transitional assistance, and

Whereas, although a significant number of these homeless individuals are veterans of the Vietnam conflict, some served during Operation Desert Storm or even more recently during the current war in Iraq, and

Whereas, because post traumatic stress disorder afflicts many veterans returning from Iraq, there is concern that the number of homeless veterans in Vermont and elsewhere will rise, and

Whereas, currently, the only facility in Vermont to provide temporary shelter specifically for veterans is the eight‑bed Dodge House in Rutland City, and

Whereas, The Veterans Place, Inc. envisions the establishment of a multi‑service transitional housing facility for 15 or more central Vermont veterans, to be located in central Vermont, that would provide housing, food, legal services, dental care, job‑seeking support, substance‑abuse counseling, clothing and personal hygiene assistance, and

Whereas, the organizations partnering with The Veterans Place, Inc. in this worthy endeavor include the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, various state agencies and departments, veterans’ service organizations, local businesses, homeless shelters, municipal governments and Vermont’s Congressional delegation, and

Whereas, if The Veterans Place, Inc. is able to raise $200,000.00 by April 4, 2008, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, through a capital grant application filed under its “Homeless Provider Grant and Per Diem Program”, is prepared to award the sum of $600,000.00 toward the establishment of this multi‑service transitional residential facility, and

Whereas, the Hedding United Methodist Church Council, under the leadership of Reverend Ralph W. Howe, has donated $10,000.00 toward the $200,000.00 amount, and

Whereas, although the state of Vermont is unable to support this project financially due to the tight fiscal constraints of the FY 2009 budget, it is important that the Vermont Senate be recorded as supportive of this critically needed project, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate:

That the Vermont Senate strongly supports the efforts of The Veterans Place, Inc. to secure a $600,000.00 grant from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for the establishment of a multi-service veterans transitional residential facility in central Vermont, and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of the Senate be directed to send copies of this resolution to Reverend Ralph W. Howe in care of The Veterans Place, Inc. in Barre City, to Jack McDermott at the governor’s Veterans Advisory Council, to Clayton Clark at the office of Veterans Affairs, and to the Vermont Congressional delegation.

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

Bill Amended; Bill Passed

S. 201.

Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to state employee whistleblower protection.

Was taken up.

Thereupon, pending third reading of the bill, Senator Illuzzi moved to amend the bill in Sec. 1, 3 V.S.A. §974 by striking out subsection (c) in its entirety and inserting in lieu thereof a new subsection (c) to read as follows:

(c)  In the event that an appearance before a committee of the general assembly will cause an employee to miss work, he or she shall request to be absent from work and shall provide as much notice as is reasonably possible.  The request shall be granted unless there is good cause to deny the request.  If a request is denied, the decision and reasons for the denial shall be in writing and shall be provided to the employee in advance of the scheduled appearance.  The protections set forth in this section are subject to the efficient operation of state government, which shall prevail in any instance of conflict.

Which was agreed to.

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

Consideration Postponed

Senate bills entitled:

S. 350.

An act relating to energy independence and economic prosperity.

S. 371.

An act relating to the creation of an agency of education and the elimination of the state board of education.

Were taken up.

Thereupon, without objection consideration of the bills was postponed until tomorrow.

Proposal of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered

H. 403.

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

An act relating to postretirement cost of living adjustments for state employees.

     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.  3 V.S.A. § 455(a)(13) is amended to read:

(13) "Normal retirement date" shall mean:

* * *

(D) with respect to a group F member, the first day of the calendar month next following attainment of age 62, and following completion of five years of creditable service for those members hired on or after July 1, 2004, or completion of 30 years of creditable service, whichever is earlier; and with respect to a group F member first included in the membership of the system on or after July 1, 2008, the first day of the calendar month next following attainment of age 65 and following completion of five years of creditable service, or attainment of 87 points reflecting a combination of the age of the member and number of years of service, whichever is earlier.

Sec. 2.  3 V.S.A. § 459(b)(5) is amended to read:

§ 459. NORMAL AND EARLY RETIREMENT

* * *

(b) Normal retirement allowance.

* * *

(5)(A) Until January 1, 1995, upon normal retirement, a group F member shall receive a normal retirement allowance which shall be equal to 1-1/4 percent of his average final compensation times years of creditable service. On and after January 1, 1995, upon normal retirement, a group F member shall receive a normal retirement allowance equal to 1-1/4 percent of the member's average final compensation times years of membership service prior to January 1, 1991 plus a pension which when added to an annuity shall be equal to 1-2/3 percent of the member's average final compensation times years of membership service on and after January 1, 1991. The maximum retirement allowance shall be 50 percent of average final compensation.

(B)  A group F member first included in the membership of the system on or after July 1, 2008, upon normal retirement, shall receive a normal retirement allowance equal to 1-2/3 percent of the member's average final compensation times years of membership service. The maximum retirement allowance shall be 60 percent of average final compensation.

* * *

(d) Early retirement allowance.

* * *

(2)(A) Upon early retirement, a group F member, except facility employees of the department of corrections, and department of corrections employees who provide direct security and treatment services to offenders under supervision in the community and Woodside facility employees, shall receive an early retirement allowance which shall be equal to the normal retirement allowance reduced by one-half of one percent for each month the member is under age 62 at the time of early retirement. Group F members who have 20 years of service as facility employees of the department of corrections, as department of corrections employees who provide direct security and treatment services to offenders under supervision in the community or as Woodside facility employees or as Vermont state hospital employees who provide direct patient care shall receive an early retirement allowance which shall be equal to the normal retirement allowance at age 55 without reduction; provided the 20 years of service occurred in one or more of the following capacities as an employee of the department of corrections, Woodside facility [or Vermont state hospital]: facility employee, community service center employee or court and reparative service unit employee.

(B) Upon early retirement, a group F member first included in the membership of the system on or after July 1, 2008, except facility employees of the department of corrections and department of corrections employees who provide direct security and treatment services to offenders under supervision in the community and Woodside facility employees, shall receive an early retirement allowance which shall be equal to the normal retirement allowance reduced by:

(i) one-eighth of one percent for each month the member is under age 65, provided the member has accrued 35 years of service at the time of early retirement;

(ii) one-quarter of one percent for each month the member is under age 65, provided the member has accrued 30 years of service but less than 35 years of service at the time of early retirement;

(iii) one-third of one percent for each month the member is under age 65 , provided the member has accrued 25 years of service but less than 30 years of service at the time of early retirement;

(iv) five-twelfths of one percent for each month the member is under age 65, provided the member has accrued 20 years of service but less than 25 years of service at the time of early retirement;

(v) five-ninths of one percent for each month the member is under age 65, provided the member has accrued less than 20 years of service at the time of early retirement .

* * *

Sec. 3.  3 V.S.A. § 470(b) is amended to read:

(b)  For group F members, as of June 30 in each year, commencing January 1, 1991, a determination shall be made of the increase or decrease, to the nearest one-tenth of a percent of the Consumer Price Index for the preceding fiscal year.  The retirement allowance of each beneficiary in receipt of an allowance for at least one year on the next following December 31st shall be increased or decreased, as the case may be, by an amount equal to one-half of the percentage increase or decrease.  Commencing January 1, 2014, the retirement allowance of each beneficiary who was an active contributing member of the group F plan as of June 30 , 2008 and who retires on or after July 1, 2008 shall be increased or decreased, as the case may be, by an equal percentage of the Consumer Price Index for the preceding year.  The increase or decrease shall commence on the January 1st immediately following such December 31st.  The adjustment shall apply to group F members receiving an early retirement allowance only in the year following attainment of age 62, provided the member has received benefits for at least 12 months as of December 31 of the year preceding any January adjustment.  The maximum adjustment of any retirement allowance resulting from any such determination shall be five percent and the minimum shall be one percent, and no retirement allowance shall be reduced below the amount payable to the beneficiary without regard to the provisions of this section.

Sec. 4.  3 V.S.A. § 473(b)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  Contributions shall be made on and after the date of establishment at the rate of five percent of compensation except at a rate of 6.18 percent of compensation for each group C member unless such the member was a group C member on June 30, 1998 in which case contributions shall be at the rate of six percent of compensation for each such group C member who has elected not to have his or her compensation from the state be subject to Social Security withholding or at the rate of five percent of compensation if such the member elected to have compensation from the state subject to Social Security withholding and at the rate of 3.25 five percent of compensation for each group F member and, commencing July 1, 2019, at the rate of 4.75 percent of compensation for each group F member.  In determining the amount earnable by a member in a payroll period, the retirement board may consider the annual or other periodic rate of earnable compensation payable to such member on the first day of the payroll period as continuing throughout such payroll period, and it may omit deduction from compensation for any period less than a full payroll period if an employee was not a member on the first day of the payroll period, and to facilitate the making of deductions it may modify the deduction required of any member by such an amount as, on an annual basis, shall not exceed one-tenth of one percent of the annual earnable compensation upon the basis of which such deduction is to be made.  Each of the amounts shall be deducted until the member retires or otherwise withdraws from service, and when deducted shall be paid into the annuity savings fund, and shall be credited to the individual account of the member from whose compensation the deduction was made.


Sec. 5.  3 V.S.A. § 473(c) is amended to read:

(c) Employer contributions, earnings, and payments.

* * *

(2) Beginning with the actuarial valuation as of June 30, 2006, the contributions to be made to the fund by the state shall be determined on the basis of the actuarial cost method known as "entry age normal." On account of each member there shall be paid annually into the fund by the state an amount equal to a certain percentage percentages of the annual earnable compensation of such member, to be known as the "normal contribution," and an additional amount amounts equal to a certain percentage of the member's annual earnable compensation, to be known as the "basic accrued liability." and “additional accrued liability” contributions. The percentage rate rates of such the contributions shall be fixed on the basis of the liabilities of the retirement system as shown by actuarial valuation.

* * *

(4)(A) Until the unfunded accrued liability, excluding the portion described in subdivision (B) of this subdivision (4), is liquidated, the basic accrued liability contribution shall be the annual payment required to liquidate the unfunded accrued liability over a period of 30 years from July 1, 1988, provided that the amount of each annual basic accrued liability contribution after June 30, 1988 shall be five percent greater than the preceding annual basic accrued liability contribution. Any variation in the contribution of normal, basic, or unfunded accrued liability or additional unfunded accrued liability contributions from those recommended by the actuary and any actuarial gains and losses shall be added or subtracted to the unfunded accrued liability and amortized over the remainder of the 30-year period.

(B) Until the additional unfunded accrued liability created as of July 1, 2008, by the implementation of a group F cost-of-living adjustment equal to the full increase or decrease, to the nearest one-tenth of a percent of the Consumer Price Index for the preceding fiscal year as provided in subsection 470(b) of this title, is liquidated, the additional accrued liability contribution, shall be the annual payment required to liquidate the additional unfunded accrued liability over a period of 30 years from July 1, 2008, provided that the amount of each annual additional accrued liability contribution made after June 30, 2009 shall be five percent greater than the preceding annual additional accrued liability contribution.

* * *


Sec. 6.  3 V.S.A. § 479(a) is amended and (g) is added to read:

(a) As provided under section 631 of this title, a member who is insured by the respective group insurance plans immediately preceding the member's effective date of retirement shall be entitled to continuation of group insurance as follows:

(1)(A) coverage in the group medical benefit plan provided by the state of Vermont for active state employees; or

(B) for a group F plan member first included in the membership of the system on or after July 1, 2008, coverage in the group medical benefit plan offered by the state of Vermont for active state employees and pursuant to the following, provided:

(i) a member who has completed five years and less than 10 years of creditable service at his or her retirement shall pay the full cost of the premium;

(ii) a member who has completed 10 years and less than 15 years of creditable service at his or her retirement shall pay 60 percent of the cost of the premium;

(iii) a member who has completed 15 years and less than 20 years of creditable service at his or her retirement shall pay 40 percent of the cost of the premium;

(iv) a member who has completed 20 years or more of creditable service at his or her retirement shall pay 20 percent of the cost of the premium; and

(2) members who have completed 20 years of creditable service at their effective date of retirement shall be entitled to the continuation of life insurance in the amount of $5,000.00 $10,000.00.

(g)  A member of the group F plan who is first included in the membership of the system on or after July 1, 2008, who separates from service prior to being eligible for retirement benefits under this chapter, who have at least 20 years of creditable service, and who participated in the group medical benefit plan at the time of separation from service shall have a one-time option at the time retirement benefits commence to reinstate the same level of coverage, in the group medical benefit plan provided by the state of Vermont for active state employees, that existed at the date of separation from service.  Premiums for the plan shall be prorated between the retired member and the retirement system pursuant to subsection 479(a) of this title.


Sec. 7.  3 V.S.A. § 631(a)(9) is amended to read:

(9) The amount of life insurance for any retired employee shall be reduced and limited to $5,000.00 $10,000.00 on the date of his or her retirement. The provisions of this section shall apply to all retirees who complete 20 creditable years of service with the state before their retirement and are insured for group life insurance on their retirement dates. The total premiums for group life insurance provided under this section and section 632 of this title shall be paid by the state on behalf of employees retired in accordance with the terms of subdivision (2) of this subsection, on behalf of employees who are on sick leave without pay for a period not to exceed twelve months and on behalf of any employee on disability retirement until proof of total and permanent disability has been accepted by the insurance company.

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

Senator Bartlett, for the Committee on Appropriations, to which the bill was referred, reported the bill ought to pass in concurrence with 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.

Appointments Confirmed

Under suspension of the rules (and particularly, Senate Rule 93), as moved by Senator Shumlin, the following Gubernatorial appointments were confirmed together as a group by the Senate, without reports given by the Committees to which they were referred and without debate:

     Brian Vachon of Middlesex - Member, State Board of Education – March 1, 2007, to February 28, 2013.

     Thomas Scala of Brattleboro - Member, Vermont Lottery Commission – July 1, 2006, to February 28, 2009.

     Virginia Barry of Barre - Member, Vermont Lottery Commission – July 1, 2006, to February 28, 2009.

     Daniel J. Kurzman of Beecher Falls - Member, Vermont Economic Development Authority – November 13, 2007, to June 30. 2010.

     Fayneese Miller of South Burlington - Member, State Board of Education – July 30, 2007, to February 28, 2012.


     Nathaniel M. Hayward of South Hero - Member, Vermont Economic Development Authority – July 16, 2007, to June 30, 2012.

     Peter J. Wright of Elmore - Member, Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees – March 1, 2007, to February 28, 2013.

     Jeffrey L. Davis of Williston - Member, University of Vermont and State Agricultural College Board of Trustees – March 16, 2007, to February 28, 2013.

     James E. Potvin of Mount Holly - Member, Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Financing Agency – February 1, 2008, to January 31, 2014.

     David R. Kimel of St. Albans - Member, Vermont Municipal Bond Bank – February 1, 2008, to January 31, 2010.

     Edward T. Ogorzalek of Rutland - Member, Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Finance Agency – February 1, 2008, to January 31, 2014.

     Sandra Predom of Mount Holly - Member, Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Finance Agency – February 1, 2008, to January 31, 2014.

     John W. Valente of Rutland - Member, Vermont Municipal Bond Bank – February 4, 2008, to January 31, 2010.

     John C. Stewart of Jericho Center - Member, Community High School of Vermont Board – March 1, 2007, to February 28, 2010.

     Susan Roush Bruce of St. Albans - Member, Board of Libraries – March 29, 2007, to February 28, 2011.

     Heidi Pelletier of Montpelier - Member, Vermont State Colleges – March 14, 2007, to February 28, 2013.

     Jessica Bullock of Clarendon - Member, State Board of Education – August 1, 2006, to June 30, 2008.

     Tess Savage of Bristol - Member, State Board of Education – July 28, 2007, to June 30, 2009.

     Gordon Winters of Swanton - Member, Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees – April 2, 2007, to February 28, 2013.

     Joseph Sutton of East Middlebury - Member, Travel Information Council – March 1, 2008, to February 28, 2010.

     Elizabeth G. Kennett of Rochester - Member, Travel Information Council – March 1, 2008, to February 28, 2010.

     Susan Davis of Shelburne - Member, Travel Information Council – March 1, 2008, to February 28, 2010.


     Francis Heald of Rutland - Member, Travel Information Council – March 1, 2008, to February 28, 2010.

     Carolyn Cooke of Colchester - Member, Sustainable Jobs Fund Board of Directors – April 2, 2007, to August 31, 2009.

     Edward Kiniry of Shelburne - Member, Sustainable Jobs Fund Board of Directors – July 16, 2007, to August 31, 2011.

     John Merrill of Stowe - Member, Sustainable Jobs Fund Board of Directors – July 27, 2007, to August 31, 2009.

     Lenae Quillen-Blume of Quechee - Member, Sustainable Jobs Fund Board of Directors– April 2, 2007, to August 31, 2009.

     James Stewart of Pittsford - Member, Sustainable Jobs Fund Board of Directors – November 27, 2006, to August 31, 2008.

     Nancy Wood of Charlotte - Member, Sustainable Jobs Fund Board of Directors – September 21, 2007, to August 31, 2012.

     Lisa Mitiguy Randall of Colchester - Chair of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency – February 1, 2008, to January 31, 2012.

     Dwight A. Davis of East Burke – Member, Community High School of Vermont Board – March 12, 2008, to February 28, 2011.

     Albert Pearce, Jr. of Richford – Member Community High School of Vermont Board – March 12, 2008, to February 28, 2011.

Adjournment

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

 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us