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Journal of the Senate

________________

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Senate was called to order by the President.

Devotional Exercises

A moment of silence was observed in lieu of devotions.

Pages Honored

In appreciation of their many services to the members of the General Assembly, the President and President pro tempore recognized the following-named pages who are completing their services today and presented them with commemorative posters:

                                          Samuel Coxon of Sharon

                                          Joshua Crane of Montpelier

                                          Victoria DeLuca of Williston

                                          Samuel Hooper of Sharon

                                          Reilly Johnson of Bradford

                                          Eleanor Laukaitis of Williston

                                          Lara Loughlin of Dorset

                                          Maureen T. Myrick of St. Johnsbury

                                          Mikaela Osler of Jericho

                                          Rebecca Westcom of Enosburg Falls

Senate Resolution Placed on Calendar

S.R. 30.

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

   By the Committee on Education,

S.R. 30.  Senate resolution encouraging the Business-Education Alliance to continue working for an effective organizational structure for state education governance.

Whereas, the elementary and secondary student population in Vermont’s schools should be performing at a sufficiently high level to meet the educational challenges of the 21st century, and

Whereas, both a new state-wide vision and an effective organizational structure for state education governance are essential for preparing children to meet these challenges, and

Whereas, a clear state-wide vision is necessary so that children in every Vermont school are offered the highest quality curriculum, and

Whereas, strong leadership and accountability in the state of Vermont’s system of educational governance and the most effective organizational structure are vital if we are to update the materials and teaching methods used in Vermont’s public schools, and

Whereas, recent test scores in some Vermont schools are flat or falling, and improvements in these scores these inadequate test results must be reversed if the students in our state are to be prepared to enter the ever‑changing global economy, and

Whereas, the Business-Education Alliance, in a report entitled “Vision, Goals, and Governance in Vermont’s Public Education System,” identifies the needs that must be addressed if a new vision for education is to be achieved, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate:

That the Senate of the State of Vermont requests that the Business‑Education Alliance continue to prepare detailed documentation of the findings listed in its recently issued report on the status of public education in Vermont and that the documentation be presented to the House and Senate committees on education and to the commissioner of education on or before January 20, 2009, and be it further  

ResolvedThat the Secretary of the Senate be directed to send a copy of this resolution to Governor James Douglas, and to Mary Powell and Mary Moran, co-chairs of the Business-Education Alliance.

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

Senate Resolution Adopted

S.R. 29.

Senate resolution entitled:

Senate resolution relating to the Connecticut River Valley Flood Control Commission.

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


Join Resolution Ordered to Lie

J.R.H. 64.

Joint House resolution entitled:

Joint resolution recognizing all Vermont firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel for the professional level of service they provide to their communities.

Was taken up.

Thereupon, pending the question, Shall the joint resolution be adopted in concurrence, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the bill was ordered to lie.

Rules Suspended; Reports of Committees of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate

H. 599.

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 boating while intoxicated and driving while intoxicated.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Sears, 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. 599.  An act relating to boating while intoxicated and driving while intoxicated.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the Senate recede from its proposals of amendment, and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  LEGISLATIVE INTENT

It is the intent of the general assembly in this act to address, among other issues, the Vermont supreme court’s decisions in State v. LaBounty, 2005 VT 124, and State v. Martin, 2007 VT 96.  In LaBounty, the court held that if more than one person was injured, an offender could be charged with only one count of grossly negligent operation of a motor vehicle with injury resulting.  Similarly, the court held in Martin that if more than one person was killed, an offender could be charged with only one count of boating while intoxicated with death resulting.  In this act, the general assembly responds to Martin and LaBounty by amending several motor vehicle statutes to permit an offender to be charged with a separate count of violating the statute for each person who was killed or injured as a result of the offense.

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 1091(b) is amended to read:

(b)  Grossly negligent operation.

(1)  A person who operates a motor vehicle on a public highway in a grossly negligent manner shall be guilty of grossly negligent operation.

(2)  The standard for a conviction for grossly negligent operation in violation of this subsection shall be gross negligence, examining whether the person engaged in conduct which involved a gross deviation from the care that a reasonable person would have exercised in that situation.

(3)  A person who violates this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.  If the person has previously been convicted of a violation of this section, the person shall be imprisoned not more than four years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.  If serious bodily injury as defined in section 1021 of Title 13 or death of any person other than the operator results, the person shall be imprisoned for not more than 15 years or fined not more than $15,000.00, or both.  If serious bodily injury or death results to more than one person other than the operator, the operator may be convicted of a separate violation of this subdivision for each decedent or person injured.

Sec. 3.  23 V.S.A. § 1133 is amended to read:

§ 1133.  ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE A POLICE OFFICER

(a)  No operator of a motor vehicle shall fail to bring his or her vehicle to a stop when signaled to do so by an enforcement officer:

(1)  displaying insignia identifying him or her as such; or

(2)  operating a law enforcement vehicle sounding a siren and displaying a flashing blue or blue and white signal lamp.

(b)(1)  A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be imprisoned for not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

(2)(A)  In the event that death or serious bodily injury to any person other than the operator is proximately caused by the operator’s knowing violation of subsection (a) of this section, the operator shall be imprisoned for not more than five years or fined not more than $3,000.00, or both.

(B)  If death or serious bodily injury to more than one person other than the operator is proximately caused by the operator’s knowing violation of subsection (a) of this section, the operator may be convicted of a separate violation of this subdivision for each decedent or person injured.

(c)  In a prosecution under this section, the operator may raise as an affirmative defense, to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, that the operator brought his or her vehicle to a stop in a manner, time, and distance that was reasonable under the circumstances.

* * *

Sec. 4.  23 V.S.A. § 1201 is amended to read:

§ 1201.  OPERATING VEHICLE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF INTOXICATING LIQUOR OR OTHER SUBSTANCE; CRIMINAL REFUSAL

(a)  A person shall not operate, attempt to operate, or be in actual physical control of any vehicle on a highway:

(1)  when the person’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 or more, or 0.02 or more if the person is operating a school bus as defined in subdivision 4(34) of this title; or

(2)  when the person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor; or

(3)  when the person is under the influence of any other drug or under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug to a degree which renders the person incapable of driving safely; or

(4)  when the person’s alcohol concentration is 0.04 or more if the person is operating a commercial motor vehicle as defined in subdivision 4103(4) of this title.

* * *

(e)  A person may not be convicted of more than one offense under violation of subsection (a) of this section arising out of the same incident.

* * *

Sec. 5.  23 V.S.A. § 1210 is amended to read:

§ 1210.  PENALTIES

* * *

(e)(1)  Death resulting.  If the death of any person results from a violation of section 1201 of this title, the person convicted of the violation shall be fined not more than $10,000.00 or imprisoned not less than one year nor more than 15 years, or both.  The provisions of this subsection do not limit or restrict prosecutions for manslaughter.

(2)  If the death of more than one person results from a violation of section 1201 of this title, the operator may be convicted of a separate violation of this subdivision for each decedent.

(f)(1)  Injury resulting.  If serious bodily injury, as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1021(2), results to any person other than the operator from a violation of section 1201 of this title, the person convicted of the violation shall be fined not more than $5,000.00, or imprisoned not less than one year nor more than 15 years, or both.

(2)  If serious bodily injury as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1021(2) results to more than one person other than the operator from a violation of section 1201 of this title, the operator may be convicted of a separate violation of this subdivision for each person injured.

* * *

Sec. 6.  23 V.S.A. § 3317 is amended to read:

§ 3317.  PENALTIES

* * *

(d)  Boating while intoxicated; privilege suspension.  Any person who is convicted of violating section 3323 of this title shall have his or her privilege to operate a vessel, except a nonmotorized canoe and a nonmotorized rowboat, suspended for a period of one year and until the person complies with section 1209a of this title.

(e)  Boating while intoxicated; criminal penalty.  Any person who violates a provision of section 3323 of this title shall be imprisoned for not more than one year and subject to the following fines:

(1)  for a first offense, not less than $200.00 nor more than $750.00;

(2)  for a second or subsequent offense, not less than $250.00 nor more than $1,000.00.

(f)(1)(A)  Boating while intoxicated; death resulting.  If the death of any person results from the violation of section 3323 of this title, the person convicted shall, instead of any other penalty imposed in this section, be imprisoned not less than one year nor more than five 15 years or fined not more than $2,000.00 $10,000.00,or both; but the provisions of this section shall not be construed to limit or restrict prosecutions for manslaughter.

(B)  If the death of more than one person results from a violation of section 3323 of this title, the operator may be convicted of a separate violation of this subdivision for each decedent.

(2)(A)  Boating while intoxicated; serious bodily injury resulting.  If serious bodily injury, as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1021(2), results to any person other than the operator from a violation of section 3323 of this title, the person convicted of the violation shall be fined not more than $5,000.00 or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.

(B)  If serious bodily injury as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1021(2) results to more than one person other than the operator from a violation of section 3323 of this title, the operator may be convicted of a separate violation of this subdivision for each person injured. 

* * *

Sec. 7.  23 V.S.A. § 3323 is amended to read:

§ 3323.  OPERATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF INTOXICATING LIQUOR OR DRUGS; B.W.I.

(a)  A person shall not operate, attempt to operate, or be in actual physical control of a vessel on the waters of this state while:

(1)  there is 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol in his or her blood, as shown by analysis of his or her breath or blood; or

(2)  under the influence of intoxicating liquor; or

(3)  under the influence of any other drug or under the combined influence of alcohol and any other drug to a degree which renders the person incapable of operating safely.

* * *

(e)  A person may not be convicted of more than one offense under violation of subsection (a) of this section arising out of the same incident.

Sec. 8.  20 V.S.A. § 2358 is amended to read:

§ 2358.  MINIMUM TRAINING STANDARDS

(a)  Unless waived by the council under standards adopted by rule, and notwithstanding any statute or charter to the contrary, no person shall exercise law enforcement authority:

(1)  as a part-time law enforcement officer without completing a basic training course within a time prescribed by rule of the council; or

(2)  as a full-time law enforcement officer without either:

(A)  completing a basic training course in the time and manner prescribed by the council; or

(B)  having received, before July 1, 1968, permanent full-time appointment as a law enforcement officer, and completing a basic training course before July 1, 1982.

(3)  as a full or part-time law enforcement officer without completing annual in-service training requirements as prescribed by the council.

(b)  All programs required by this section shall be approved by the council. Completion of a program shall be established by a certificate to that effect signed by the executive director of the council.

(c)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Law enforcement officer” means a member of the department of public safety who exercises law enforcement powers, a member of the state police, a municipal police officer, a constable who exercises law enforcement powers, a motor vehicle inspector, an employee of the department of liquor control who exercises law enforcement powers, an investigator employed by the secretary of state, board of medical practice investigators employed by the department of health, attorney general or a state’s attorney, a fish and game warden, a sheriff, or deputy sheriff who exercises law enforcement powers, or a railroad police officer commissioned pursuant to 30 V.S.A. chapter 45, subchapter 8.

(2)  “Full-time law enforcement officer” means a law enforcement officer with duties of a predictable and continuing nature which require more than 32 hours per week and more than 25 weeks per year.

(3)  “Part-time law enforcement officer” means a law enforcement officer who is not employed full time.

(d)  The council may determine whether a particular position is full time or part time.  Any requirements in this section shall be optional for any elected official.

Sec. 9.  24 V.S.A. § 1936a is amended to read:

§ 1936a.  CONSTABLES; POWERS AND QUALIFICATIONS

(a)  A town may vote at a special or annual town meeting:

(1)  to prohibit constables from exercising any law enforcement authority; or

(2)  to prohibit constables from exercising any law enforcement authority without having successfully completed a course of training under chapter 151 of Title 20.

* * *

Sec. 10.  9 V.S.A. chapter 82 is added to read:

CHAPTER 82.  SCRAP METAL PROCESSORS

§ 3021.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Authorized scrap seller” means a licensed plumber, electrician, HVAC contractor, building or construction contractor, demolition contractor, construction and demolition debris contractor, public utility, transportation company, licensed peddler or broker, an industrial and manufacturing company; marine, automobile, or aircraft salvage and wrecking company, or a government entity.

(2)  “Ferrous scrap” means any scrap metal consisting primarily of iron, steel, or both, including large manufactured articles such as automobile bodies that may contain other substances to be removed and sorted during normal processing operations of scrap metal.

(3)  “Metal article” means any manufactured item consisting of metal that is usable for its originally intended purpose without processing, repair, or alteration, including railings, copper or aluminum wire, copper pipe and tubing, bronze cemetery plaques, urns, markers, plumbing fixtures, and cast‑iron radiators.

(4)  “Nonferrous scrap” means any scrap metal consisting primarily of metal other than iron or steel, and does not include aluminum beverage cans, post-consumer household items, items removed during building renovations or demolitions, or large manufactured items containing small quantities of nonferrous metals such as automobile bodies and appliances.

(5)  “Proprietary article” means any of the following:

(A)  Any metal article stamped, engraved, stenciled, or marked as being or having been the property of a governmental entity, public utility, or a  transportation, shipbuilding, ship repair, mining, or manufacturing company.

(B)  Any hard-drawn copper electrical conductor, cable, or wire greater than 0.375 inches in diameter, stranded or solid.

(C)  Any aluminum conductor, cable, or wire greater than 0.75 inches in diameter, stranded or solid.

(D)  Metal beer kegs.

(E)  Manhole covers.

               (F)  Catalytic converters.

(6)  “Scrap metal” means any manufactured item or article that contains metal.

(7)  “Scrap metal processor” means a person authorized to conduct a business that processes and manufactures scrap metal into prepared grades for sale as raw material to mills, foundries, and other manufacturing facilities.

§ 3022.  PURCHASE OF NONFERROUS SCRAP, METAL ARTICLES, AND PROPRIETARY ARTICLES

(a)  A scrap metal processor may purchase nonferrous scrap, metal articles, and proprietary articles directly from an authorized scrap metal seller or the seller’s authorized agent or employee.

(b)  A scrap metal processor may purchase nonferrous scrap, metal articles, and proprietary articles from a person who is not an authorized scrap metal seller or the seller’s authorized agent or employee, provided the scrap processor complies with all the following procedures:

(1)  At the time of sale, requires the seller to provide a current government-issued photographic identification that indicates the seller’s full name, current address, and date of birth, and records in a permanent ledger the identification information of the seller, the time and date of the transaction, the license number of the seller’s vehicle, and a description of the items received from the seller.  This information shall be retained for at least five years at the processor’s normal place of business or other readily accessible and secure location.  On request, this information shall be made available to any law enforcement official or authorized security agent of a governmental entity who provides official credentials at the scrap metal processor’s business location during regular business hours.

(2)  Requests documentation from the seller of the items offered for sale, such as a bill of sale, receipt, letter of authorization, or similar evidence that establishes that the seller lawfully owns the items to be sold.

(3)  After purchasing an item from a person who fails to provide documentation pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection, submits to the local law enforcement agency no later than the close of the following business day a report that describes the item and the seller’s identifying information required in subdivision (1) of this subsection, and holds the proprietary article for at least 15 days following purchase.

§ 3023.  PENALTIES

(a)  A scrap metal processor who violates any provision of this chapter for the first time may be assessed a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000.00 for each transaction.

(b)  A scrap metal processor who violates any provision of this chapter for a second or subsequent time shall be fined not more than $25,000.00 for each transaction.

Sec. 11.  4 V.S.A. § 1102(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The judicial bureau shall have jurisdiction of the following matters:

* * *

(14)  Violations of 9 V.S.A. § 3023(a), relating to the purchase and sale of scrap metal.

Sec. 12.  SUNSET

Secs. 10 and 11 of this act shall be repealed effective July 1, 2009.

Sec. 13.  EFFECTIVE DATE

Secs. 8 and 9 of this act shall take effect July 1, 2010.

                                                                        RICHARD W. SEARS, JR.

                                                                        JOHN F. CAMPBELL

                                                                        VINCENT ILLUZZI

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        WILLIAM LIPPERT

                                                                        AVIS GERVAIS

                                                                        GEORGE ALLARD

                                                                 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.


H. 617.

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 guardianships.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Nitka, 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. 617.  An act relating to guardianships.

     Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the Senate recede from its proposals of amendment, and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  14 V.S.A. chapter 111 is amended to read:

Chapter 111.  Guardians and Ward Guardianship

* * *

Subchapter 12.  Total and Limited Guardianship for Mentally Disabled Adults Persons in Need of Guardianship

§ 3060.  POLICY

Guardianship for mentally disabled persons shall be utilized only as necessary to promote the well‑being of the individual and to protect the individual from violations of his or her human and civil rights.  It shall be designed to encourage the development and maintenance of maximum self‑reliance and independence in the individual and only the least restrictive form of guardianship shall be ordered only to the extent required by the individual’s actual mental and adaptive limitations.  The state of Vermont recognizes the fundamental right of an adult with capacity to determine the extent of health care the individual will receive.

§ 3061.  DEFINITIONS

The words and phrases used in this subchapter shall be defined as follows:


(1)  “Mentally disabled person” “Person in need of guardianship” means a person who has been found to be:

(A)  is at least 18 years of age; and

(B)  mentally ill or developmentally disabled; and

(C)  is unable to manage, without the supervision of a guardian, some or all aspects of his or her personal care or financial affairs as a result of:

(i)  significantly subaverage intellectual functioning which exists concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior; or

(ii)  a physical or mental condition that results in significantly impaired cognitive functioning which grossly impairs judgment, behavior, or the capacity to recognize reality.  

(2)  “Unable to manage his or her personal care” means the inability, as evidenced by recent behavior, to meet one’s needs for medical care, nutrition, clothing, shelter, hygiene, or safety so that physical injury, illness, or disease has occurred or is likely to occur in the near future.

(3)  “Unable to manage his or her financial affairs” means gross mismanagement, as evidenced by recent behavior, of one’s income and resources which has led or is likely in the near future to lead to financial vulnerability.

(4)  “Developmentally disabled” means significantly subaverage intellectual functioning which exists concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior.

(5)  “Mentally ill” means a substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation, or memory, any of which grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, but shall not include mental retardation.

(6)(4)  “Near relative” means a parent, stepparent, brother, sister, grandparent, spouse, domestic partner, or adult child.

(7)(5)  “Person interested in the welfare of the ward” “Interested person” means a responsible adult who has a direct interest in a mentally disabled person in need of guardianship and includes but is not limited to, the proposed mentally disabled person in need of guardianship, a near relative, a close friend, a guardian, public official, social worker, physician, agent named in an advance directive or in a power of attorney, person nominated as guardian in an advance directive, or clergyman member of the clergy.

(8)  “Total guardianship” means the legal status of a mentally disabled person who is subject to a guardian’s exercise of all the powers listed in section 3069 of this title.

(9)  “Limited guardianship” means the legal status of a mentally disabled person who is subject to a guardian’s exercise of some, but not all of the powers listed in section 3069 of this title.

(10)  “Qualified mental health professional” means:

(A)  for the evaluation of an allegedly developmentally disabled person, a licensed psychologist, physician, certified special educator, or certified clinical social worker, or certified clinical mental health counselor, any of whom must also have specialized training and demonstrated competence in the assessment of developmentally disabled persons;

(B)  for the evaluation of an allegedly mentally ill person, a person with professional training and demonstrated competence in the treatment of mental illness, who shall be a physician, licensed psychologist, certified clinical social worker or certified clinical mental health counselor.

(11)(6)  “Respondent” means a person who is the subject of a petition filed pursuant to section 3063 of this title or a ward person under guardianship who is the subject of any subsequent petition, motion, or action filed pursuant to this subchapter.

(12)(7)  “Party” shall have the same meaning as defined by Rule 17(a)(3) and (b) of the Vermont Rules of Probate Procedure.

(13)(8)  “Ward”Person under guardianship” means a person under in need of guardianship for whom a guardianship order has been issued.

(9)  “Do not resuscitate order” shall have the same meaning as in subdivision 9701(7) of Title 18.

(10)  "Capacity to make medical decisions" means an individual's ability to make and communicate a decision regarding proposed health care based upon having a basic understanding of the diagnosed condition and the benefits, risks, and alternatives to the proposed health care.

(11)  "Informed consent" means the consent given voluntarily by an individual with capacity after being fully informed of the nature, benefits, risks, and consequences of the proposed health care, alternative health care, and no health care.

(12)  “Assent” means a communication by a person under guardianship that a proposed health care decision by his or her guardian is consistent with his or her preferences, when that person has been found to lack the capacity to provide informed consent.

§ 3062.  JURISDICTION; REVIEW OF GUARDIAN’S ACTIONS

(a)  The probate court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over all proceedings brought under the authority of this chapter or pursuant to section 9718 of Title 18.

(b)  The probate court shall have supervisory authority over guardians.  Any interested person may seek review of a guardian’s proposed or past actions by filing a motion with the court.

§ 3063.  PETITION FOR TOTAL OR LIMITED GUARDIANSHIP

Any person interested in the welfare of the ward An interested person may file a petition with the probate court for the appointment of a total or a limited guardian.  The petition shall state:

(1)  the names and addresses of the petitioner and the respondent, and,; if known, the name and address of a near relative of the respondent; the name and address of the person nominated as guardian in an advance directive; and the name and address of the current guardian, and agent named in an advance directive or in a power of attorney;

(2)  the interest of the petitioner in the respondent;

(3)  whether that the respondent is alleged to be mentally ill or developmentally disabled a person in need of guardianship, and whether that the respondent is at least 18 years of age or will become 18 years of age within four months of the filing of a petition;

(4)  specific reasons with supporting facts why guardianship is sought;

(5)  the specific areas where supervision and protection is requested and the powers of the guardian requested for inclusion in the court’s order;

(6)  the nature, description and approximate value of the respondent’s income and resources, including public benefits and pension;

(7)  if a specific individual is proposed as guardian, the name and address of the proposed guardian and the relationship of the proposed guardian to the respondent; and

(8)  alternatives to guardianship that have been considered and an explanation as to why each alternative is unavailable or unsuitable.


§ 3064.  NOTICE OF PETITION AND HEARING

(a)  Upon the filing of the petition, the probate court shall schedule a hearing and notice shall be given as provided by the rules of probate procedure.

(b)  The hearing shall be held not less than 15 nor more than 30 days after the filing with the court of the evaluation required by section 3067 of this title. The hearing may be continued for good cause shown for not more than 15 additional days.

§ 3065.  COUNSEL

(a)(1)  The respondent shall have the right to be represented by counsel of his or her own choosing at any stage of a guardianship proceeding.  Unless a respondent is already represented, the court:

(A)  shall appoint counsel for the respondent when an initial petition for guardianship is filed;

(B)  shall appoint counsel for the respondent in any subsequent proceeding if the respondent or a party requests appointment in writing; and

(C)  may appoint counsel for the respondent on the court’s initiative in any subsequent proceeding.

(2)  Appointed counsel shall have the right to withdraw upon conclusion of the proceeding for which he or she has been appointed.

(b)  Counsel shall receive a copy of the petition upon appointment and copies of all other documents upon filing with the court.  Counsel shall consult with the respondent prior to any hearing and, to the maximum extent possible, explain to the respondent the meaning of the proceedings and of all relevant documents.  Counsel for the respondent shall act as an advocate for the respondent and shall not substitute counsel’s own judgment for that of the respondent on the subject of what may be in the best interest of the respondent. Counsel’s role shall be distinct from that of a guardian ad litem if one is appointed.  At a minimum, counsel shall endeavor to ensure that:

(1)  the wishes of the respondent, including those contained in an advance directive, as to the matter before the court are presented to the court;

(2)  there is no less restrictive alternative to guardianship or to the matter before the court;

(3)  proper due process procedure is followed;

(4)  no substantial rights of the respondent are waived, except with the respondent’s consent and the court’s approval, provided that the evaluation and report required under section 3067 of this title and the hearing required under section 3068 of this title may not be waived;

(5)  the petitioner proves allegations in the petition by clear and convincing evidence in an initial proceeding, and applicable legal standards are met in subsequent proceedings;

(6)  the proposed guardian is a qualified person to serve or to continue to serve, consistent with section 3072 of this title; and

(7)  if a guardian is appointed, the initial order or any subsequent order is least restrictive of the ward’s personal freedom of the person under guardianship consistent with the need for supervision.

(c)  Respondent’s counsel shall be compensated from the respondent’s estate unless the respondent is found indigent in accordance with Rule 3.1 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.  For indigent respondents, the court shall maintain a list of pro bono counsel from the private bar to be used before appointing nonprofit legal services organizations to serve as counsel.

§ 3066.  GUARDIAN AD LITEM

On motion of the respondent’s or ward’s person under guardianship’s counsel or on the court’s own motion the court may appoint a guardian ad litem if it finds the respondent or ward person under guardianship is unable to communicate with or advise counsel.

§ 3067.  EVALUATION AND REPORT; BACKGROUND CHECK; RELEASE OF EVALUATION

(a)  When a petition is filed pursuant to section 3063 of this title, or when a motion for modification or termination is filed pursuant to subdivision 3077(a)(4) of this title, the court shall order an evaluation of the respondent.  Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the cost of the evaluation shall be paid for out of the respondent’s estate or as ordered by the court.  If the respondent is unable to afford some or all of the cost of the evaluation without expending income or liquid resources necessary for living expenses, the court shall order that the department of mental health or the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living provide the evaluation through community mental health agencies affiliated with the departments qualified evaluators.

(b)  The evaluation shall be performed by a qualified mental health professional someone who has specific training and demonstrated competence to evaluate a person in need of guardianship.  The evaluation shall be completed within 30 days of the filing of the petition with the court unless the time period is extended by the court for cause.

(c)  The evaluation shall:

(1)  describe the nature and degree of the respondent’s disability, if any, and the level of the respondent’s intellectual, developmental, and social functioning;

(2)  contain recommendations, with supporting data, regarding:

(A)  those aspects of his or her personal care and financial affairs which the respondent can manage without supervision or assistance;

(B)  those aspects of his or her personal care and financial affairs which the respondent could manage with the supervision or assistance of support services and benefits;

(C)  those aspects of his or her personal care and financial affairs which the respondent is unable to manage without the supervision of a guardian;

(D)  those powers and duties as set forth in sections 3069 and 3071 of this title which should be given to the guardian, including the specific support services and benefits which should be obtained by the guardian for the respondent.

(d)  The proposed guardian shall provide the court with the information and consents necessary for a complete background check.  Not more than 10 days after receipt of an evaluation supporting guardianship of the respondent, the court shall order from the respective registries background checks of the proposed guardian from any available state registries, including but not limited to the adult abuse registry, child abuse registry, Vermont crime information center, and the Vermont state sex offender registry, and the court shall consider information received from the registries in determining whether the proposed guardian is suitable.  However, if appropriate under the circumstances, the court may waive the background reports or may proceed with appointment of a guardian prior to receiving the background reports, provided that the court may remove a guardian if warranted by background reports which the court receives after the guardian’s appointment.  If the proposed guardian has lived in Vermont for fewer than five years or is a resident of another state, the court may order background checks from the respective state registries of the states in which the proposed guardian lives or has lived in the past five years or from any other source.  The court shall provide copies of background check reports to the petitioner, the respondent, and the respondent’s attorney.

(e)  Regardless of whether the report of the evaluator supports or does not support guardianship, the court shall provide a copy of the evaluation to the respondent, the respondent’s attorney, the petitioner, the guardian upon appointment, and any other individual, including the proposed guardian, determined by the court to have a strong interest in the welfare of the respondent.  The evaluation shall remain confidential, and recipients of the evaluation are prohibited from sharing the evaluation.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, the court may restrict access to the evaluation or portions of the evaluation upon objection by one of the parties or on the court’s own motion. 

§ 3068.  HEARING

(a)  The respondent, the petitioner and all other persons to whom notice has been given pursuant to section 3064 of this title may attend the hearing and testify.  The respondent and the petitioner may subpoena, present and cross‑examine witnesses, including those who prepared the evaluation.  The court may exclude any person not necessary for the conduct of the hearing on motion of the respondent.

(b)  The hearing shall be conducted in a manner consistent with orderly procedure and in a setting not likely to have a harmful effect on the mental or physical health of the respondent.

(c)  The evaluation shall be received into evidence, if the persons who prepared the evaluation are available for the hearing or subject to service of subpoena.  However, the court shall not be bound by the evidence contained in the evaluation, but shall make its determination upon the entire record.  In all cases, the court shall make specific findings of fact, state separately its conclusions of law and direct the entry of an appropriate judgment.

(d)  The petitioner may be represented by counsel in any proceedings brought under this chapter.

(e)  If upon completion of the hearing and consideration of the record the court finds that the respondent is not mentally disabled a person in need of guardianship, it shall dismiss the petition and seal the records of the proceeding.

(f)  If upon completion of the hearing and consideration of the record the court finds that the petitioner has proved by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent is mentally disabled a person in need of guardianship or will be mentally disabled a person in need of guardianship on attaining eighteen 18 years of age, it shall enter judgment specifying the powers of the guardian pursuant to sections 3069 and 3070 of this title and the duties of the guardian pursuant to section 3071 of this title.

(g)  Any party to the proceeding before the court may appeal the court’s decision in the manner provided in section 3080 of this title.


§ 3068a.  RIGHTS OF A WARD PERSON UNDER GUARDIANSHIP

A ward person under guardianship retains the same legal and civil rights guaranteed to all Vermont residents under the Vermont and United States constitutions and all the laws and regulations of Vermont and the United States.  These rights include:

(1)  The right to participate in decisions made by the guardian and to have personal preferences followed unless:

(A)  the preference is unreasonable and would result in actual harm; or

(B)  the ward person under guardianship does not have a basic understanding of the benefits and consequences of his or her chosen preference.

(2)  The right, without interference from anyone, to retain an attorney and to communicate freely with counsel, the court, ombudsmen, advocates of his or her choosing, and other persons authorized by law to act as an advocate for the ward person under guardianship.

(3)  The right to retain an attorney and seek legal advice independently without consent of the guardian, provided that any legal fees not authorized by the guardian are subject to review and approval by the court.

§ 3069.  POWERS OF A TOTAL GUARDIAN

(a)  If the court enters judgment pursuant to subsection 3068(f) of this title, it may appoint a total guardian if it determines that the respondent is unable to manage, without the supervision of a guardian, any or all aspects of his or her personal care and financial affairs.

(b)  When the person under guardianship has an advance directive, the authority of the agent and the instructions contained therein shall remain in effect unless the probate court expressly orders otherwise in a petition for review of the advance directive under 18 V.S.A. § 9718.

(c)  A total guardian shall supervise the ward through the exercise of the following powers The court shall grant powers to the guardian in the least restrictive manner appropriate to the circumstances of the respondent and consistent with any advance directive.  Guardianship powers shall be ordered only to the extent required by the respondent’s actual mental and adaptive limitations.  The court shall specify which of the following powers the guardian shall have and may further restrict each power so as to preserve the respondent’s authority to make decisions commensurate with respondent’s ability to do so:

(1)  the power to exercise general supervision over the ward person under guardianship.  This includes care, habilitation, education, and employment of the person under guardianship and choosing or changing the residence, subject to the requirements of sections 2691, 3073, and 3074 of this title, care, habilitation, education, and employment of the ward;

(2)  to approve or withhold approval of any contract, except for necessaries, which the ward wishes to make the power to seek, obtain, and give or withhold consent to the initiation or continuation of medical or dental treatment, subject to the provisions of section 3075 of this title and any constitutional right of the person under guardianship to refuse treatment, provided that the court in its discretion may place limitations on the guardian’s powers under this subdivision if appropriate under the circumstances, including requiring prior court approval for specific surgeries, procedures, or treatments; 

(3)  to approve or withhold approval of the ward’s request to sell or in any way encumber his or her personal or real property the power to exercise general financial supervision over the income and resources of the person under guardianship.  This includes the power to seek or apply for, receive, invest, and expend all wages, compensation, insurance benefits, public benefits, and pensions for the benefit of the person under guardianship, to liquidate personal property for the benefit of the person under guardianship, to settle accounts, demands, claims, and actions by or against the person under guardianship, and to take any other action reasonably necessary to secure, preserve, protect, and defend the financial interests of the person under guardianship;

(4)  to exercise general supervision over the income and resources of the ward.  This includes the power to receive, invest, and expend all wages, compensation, insurance benefits, public benefits, and pensions for the benefit of the ward and to liquidate resources for the benefit of the ward the power to approve or withhold approval of any contract, except for necessaries, which the person under guardianship wishes to make;

(5)  to consent to surgery or other medical procedures, subject to the provisions of section 3075 of this title, subsection 9711(g) of Title 18, and any constitutional right of the ward to refuse treatment the power to approve or withhold approval of the sale or encumbrance of real property of the person under guardianship subject to subchapter 6 of this chapter;

(6)  to receive, sue for, and recover debts and demands due to the ward, to maintain and defend actions or suits for the recovery or protection of the property or person of the ward, settle accounts, demands, claims, and actions by or against the ward, including actions for injuries to the property or person of the ward, and to compromise, release, and discharge the same on such terms as he or she deems just and beneficial to the ward the power to obtain legal advice and to commence or defend against court actions in the name of the person under guardianship. 

(c)(d)  The total guardian shall exercise his or her supervisory powers over the ward in a manner which is least restrictive of the ward’s personal freedom consistent with the need for supervision.

(1)  When a guardian has been granted some but not all guardianship powers, the guardianship shall be identified as a “limited guardianship” and the guardian identified as a “limited guardian.”

(2)  A person for whom limited guardianship has been granted retains all the powers identified in subsection (c) of this section except those which have been specifically granted to the limited guardian.

(e)  The guardian shall exercise supervisory powers in a manner which is least restrictive of the personal freedom of the person under guardianship consistent with the need for supervision.

(f)  The guardian shall encourage the person under guardianship to participate in decisions, to act on his or her own behalf when practicable, and to develop or regain the capacity to manage his or her own personal affairs to the maximum extent possible.  The wishes, values, beliefs, and preferences of the person under guardianship shall be respected to the greatest possible extent in the exercise of all guardianship powers.

§ 3070.  POWERS OF A LIMITED GUARDIAN

(a)  If the court enters judgment pursuant to section 3068(f) of this title, it may appoint a limited guardian if it determines that the respondent is unable to manage some, but not all, aspects of his personal care and financial affairs.  The court shall specify those powers enumerated in section 3069 of this title which the limited guardian shall have and may further restrict each power so as to permit the ward to care for himself and his property commensurate with his ability to do so.

(b)  A person for whom a limited guardian has been appointed retains all legal and civil rights except those which have been specifically granted to the limited guardian by the court.

(c)  The limited guardian shall exercise his supervisory powers over the ward in a manner which is least restrictive of the ward’s personal freedom consistent with the order of the court.


§ 3071.  DUTIES OF GUARDIAN

(a)  The guardian shall maintain close contact with the ward person under guardianship and encourage maximum self-reliance on the part of the ward under his protection person under guardianship.

(b)  In addition to the powers vested in the guardian by the court pursuant to sections section 3069 and 3070 of this title, the court may order the guardian to assure that the ward person under guardianship receives those benefits and services to which he or she is lawfully entitled and which he needs to maximize his or her opportunity for social and financial independence.  Those benefits and services include, but are not limited to:

(1)  education services for a ward person under guardianship who is of school age;

(2)  residential services for a ward person under guardianship who lacks adequate housing;

(3)  nutrition services;

(4)  medical and dental services, including home health care;

(5)  therapeutic and habilitative services, adult education, vocational rehabilitation or other appropriate services.

(c)  The guardian shall always serve the interests of the person under guardianship and shall bring any potential conflicts of interest to the attention of the court.

§ 3072.  GUARDIANS; INDIVIDUALS WHO MAY SERVE

(a)(1)  Competent individuals of at least eighteen 18 years of age may serve as guardians.  No individual who operates or is an employee of a boarding home, residential care home, nursing home, group home or other similar facility in which the ward resides may serve as guardian.

(2)  No individual may be appointed or serve as guardian for a person under or in need of guardianship if the individual operates a boarding home, residential care home, assisted living residence, nursing home, group home, developmental home, correctional facility, psychiatric unit at a designated hospital, or other similar facility in which the person under or in need of guardianship resides or is receiving care.

(3)  No person may serve as guardian for the respondent who has served as guardian ad litem in the same proceeding. 

(4)  Notwithstanding the provisions of section 2603 of this title, the court shall have the discretion to appoint a guardian who is not a resident of this state, provided that the individual appointed is otherwise qualified to serve.

(b)  In appointing an individual to serve as guardian, the court shall take into consideration:

(1)  the preference of the ward the nomination of a guardian in an advance directive or in a will;

(2)  any current or past expressed preferences of the respondent;

(2)(3)  the geographic location of the proposed guardian;

(3)(4)  the relationship of the proposed guardian to and the ward respondent;

(4)(5)  the ability of the proposed guardian to carry out the powers and duties of the guardianship; and

(5)(6)  the willingness and ability of the proposed guardian to communicate with the respondent and to respect the respondent’s choices and preferences;

(7)  potential financial conflicts of interest between the ward respondent and the proposed guardian, and any conflicts that may arise if the proposed guardian is an employee of a boarding home, residential care home, assisted living residence, nursing home, group home, developmental home, correctional facility, psychiatric unit at a designated hospital, or other similar facility in which the respondent resides or is receiving care; and

(8)  results of any background checks.

§ 3073.  CHANGE OF RESIDENTIAL PLACEMENT

(a)(1)  When a guardian who has been granted the power to choose or change the residence of the ward person under guardianship pursuant to subdivision 3069(b)(1) of this title wishes to admit the ward person under guardianship to a nursing home or change the residential placement of the ward person under guardianship from a private home to a boarding home, residential care home, assisted living residence, group home, or other similar facility, the guardian must first file a motion for permission to do so.

(2)  For any other change of residence sought by a guardian who has been granted the power to choose or change the residence of the ward person under guardianship pursuant to subdivision 3069(b)(1) of this title, the guardian shall give notice to all parties and to such other persons as the court directs as soon as practicable prior to the change of placement.

(b)(1)  In an emergency, a guardian who has been granted the power to choose or change the residence of the ward person under guardianship pursuant to subdivision 3069(b)(1) of this title may change the residential placement of the ward person under guardianship without petitioning the court for prior permission or without giving prior notice to parties.  Immediately after any emergency change in residential placement for which prior permission under subsection (a) of this section would be required in the absence of an emergency, the guardian shall file a motion for permission to continue the placement.

(2)  Immediately after any emergency change of placement for which prior permission under subsection (a) of this section is not required, the guardian shall give notice of the change of placement to all parties and to such other persons as the court directs.

(3)  Any party may request a hearing on a change in residential placement.  The hearing shall be set for the earliest possible date and shall be given precedence over other probate matters.

(c)  In a hearing on a change of placement, the court shall consider:

(1)  the need for the change of placement;

(2)  the appropriateness of the new placement;

(3)  the wishes of the ward person under guardianship, if known; and

(4)  whether the guardian has considered alternatives.

§ 3074.  INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF MENTALLY DISABLED PERSONS COMMITMENT, STERILIZATION, INVOLUNTARY TREATMENT, AND INVOLUNTARY MEDICATION

Nothing in this chapter shall give the guardian of a ward person authority to:

(1) place that person in a state school or hospital except pursuant to section 7601 et seq. of Title 18 or section 8801 et seq. of Title 18.

(2)  consent to an involuntary treatment or medication petition pursuant to chapter 181 of Title 18.

(3)  consent to sterilization or to a petition for involuntary sterilization pursuant to chapter 204 of Title 18.

(4) consent to a petition for custody, care, or habilitation filed pursuant to chapter 206 of Title 18.


§ 3075.  CONSENT FOR MEDICAL OR DENTAL TREATMENT

(a)  When a ward whose right to consent to surgery or other medical procedure has not been restricted pursuant to section 3069(b)(5) of this title is admitted to a hospital for nonemergency surgery or other nonemergency medical procedures requiring consent, the treating physician shall determine if the person’s physical condition is such that the person has sufficient capacity to make a responsible decision.  If the person has such capacity, his informed consent shall be obtained before such surgery or medical procedure is performed.  In such cases, the ward’s consent shall be determinative and no other consent is necessary A person under guardianship retains the right to make medical and dental decisions unless that right has been restricted pursuant to subdivision 3069(c)(2) of this title.

(b)  When a ward whose right to consent to surgery or other medical procedures has been restricted pursuant to section 3069(b)(5) of this title is admitted to a hospital for nonemergency surgery or other nonemergency medical procedures requiring consent, the guardian may give such consent upon the advice of the treating physician and after obtaining permission of the probate court, after hearing, upon such notice as the court may direct. A person whose right to make medical decisions has been restricted pursuant to subdivision 3069(c)(2) of this section who has the capacity to make a specific medical decision retains the right to make that decision.

(c)  Unless an advance directive or the authority of an agent is expressly revoked or modified by the court pursuant to section 9718 of Title 18, the advance directive of a person under guardianship shall remain in effect, and the agent shall have sole authority to make health care decisions for the person under guardianship pursuant to chapter 231 of Title 18. 

(d)  If there is no agent named in the advance directive, or if the office of agent is vacant, the guardian shall follow the instructions contained in the advance directive.

(e)  For a person whose right to consent to medical or dental procedures has been restricted pursuant to subdivision 3069(c)(2) of this title, the guardian may give or withhold consent pursuant to this section and subject to any constitutional right of the person under guardianship to refuse treatment.

(f)  Consent to the procedure shall be given or withheld consistent with the manner in which the person under guardianship would have given or withheld consent, provided there is sufficient information concerning the person’s wishes.  In making this determination, the guardian and the court in reviewing a guardian’s decision under this section shall:

(1)  rely on written and oral expressions of the person under guardianship;

(2)  rely on available information concerning the wishes, values, beliefs, and preferences of the person under guardianship if the person’s written and oral expressions do not provide sufficient information; and

(3)  follow the best interests of the person under guardianship if subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection are inapplicable.  No decision to withhold or abate medical treatment will be based solely on the age, economic level, or level of disability of the person under guardianship.

(g)(1)  The guardian shall obtain prior written approval by the probate court following notice and hearing:

(A)  if the person under guardianship objects to the guardian’s decision, on constitutional grounds or otherwise;

(B)  if the court orders prior approval for a specific surgery, procedure, or treatment, either in its initial order pursuant to subdivision 3069(c)(2) of this title or anytime after appointment of a guardian;

(C)  except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, and unless the guardian is acting pursuant to an advance directive, before withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment other than antibiotics; or

(D)  unless the guardian is acting pursuant to an advance directive, before consenting to a do-not-resuscitate order unless a clinician as defined in subdivision 9701(5) of Title 18 certifies that the person under guardianship is likely to experience cardiopulmonary arrest before court approval can be obtained.  In such circumstances, the guardian shall immediately notify the court of the need for a decision, shall obtain the clinician’s certification prior to consenting to the do-not-resuscitate order and shall file the clinician’s certification with the court after consent has been given.

(2)  The requirements of subdivision (1)(C) of this subsection shall not apply if obtaining a court order would be impracticable due to the need for a decision before court approval can be obtained.  In such circumstances, the guardian shall immediately notify the court by telephone of the need for a decision, and shall notify the court of any decision made.

(h)  The procedures in chapter 181 of Title 18 shall be the exclusive mechanism to obtain approval for administration of nonemergency involuntary psychiatric medication to a person under guardianship.


§ 3076.  ANNUAL REPORTS; FINAL ACCOUNTING; FEES

(a)  The guardian of a ward shall file an annual report with the appointing court on within 30 days of the anniversary date of his the appointment.

(b)  The annual report shall contain:

(1)  a financial accounting as required by section 2921 of this title if the guardian has been granted power over the ward’s income and resources pursuant to section subdivision 3069(b)(4) of this title;

(2)  a report on the progress and condition of the ward person under guardianship, including but not limited to, his or her health, medical and dental care, residence, education, employment, and habilitation;

(3)  a report on the manner in which the guardian carried out his or her powers and fulfilled his or her duties; and

(4)  the guardian’s opinion regarding the continued need for guardianship.

(c)  If the guardian has been granted power over the ward’s income and resources pursuant to section subdivision 3069(b)(4) of this title, at the termination of the guardianship, the guardian shall render a final accounting as required by section 2921 of this title.

(d)(1)  Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, the guardian shall not be paid any fees to which he or she may be entitled, or reimbursed for any of his or her expenses from the estate of the ward person under guardianship until the annual reports or final accounting required by this section have been filed with the court.

(2)  The guardian may at any time apply by motion to the probate court for payment of fees or reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of the guardianship.  The court may grant the motion and approve payment if it finds the expenses were reasonable and supported by documentary evidence.    

§ 3077.  TERMINATION AND MODIFICATION OF GUARDIANSHIP

(a)  Any A person under guardianship or any person interested in the welfare of the ward person under guardianship may file a motion for termination or modification of the guardianship.  Grounds for the termination or modification of the guardianship shall include:

(1)  the death of the guardian;

(2)  the failure of the guardian to file an annual report, or the failure to file such report in a timely manner;

(3)  the failure of the guardian to act in accord with an order of the court;

(4)  a change in the ability of the ward person under guardianship to manage his or her personal care or financial affairs;

(5)  a change in the capacity or suitability of the guardian for carrying out his or her powers and duties, including but not limited to any current or past expressed preferences of the person under guardianship to have an alternative person appointed as guardian.

(b)  When the grounds for termination or modification are those listed in subsections (a)(1), (2), (3), or (5) of this section, the court may appoint a successor guardian After notice and hearing, the court may terminate or modify the guardianship, appoint a successor guardian, or restrict the powers of a guardian, consistent with the court’s findings and conclusions of law.

(c)  Notice and hearing on the motion shall proceed in the manner set forth in sections 3064 and 3068 of this title.

(d)  Marriage of the person under guardianship shall not extinguish a guardian’s authority.

(e)  The following guardianship powers shall remain for up to two years after the death of a person under guardianship or until the appointment of an executor or administrator of the person’s estate:

(1)  the power to arrange and pay for a funeral;

(2)  the power to request medical, financial or other records of the person in guardianship;

(3)  the power to request an autopsy and to obtain the results thereof;

(4)  the power to make and file a financial accounting; and

(5)  any other powers which are incidental to the closing of and accounting for the guardianship and which are fully reported to the probate court.

§ 3078.  ANNUAL NOTICE TO WARD PERSON IN NEED OF GUARDIANSHIP

The appointing court shall send an annual notice to each ward person under guardianship and the ward’s counsel of record of each person under guardianship, advising the ward person under guardianship of his or her right to file a motion for termination or modification of the guardianship pursuant to section 3077 of this title.  The notice shall include a copy of any accountings, reports or other information filed by the guardian during the year, except when there is counsel of record and the court deems it is in the best interest of the ward person under guardianship to send the accountings, reports and other information to counsel only.

§ 3079.  VALIDITY OF PRIOR GUARDIANSHIP

All guardianships approved pursuant to section 2671 et seq. and section 2683 et seq. of this title prior to July 1, 1979 remain valid.  On the first anniversary date of such guardianship after July 1, 1979, the court which approved such guardianship shall send notice to each ward person under guardianship, his or her counsel of record, and a near relative of the ward person under guardianship, if known, advising them of the ward’s right of the person under guardianship to petition for termination or modification of the guardianship pursuant to section 3077 of this title.  Upon the filing of such a petition, the court shall promptly arrange for a comprehensive evaluation of the ward person under guardianship pursuant to section 3067 of this title.

§ 3080.  APPEALS

Orders of the court issued pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter may be appealed in such manner as provided in sections 2551 et seq. of Title 12 and Rule 72, Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure, provided, however, that any order issued pursuant to this subchapter shall not be stayed during the pendency of an appeal except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.

§ 3081.  EMERGENCY TEMPORARY GUARDIAN PENDING FINAL HEARING ON PETITION

(a)  When a petition for guardianship has been filed, but adherence to the procedures set out in this subchapter would cause serious and irreparable harm to the respondent’s physical health or financial interests, the probate court may appoint a an emergency temporary guardian prior to the final hearing and decision on the petition, subject to the requirements of this section.

(b)  Upon motion of the petitioner, the court shall schedule a hearing on the appointment of a temporary guardian for the earliest possible date, appoint a guardian ad litem for the respondent, and notice shall be given as provided by the rules of probate procedure.  Upon a finding that serious and irreparable harm to the respondent’s physical health or financial interests would result during the pendency of petition, the court shall appoint a temporary guardian and shall specify those powers which the temporary guardian shall have in order to prevent serious and irreparable harm to the respondent.  The duration of the temporary guardianship shall not extend beyond the time the court renders a decision on the petition for guardianship.  If a guardianship petition is accompanied by a motion for emergency temporary guardianship, the court shall schedule a hearing on the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian for the earliest possible date.  The court shall appoint counsel for the respondent and cause notice to be given as provided by the Vermont Rules of Probate Procedure (VRPP).  Upon a showing by sworn affidavit that notice cannot be given within the time periods, in the manner, or to the persons required by the VRPP, the court may allow a hearing to go forward upon such notice as the court may direct.  The court may appoint an emergency temporary guardian if it finds that serious and irreparable harm to the respondent’s physical health or financial interests will likely result during the pendency of the petition.

(c)  A temporary guardian may be appointed without notice to the respondent and guardian ad litem only if it clearly appears from specific facts shown by affidavit or sworn testimony that immediate, serious and irreparable harm will result to the respondent before a hearing on the appointment of a temporary guardian can be held.  On two days’ notice to the party who obtained the appointment of a temporary guardian without notice, or on such shorter notice to that party as the court may prescribe, the respondent or the guardian ad litem may appear and move dissolution or modification of the court’s order, and, in that event, the court shall proceed to hear and determine such motion as expeditiously as the ends of justice require.  An emergency temporary guardian may be appointed without notice to the respondent or respondent’s counsel only if it clearly appears from specific facts shown by affidavit or sworn testimony that immediate, serious, and irreparable harm will result to the respondent before the hearing on the appointment of an emergency temporary guardian can be held.  A request for ex parte emergency temporary guardianship under this section shall be made by written motion, accompanied by a petition for guardianship, unless waived by the court for good cause shown.  If the court appoints an ex parte emergency temporary guardian, the court shall immediately schedule a temporary hearing in accordance with subsection (b) of this section.  The ex parte order shall state why the order was granted without notice and include findings on the immediate, serious, and irreparable harm.  The ex parte order shall be for a fixed period of time, not to exceed 10 days, and shall expire on its terms unless extended after the temporary hearing.  If the temporary hearing cannot be held before the ex parte order expires, the ex parte order can be extended for good cause shown for an additional 10 days until the temporary hearing is held.

(d)  A temporary guardianship order expires when the court renders a final decision on the guardianship petition.  If the final decision is not rendered within 90 days of the filing of the petition, the court shall schedule a hearing to review the need for continuation of the temporary guardianship order.


Sec. 2.  PROPOSAL OF RULES

Within six months after the effective date of this act, the advisory committee on the Vermont Rules of Probate shall report to the legislative committee on judicial rules any changes to rules or forms that the committee determines are necessary or advisable as a result of this act.

Sec. 3.  GUARDIANSHIP TASK FORCE

(a)  The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Individuals under guardianship are among the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

(2)  Guardianship provides legal and human rights protections but may also be used to deprive vulnerable people of resources and fundamental rights.

(3)  Guardianship is increasing in Vermont.

(4)  Private guardians usually have no training or support in carrying out their guardianship responsibilities.

(5)  Probate judges and court registers who once were able to provide a measure of support for and monitoring of guardians are less able to do so as the volume of new guardianships and other court work increases their workload.

(6)  A comprehensive guardianship monitoring program would likely require significant additional staffing and resources and, as such, is not currently a cost effective or viable approach.

(b)  The guardianship education, improvement, and accountability task force is established.  Consistent with the findings in subsection (a) of this section and in recognition of the vulnerability of individuals under guardianship, the task force shall study ways, other than a staff-intensive monitoring model, for improving guardian accountability, assuring the protection of the rights and well-being of individuals under guardianship, and training and supporting guardians in the execution of their guardianship duties.

(c)  The task force shall consist of the following members:

(1)  Two sitting probate judges appointed by the Vermont association of probate judges.

(2)  Two members appointed by Vermont Legal Aid.

(3)  One member appointed by Vermont protection and advocacy.

(4)  Two members appointed by the secretary of human services, one of whom shall be a representative from the office of the public guardian.

(5)  One member appointed by the community of Vermont elders.

(6)   A member appointed by green mountain self-advocates.

(7)  Two members, appointed by the Vermont coalition for disability rights, who shall be family members of adults under guardianship.

(8)  One member appointed by Vermont psychiatric survivors.

(9)  One member appointed by the Vermont traumatic brain injury association.

(d)  The committee shall report its findings and recommendations to the house and senate committees on judiciary and the office of the court administrator on or before December 15, 2008.

                                                                        ALICE W. NITKA

                                                                        RICHARD W. SEARS, JR.

                                                                        ANN E. CUMMINGS

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        WILLEM JEWETT

                                                                        MARGARET FLORY

                                                                        AVIS GERVAIS

                                                                 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.

H. 635.

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 reports of child abuse or neglect.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Racine, 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. 635.  An act relating to reports of child abuse or neglect.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the Senate recede from its proposals of amendment and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  33 V.S.A. § 4911 is amended to read:

§ 4911.  Purpose

The purpose of this subchapter is to:

(1)  protect Protect children whose health and welfare may be adversely affected through abuse or neglect;.

(2)  strengthen Strengthen the family and make the home safe for children whenever possible by enhancing the parental capacity for good child care;.

(3)  provide Provide a temporary or permanent nurturing and safe environment for children when necessary; and for these purposes require the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect, an assessment or investigation of such reports and provision of services, when needed, to such child and family.

(4)  Establish a range of responses to child abuse and neglect that take into account different degrees of child abuse or neglect and which recognize that child offenders should be treated differently from adults.

(5)  Establish a tiered child protection registry that balances the need to protect children and the potential employment consequences of a registry record for persons who are substantiated for child abuse and neglect. 

Sec. 2.  33 V.S.A. § 4912 is amended to read:

§ 4912.  Definitions

As used in this subchapter:

(1)  “Child” means an individual under the age of majority.

(2)  An “abused or neglected child” means a child whose physical health, psychological growth and development or welfare is harmed or is at substantial risk of harm by the acts or omissions of his or her parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare.  An “abused or neglected child” also means a child who is sexually abused or at substantial risk of sexual abuse by any person.

(3)  “Harm” can occur by:

(A)  Physical injury or emotional maltreatment;

(B)  Failure to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or health care.  For the purposes of this subchapter, “adequate health care” includes any medical or nonmedical remedial health care permitted or authorized under state law.  Notwithstanding that a child might be found to be without proper parental care under chapter 55 of Title 33, a parent or other person responsible for a child’s care legitimately practicing his or her religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child shall not be considered neglectful for that reason alone; or

(C)  Abandonment of the child.

(4)  “Risk of harm” means a significant danger that a child will suffer serious harm other than by accidental means, which harm would be likely to cause physical injury, neglect, emotional maltreatment or sexual abuse.

(5)  “A person responsible for a child’s welfare” includes the child’s parent; guardian; foster parent; any other adult residing in the child’s home who serves in a parental role; an employee of a public or private residential home, institution or agency; or other person responsible for the child’s welfare while in a residential, educational, or child care setting, including any staff person.

(6)  “Physical injury” means death, or permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily organ or function by other than accidental means.

(7)  “Emotional maltreatment” means a pattern of malicious behavior which results in impaired psychological growth and development.

(8)  “Sexual abuse” consists of any act or acts by any person involving sexual molestation or exploitation of a child including but not limited to incest, prostitution, rape, sodomy, or any lewd and lascivious conduct involving a child.  Sexual abuse also includes the aiding, abetting, counseling, hiring, or procuring of a child to perform or participate in any photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, or other presentation which, in whole or in part, depicts a sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse involving a child.

(9)  “Multi‑disciplinary team” means a group of professionals, paraprofessionals and other appropriate individuals, empanelled by the commissioner of social and rehabilitation services under this chapter, for the purpose of assisting in the identification and investigation review of cases of child abuse and neglect, coordinating treatment services for abused and neglected children and their families and promoting child abuse prevention.


(10)  “Substantiated report” means that the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee has determined after investigation that a report is based upon accurate and reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the child has been abused or neglected.

(11)  [Repealed.]

(12)  “Member of the clergy” means a priest, rabbi, clergy member, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, accredited Christian Science practitioner, person performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body that are recognized as the duties of a priest, rabbi, clergy, nun, brother, ordained or licensed minister, leader of any church or religious body, or accredited Christian Science practitioner. 

(13)  “Redacted investigation file” means the intake report, the investigation activities summary, and case determination report that are amended in accordance with confidentiality requirements set forth in subsection 4913(d) of this title.

(14)  “Child abuse and neglect protection registry” means a record of all investigations that have resulted in a substantiated report on or after January 1, 1992.

(15)  “Registry record” means an entry in the abuse and neglect child protection registry that consists of the name of an individual substantiated for child abuse or neglect, the date of the finding, the nature of the finding, and at least one other personal identifier, other than a name, listed in order to avoid the possibility of misidentification.

(16)  “Investigation” means a response to a report of child abuse or neglect that begins with the systematic gathering of information to determine whether the abuse or neglect has occurred and, if so, the appropriate response.  An investigation shall result in a formal determination as to whether the reported abuse or neglect has occurred.

(17)  “Assessment” means a response to a report of child abuse or neglect that focuses on the identification of the strengths and support needs of the child and the family, and any services they may require to improve or restore their well-being and to reduce the risk of future harm.  The child and family assessment does not result in a formal determination as to whether the reported abuse or neglect has occurred.


Sec. 3.  33 V.S.A. § 4913 is amended to read:

§ 4913.  REPORTING SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT; remedial action

(a)  Any physician, surgeon, osteopath, chiropractor, or physician’s assistant licensed, certified, or registered under the provisions of Title 26, any resident physician, intern, or any hospital administrator in any hospital in this state, whether or not so registered, and any registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, medical examiner, emergency medical personnel as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 2651(6), dentist, psychologist, pharmacist, any other health care provider, child care worker, school superintendent, school teacher, school librarian, child care worker, school principal, school guidance counselor, and any other individual who is regularly employed by a school district, or who is contracted and paid by a school district to provide student services for five or more hours per week during the school year, mental health professional, social worker, probation officer, police officer, camp owner, camp administrator, camp counselor, or member of the clergy who has reasonable cause to believe that any child has been abused or neglected shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title within 24 hours.  As used in this subsection, “camp” includes any residential or nonresidential recreational program.

(b)  Any other concerned person not listed in subsection (a) of this section who has reasonable cause to believe that any child has been abused or neglected may report or cause a report to be made in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title. The commissioner shall inform the person who made the report under subsection (a) of this section:

(1)  whether the report was accepted as a valid allegation of abuse or neglect;

(2)  whether an assessment was conducted and, if so, whether a need for services was found; and

(3)  whether an investigation was conducted and, if so, whether it resulted in a substantiation.

(c)  Any other concerned person not listed in subsection (a) of this section who has reasonable cause to believe that any child has been abused or neglected may report or cause a report to be made in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title.

(c)(d)(1)  Any person enumerated in subsection (a) or (b) of this section, other than a person suspected of child abuse, who in good faith makes a report to the department of social and rehabilitation services shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of making a report. 

(2)  An employer or supervisor shall not discharge; demote; transfer; reduce pay, benefits, or work privileges; prepare a negative work performance evaluation; or take any other action detrimental to any employee because that employee filed a good faith report in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter.  Any person making a report under this subchapter shall have a civil cause of action for appropriate compensatory and punitive damages against any person who causes detrimental changes in the employment status of the reporting party by reason of his or her making a report.

(d)(e)  The name of and any identifying information about either the person making the report or any person mentioned in the report shall be confidential unless:

(1)  the person making the report specifically allows disclosure or unless;

(2)  a human services board proceeding or a judicial proceeding results therefrom or unless;

(3)  a court, after a hearing, finds probable cause to believe that the report was not made in good faith and orders the department to make the name of the reporter available; or

(4)  a review has been requested pursuant to section 4916a of this title, and the department has determined that identifying information can be provided without compromising the safety of the reporter or the persons mentioned in the report.

(e)(f)(1)  A person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $500.00.

(2)  A person who violates subsection (a) of this section with the intent to conceal abuse or neglect of a child shall be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

(3)  This section shall not be construed to prohibit a prosecution under any other provision of law.

(f)(g)  Except as provided in subsection (g)(h) of this section, a person may not refuse to make a report required by this section on the grounds that making the report would violate a privilege or disclose a confidential communication.

(g)(h)  A member of the clergy shall not be required to make a report under this section if the report would be based upon information received in a communication which is:

(1)  made to a member of the clergy acting in his or her capacity as spiritual advisor;

(2)  intended by the parties to be confidential at the time the communication is made;

(3)  intended by the communicant to be an act of contrition or a matter of conscience; and

(4)  required to be confidential by religious law, doctrine, or tenet.

(h)(i)  When a member of the clergy receives information about abuse or neglect of a child in a manner other than as described in subsection (g)(h) of this section, he or she is required to report on the basis of that information even though he or she may have also received a report of abuse or neglect about the same person or incident in the manner described in subsection (g)(h) of this section. 

Sec. 4.  33 V.S.A. § 4914 is amended to read:

§ 4914.  NATURE AND CONTENT OF REPORT; TO WHOM MADE

A report shall be made orally or in writing to the commissioner for children and families or designee.  The commissioner or designee shall request the reporter to follow the oral report with a written report, unless the reporter is anonymous.  Reports shall contain the name and address or other contact information of the reporter as well as the names and addresses of the child and the parents or other persons responsible for the child’s care, if known; the age of the child; the nature and extent of the child’s injuries together with any evidence of previous abuse and neglect of the child or the child’s siblings; and any other information that the reporter believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries or reasons for the neglect as well as in protecting the child and assisting the family.  If a report of child abuse or neglect involves the acts or omissions of the commissioner for children and families or employees of that the department, then the report shall be directed to the secretary of the agency of human services who shall cause the report to be investigated by other appropriate agency staff other than staff of the department for children and families.  If the report is substantiated, services shall be offered to the child and to his or her family or caretaker according to the requirements of section 4915 4915b of this title.

Sec. 5.  33 V.S.A. § 4915 is amended to read:

§ 4915.  ASSESSMENT AND INVESTIGATION; REMEDIAL ACTION

(a)  Upon receipt of a report of abuse or neglect, the department shall promptly determine whether it constitutes an allegation of child abuse or neglect as defined in section 4912 of this title.  The department shall respond to reports of alleged neglect or abuse that occurred in Vermont and to out-of-state conduct when the child is a resident of or is present in Vermont. 

(b)  If the report is accepted as a valid allegation of abuse or neglect, the department shall determine whether to conduct an assessment as provided for in section 4915a of this title or to conduct an investigation as provided for in section 4915b of this title.  The department shall begin either an assessment or an investigation within 72 hours after the receipt of a report made pursuant to section 4914 of this title, provided that it has sufficient information to proceed.  The commissioner may waive the 72-hour requirement only when necessary to locate the child who is the subject of the allegation or to ensure the safety of the child or social worker.

(c)  The decision to conduct an assessment shall include consideration of the following factors:

(1)  the nature of the conduct and the extent of the child’s injury, if any;

(2)  the accused person’s prior history of child abuse or neglect, or lack thereof; and

(3)  the accused person’s willingness or lack thereof to accept responsibility for the conduct and cooperate in remediation. 

(d)  The department shall conduct an investigation when an accepted report involves allegations indicating substantial child endangerment.  For purposes of this section, “substantial child endangerment” includes conduct by an adult involving or resulting in sexual abuse, and conduct by a person responsible for a child’s welfare involving or resulting in abandonment, child fatality, malicious punishment, or abuse or neglect that causes serious physical injury.  The department may conduct an investigation of any report.

(e)  The department shall begin an immediate investigation if, at any time during an assessment, it appears that an investigation is appropriate.

(f)  The department may collaborate with child protection, law enforcement, and other departments and agencies in Vermont and other jurisdictions to evaluate risk to a child and to determine the service needs of the child and family.  The department may enter into reciprocal agreements with other jurisdictions to further the purposes of this subchapter.

(b)  The investigation, to the extent that it is reasonable under the facts and circumstances presented by the particular allegation of child abuse, shall include all of the following:

(1)  A visit to the child’s place of residence or place of custody and to the location of the alleged abuse or neglect.

(2)  An interview with, or observance of the child reportedly having been abused or neglected.  If the investigator elects to interview the child, that interview may take place without the approval of the child’s parents, guardian, or custodian, provided that it takes place in the presence of a disinterested adult who may be, but shall not be limited to being, a teacher, a member of the clergy, child care provider regulated by the department, or a nurse.

(3)  Determination of the nature, extent, and cause of any abuse or neglect.

(4)  Determination of the identity of the person alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect.

(5)(A)  The identity, by name, of any other children living in the same home environment as the subject child.  The investigator shall consider the physical and emotional condition of those children and may interview them, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection, unless the subject child is the person who is alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect.

(B)  The identity, by name, of any other children who may be at risk if the abuse was alleged to have been committed by someone who is not a member of the subject child’s household.  The investigator shall consider the physical and emotional condition of those children and may interview them, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection, unless the subject child is the person who is alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect.

(6)  A determination of the immediate and long-term risk to each child if that child remains in the existing home or other environment.

(7)  Consideration of the environment and the relationship of any children therein to the person alleged to be responsible for the suspected abuse or neglect.

(8)  All other data deemed pertinent.

(c)  For cases investigated by the department, the commissioner may, to the extent that it is reasonable, provide assistance to the child and the child’s family.

(d)  The commissioner, designee, or any person required to report under section 4913 or any other person performing an investigation pursuant to section 4914 may take or cause to be taken, photographs of trauma visible on a child who is the subject of a report.  The commissioner or designee may seek consultation with a physician.  If it is indicated as appropriate by the physician, the commissioner or designee may cause the child who is subject of a report to undergo a radiological examination, without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.

(e)  Services may be provided to the child’s immediate family whether or not the child remains in the home.

(f)  The department shall report to and request assistance from law enforcement in the following circumstances:

(1)  Investigations of child sexual abuse by an alleged perpetrator age 10 or older.

(2)  Investigations of serious physical abuse or neglect of a child likely to result in criminal charges or requiring emergency medical care.

(3)  Situations potentially dangerous to the child or department worker.

Sec. 6.  33 V.S.A. § 4915a is added to read:

§ 4915a.  Procedures for Assessment

(a)  An assessment, to the extent that is reasonable under the facts and circumstances presented by the particular valid allegation of child abuse or neglect, shall include the following:

(1)  An interview with the child’s parent, guardian, foster parent, or any other adult residing in the child’s home who serves in a parental role.  The interview shall focus on ensuring the immediate safety of the child and mitigating the future risk of harm to the child in the home environment.

(2)  An evaluation of the safety of the subject child and any other children living in the same home environment.  The evaluation may include an interview with or observation of the child or children.  Such interviews shall occur with the permission of the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian.

(3)  In collaboration with the family, identification of family strengths, resources, and service needs, and the development of a plan of services that reduces the risk of harm and improves or restores family well-being. 

(b)  The assessment shall be completed within 45 days.  Upon written justification by the department, the assessment may be extended, not to exceed a total of 60 days.

(c)  Families have the option of declining the services offered as a result of the assessment.  If the family declines the services, the case shall be closed unless the department determines that sufficient cause exists to begin an investigation or to request the state’s attorney to file a petition pursuant to chapter 55 of this title.  In no instance shall a case be investigated solely because the family declines services.

(d)  When an assessment case is closed, there shall be no finding of abuse or neglect and no indication of the intervention shall be placed in the registry.  However, the department shall document the outcome of the assessment.

Sec. 7.  33 V.S.A. § 4915b is added to read:

§ 4915b.  Procedures for Investigation

(a)  An investigation, to the extent that it is reasonable under the facts and circumstances presented by the particular allegation of child abuse, shall include all of the following:

(1)  A visit to the child’s place of residence or place of custody and to the location of the alleged abuse or neglect.

(2)  An interview with or observation of the child reportedly having been abused or neglected.  If the investigator elects to interview the child, that interview may take place without the approval of the child’s parents, guardian, or custodian, provided that it takes place in the presence of a disinterested adult who may be, but shall not be limited to being, a teacher, a member of the clergy, a child care provider regulated by the department, or a nurse.

(3)  Determination of the nature, extent, and cause of any abuse or neglect.

(4)  Determination of the identity of the person alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect.

(5)(A)  The identity, by name, of any other children living in the same home environment as the subject child.  The investigator shall consider the physical and emotional condition of those children and may interview them, unless the child is the person who is alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(B)  The identity, by name, of any other children who may be at risk if the abuse was alleged to have been committed by someone who is not a member of the subject child’s household.  The investigator shall consider the physical and emotional condition of those children and may interview them, unless the child is the person who is alleged to be responsible for such abuse or neglect, in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(6)  A determination of the immediate and long‑term risk to each child if that child remains in the existing home or other environment.

(7)  Consideration of the environment and the relationship of any children therein to the person alleged to be responsible for the suspected abuse or neglect.

(8)  All other data deemed pertinent.

(b)  For cases investigated and substantiated by the department, the commissioner shall, to the extent that it is reasonable, provide assistance to the child and the child’s family.  For cases investigated but not substantiated by the department, the commissioner may, to the extent that it is reasonable, provide assistance to the child and the child’s family.  Nothing contained in this section or section 4915a of this title shall be deemed to create a private right of action.

(c)  The commissioner, designee, or any person required to report under section 4913 of this title or any other person performing an investigation may take or cause to be taken photographs of trauma visible on a child who is the subject of a report.  The commissioner or designee may seek consultation with a physician.  If it is indicated appropriate by the physician, the commissioner or designee may cause the child who is subject of a report to undergo a radiological examination without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian. 

(d)  Services may be provided to the child’s immediate family whether or not the child remains in the home. 

(e)  The department shall report to and request assistance from law enforcement in the following circumstances:

(1)  Investigations of child sexual abuse by an alleged perpetrator age 10 or older.

(2)  Investigations of serious physical abuse or neglect likely to result in criminal charges or requiring emergency medical care.

(3)  Situations potentially dangerous to the child or department worker.

(f)  The department shall not substantiate cases in which neglect is caused solely by the lack of financial resources of the parent or guardian.

Sec. 8.  33 V.S.A. § 4916 is amended to read:

§ 4916.  CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT PROTECTION REGISTRY; RECORDS OF ABUSE AND NEGLECT  

(a)(1)  The commissioner shall maintain a abuse and neglect child protection registry which shall contain a record of all investigations that have resulted in a substantiated report on or after January 1, 1992.  Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, prior to placement of a substantiated report on the registry, the commissioner shall comply with the procedures set forth in section 4916a of this title.

(2)  In cases involving sexual abuse or serious physical abuse of a child, the commissioner in his or her sole judgment may list a substantiated report on the registry pending any administrative review after:

(A)  Reviewing the investigation file.

(B)  Making written findings in consideration of:

(i)  the nature and seriousness of the alleged behavior; and

(ii)  the person’s continuing access to children.

(3)  A person alleged to have abused or neglected a child and whose name has been placed on the registry in accordance with subdivision (2) of this subsection shall be notified of the registry entry, provided with the commissioner’s findings, and advised of the right to seek an administrative review in accordance with section 4916a of this title.

(4)  If the name of a person has been placed on the registry in accordance with subdivision (2) of this subsection, it shall be removed from the registry if the substantiation is rejected after an administrative review.

(b)  A registry record means an entry in the abuse and neglect child protection registry that consists of the name of an individual substantiated for child abuse or neglect, the date of the finding, the nature of the finding, and at least one other personal identifier, other than a name, listed in order to avoid the possibility of misidentification.

(c)  The commissioner shall adopt rules to permit use of the registry records as authorized by this subchapter while preserving confidentiality of the registry and other department records related to abuse and neglect.

(d)  Registry records shall only be disclosed to the commissioner or person designated by the commissioner to receive such records, persons assigned by the commissioner to investigate reports, the person reported on, an employer as defined in subsection 4919(e) of this title, or a state’s attorney or the attorney general. In no event shall registry records be made available for employment purposes other than as set forth in section 309 or 4919 of this title, or for credit purposes. Any person who violates this subsection shall be fined not more than $500.00. 

For all substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect made on or after the date the final rules are adopted, the commissioner shall create a registry record that reflects a designated child protection level related to the risk of future harm to children.  This system of child protection levels shall be based upon an evaluation of the risk the person responsible for the abuse or neglect poses to the safety of children.  The risk evaluation shall include consideration of the following factors:

(A)  the nature of the conduct and the extent of the child’s injury, if any;

(B)  the person’s prior history of child abuse or neglect as either a victim or perpetrator; 

(C)  the person’s response to the investigation and willingness to engage in recommended services; and

(D)  the person’s age and developmental maturity.

(e)(1)  Verbal Notice.  The commissioner or the commissioner’s designee shall promptly inform a parent or guardian of the child that a report has been made and substantiated.  If a parent or guardian is under investigation for abuse or neglect, such information need only be provided to that parent or guardian in accordance with subsection 4916(d) of this title.

(2)  Written Records. Absent good cause shown by the department, if a report has been substantiated, the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee shall provide upon request the redacted investigation file to the child’s parent or guardian or, if there is a pending juvenile proceeding or if the child is in custody of the commissioner, to the child’s attorney.

The commissioner shall develop rules for the implementation of a system of child protection registry levels for substantiated cases.  The rules shall address:

(1)  the length of time a person’s name appears on the registry;

(2)  when and how names are expunged from the registry;

(3)  whether the person is a juvenile or an adult;

(4)  whether the person was charged with or convicted of a criminal offense arising out of the incident of abuse or neglect; and

(5)  whether a family court has made any findings against the person.

(f)(1)  The commissioner or the commissioner’s designee may inform the following persons that a report has been substantiated:

(A)  The person responsible for supervising the staff in the child’s residential, educational or child care setting.

(B)  Upon request, to the person who made the report under subsection 4913(a) of this title.

(C)  Any person authorized by law to receive such information.

(2)  A person receiving information under this subsection shall not disclose that information to persons who are not involved with the provision of treatment services under section 4915 of this title to the abused or neglected child.

Sec. 9.  33 V.S.A. § 4916a is amended to read:

§ 4916a.  CHALLENGING PLACEMENT ON THE REGISTRY

(a)  If an investigation conducted in accordance with section 4915 4915b of this title results in a determination that a report of child abuse or neglect should be substantiated, the department shall notify the person alleged to have abused or neglected a child of the following:

(1)  The nature of the substantiation decision, and that the department intends to enter the record of the substantiation into the registry.

(2)  Who has access to registry information and under what circumstances.

(3)  The implications of having one’s name placed on the registry as it applies to employment, licensure, and registration.

(4)  The right to request a review of the substantiation determination by an administrative reviewer, the time in which the request for review shall be made, and the consequences of not seeking a review.

(5)  The right to receive a copy of the commissioner’s written findings made in accordance with subdivision 4916(a)(2) of this title if applicable.

(b)  Under this section, notice by the department to a person alleged to have abused or neglected a child shall be by first class mail sent to the person’s last known address.

(c)(1)  A person alleged to have abused or neglected a child may seek an administrative review of the department’s intention to place the person’s name on the registry by notifying the department within 14 days of the date the department mailed notice of the right to review in accordance with subsections (a) and (b) of this section.  The commissioner may grant an extension past the 14-day period for good cause, not to exceed 28 days after the department has mailed notice of the right to review.

(2)  The administrative review may be stayed upon request of the person alleged to have committed abuse or neglect if there is a related criminal or family court case pending in court which arose out of the same incident of abuse or neglect for which the person was substantiated.  During the period the review is stayed, the person’s name shall be placed on the registry.  Upon resolution of the criminal or family court case, the person may exercise his or her right to review under this section.

(d)  The department shall hold an administrative review conference within 14 35 days of receipt of the request for review.  At least seven ten days prior to the administrative review conference, the department shall provide to the person requesting review a copy of the redacted investigation file, notice of time and place of the conference, and conference procedures, including information that may be submitted and mechanisms for providing testimony.  The department shall also provide to the person those redacted investigation files that relate to prior investigations that the department has relied upon to make its substantiation determination in the case in which a review has been requested.

(e)  At the administrative review conference, the person who requested the review shall be provided with the opportunity to present documentary evidence or other information that supports his or her position and provides information to the reviewer in making the most accurate decision regarding the allegation.  The department shall have the burden of proving that it has accurately and reliably concluded that a reasonable person would believe that the child has been abused or neglected by that person.  Upon the person’s request, the conference may be held by teleconference.

(f)  The department shall establish an administrative case review unit within the department and contract for the services of administrative reviewers.  An administrative reviewer shall be a neutral and independent arbiter who has no prior involvement in the original investigation of the allegation. 

(g)  Within seven days of the conference, the administrative reviewer shall:

(1)  reject the department’s substantiation determination;

(2)  accept the department’s substantiation; or

(3)  place the substantiation determination on hold and direct the department to further investigate the case based upon recommendations of the reviewer.

(h)  If the administrative reviewer accepts the department’s substantiation determination, a registry record shall be made immediately.  If the reviewer rejects the department’s substantiation determination, no registry record shall be made.

(i)  Within seven days of the decision to reject or accept or to place the substantiation on hold in accordance with subsection (g) of this section, the administrative reviewer shall provide notice to the person of his or her decision.  If the administrative reviewer accepts the department’s substantiation, the notice shall advise the person of the right to appeal the administrative reviewer’s decision to the human services board in accordance with section 4916b of this title.

(j)  Persons whose names were placed on the registry on or after January 1, 1992 but prior to July September 1, 2007 shall be entitled to an opportunity to seek an administrative review to challenge the substantiation pursuant to this section.

(k)  If no administrative review is requested, the department’s decision in the case shall be final, and the person shall have no further right of review under this section.  The commissioner may grant a waiver and permit such a review upon good cause shown.  Good cause may include an acquittal or dismissal of a criminal charge arising from the incident of abuse or neglect.

(l)  In exceptional circumstances, the commissioner, in his or her sole and nondelegable discretion, may reconsider any decision made by a reviewer.  A commissioner’s decision that creates a registry record may be appealed to the human services board in accordance with section 4916b of this title.

Sec. 10. 33 V.S.A. § 4916b is amended to read:

§ 4916b.  HUMAN SERVICES BOARD HEARING

(a)  Within 30 days of the date on which the administrative reviewer mailed notice of placement of a report on the registry, the person who is the subject of the substantiation may apply in writing to the human services board for relief. The board shall hold a fair hearing pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 3091.  When the department receives notice of the appeal, it shall make note in the registry record that the substantiation has been appealed to the board.

(b)(1)  The board shall hold a hearing within 60 days of the receipt of the request for a hearing and shall issue a decision within 30 days of the hearing.

(2)  Priority shall be given to appeals in which there are immediate employment consequences for the person appealing the decision.

(c)  A hearing may be stayed upon request of the petitioner if there is a related criminal or family court case pending in court which arose out of the same incident of abuse or neglect for which the person was substantiated.

(d)  If no review by the board is requested, the department’s decision in the case shall be final, and the person shall have no further right for review under this section.  The board may grant a waiver and permit such a review upon good cause shown.


Sec. 11.  33 V.S.A. § 4916c is amended to read:

§ 4916c.  PETITION FOR EXPUNGEMENT FROM THE REGISTRY

(a)  A person whose name has been placed on the registry prior to July 1, 2009 and has been listed on the registry for at least seven three years may file a written request with the commissioner, seeking a review for the purpose of expunging an individual registry record.  A person whose name has been placed on the registry on or after July 1, 2009 and has been listed on the registry for at least seven years may file a written request with the commissioner seeking a review for the purpose of expunging an individual registry record.  The commissioner shall grant a review upon request.

(b)  The person shall have the burden of proving that a reasonable person would believe that he or she no longer presents a risk to the safety or well‑being of children.  Factors to be considered by the commissioner shall include:

(1)  The nature of the substantiation that resulted in the person’s name being placed on the registry.

(2)  The number of substantiations, if more than one.

(3)  The amount of time that has elapsed since the substantiation.

(4)  The circumstances of the substantiation that would indicate whether a similar incident would be likely to occur.

(5)  Any activities that would reflect upon the person’s changed behavior or circumstances, such as therapy, employment, or education.

(6)  References that attest to the person’s good moral character.

(c)  At the review, the person who requested the review shall be provided with the opportunity to present any evidence or other information, including witnesses, that supports his or her request for expungement.  Upon the person’s request, the review may be held by teleconference.

(d)  A person may seek a review under this section no more than once every 36 months. 

(e)  Within 30 days of the date on which the commissioner mailed notice of the decision pursuant to this section, a person may appeal the decision to the human services board.  The person shall be prohibited from challenging his or her substantiation at such hearing, and the sole issue before the board shall be whether the commissioner abused his or her discretion in denial of the petition for expungement.  The hearing shall be on the record below, and determinations of credibility of witnesses made by the commissioner shall be given deference by the board.

(f)  The department shall take steps to provide reasonable notice to persons on the registry of their right to seek an expungement under this section.  Actual notice is not required.   Reasonable steps may include activities such as the production of an informative fact sheet about the expungement process, posting of such information on the department website, and other approaches typically taken by the department to inform the public about the department’s activities and policies.  The department shall send notice of the expungement process to any person listed on the registry for whom a registry check has been requested.

Sec. 12.  33 V.S.A. § 4916d is amended to read:

§ 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.  A person substantiated for behavior occurring before the person reached 18 years of age and whose name has been listed on the registry for at least three years may file a written request with the commissioner seeking a review for the purpose of expunging an individual registry record in accordance with section 4916c of this title.

Sec. 13.  33 V.S.A. § 4917 is amended to read:

§ 4917.  Multi-disciplinary teams; empaneling

(a)  The commissioner of social and rehabilitation services, or his or her designee may empanel a multi-disciplinary team wherever in the state there may be a probable case of child abuse or neglect which warrants the coordinated use of several professional services.

(b)  The commissioner of social and rehabilitation services, or his or her designee, in conjunction with professionals and community agencies, shall appoint members to the multi-disciplinary teams which may include persons who are trained and engaged in work relating to child abuse or neglect such as medicine, mental health, social work, nursing, day child care, education, law or law enforcement.  Additional persons may be appointed when the services of those persons are appropriate to any particular case.

(c)  The empanelling of a multi-disciplinary team shall be authorized in writing and shall specifically list the members of the team.  This list may be amended from time to time as needed as determined by the commissioner or his or her designee.


Sec. 14.  33 V.S.A. § 4918 is amended to read:

§ 4918.  Multi-disciplinary teams; functions; guidelines

(a)  Multi-disciplinary teams shall assist local district offices of the department of social and rehabilitation services in identifying and treating child abuse and or neglect cases.  With respect to any case referred to it, the team shall may assist the district office by providing:

(1)  case diagnosis or identification,;

(2)  a comprehensive treatment plan,; and

(3)  coordination of services pursuant to the treatment plan.

(b)  Multi-disciplinary teams may also provide public informational and educational services to the community about identification, treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect.  It shall also foster communication and cooperation among professionals and organizations in its community, and provide such recommendations or changes in service delivery as it deems necessary.

Sec. 15.  33 V.S.A. § 4919 is amended to read:

§ 4919.  DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION REGISTRY RECORDS

(a)  The commissioner or the commissioner’s designee may disclose a registry information record only as set forth in section 4916 of this title or as follows:

(1)  To the state’s attorney or the attorney general;.

(2)  To the owner or operator of a facility regulated by the department for the purpose of informing the owner or operator that employment of a specific individual may result in loss of license or, registration, certification, or authorization as set forth in section 309 of this title;.

(3)  To an employer if such information is used to determine whether to hire or retain a specific individual providing care, custody, treatment, transportation, or supervision of children or vulnerable adults.  The employer may submit a request concerning a current employee, volunteer, grantee, or contractor or an individual to whom the employer has given a conditional offer of a contract, volunteer position, or employment.  The request shall be accompanied by a release signed by the current or prospective employee, volunteer, grantee, or contractor.  If that individual has a record of a substantiated report, the commissioner shall provide the registry record to the employer;.  The employer shall not disclose the information contained in the registry report.


(4)  To the commissioner commissioners of disabilities, aging, and independent living, and of mental health, or the commissioner’s designee their designees, for purposes related to the licensing or registration of facilities regulated by the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living; those departments.

(5)  To the commissioner commissioners of health or, of disabilities, aging, and independent living, and of mental health, or the commissioner’s designee their designees, for purposes related to oversight and monitoring of persons who are served by or compensated with funds provided by the departments of health and of disabilities, aging, and independent living, those departments, including persons to whom a conditional offer of employment has been made;.

(6)  Upon request or when relevant to other states’ adult protective services offices; and.

(7)  Upon request or when relevant to other states’ child protection agencies.

(8)  To the person substantiated for child abuse and neglect who is the subject of the record.

(b)  An employer providing transportation services to children or vulnerable adults may disclose registry records obtained pursuant to subdivision (a)(3) of this section to the agency of human services or its designee for the sole purpose of auditing the records to ensure compliance with this subchapter.  An employer shall provide such records at the request of the agency or its designee.  Only registry records regarding individuals who provide direct transportation services or otherwise have direct contact with children or vulnerable adults may be disclosed.

(c)  Volunteers shall be considered employees for purposes of this section.

(d)  Disclosure of registry records or information or other records used or obtained in the course of providing services to prevent child abuse or neglect or to treat abused or neglected children and their families by one member of a multidisciplinary team to another member of that team shall not subject either member of the multidisciplinary team, individually, or the team as a whole, to any civil or criminal liability notwithstanding any other provision of law.

(e)  “Employer,” as used in this section, means a person or organization who employs or contracts with one or more individuals to care for or provide transportation services to children or vulnerable adults, on either a paid or volunteer basis. 


(f)  In no event shall registry records be made available for employment purposes other than as set forth in this subsection, or for credit purposes.  Any person who violates this subsection shall be fined not more than $500.00.

(g)  Nothing in this subsection shall limit the department’s right to use and disclose information from its records as provided in section 4921 of this chapter.

Sec. 16.  33 V.S.A. § 4920 is amended to read:

§ 4920.  Retaliatory action by employer prohibited

An employer or supervisor shall not discharge, demote, transfer, reduce pay, benefits or work privileges, prepare a negative work performance evaluation or take any other action detrimental to any employee because that employee filed a good faith report in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter. Any person making a report under this subchapter shall have a civil cause of action for appropriate compensatory and punitive damages against any person who causes detrimental changes in the employment status of the reporting party by reason of his or her making a report.

Sec. 17.  33 V.S.A. § 4921 is added to read:

§ 4921.  Department’s Records of abuse and neglect

(a)  The commissioner shall maintain all records of all investigations, assessments, reviews, and responses initiated under this subchapter.  The department may use and disclose information from such records in the usual course of its business, including to assess future risk to children, to provide appropriate services to the child or members of the child’s family, or for other legal purposes.

(b)  The commissioner shall promptly inform the parents, if known, or guardian of the child that a report has been accepted as a valid allegation pursuant to subsection 4915(b) of this title and the department’s response to the report.  The department shall inform the parent or guardian of his or her ability to request records pursuant to subsection (c) of this section.  This section shall not apply if the parent or guardian is the subject of the investigation.

(c)  Upon request, the redacted investigation file shall be disclosed to:

(1)  the child’s parents, foster parent, or guardian, absent good cause shown by the department, provided that the child’s parent, foster parent, or guardian is not the subject of the investigation; and

(2)  the person alleged to have abused or neglected the child, as provided for in subsection 4916a(d) of this title.

(d)  Upon request, department records created under this subchapter shall be disclosed to:

(1)  the court, parties to the juvenile proceeding, and the child’s guardian ad litem if there is a pending juvenile proceeding or if the child is in the custody of the commissioner;

(2)  the commissioner or person designated by the commissioner to receive such records; 

(3)  persons assigned by the commissioner to conduct investigations;

(4)  law enforcement officers engaged in a joint investigation with the department, an assistant attorney general, or a state’s attorney;

(5)  other state agencies conducting related inquiries or proceedings; and 

(6)  probate courts involved in guardianship proceedings.  The probate court shall provide a copy of the record to the respondent, the respondent’s attorney, the petitioner, the guardian upon appointment, and any other individual, including the proposed guardian, determined by the court to have a strong interest in the welfare of the respondent.

(e)(1)  Upon request, relevant department records created under this subchapter may be disclosed to:

(A)  service providers working with a person or child who is the subject of the report; and

(B)  other governmental entities for purposes of child protection.

(2)  Determinations of relevancy shall be made by the department.

Sec. 18.  33 V.S.A. § 4922 is added to read:

§ 4922.  RULEMAKING

(a)  The commissioner shall develop rules to implement this subchapter. These shall include:

(1)  rules setting forth criteria for determining whether to conduct an assessment or an investigation;

(2)  rules setting out procedures for assessment and service delivery;

(3)  rules outlining procedures for investigations;

(4)  rules for conducting the administrative review conference;

(5)  rules regarding access to and maintenance of department records of investigations, assessments, reviews, and responses; and

(6)  rules regarding the tiered registry as required by section 4916 of this title.

(b)  The rules shall strike an appropriate balance between protecting children and respecting the rights of a parent or guardian, including a parent or guardian with disabilities, and shall recognize that persons with a disability can be successful parents.  The rules shall include the possible use of adaptive equipment and supports.

(c)  These rules shall be adopted no later than July 1, 2009.

Sec. 19.  33 V.S.A. § 4923 is added to read:

§ 4923.  REPORTING

The commissioner shall publish an annual report regarding reports of child abuse and neglect no later than June 30, for the previous year.  The report shall include:

(1)  The number of reports accepted as valid allegations of child abuse or neglect.

(2)  The number of reports that resulted in an investigative response; particularly:

(A)  the number of investigations which resulted in a substantiation;

(B)  the types of maltreatment substantiated;

(C)  the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim, by category; and

(D)  the gender and age group of the substantiated victims.

(3)  The number of reports that resulted in an assessment response; particularly:

(A)  the general types of maltreatment alleged in cases which received an assessment response; and

(B)  the number of assessments that resulted in the recommendation of services.

(4)  Trend information over a five-year period.  Beginning with the adoption of the assessment response and continuing over the next five years, the report shall explain the impact of the assessment response on statistical reporting.

Sec. 20.  DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES CASELOAD  POLICIES

(a)  The department for children and families shall develop policies for implementing social worker caseload assignments which identify a target of one worker per 12 families and that are consistent with national standards, best practices, and the department’s transformation plan.

(b)  The department shall make a report of its progress implementing the policies required by subsection (a) of this section to the senate committees on health and welfare and on appropriations and to the house committees on human services and on appropriations no later than January 1, 2009.  The report shall include an assessment of the impact of current caseloads on the quality of service of face-to-face visits with abused or neglected children and delinquent children in the custody of the department.

Sec. 21.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  Sec. 3 of this act shall take effect on January 1, 2009.

(b)  In Sec. 5 of this act, the amendments in 33 V.S.A. § 4915(b), (c), (d), and (e) shall take effect upon adoption of final rules by the department for children and families.

(c)  Sec. 6 of this act shall take effect upon adoption of final rules by the department for children and families.

(d)  Sec. 9 of this act shall take effect on September 1, 2008.

                                                                        DOUGLAS A. RACINE

                                                                        EDWARD S. FLANAGAN

                                                                        KEVIN J. MULLIN

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        ANN PUGH

                                                                        NORMAN McALLISTER

                                                                        RICHARD MAREK

                                                                 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.

H. 887.

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 health care reform.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Racine, 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. 887.  An act relating to health care reform.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the Senate recede from its proposal of amendment and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

* * * Findings and Intent * * *

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND INTENT  

(a)  The general assembly hereby finds that:

(1)  Health care costs continue to rise at two to three times the rate of inflation, from approximately $3,000.00 per person per year in Vermont in 1997 to $3,800.00 in 2000 and $6,300.00 in 2006.  These increases cause hardships to individuals, families, businesses, taxpayers, and public institutions and make the need for comprehensive health care reform urgent.

(2)  The Health Care Affordability for Vermonters Act of 2006 has started significant new initiatives to transform the health care system by improving access, controlling costs, and changing the way we pay for and deliver health care.  These system changes will take many years and are dependent upon continued funding and implementation.  To date, these efforts have provided coverage to thousands of Vermonters, instituting changes in the care of chronic conditions, and enabling greater use of health information technology. 

(3)  There continues to be a large number of Vermonters who have no health insurance or are underinsured.  For this population, health care is unaffordable and, as a result, often not received in the most timely and effective manner.

(4)  The rising prevalence of chronic illnesses and the new medical approaches to treat them account for nearly two-thirds of the increase in health care spending.  Health care reform must address the cost drivers that underlie this rise in spending.  First, more effective use of preventive care and chronic care management is needed to prevent or slow the progression of chronic diseases and reduce disease complications, which is the focus of the Blueprint for Health.  Second, reform needs to include a sustained public health approach to decrease the likelihood of individuals developing a chronic illness in the first place.  Reducing major health risks such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol and drug abuse will stem the rising incidence of chronic diseases linked to these factors over the long term.  In addition, Vermonters with a chronic mental illness are at a substantially greater risk for other illnesses and conditions than those without a chronic mental illness.  Identifying the mental health needs of Vermonters and integrating health care are an important response to a high risk factor for other illnesses and conditions and will pay dividends in the form of healthier citizens and reductions in costs to the health care system.

(5) Although the quality of health care services in Vermont is generally very good, there is a need to improve quality, efficiency, and safety.  Improvements in health care quality will result in improved health and reduced costs.  A new payment system that relates reimbursement to improved health would encourage better care and greater efficiency than the existing fee-for-service system.  And the implementation and effective use of health information technology will significantly improve patient safety by reducing medical errors and improving the reliability of patient care processes.

(6)  Federal laws and programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), constrain Vermont’s ability to establish immediately an integrated health care system.  In addition, the current federal administration’s unwillingness to allow states to implement innovative approaches to health care reform has hampered Vermont’s ability to make extensive improvements to its own system.

(b)  It is the intent of the general assembly that all Vermonters receive affordable and appropriate health care at the appropriate time, and that health care costs be contained over time.  Building on the reforms enacted in the Health Care Affordability for Vermonters Act of 2006, the general assembly finds that effective next steps to achieving these goals include expanding affordable coverage, reducing the rate of the increase of medical costs, reforming the financing of health care, and supporting health information technology.

* * * Building Blocks for Health Care Reform * * *

Sec. 2.  OVERVIEW

(a)  The commission on health care reform is charged with making recommendations to meet the goal of section 902 of Title 2 that “by 2009, Vermont has an integrated system of care that provides all Vermonters access to affordable, high quality health care that is financed in a fair and equitable manner.”  Achieving this will require a series of fundamental changes which cumulatively will build a more integrated system with aligned financial incentives.  The commission on health care reform should conduct studies to develop key building blocks for moving toward such a system in Vermont, to the extent that funds and staffing resources are available, including: 

(1) The feasibility of community-based payment reform and integration of care.  This study should assess the feasibility of alternative designs for a pilot project to test using a system-wide budgeting initiative at the regional level within the state, including a design based on the accountable care organization model; 

(2) The possible merger of fragmented risk pools.  The continued fragmentation of risk pools and structural issues with the individual and small group markets present major obstacles to achieving universal coverage and stable premium rates.  This study should propose a preliminary design for the merger by calendar year 2011 of the nongroup (including Catamount Health), small group, and association markets; and  

(3) Various health care financing options.  This study will expand upon the completed financing analysis called for in Sec. 277d of No. 215 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) to create a common analytic basis for policy decisions on the public financing of health care, explore broad-based revenue sources, identify and assess major federal issues with public financing, and analyze the impact of different financing options on the underlying cost drivers in health care. 

(b)  One of the objectives of these studies is to position Vermont as first in line for federal health care reform.  Health care reform will be a major priority of the next federal administration, and the federal government is likely to be much more supportive of health care reform efforts at the state level.  Vermont is uniquely situated to be a statewide laboratory for health care reform and needs to be positioned to receive early approval for increased flexibility in areas traditionally constraining reform, such as Medicare demonstrations and waivers and electronic health record demonstrations.  The commission on health care reform’s evaluation should explicitly identify federal and other barriers to the critical steps in health care reform and determine how best to position Vermont at the forefront of progress in health care reform.

* * * Expanding Affordable Coverage * * *

Sec. 3.  8 V.S.A. § 4080a(h)(2)(B) is amended to read:

(B)  The commissioner’s rules shall permit a carrier, including a hospital or medical service corporation and a health maintenance organization, to establish rewards, premium discounts, split benefit designs, rebates, or otherwise waive or modify applicable co-payments, deductibles, or other cost‑sharing amounts in return for adherence by a member or subscriber to programs of health promotion and disease prevention.  The commissioner shall consult with the commissioner of health, the director of the Blueprint for Health, and the director of the office of Vermont health access in the development of health promotion and disease prevention rules that are consistent with the Blueprint for Health.  Such rules shall:

* * *

(iii)  provide that the reward under the program is available to all similarly situated individuals and shall comply with the nondiscrimination provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996; and

* * *

Sec. 4.  EXPEDITED RULEMAKING

(a)  No later than January 1, 2009 and notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 25 of Title 3, the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration shall adopt rules to implement the healthy lifestyle insurance discount and split benefit design established in subsection 4080a(h) of Title 8. 

(b)  “Split benefit design” shall mean a health insurance plan with two or more benefit levels in which the premium for all levels is the same but the benefits differ in the amount of the co-payments, coinsurance, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, or a combination of these options.  The rules for the split benefit design shall include provisions that promote good health; identify, manage, and prevent disease; and encourage healthier lifestyles without penalizing individuals due to disability, poor health, or socioeconomic status.  Premium rates shall target a 10 percent reduction in rates below the premium of a comparable product in the relevant market.  The difference between the actuarial value of the benefits in the benefit levels shall not exceed 20 percent, and insurers shall not be permitted to impose additional rate deviations. 

(c)  The department shall adopt the rules pursuant to the following expedited rulemaking process:

(1)  After publication in three daily newspapers with the highest average circulation in the state of a notice of the rules to be adopted pursuant to this process and at least a 14-day public comment period following publication, the department shall file final proposed rules with the legislative committee on administrative rules.

(2)  The legislative committee on administrative rules shall review and may approve or may object to the final proposed rules under section 842 of Title 3, except that its action shall be completed by the committee no later than 14 days after the final proposed rules are filed with the committee.

(3)  The department may adopt a properly filed final proposed rule:

(A)  after the passage of 14 days from the date of filing final proposed rules with the legislative committee on administrative rules;

(B)  after receiving notice of approval from the committee; or

(C)  if the department has received a notice of objection from the legislative committee on administrative rules, after having responded to the objection from the committee pursuant to section 842 of Title 3.

(4)  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 department with the secretary of state pursuant to this section shall be deemed to be in full compliance with section 843 of Title 3 and shall be accepted by the secretary of state if filed with a certification by the commissioner of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration that the rule is required to meet the purposes of this section.

Sec. 5.  EXPANDING ACCESS TO CATAMOUNT HEALTH

(a)  No later than February 1, 2009, the secretary of human services shall apply to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a waiver amendment to allow Vermont to shorten the waiting period for coverage under Catamount Health and the Vermont health access plan to six months from the current 12 months.  Within 60 days following approval of the waiver, the secretary of administration shall submit to the commission on health care reform created pursuant to section 901 of Title 2 a recommendation on whether to proceed with reducing the waiting period.  Upon receipt of the secretary’s recommendation, the commission on health care reform shall consider:

(1)  the availability of resources;

(2)  issues surrounding implementation; and

(3)  potential benefits to the health care system.

(b)  The commission on health care reform shall make a recommendation to the senate committees on health and welfare and on appropriations and the house committees on health care and on appropriations on whether to proceed with or delay implementation of the reduction in the waiting period.  The committees shall present their recommendations to the general assembly, which shall make a determination whether to proceed with implementation of the reduced waiting period.


Sec. 6.  8 V.S.A. § 4080f(a)(9) is amended to read: 

(9)  “Uninsured” means an individual who does not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, or Dr. Dynasaur, and:  who had no private insurance or employer-sponsored coverage that includes both hospital and physician services within 12 months prior to the month of application,; who has had a nongroup health insurance plan with an annual deductible of no less than $10,000.00 for an individual or an annual deductible of no less than $20,000.00 for two‑person or family coverage for at least six months; or who lost private insurance or employer-sponsored coverage during the prior 12 months for the following reasons:

(A)  the individual’s private insurance or employer-sponsored coverage ended because of:

(i)  loss of employment, including a reduction in hours that results in ineligibility for employer-sponsored coverage, unless the employer has terminated its employees or reduced their hours for the primary purpose of discontinuing employer-sponsored coverage and establishing their eligibility for Catamount Health;

(ii)  death of the principal insurance policyholder;

(iii)  divorce or dissolution of a civil union;

(iv)  no longer qualifying receiving coverage as a dependent under the plan of a parent or caretaker relative; or

(v)  no longer receiving COBRA, VIPER, or other state continuation coverage; or

(B)  college- or university-sponsored health insurance became unavailable to the individual because the individual graduated, took a leave of absence, decreased enrollment below a threshold set for continued coverage, or otherwise terminated studies.

Sec. 7.  33  V.S.A. § 1983 is amended to read: 

§ 1983.  Eligibility

(a)(1)  Except as provided in subdivisions (3), and (4), and (5) of this subsection, an individual shall be eligible for Catamount Health assistance if the individual is an uninsured Vermont resident without access to an approved employer-sponsored insurance plan under section 1974 of this title.

* * *

(5)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when an individual is enrolled in Catamount Health solely under the high deductible standard outlined in 8 V.S.A. § 4080f(a)(9), the individual shall not be eligible for premium assistance for the 12-month period following the date of enrollment in Catamount Health.

Sec. 8.  33 V.S.A. § 1973(e) is amended to read: 

(e)  For purposes of this section, “uninsured” means:

(1)  an individual with household income, after allowable deductions, at or below 75 percent of the federal poverty guideline for households of the same size;

(2)  an individual who had no private insurance or employer-sponsored coverage that includes both hospital and physician services within 12 months prior to the month of application; or

(3)  an individual who lost private insurance or employer-sponsored coverage during the prior 12 months for the following reasons:

(A)  the individual’s coverage ended because of:

(i)  loss of employment, including a reduction in hours that results in ineligibility for employer-sponsored coverage, unless the employer has terminated its employees or reduced their coverage for the primary purpose of discontinuing employer-sponsored coverage and establishing their eligibility for Catamount Health;

(ii)  death of the principal insurance policyholder;

(iii)  divorce or dissolution of a civil union;

(iv)  no longer qualifying receiving coverage as a dependent under the plan of a parent or caretaker relative; or

(v)  no longer receiving COBRA, VIPER, or other state continuation coverage; or

(B)  college- or university-sponsored health insurance became unavailable to the individual because the individual graduated, took a leave of absence, decreased enrollment below a threshold set for continued coverage, or otherwise terminated studies.

(4)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when an individual is enrolled in Catamount Health solely under the high deductible standard outlined in 8 V.S.A. § 4080f(a)(9), the individual shall not be eligible for the Vermont health access plan for the 12-month period following the date of enrollment in Catamount Health.


Sec. 9.  33 V.S.A. § 1974 is amended to read: 

§ 1974.  EMPLOYER-SPONSORED INSURANCE; PREMIUM ASSISTANCE

* * *

(b) VHAP-eligible premium assistance.

* * *

(6)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when an individual is enrolled in Catamount Health solely under the high deductible standard outlined in 8 V.S.A. § 4080f(a)(9), the individual shall not be eligible for premium assistance for the 12-month period following the date of enrollment in Catamount Health.

(c)  Uninsured individuals; premium assistance.

(1)  For the purposes of this subsection:

* * *

(B)  “Uninsured” means an individual who does not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, or Dr. Dynasaur, and had no private insurance or employer-sponsored coverage that includes both hospital and physician services within 12 months prior to the month of application, or lost private insurance or employer-sponsored coverage during the prior 12 months for the following reasons:

(i)  the individual’s private insurance or employer-sponsored coverage ended because of:

(I)  loss of employment, including a reduction in hours that results in ineligibility for employer-sponsored coverage, unless the employer has terminated its employees or reduced their hours for the primary purpose of discontinuing employer-sponsored coverage and establishing their eligibility for Catamount Health;

(II)  death of the principal insurance policyholder;

(III)  divorce or dissolution of a civil union;

(IV)  no longer qualifying receiving coverage as a dependent under the plan of a parent or caretaker relative; or

(V)  no longer receiving COBRA, VIPER, or other state continuation coverage; or

(ii)  college- or university-sponsored health insurance became unavailable to the individual because the individual graduated, took a leave of absence, decreased enrollment below a threshold set for continued coverage, or otherwise terminated studies.

* * *

(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 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.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, when an individual is enrolled in Catamount Health solely under the high deductible standard outlined in section 4080f(a)(9) of Title 8, the individual shall not be eligible for premium assistance for the 12-month period following the date of enrollment in Catamount Health.

* * *

Sec. 10.  33 V.S.A. § 1982(2) is amended to read: 

(2)  “Uninsured” means an individual who does not qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, or Dr. Dynasaur, and had no private insurance or employer‑sponsored coverage that includes both hospital and physician services within 12 months prior to the month of application or lost private insurance or employer‑sponsored coverage during the prior 12 months for the following reasons:

(A)  the individual’s private insurance or employer‑sponsored coverage ended because of:

(i)  loss of employment, including a reduction in hours that results in ineligibility for employer-sponsored coverage, unless the employer has terminated its employees or reduced their hours for the primary purpose of discontinuing employer‑sponsored coverage and establishing their eligibility for Catamount Health;

(ii)  death of the principal insurance policyholder;

(iii)  divorce or dissolution of a civil union;

(iv)  no longer qualifying receiving coverage as a dependent under the plan of a parent or caretaker relative; or

(v)  no longer receiving COBRA, VIPER, or other state continuation coverage; or

(B)  college- or university-sponsored health insurance became unavailable to the individual because the individual graduated, took a leave of absence, decreased enrollment below a threshold set for continued coverage, or otherwise terminated studies.

* * * Preexisting Conditions under Catamount Health * * *

Sec. 11.  8 V.S.A. § 4080f(e) is amended to read:

(e)(1)  For a 12‑month period from the effective date of coverage earliest date of application, a carrier offering Catamount Health may limit coverage of preexisting conditions which existed during the 12‑month period before the effective date of coverage earliest date of application, except that such exclusion or limitation shall not apply to chronic care if the individual is participating in a chronic care management program, nor apply to pregnancy.  A carrier shall waive any preexisting condition provisions for all individuals and their dependents who produce evidence of continuous creditable coverage during the previous nine months.  If an individual has a preexisting condition excluded under a subsequent policy, such exclusion shall not continue longer than the period required under the original contract or 12 months, whichever is less.  The carrier shall credit prior coverage that occurred without a break in coverage of 63 days or more.  A break in coverage shall be tolled after the earliest date of application, subject to reasonable time limits, as defined by the commissioner, for the individual to complete the application process.  For an eligible individual, as such term is defined in Section 2741 of Title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, a carrier offering Catamount Health shall not limit coverage of preexisting conditions.

(2)  Notwithstanding subdivision (1) of this subsection, a carrier offering Catamount Health shall not limit coverage of preexisting conditions for subscribers who apply before November 1, 2008.  This subdivision (2) shall not apply to claims incurred prior to the effective date of this section.

* * * 75 Percent Rule * * *

Sec. 12.  8 V.S.A. § 4080a(l) is amended to read:

(l)(1)  A registered small group carrier which is not a nonprofit health maintenance organization shall may require that at least 75 percent or less of the employees or members of a small group with more than 10 employees participate in the carrier’s plan, provided that if a nonprofit health maintenance organization provides a small group plan to more than 25 percent of the employees or members of the small group, a registered small group carrier may offer or continue to provide its small group plan to the remaining employees or members.  A registered small group carrier may require that 50 percent or less of the employees or members of a small group with 10 or fewer employees or members participate in the carrier’s plan.  A small group carrier’s rules established pursuant to this subsection shall be applied to all small groups participating in the carrier’s plans in a consistent and nondiscriminatory manner.

(2)  For purposes of this requirement the requirements set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection (l), the a registered small group carrier shall not include in its calculation an employee or member who is already covered by another group health benefit plan as a spouse or dependent or who is enrolled in Catamount Health, Medicaid, the Vermont health access plan, or Medicare.  Employees or members of a small group who are enrolled in the employer’s plan and receiving premium assistance under chapter 19 of Title 33 shall be considered to be participating in the plan for purposes of this section.  If the small group is an association, trust, or other substantially similar group, this the participation requirement requirements shall be calculated on an employer-by-employer basis.

(3)  A small group carrier may not require recertification of compliance with the participation requirements set forth in this section more often than annually at the time of renewal.  If, during the recertification process, a small group is found not to be in compliance with the participation requirements, the small group shall have 120 days to become compliant prior to termination of the plan.

* * * Preventing Chronic Conditions Through Healthy Lifestyles * * *

Sec. 13.  COMMUNITY PLANS

The commissioner of health, through the 12 district health offices, shall work with communities in each region to develop comprehensive plans that identify and prioritize community needs relating to wellness and healthy living.  The 12 district health offices shall involve schools, worksites, and other stakeholders interested in improving community health and shall consult existing sources of community‑level population health data.  In drafting the plans, the commissioner shall work with community stakeholders to develop an inventory of policy and environmental supports related to wellness and healthy living.  Such plans shall be made available to the public. 


Sec. 14.  18 V.S.A. § 104b is amended to read:

§ 104b.  COMMUNITY HEALTH AND WELLNESS GRANTS

(a)  The commissioner shall establish a program for awarding competitive, substantial, multi-year grants to comprehensive community health and wellness projects.  Successful projects must:

* * *

(4)  use strategies that have been demonstrated to be effective in reaching the desired outcome; and

(5)  provide data for evaluating and monitoring progress;

(6)  include a plan for ensuring that all food vending machines located in public buildings within the control of the grant recipient contain foods and portion sizes consistent with the Vermont nutrition and fitness policy guidelines or other relevant science-based resources; and

(7)  address socioeconomic or other barriers that stand in the way of fit and healthy lifestyles in their communities.

(b)  The commissioner, through the 12 district health offices, shall assist communities by:

(1)  providing technical assistance to support communities in following a consistent and coordinated approach to planning and implementation, including practices such as needs assessment, defined priorities, action plans, and evaluation;

(2)  providing access to best and promising practices and approved public policies;

(3)  providing assistance to help communities develop public awareness materials and communication tools with well-researched and well-coordinated messaging;

(3)(4)  helping projects communities obtain and maximize funding from all applicable sources; and

(4)(5)  providing other assistance as appropriate.

* * *

(e)  By January 15 1 of each year, the commissioner shall report on the status of the program to the general assembly, the senate committee on health and welfare, and the house committees on human services and on health care by including a section on prevention grants in the annual report of the Blueprint for Health.

* * *

Sec. 15.  INVENTORY OF COORDINATED SCHOOL HEALTH PROGRAMS

The commissioner of health, in collaboration with the commissioner of education and the secretaries of agriculture, food and markets and of transportation, shall compile an inventory of all programs both inside and outside the agencies and departments that award grants or similar funding and that provide technical assistance to supervisory unions and school districts to address issues such as nutrition and physical activity (both indoor and outdoor) for students and staff, obesity, tobacco use, and substance abuse.  The inventory shall include for each program a description of the program purposes, priorities, and any restrictions on the use of funds or technical assistance.  The inventory shall be accompanied by recommendations on how state agencies and other state funding sources may improve coordination of grant awards and technical assistance for school health initiatives and how to work with school districts with a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to planning and implementation, including practices such as needs assessment, defined priorities, action plans, and evaluations and the involvement of school health teams and school health coordinators in community planning efforts.  The recommendations shall also propose a coordinated process for awarding grants to support school health, such as coordination or integration with the community grants process in section 104b of Title 18.  The inventory and recommendations must be submitted to the senate committees on health and welfare and on education, the house committees on health care, on human services, and on education, and made available on the Internet for review by town offices and school districts, no later than January 15, 2009.

Sec. 16.  NUTRITION GUIDELINES FOR COMPETITIVE FOOD AND BEVERAGE SALES IN SCHOOLS

(a)  The commissioner of education shall collaborate with the commissioner of health and the secretary of agriculture, food and markets to update the current Vermont nutrition policy guidelines applicable to competitive foods and beverages sold outside the federally reimbursable school nutrition programs.  The revised guidelines shall rely on science-based nutrition standards recommended by the alliance for a healthier generation, the institute of medicine, and other relevant science-based resources and shall be available to school districts before the 2008–2009 school year.

(b)  By January 15, 2009, the commissioners of education and of health shall report to the house committees on agriculture, on education, on health care, and on human services, and the senate committees on health and welfare and on education regarding the number of school districts that have and have not adopted a nutrition policy that is substantially the same as the Vermont nutrition policy guidelines applicable to competitive foods and beverages as revised in accordance with subsection (a) of this section.  The report shall include specific information about how policies adopted by the school boards may differ from the Vermont nutrition policy guidelines and include recommendations on how to ensure that all Vermont school districts will meet the state school nutrition guidelines by July 1, 2011.

Sec. 17.  HEALTHY COMMUNITY DESIGN AND ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOODS

(a)  The commissioner of health, in consultation with the secretaries of agriculture, foods and markets and of transportation, the commissioners of the departments of education, of housing and community affairs, and of forests, parks and recreation, and the regional planning association, shall make recommendations on how to strengthen strategies for environmental and policy change to increase healthy choices in Vermont communities and how to enhance coordination among existing programs and funding.  In addition, the commissioner, through the 12 district health offices, shall work with communities to support efforts in planning, implementation, and obtaining funding from applicable sources.  Recommended environmental and policy change strategies shall include ways to:

(1)  Promote and support opportunities for physical activity at the community level through increasing access to walking and bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, safe routes to schools, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, and parks and other recreational areas;

(2)  Increase access to healthy foods in Vermont communities, including local foods, through strategies such as food pricing and economic approaches, food and beverage marketing and promotion, improving access to affordable healthy foods in low income communities, and other promising food‑related policy and environmental strategies; and

(3)  Promote the goals of physical activity, nutrition, and healthy living in planning processes that involve zoning and land use, growth centers, and downtown revitalization.

(b)  The commissioner shall make recommendations in a consolidated report on healthy living initiatives to the senate committee on health and welfare and the house committees on health care and on human services on priorities and recommendations no later than January 15, 2009.


Sec. 18.  HEALTHY WORKSITES

(a)(1)  The commissioner of health shall convene a work group to identify priorities and develop recommendations to enhance collaborative learning and interactive sharing of best practices in worksite wellness and employee health management, through approaches such as statewide or regional worksite wellness conferences, web‑enhanced resources and seminars, and the worksite recognition awards of the governor’s council on physical fitness and sports.

(2)  The work group should examine best practices in Vermont and other states that include:

(A)  Use of premium discounts, reduced cost sharing, or other financial incentives to encourage employee participation in wellness and health promotion activities;

(B)  Strategies to spread the adoption of workplace policies and practices that support breastfeeding for mothers;

(C)  Strategies to reach out to small employers and their employees who lack access to worksite wellness programs, such as the use of the VT 2‑1‑1 information and referral service as an information resource for healthy diet and physical activity, and the use of hospital‑based programs offering classes and one-to-one counseling similar to hospital-based tobacco use prevention programs; and

(D)  Use of financial incentives (such as small grants or tax credits) for small employers to establish worksite wellness programs, and the feasibility of group‑purchasing arrangements to help small employers gain access to worksite wellness products at a lower cost.

(b)  The commissioner shall make recommendations in a consolidated report on healthy living initiatives to the senate committee on health and welfare and the house committees on health care and on human services on priorities and recommendations no later than January 15, 2009.

Sec. 19.  PROMOTING HEALTHY WEIGHT THROUGH PRIMARY CARE

(a)  The commissioner of health shall coordinate with the Blueprint for Health director on practice‑based pilot projects to promote effectiveness in implementing evidence-based recommendations for the promotion of healthy weight and for the assessment, prevention, and treatment of obesity in primary care settings, in consultation with the Vermont child health improvement program and the area health education centers program.  The pilot projects shall focus on best practices in implementation by working with members of the medical practice to design, test, and evaluate strategies for changing office systems to better support efforts to promote healthy weight and prevent obesity in children and adults. 

(b)(1)  The commissioner shall convene a work group comprising the three major insurance carriers in Vermont, the office of Vermont health access, self‑insured employers, school health personnel and students, and health care providers to review recommended best practices in primary care settings for the promotion of healthy weight and for the assessment, prevention, and treatment of child and adolescent eating disorders, overweight, and obesity and to recommend changes in coverage and payment policies as needed to support best practices that have a high health impact and cost-effectiveness.  As part of its review, the work group should:

(A)  Review models of successful obesity prevention and care strategies developed by insurance carriers and primary care practices in Vermont and other states;

(B)  Identify the respective roles of health practitioners shown to be most effective and cost-effective in the promotion of healthy weight and the assessment, prevention, and treatment of obesity, including physicians, dieticians, nonmedical counselors, self‑management groups, weight management programs, physical activity counselors, and others;

(C)  Review models for standard third party payment of breastfeeding education and support services;

(D)  Develop a plan for promoting measurement and tracking of the body mass index (BMI) percentile for children and adolescents, such as through the collection of data relating to BMI, lack of physical exercise, and inappropriate diet and eating habits using the ICD‑9‑DM V‑codes in the ninth edition of International Classification of Disease Codes;

(E)  Include in the tracking plan guidelines for how such information will be coordinated and shared in order to maintain reasonable expectations of privacy; and 

(F)  Identify ways that payment policies might encourage stronger relationships among primary care practices, public health supports (such as WIC clinics for children under the age of six years), and school health personnel.

(2)  The commissioner shall make recommendations in a consolidated report on healthy living initiatives to the senate committee on health and welfare and the house committees on health care and on human services on priorities and recommendations no later than January 15, 2009.


Sec. 20.  18 V.S.A. § 11 is amended to read: 

§ 11.  CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH: COALITION FOR HEALTHY ACTIVITY, MOTIVATION, AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS (CHAMPPS)/FIT AND HEALTHY Advisory Council

The department of health shall:

* * *

(6)  Convene a CHAMPPS/fit and healthy advisory council chaired by the commissioner of health or designee and composed of state agencies and private sector partners which shall advise the commissioner on developing, implementing, and coordinating initiatives to increase physical activity and improve nutrition and reduce overweight and obesity. 

(A)  The functions and duties of the council shall include:

(i)  Recommending ways that the department of health and other state agencies can reach out to communities, schools, worksites, and municipal and regional planners to assist them in creating environments and policies conducive to healthy living for all Vermonters; and

(ii)  Assessing available resources and funding streams, recommending how best to coordinate those initiatives and resources across state agencies and private sector organizations for the greatest impact, and recommending new initiatives and priorities utilizing data and best-practice guidelines. 

(B)  The department of health shall review the fit and healthy Vermonters prevention plan and the status of its major initiatives with the advisory council at least every three years.  The advisory council shall advise and make recommendations to the department of health as the department develops an annual work plan setting forth prioritized strategies to implement a three-year prevention plan.

Sec. 21.  FOODS CONTAINING ARTIFICIAL TRANS FAT AND MENU LABELING

The Vermont department of health, in collaboration with the Vermont hospitality council, the American Heart Association, and representatives of the food service industry in Vermont, shall develop proposed labeling that will inform consumers of healthy nutrition choices in food service facilities, including the presence of trans fats.  The department of health shall also recommend methods for making Vermont free of artificial trans fats in prepared foods by 2011.  The department of health shall make recommendations in a consolidated report on healthy living initiatives to the senate committee on health and welfare and the house committees on health care and on human services no later than January 15, 2009.

Sec. 22.  16 V.S.A. § 133(c) is added to read: 

(c)  Vermont school districts may include a module within the secondary school health class curricula relating to cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus.  The department of education shall work with relevant medical authorities to update the current model module to reflect up-to-date information and practices for health education in this area.

Sec. 23.  Vermont Academic Detailing Program

(a)  The University of Vermont (UVM) College of Medicine office of primary care and the Vermont area health education centers (AHEC) shall operate the Vermont academic detailing program, a university-based educational outreach for health care professionals.  The goal of the Vermont academic detailing program is to promote high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered, cost-effective medication treatment decisions.  This program shall present an objective overview of what evidence from studies shows about various drugs used to treat a medical condition. 

(b)  The UVM office of primary care and AHEC may collaborate with other states that are working on similar programs. 

(c)  The UVM office of primary care may request information and collaboration from prescribers, pharmacists, private insurers, hospitals, pharmacy benefit managers, drug utilization review boards, state agencies, and other programs in order to best utilize resources, prevent redundancies of effort, and facilitate appropriate linkages to complementary programs, such as the Vermont Blueprint for Health. 

(d)  The Vermont Department of Health and the office of Vermont health access shall collaborate with the UVM office of primary care and AHEC Vermont academic detailing program to notify prescribers about commonly used brand‑name drugs for which the patent has expired within the past 12 months or will expire in the coming 12 months and, to the extent permitted by funding, the program may include the distribution of vouchers for samples of generic medicines.

(e)  The sum of $100,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the UVM College of Medicine in fiscal year 2009 to support the Vermont academic detailing program, provided that such appropriation shall expire upon collection of the first dollar of the manufacturer fee established in section 2004 of Title 33 and all funds remaining from this appropriation shall be redeposited in the general fund.

* * * Supporting Health Information Technology * * *

Sec. 24.  22 V.S.A. § 903 is amended to read:

§ 903.  health information technology

* * *

(c)(1)  The commissioner shall contract enter into a grant agreement 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.

* * *

(g)  On or before January 1, 2007, VITL shall submit to the commission on health care reform, the secretary of administration, the commissioner of information and innovation, 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 of information and innovation 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.  VITL shall update the plan annually to reflect emerging technologies, the state’s changing needs, and such other areas as VITL deems appropriate and shall submit the updated plan to the commissioner.  Upon approval by the commissioner, VITL shall distribute the updated plan to the commission on health care reform; the secretary of administration; 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; the house committee on health care; affected parties; and interested stakeholders.

* * *

(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.

* * *

Sec. 25.  E‑PRESCRIBING STUDY

(a)  The director of the commission on health care reform and the VITL project review committee shall conduct a planning and feasibility study to determine the impact of implementing a statewide e‑prescriber program. 

(b)  The study shall address:

(1)  a consideration of the best methods of access to e‑prescribing, including the use of freestanding handheld devices, web-based options, and e‑prescribing modules integrated with electronic medical records; 

(2)  identification of an appropriate business model, including incentives to encourage provider participation;

(3)  an inventory of current e-prescribing activities and existing capacity for e-prescribing in this state;

(4)  a cost-benefit analysis of creating a statewide e-prescriber program;

(5)  the ability of an e-prescriber program to ensure the privacy and security of prescription data, including controls over data-mining;

(6)  state and national studies and reports on data-mining in e-prescribing and the appropriate use of e-prescription information;

(7)  the use of practice management systems and electronic claims data sources through the Vermont health information exchange;

(8)  existing state and national initiatives such as the National e-Prescribing Patient Safety Initiative and Massachusetts’s Partners Health Care; and

(9)  an assessment of the readiness of pharmacies to participate in e‑prescribing and the impact on independent pharmacies.

(c)  No later than January 15, 2009, the director of the commission on health care reform shall report on the findings of the study to the commission on health care reform, the house committee on health care, and the senate committee on health and welfare.

* * * Investing in Vermont’s Health Care System and Workforce * * *

Sec. 26.  HEALTH IMPROVEMENT APPROPRIATIONS

(a)  The amount of $100,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the Vermont department of health for the child psychiatry division in the Vermont Center for Children, Youth, and Families (VCCYF) to support child tele-psychiatry pilots in community health centers that will: 

(1)  Pair Vermont health centers’ medical, nursing, social work, and psychology staff with the UVM VCCYF child psychiatric consultative team;

(2)  Provide monthly training and education resources for health center staff by UVM faculty;

(3)  Help strengthen and expand the newly established UVM child psychiatry fellowship program; and

(4)  Provide critical child psychiatry assessment and consulting services across the state that will establish relationships to help recruit and retain new child psychiatrists for Vermont.

(b)  In addition to other monies appropriated elsewhere for this program, the sum of $40,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the department of health in fiscal year 2009 to be deposited into the Vermont educational loan repayment fund and used for the purposes of loan repayment for nurse educators pursuant to section 10a of Title 18.

* * * Fair Standards for Provider Contracts with Insurers * * *

Sec. 27.  18 V.S.A. § 9418 is amended to read:

§ 9418.  payment for health care services

* * *

(i)  If In addition to any other remedy provided by law, if the commissioner finds that a health plan has engaged in a pattern and practice of violating this section, the commissioner may impose an administrative penalty against the health plan of no more than $500.00 for each violation, and may order the health plan to cease and desist from further violations and order the health plan to remediate the violation.  In determining the amount of penalty to be assessed, the commissioner shall consider the following factors:

(1)  The appropriateness of the penalty with respect to the financial resources and good faith of the health plan.

(2)  The gravity of the violation or practice.

(3)  The history of previous violations or practices of a similar nature.

(4)  The economic benefit derived by the health plan and the economic impact on the health care facility or health care provider resulting from the violation.

(5)  Any other relevant factors.

(j)  A health plan in this state shall not impose on any provider any retrospective denial of a previously paid claim or any part of that previously paid claim, unless: 

(1)  The health plan has provided at least 30 days’ notice of any retrospective denial or overpayment recovery or both in writing to the provider.  The notice must include:

(A)  the patient’s name;

(B)  the service date;

(C)  the payment amount;

(D)  the proposed adjustment; and

(E)  a reasonably specific explanation of the proposed adjustment.

(2)  The time that has elapsed since the date of payment of the previously paid claim does not exceed 12 months. 

(k)  The retrospective denial of a previously paid claim shall be permitted beyond 12 months from the date of payment for any of the following reasons: 

(1)  The plan has a reasonable belief that fraud or other intentional misconduct has occurred;

(2)  The claim payment was incorrect because the provider of the insured was already paid for the health services identified in the claim;

(3)  The health care services identified in the claim were not delivered by the provider; 

(4)  The claim payment is the subject of adjustment with another health insurer; or

(5)  The claim payment is the subject of legal action.

(l) Notwithstanding this section, a health plan may not retroactively deny or recoup a pharmacy point-of-sale payment except in the circumstances of fraud, intentional misconduct, a member not receiving the prescription, or error in the processing of the claim. 

(m)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a health plan from applying payment policies that are consistent with applicable federal or state laws and regulations, or to relieve a health plan from complying with payment standards established by federal or state laws and regulations, including rules adopted by the commissioner pursuant to section 9408 of this title relating to claims administration and adjudication standards, and rules adopted by the commissioner pursuant to section 9414 of this title and section 4088f of Title 8 relating to pay for performance or other payment methodology standards.

(n)  The provisions of this section shall not apply to stand-alone dental plans or to a workers’ compensation policy of a casualty insurer licensed to do business in Vermont.

Sec. 28.  18 V.S.A. § 9418a is added to read:

§ 9418a.  PROCESSING CLAIMS, DOWNCODING, AND ADHERENCE TO CODING RULES

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Claim” means any claim, bill, or request for payment for all or any portion of provided health care services that is submitted by:

(A)  A health care provider or a health care facility pursuant to a contract or agreement with the health plan; or

(B)  A health care provider, a health care facility, or a patient covered by the health plan.

(2)  “Contest” means the circumstance in which the health plan was not provided with:

(A)  Sufficient information needed to determine payer liability; or

(B)  Reasonable access to information needed to determine the liability or basis for payment of the claim.

(3)  “Health plan” means a health insurer, disability insurer, health maintenance organization, or medical or hospital service corporation, but does not include a stand-alone dental plan or a workers’ compensation policy of a casualty insurer licensed to do business in Vermont.  “Health plan” also includes a health plan that requires its medical groups, independent practice associations, or other independent contractors to pay claims for the provision of health care services.

(b)  Health plans shall accept and initiate the processing of all health care claims submitted by a health care provider pursuant to and consistent with the current version of the American Medical Association’s current procedural terminology (CPT) codes, reporting guidelines and conventions; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services health care common procedure coding system (HCPCS); the National Correct Coding Initiative; the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs coding; or other appropriate standards, guidelines, or conventions approved by the commissioner. 

(c)  Nothing in this section shall preclude a health plan from determining that any such claim is not eligible for payment in full or in part, based on a determination that: 

(1)  The claim is contested as defined in subdivision 9418(a)(3) of this title;

(2)  The service provided is not a covered benefit under the contract, including a determination that such service is not medically necessary or is experimental or investigational;

(3)  The insured did not obtain a referral, prior authorization, or precertification, or satisfy any other condition precedent to receiving covered benefits from the health care provider;

(4)  The covered benefit exceeds the benefit limits of the contract;

(5)  The person is not eligible for coverage or is otherwise not compliant with the terms and conditions of his or her coverage agreement;

(6)  The health plan has a reasonable belief that fraud or other intentional misconduct has occurred; or

(7)  The health plan determines through coordination of benefits that another health insurer is liable for the claim.  

(d)  Nothing in this section shall be deemed to require a health plan to pay or reimburse a claim, in full or in part, or to dictate the amount of a claim to be paid by a health plan to a health care provider. 

(e)  No health plan shall automatically reassign or reduce the code level of evaluation and management codes billed for covered services (downcoding), except that a health plan may reassign a new patient visit code to an established patient visit code based solely on CPT codes, CPT guidelines, and CPT conventions. 

(f)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, and other than the edits contained in the conventions in subsection (b) of this section, health plans shall continue to have the right to deny, pend, or adjust claims for covered services on other bases and shall have the right to reassign or reduce the code level for selected claims for covered services based on a review of the clinical information provided at the time the service was rendered for the particular claim or a review of the information derived from a health plan’s fraud or abuse billing detection programs that create a reasonable belief of fraudulent or abusive billing practices, provided that the decision to reassign or reduce is based primarily on a review of clinical information. 

(g)  Every health plan shall publish on its provider website and in its provider newsletter the name of the commercially available claims editing software product that the health plan utilizes and any significant edits, as determined by the health plan, added to the claims software product after the effective date of this section, which are made at the request of the health plan.  The health plan shall also provide such information upon written request of a health care provider who is a participating member in the health plan’s provider network. 

(h)  In addition to any other remedy provided by law, if the commissioner finds that a health plan has engaged in a pattern and practice of violating this section, the commissioner may impose an administrative penalty against the health plan of no more than $500.00 for each violation, and may order the health plan to cease and desist from further violations and order the health plan to remediate the violation.  In determining the amount of penalty to be assessed, the commissioner shall consider the following factors:

(1)  The appropriateness of the penalty with respect to the financial resources and good faith of the health plan.

(2)  The gravity of the violation or practice.

(3)  The history of previous violations or practices of a similar nature.

(4)  The economic benefit derived by the health plan and the economic impact on the health care facility or health care provider resulting from the violation.

(5)  Any other relevant factors.

(i)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a health plan from applying payment policies that are consistent with applicable federal or state laws and regulations, or to relieve a health plan from complying with payment standards established by federal or state laws and regulations, including rules adopted by the commissioner pursuant to section 9408 of this title relating to claims administration and adjudication standards, and rules adopted by the commissioner pursuant to section 9414 of this title and section 4088f of Title 8 relating to pay for performance or other payment methodology standards.

Sec. 29.  18 V.S.A. § 9418b is added to read:

§ 9418b.  PRIOR AUTHORIZATION

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Claim” means any claim, bill, or request for payment for all or any portion of provided health care services that is submitted by:

(A)  A health care provider or a health care facility pursuant to a contract or agreement with the health plan; or

(B)  A health care provider, a health care facility, or a patient covered by the health plan.

(2)  “Health plan” means a health insurer, disability insurer, health maintenance organization, or medical or hospital service corporation but does not include a stand-alone dental plan or a workers’ compensation policy of a casualty insurer licensed to do business in Vermont.  “Health plan” also includes a health plan that requires its medical groups, independent practice associations, or other independent contractors to pay claims for the provision of health care services.

(b)  Health plans shall pay claims for health care services for which prior authorization was required by and received from the health plan, unless:

(1)  The insured was not a covered individual at the time the service was rendered;

(2)  The insured’s benefit limitations were exhausted;

(3)  The prior authorization was based on materially inaccurate information from the health care provider;

(4)  The health plan has a reasonable belief that fraud or other intentional misconduct has occurred; or 

(5)  The health plan determines through coordination of benefits that another health insurer is liable for the claim.

(c)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a health plan from denying continued or extended coverage as part of concurrent review, denying a claim if the health plan is not primarily obligated to pay the claim, or applying payment policies that are consistent with an applicable law, rule, or regulation. 

(d)  A health plan shall furnish, upon request from a health care provider, a current list of services and supplies requiring prior authorization. 

(e)  A health plan shall post a current list of services and supplies requiring prior authorization to the insurer’s website. 

(f)  In addition to any other remedy provided by law, if the commissioner finds that a health plan has engaged in a pattern and practice of violating this section, the commissioner may impose an administrative penalty against the health plan of no more than $500.00 for each violation, and may order the health plan to cease and desist from further violations and order the health plan to remediate the violation.  In determining the amount of penalty to be assessed, the commissioner shall consider the following factors:

(1)  The appropriateness of the penalty with respect to the financial resources and good faith of the health plan.

(2)  The gravity of the violation or practice.

(3)  The history of previous violations or practices of a similar nature.

(4)  The economic benefit derived by the health plan and the economic impact on the health care facility or health care provider resulting from the violation.

(5)  Any other relevant factors.

(g)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a health plan from applying payment policies that are consistent with applicable federal or state laws and regulations, or to relieve a health plan from complying with payment standards established by federal or state laws and regulations, including rules adopted by the commissioner pursuant to section 9408 of this title, relating to claims administration and adjudication standards, and rules adopted by the commissioner pursuant to section 9414 of this title and section 4088f of Title 8, relating to pay for performance or other payment methodology standards.

Sec. 30.  18 V.S.A. § 9408a is amended to read: 

§ 9408a.  uniform provider credentialing

* * *

(d)  An insurer or a A hospital shall notify a provider concerning the status of the provider’s completed credentialing application not later than:

(1)  Sixty days after the insurer or hospital receives the completed credentialing application form; and

(2)  Every 30 days after the notice is provided under subdivision (1) of this subsection, until the hospital makes a final credentialing determination concerning the provider. 

* * *

(f)  An insurer shall act upon and finish the credentialing process of a completed application submitted by a provider within 60 calendar days of receipt of the application.  An application shall be considered complete once the insurer has received all information and documentation necessary to make its credentialing determination as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section. 

Sec. 31.  FAIR CONTRACTING STANDARDS STUDY

The Vermont medical society, in collaboration with the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration; the Vermont association of hospital and health systems; insurers; practice managers; and other interested parties, shall work to address the following issues and report to the house committee on health care and the senate committee on health and welfare on or before January 15, 2009:

(1)  Fair and transparent contracting standards for providers participating in health insurance plans;

(2)  Categories of coverage;

(3)  Rental networks; and

(4)  Most favored nation clauses. 

Sec. 32.  RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS STUDY

The Vermont medical society, in collaboration with the department of health, the area health education centers program, and the Vermont association of hospitals and health systems, shall work to address the issue of the use of restrictive covenants in employment contracts of health care professionals and the impact of restrictive covenants on recruitment and retention of health care professionals in Vermont and shall report to the senate committee on health and welfare and the house committee on health care on or before January 15, 2009. 

Sec. 33.  WORKERS’ COMPENSATION STUDY

The Vermont medical society, in collaboration with the Vermont association of hospitals and health systems; the department of banking, insurance, securities, and health care administration; the department of labor; workers’ compensation carriers; practice managers; and other interested parties, shall work to address the following issues and shall report to the senate committees on health and welfare and on economic development, housing and general affairs and the house committees on health care and on commerce on or before January 15, 2009:

(1)  Timely payment of workers’ compensation claims;

(2)  Notification and resolution process for contested claims;

(3)  Enforcement of timely payment, including assessment of interest and penalties;

(4)  Charges for examinations, reviews, and investigations in connection with workers’ compensation claims;

(5)  Filing of carriers’ written claims processing practices with the department of labor;

(6)  Development of online claim processing and claim tracking systems accessible to health care providers; and

(7)  Uniform claims processing standards for workers’ compensation insurers.

Sec. 34.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage. 

                                                                        DOUGLAS A. RACINE

                                                                        KEVIN J. MULLIN

                                                                        JEANETTE K. WHITE

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        STEVEN B. MAIER

                                                                        HARRY CHEN

                                                                        LUCY LERICHE

                                                                 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.

Recess

On motion of Senator Shumlin the Senate recessed until 3:00 P.M.

Called to Order

At 3:10 P.M. the Senate was called to order by the President.


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 proposal of amendment to House bill of the following title:

H. 402.  An act relating to recapture of health insurance benefits by Group F members of the Vermont state retirement system.

And has concurred therein with proposal of amendment in the adoption of which the concurrence of the Senate is requested.

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 the reports of the Committees of Conference upon the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on Senate bills of the following titles:

S. 107.  An act relating to mapping class four town highways and trail and mass discontinuances of unmapped town highways.

S. 246.  An act relating to electronic access to criminal and family court records.

S. 250.  An act relating to decreasing the amounts of cocaine and heroin required to be possessed to trigger drug trafficking penalties.

S. 281.  An act relating to end-of-life care and pain management.

S. 284.  An act relating to the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Health Care Administration.

S. 322.  An act relating to the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council.

S. 345.  An act relating to lowering the cost workers’ compensation insurance.

And has adopted the same on its part.


Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment Concurred In

S. 261

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 phthalates in products for young children.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

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

First:  In Sec. 1, subsection (b), following the words “child care article” by inserting the words: intended for use by a child under three years of age if and following the word “that” by inserting the word product

Second:  In Sec. 1, subsection (g), following the words “The attorney general” by striking out the following: “may investigate and prosecute violations of this section pursuant to the provisions of the Consumer Fraud Act” and inserting in lieu thereof the following: has the same authority to make rules, conduct civil investigations, enter into assurances of discontinuance, and bring civil actions, and private parties have the same rights and remedies as provided under subchapter 1 of chapter 63 of Title 9

Third:  In Sec. 1, by adding a new subsection (h) to read as follows:

(h)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to regulate firearms; ammunition or components thereof; pellets from air rifles; shooting ranges or circumstances resulting from shooting, handling, storing, casting, or reloading ammunition; or hunting or fishing equipment or components thereof.

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

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

S. 358.

Pending entry 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 enhanced driver licenses.

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.  23 V.S.A. § 4(78)and (79) are added to read:

(78)  “Enhanced license” shall mean an operator’s license, commercial driver license, junior operator’s license, or nondriver identification card that denotes identity and citizenship, and includes facilitative technology identified by the Department of Homeland Security.

(79)  “Personal radio frequency identification number chip” shall mean the number assigned to the transmitting chip in an enhanced license.

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 102(d) is amended to read:

(d)  The commissioner may authorize background investigations for potential employees that may include criminal, traffic, and financial records checks; provided, however, that the potential employee is notified and has the right to withdraw his or her name from application.  Additionally, employees who are authorized to manufacture or produce operators’ licenses and identification cards, including enhanced licenses, may be subject to appropriate security clearance if required by federal law, including background investigations that may include criminal and traffic, records checks, and providing proof of United States citizenship.  The commissioner may, in connection with a formal disciplinary investigation, authorize an appropriate a criminal or traffic record background investigation of a current employee; provided, however, that the background review is necessary and relevant to the issue under disciplinary investigation.  Information acquired through a background the investigation that may be shall be provided to the commissioner or designated division director, and must be maintained in a secure manner.  If the information acquired is used as a basis for any disciplinary action, it must be given to the employee during any pre‑termination hearing or contractual grievance hearing to allow the employee an opportunity to respond to or dispute the information.  If no disciplinary action is taken against the employee, the information acquired through the background check shall be destroyed.

Sec. 3.  23 V.S.A. § 7 is added to read:

§ 7.  ENHANCED DRIVER LICENSE; MAINTENANCE OF DATABASE INFORMATION; FEE

(a)  The face of an enhanced license shall contain the individual’s name, date of birth, gender, a unique identification number, full facial photograph or imaged likeness, address, signature, issuance and expiration dates, and citizenship.  The back of the enhanced license shall have a machine-readable zone.  A Gen 2 vicinity Radio Frequency Identification chip shall be embedded in the enhanced license in compliance with the security standards of the Department of Homeland Security.  Any additional personal identity information not currently required by the Department of Homeland Security shall need the approval of either the general assembly or the legislative committee on administration rules prior to the implementation of the requirements.

(b)  In addition to any other requirement of law or rule, before an enhanced license may be issued to a person, the person shall present for inspection and copying satisfactory documentary evidence to determine identity and United States citizenship.  An application shall be accompanied by:  a photo identity document, documentation showing the person’s date and place of birth, proof of the person’s Social Security number, and documentation showing the person’s principal residence address.  To be issued, an enhanced license must meet the same requirements as those for the issuance of a United States passport.  Before an application may be processed, the documents and information shall be verified as determined by the commissioner.  Any additional personal identity information not currently required by the Department of Homeland Security shall need the approval of either the general assembly or the legislative committee on administration rules prior to the implementation of the requirements.

(c)  No person shall compile or maintain a database of electronically readable information derived from an operator’s license, junior operator’s license, enhanced license, learner permit, or nondriver identification card.  This prohibition shall not apply to a person who accesses, uses, compiles, or maintains a database of the information for law enforcement or governmental

purposes or for the prevention of fraud or abuse or other criminal conduct.

(d)  The fee for an enhanced license shall be $25.00 in addition to the fees otherwise established by this title.

(e)  The commissioner shall report annually to the house and senate committees on transportation by January 15 for the purpose of reporting the associated costs, the number of enhanced licenses issued, implementation problems, recommended revisions, and other relevant information.

Sec.4.  23 V.S.A. § 8 is added to read:

§ 8.  PERSONAL RADIO FREQUENCY IDENTIFICATION CHIP NUMBER PROTECTION

Personal radio frequency identification chip numbers shall be given protections as codified in 18 U.S.C. §2721 et. seq, (Drivers Privacy Protection Act), as of January 1, 2008, not including any subsequent amendments.


Sec. 5.  23 V.S.A. § 601(a) is amended to read:

(a)  A resident who intends to operate motor vehicles shall procure a proper license.  A resident who has moved into the state from another jurisdiction with a valid license to operate motor vehicles under section 411 of this title shall procure a license within 60 days of moving into the state.  Operators’ licenses shall not be issued to nonresidents.  All operator licenses issued under this chapter shall expire every four years at midnight on the eve of the anniversary of the date of birth of the applicant at the end of the term for which they were issued.  All junior operator licenses shall expire at midnight on the eve of the anniversary of the date of birth of the applicant at the end of the term for which they were issued.  A person born on February 29 shall, for the purposes of this section, be considered as born on March 1. 

Sec. 6.  REPEAL

The following in Title 23 are repealed:

(1)  § 7(e) ( commissioner reporting on costs of enhanced license) is repealed on June 30, 2011;

(2)  § 618 (anatomical gifts);

(3)  § 4111(a)(10) (commercial driver license form regarding anatomical gifts).

Sec. 7.  18 V.S.A. § 5238(3) is amended to read:

(3)  “Document of gift” means an organ donor card, a statement attached to or imprinted on the reverse side of a Vermont motor vehicle operator’s license, a will, or other writing used to make an anatomical gift.

Sec. 8.  18 V.S.A. § 5239 is amended to read:

§ 5239.  MAKING, AMENDING, REVOKING, AND REFUSING TO MAKE ANATOMICAL GIFTS BY AN INDIVIDUAL

(a)  An individual who is at least 18 years of age may:

(1)  Make an anatomical gift for any of the purposes stated in

section 5242 of this title.

(2)  Limit an anatomical gift to one or more of those purposes.

(3)  Refuse to make an anatomical gift.

(b)  An anatomical gift may be made only by a document of gift signed by the donor.  If the donor cannot sign, the document of gift must be signed by another individual and by two witnesses, all of whom have signed at the direction and in the presence of the donor and of each other, and state that it has been so signed.

(c)  If a document of gift is attached to or imprinted on a donor’s motor vehicle operator’s license, the document of gift must comply with subsection (b) of this section. Revocation, suspension, expiration or cancellation of the license does not invalidate the anatomical gift.

(d)  An anatomical gift by will takes effect upon death of the testator, whether or not the will is probated.  If, after death, the will is declared invalid for testamentary purposes, the validity of the anatomical gift is unaffected.

(e)(d)  A donor may amend or revoke an anatomical gift, not made by will, only by one of the following methods:

(1)  A signed statement.

(2)  An oral statement made in the presence of two individuals.

(3)  Any form of communication during a terminal illness or injury addressed to a physician.

(4)  The delivery of a signed statement to a specified donee to whom a document of gift had been delivered.

(f)(e)  The donor of an anatomical gift made by will may amend or revoke the gift in the manner provided for amendment or revocation of wills or as provided in subsection (e)(d) of this section.

(g)(f)  An anatomical gift that is not revoked by the donor before death is irrevocable and does not require the consent or concurrence of any person after the donor’s death.

(h)(g)  An individual may refuse to make an anatomical gift of the individual’s body or part by any one either of the following:

(1)  A writing signed in the same manner as a document of gift.

(2)  A statement attached to or imprinted on the donor’s Vermont motor vehicle operator’s license.

(3)  Any other writing used to identify the individual as refusing to make an anatomical gift.  During a terminal illness or injury, the refusal may be an oral statement or other form of communication. 

Sec. 9.  AUTHORITY FOR LIMITED SERVICE POSITIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES

Three limited service positions are created within the department of motor vehicles.  These shall be used for the administration of the enhanced license program and shall be for a period of three years. 

Sec. 10.  19 V.S.A. § 10c(k) is added to read:

(k)  To the extent that federal regulations permit, signage for all state and town bridge projects spanning more than 20 feet in length shall be erected on both sides of the project for the duration of the project as follows:

(1)  The agency of transportation shall design the signs, and the contractor shall purchase and install the signs as part of the contract bid price.

(2)  The signs shall indicate the cost of the project.

(3)  Signs for state bridge projects shall include the following:  “This is an agency of transportation project paid for with your tax dollars.”

(4)  Signs for town bridge projects shall include the following:  “This is a project sponsored by (name of municipality) and the agency of transportation, and paid for with your tax dollars.”

Sec. 11.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect from passage except for Sec. 3 which shall not take effect until the commissioner of motor vehicles determines that the systems necessary to operate the program are available.

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

Thereupon, pursuant to the request of the Senate, the President announced the appointment of

                                         Senator Mazza

                                         Senator Scott

                                         Senator Shumlin

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

Rules Suspended; Proposals of Amendment; Third Reading Ordered; Rules Suspended; Bill Passed in Concurrence with Proposal of Amendment

H. 776.

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

An act relating to computation of the basic needs budget and the livable wage.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Miller, 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 as follows:

First:  In Sec. 1, in 2 V.S.A. § 505(b), by adding before the final period the following:

.  This calculation may serve as an additional indicator of wage and other economic conditions in the state and shall not be considered official state guidance on wages or other forms of compensation

Second:  In Sec. 2, by striking out subsection (b) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(b)  The basic needs budget technical advisory council shall consist of eight members, who shall serve from July 1, 2008, until January 15, 2009, when the basic needs budget and livable wage report is issued.  Members of the council shall include:

(1)  One member appointed by the speaker of the house who shall be co‑chair and of a different political party from the legislative member appointed under subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(2)  One member appointed by the senate president pro tempore who shall be co-chair and of a different political party from the legislative member appointed under subdivision (1) of this subsection.

(3)  One member jointly appointed by the speaker of the house and the president pro tempore of the senate who may be from either chamber of the legislature.

(4)  Five additional members with expertise and experience with the data and methodology used to calculate the basic needs budgets and who shall include a representative of each of the following selected by the organization:

(A)  The Vermont sustainable jobs fund.

(B)  The Vermont small business development center.

(C)  The agency of human services, division of operations and planning.

(D)  The department of labor, economic and labor market information division.

(E)  The Vermont society for human resources management.

Third:  In Sec. 2, by striking out subsection (d) in its entirety.

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 recommending that the bill ought to pass in concurrence with proposal of amendment as recommended by the Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.

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

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

Rules Suspended; Reports of Committees of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate

H. 203.

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 increasing the amount of an estate to which a surviving spouse is entitled when the deceased spouse dies without a will.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Campbell, 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. 203.  An act relating to increasing the amount of an estate to which a surviving spouse is entitled when the deceased spouse dies without a will.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the Senate recede from its proposals of amendment, and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:


Sec. 1.  REPEAL

Chapters 41, 43 and 45 of Title 14 are repealed.

Sec. 2.  14 V.S.A. chapter 42 is added to Part 2 to read:

Chapter 42.  Descent and Survivors’ Rights

Subchapter 1.  General Provisions

§ 301.  Intestate Estate

(a)  Any part of a decedent’s estate not effectively disposed of by will passes by intestate succession to the decedent’s heirs, except as modified by the decedent’s will.

(b)  A decedent’s will may expressly exclude or limit the right of an individual or a class to inherit property.  If such an individual or member of such a class survives the decedent, the share of the decedent’s intestate estate which would have passed to that individual or member of such a class passes subject to any such limitation or exclusion set forth in the will.

(c)  Nothing in this section shall preclude the surviving spouse of the decedent from making the election and receiving the benefits provided by section 319 of this title.

§ 302.  Dower and Curtesy Abolished

The estates of dower and curtesy are abolished.

§ 303.  Afterborn Heirs

For purposes of this chapter and chapter 1 of this title relating to wills, an individual in gestation at a particular time is treated as living at that time if the individual lives 120 hours or more after birth.

Subchapter 2.  Survivors’ Rights and Allowances

§ 311.  Share of Surviving Spouse

After payment of the debts, funeral charges, and expenses of administration, the intestate share of the decedent’s surviving spouse is as follows.

(1)  The entire intestate estate if no descendant of the decedent survives the decedent or if all of the decedent’s surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse.

(2)  In the event there shall survive the decedent one or more descendants of the decedent, who are not descendants of the surviving spouse and are not excluded by the decedent’s will from inheriting from the decedent, the surviving spouse shall receive one-half of the intestate estate.

§ 312.  Surviving Spouse to Receive Household Goods

Upon motion, the surviving spouse of a decedent may receive out of the decedent’s estate all furnishings and furniture in the decedent’s household when the decedent leaves no descendants who object.  If any objection is made by any of the descendants, the court shall decide what, if any, of such personalty shall pass under this section.  Goods and effects so assigned shall be in addition to the distributive share of the estate to which the surviving spouse is entitled under other provisions of law.  In making a determination pursuant to this section, the court may consider the length of the decedent’s marriage, the sentimental and monetary value of the property, and the source of the decedent’s interest in the property.

§ 313.  Surviving spouse; vessel, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle

Whenever the estate of a decedent who dies intestate consists principally of a vessel, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle, the surviving spouse shall be deemed to be the owner of the vessel, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle, and title to the vessel, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle shall automatically pass to the surviving spouse.  The surviving spouse may register the vessel, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle pursuant to section 3816 of Title 23.

§ 314.  Share of Heirs other than Surviving Spouse

(a)  The balance of the intestate estate not passing to the decedent’s surviving spouse under section 311 of this title passes to the decedent’s descendants by right of representation. 

(b)  If there is no taker under subsection (a) of this section, the intestate estate passes in the following order: 

(1)  to the decedent’s parents equally if both survive or to the surviving parent;

(2)  to the decedent’s siblings or the descendants of any deceased siblings by right of representation;

(3)  one-half of the intestate estate to the decedent’s paternal grandparents equally if they both survive or to the surviving paternal grandparent and one-half of the intestate estate to the decedent’s maternal grandparents equally if they both survive or to the surviving maternal grandparent and if decedent is survived by a grandparent, or grandparents on only one side, to that grandparent or those grandparents;

(4)  in equal shares to the next of kin in equal degree.

(c)  If property passes under this section by right of representation, the property shall be divided into as many equal shares as there are children or siblings of the decedent, as the case may be, who either survive the decedent or who predecease the decedent leaving surviving descendants.

§ 315.  Parent and Child Relationship

For the purpose of intestate succession, an individual is the child of his or her parents, regardless of their marital status, but a parent shall not inherit from a child unless the parent has openly acknowledged the child and not refused to support the child.  The parent and child relationship may be established in parentage proceedings under subchapter 3A of chapter 5 of Title 15.

§ 316.  Support of Surviving Spouse and Family During Settlement

The probate court may make reasonable allowance for the expenses of maintenance of the surviving spouse and minor children or either, constituting the family of a decedent, out of the personal estate or the income of real or personal estate from date of death until settlement of the estate, but for no longer a period than until their shares in the estate are assigned to them or, in case of an insolvent estate, for not more than eight months after administration is granted.  This allowance may take priority, in the discretion of the court, over debts of the estate.

§ 317.  Allowance to Children before Payment of Debts

When a person dies leaving children under 18 years of age, an allowance may be made for the necessary maintenance of such children until they become 18 years of age.  Such allowance shall be made before any distribution of the estate among creditors, heirs, or beneficiaries by will.

§ 318.  Allowance to Children After Payment of Debts

Before any partition or division of an estate among the heirs or beneficiaries by will, an allowance may be made for the necessary expenses of the support of the children of the decedent under 18 years of age until they arrive at that age.  The probate court may order the executor or administrator to retain sufficient estate assets for that purpose, except where some provision is made by will for their support.

§ 319.  Waiver of Will by Surviving Spouse

(a)  A surviving spouse may waive the provisions of the decedent’s will and in lieu thereof elect to take one-half of the balance of the estate, after the payment of claims and expenses.

(b)  The surviving spouse must be living at the time this election is made.  If the surviving spouse is mentally disabled and cannot make the election personally, a guardian or attorney in fact under a valid durable power of attorney may do so.

§ 320.  Effect of Divorce Order

A final divorce order from any state shall have the effect of nullifying a gift by will or inheritance by operation of law to an individual who was the decedent’s spouse at the time the will was executed if the decedent was no longer married to that individual at the time of death, unless his or her will specifically states to the contrary.

§ 321.  Conveyances to Defeat Spouse’s Interest

A voluntary transfer of any property by an individual during marriage, made without adequate consideration and for the primary purpose of defeating a surviving spouse in a claim to a share of the decedent’s property so transferred, shall be void and inoperative to bar the claim.  The decedent shall be deemed at the time of his or her death to be the owner and seised of an interest in such property sufficient for the purpose of assigning and setting out the surviving spouse’s share.

§ 322.  Unlawful Killing Affecting InheritancE

Notwithstanding sections 311 through 314 of this title or provisions otherwise made, in any case where an individual is entitled to inherit or receive property under the last will of a decedent, or otherwise, such individual’s share in the decedent’s estate shall be forfeited and shall pass to the remaining heirs or beneficiaries of the decedent if such person intentionally and unlawfully kills the decedent.  In any proceedings to contest the right of an individual to inherit or receive property under a will, the record of such person’s conviction of intentionally and unlawfully killing the decedent shall be admissible evidence that such person did intentionally kill the decedent.

Subchapter 3.  Descent, Omitted Issue and Lapsed Legacies

§ 331.  Degrees; How Computed:  Kindred of Half-Blood

Kindred of the half-blood shall inherit the same share they would inherit if they were of the whole blood.

§ 332.  Share of After-Born Child

When a child of a testator is born after the making of a will and provision is not therein made for that child, he or she shall have the same share in the estate of the testator as if the testator had died intestate unless it is apparent from the
will that it was the intention of the testator that provision should not be made for the child.

§ 333.  Share of Child or Descendant of Child Omitted from Will

When a testator omits to provide in his or her will for any of his or her children, or for the descendants of a deceased child, and it appears that the omission was made by mistake or accident, the child or descendants, as the case may be, shall have and be assigned the same share of the estate of the testator as if the testator had died intestate.

§ 334.  After-born AND OMITTED Child; From What Part Of Estate Share Taken

When a share of a testator’s estate is assigned to a child born after the making of a will, or to a child or the descendant of a child omitted in the will, the share shall be taken first from the estate not disposed of by the will, if there is any.  If that is not sufficient, so much as is necessary shall be taken from the devisees or legatees in proportion to the value of the estate they respectively receive under the will.  If the obvious intention of the testator, as to some specific devise, legacy, or other provision in the will, would thereby be defeated, the specific devise, legacy, or provision may be exempted from such apportionment and a different apportionment adopted in the discretion of the court.

§ 335.  Beneficiary Dying before Testator: Descendants to Take

When a testamentary gift is made to a child or other kindred of the testator, and the designated beneficiary dies before the testator, leaving one or more descendants who survive the testator, such descendants shall take the gift that the designated beneficiary would have taken if he or she had survived the testator, unless a different disposition is required by the will.

§ 336.  Individual Absent and Unheard of; Share of Estate

If an individual entitled to a distributive share of the estate of a decedent is absent and unheard of for six years, two of which are after the death of the decedent, the probate court in which the decedent’s estate is pending may order the share of the absent individual distributed in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s will or the laws of intestacy as if such absent individual had not survived the decedent.  If the absent individual proves to be alive, he or she shall be entitled to the share of the estate notwithstanding prior distribution, and may recover in an action on this statute any portion thereof which any other individual received under order.  Before an order is made for the payment of distribution of any money or estate as authorized in this section, notice shall be given as provided by the Vermont Rules of Probate Procedure.

§ 337.  Requirement that Individual Survive Decedent for  120 hours

Except as provided in the decedent’s will, an individual who fails to survive the decedent by 120 hours is deemed to have predeceased the decedent for purposes of homestead allowance, exempt property, intestate succession, and taking under decedent’s will, and the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries shall be determined accordingly.  If it is not established by clear and convincing evidence that an individual who would otherwise be an heir or beneficiary survived the decedent by 120 hours, it is deemed that the individual failed to survive for the required period.  This section is not to be applied if its application would result in escheat.

§ 338.  DISTRIBUTION; ORDER IN WHICH ASSETS APPROPRIATED; ABATEMENT

(a)(1)  Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, shares of distributes given under a will abate, without any preference or priority as between real and personal property, in the following order:

(A)  property not disposed of by the will;

(B)  residuary devises and bequests;

(C)  general devises and bequests;

(D)  specific devises and bequests.

(2)  For purpose of abatement, a general devise or bequest charged on any specific property or fund is a specific devise or bequest to the extent of the value of the property on which it is charged, and upon the failure or insufficiency of the property on which it is charged, a general devise or bequest to the extent of the failure or insufficiency.  Abatement within each classification is in proportion to the amounts of property each of the beneficiaries would have received if full distribution of the property had been made in accordance with the terms of the will.

(b)  If the will expresses an order of abatement or if the testamentary plan or the express or implied purpose of a devise or bequest would be defeated by the order of abatement listed in subsection (a) of this section, the shares of the distributees shall abate as may be necessary to give effect to the intention of the testator.

(c)  If the subject of a preferred devise or bequest is sold or used incident to administration, abatement shall be achieved by appropriate adjustments in, or contribution from, other interests in the remaining assets.

Sec. 3.  23 V.S.A. § 2023 is amended to read:

§ 2023.  TRANSFER OF INTEREST IN VEHICLE

(a)  If an owner transfers his or her interest in a vehicle, other than by the creation of a security interest, he or she shall, at the time of delivery of the vehicle, execute an assignment and warranty of title to the transferee in the space provided therefor on the certificate or as the commissioner prescribes, and of the odometer reading or hubometer reading or clock meter reading of the vehicle at the time of delivery in the space provided therefor on the certificate, and cause the certificate and assignment to be mailed or delivered to the transferee or to the commissioner.  Where title to a vehicle is in the name of more than one person, the nature of the ownership must be indicated by one of the following on the certificate of title:

(1)  TEN ENT (tenants by the entirety);

(2)  JTEN (joint tenants);

(3)  TEN COM (tenants in common); or

(4)  PTNRS (partners); or

(5)  TOD (transfer on death).

(b)  Upon request of the owner or transferee, a lienholder in possession of the certificate of title shall, unless the transfer was a breach of his or her security agreement, either deliver the certificate to the transferee for delivery to the commissioner or, upon receipt from the transferee of the owner’s assignment, the transferee’s application for a new certificate and the required fee, mail or deliver them to the commissioner.  The delivery of the certificate does not affect the rights of the lienholder under his security agreement.

(c)  If a security interest is reserved or created at the time of the transfer, the certificate of title shall be retained by or delivered to the person who becomes the lienholder, and the parties shall comply with the provisions of section 2043 of this title.

(d)  Except as provided in section 2024 of this title and as between the parties, a transfer by an owner is not effective until the provisions of this section and section 2026 of this title have been complied with; however, an owner who has delivered possession of the vehicle to the transferee and has complied with the provisions of this section and section 2026 of this title requiring action by him or her is not liable as owner for any damages thereafter resulting from operation of the vehicle.

(e)  Notwithstanding other provisions of the law, whenever the estate of an individual who dies intestate consists principally of an automobile, the surviving spouse shall be deemed to be the owner of the motor vehicle and title to the same shall automatically and by virtue hereof pass to said surviving spouse.  Registration of the vehicle in the name of the surviving spouse shall be effected by payment of a transfer fee of $7.00.  This transaction is exempt from the provisions of the purchase and use tax on motor vehicles.

(1)  Notwithstanding other provisions of the law, and except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, whenever the estate of an individual consists in whole or in part of a motor vehicle, and the person’s will or other testamentary document does not specifically address disposition of motor vehicles, the surviving spouse shall be deemed to be the owner of the motor vehicle and title to the motor vehicle shall automatically pass to the surviving spouse. Registration and title of the motor vehicle in the name of the surviving spouse shall be effected by payment of a transfer fee of $7.00.  This transaction is exempt from the provisions of the purchase and use tax on motor vehicles.

(2)  This subsection shall apply to no more than two motor vehicles, and shall not apply if the motor vehicle is titled in the name of one or more persons other than the decedent and the surviving spouse.

(f)  Where the title identifies a person who will become the owner upon the death of the principal owner (transfer on death), the principal owner shall have all rights of ownership and rights of transfer until his or her death.  The designated transferee shall have no rights of ownership until such time as the principal owner has died as established by a valid death certificate.  At that time, the transferee shall become the owner of the vehicle subject to any existing security interests.

Sec. 4.  27 V.S.A. §§ 101 and 102 are amended to read:

§ 101.  Definition; exemption from attachment and execution

The homestead of a natural person consisting of a dwelling house, outbuildings and the land used in connection therewith, not exceeding $75,000.00 $125,000.00 in value, and owned and used or kept by such person as a homestead together with the rents, issues, profits, and products thereof, shall be exempt from attachment and execution except as hereinafter provided.


§ 102.  Designating homestead in case of levy

When an execution is levied upon real estate of the person of which a homestead is a part or upon that part of a homestead in excess of the limitation of $75,000.00 $125,000.00 in value, that person may designate and choose the part thereof, not exceeding the limited value, to which the exemption created in section 101 of this title shall apply.  Upon designation and choice or refusal to designate or choose, the officer levying the execution, if the parties fail to agree upon appraisers, shall appoint three disinterested freeholders of the vicinity who shall be sworn by him or her and who shall fix the location and boundaries of the homestead to the amount of $75,000.00 $125,000.00 in value.  The officer shall then proceed with the sale of the residue of the real estate on the execution as in other cases, and the doings in respect to the homestead shall be stated in the return upon the execution.

Sec. 5.  EFFECTIVE DATE

Sec. 2 of this act shall only apply to the estates of persons dying after January 1, 2009.

And after passage, the title of the bill is to be amended to read:

AN ACT RELATING TO DISPOSITION OF PROPERTY UPON DEATH, TRANSFER OF INTEREST IN VEHICLE UPON DEATH, AND HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION.

                                                                        JOHN F. CAMPBELL

                                                                        VINCENT ILLUZZI

                                                                        ROBERT M. HARTWELL

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        MARGARET FLORY

                                                                        WILLEM JEWETT

                                                                        MAXINE JO GRAD

                                                                 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.

H. 885.

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 developing consistent measurement standards for economic growth.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Miller, 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. 885.  An act relating to developing consistent measurement standards for economic growth.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that that the House accede to the Senate proposal of amendment with further amendment by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS; INTENT

(a)  The general assembly finds:

(1)  A review of several rankings for Vermont’s competitiveness and their differentiation shows very disparate results.  For example, the Beacon Hill Institute ranked Vermont twelfth and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ranked Vermont fiftieth on their economic development competitiveness index.   Each outside ranking entity chose different factors.

(2)  Within Vermont, our measurement techniques show variations.  Job and employment data in the state suffer from definitional disparities which create conflicts for those trying to use the data.  The newly established and recently released “unified economic development budget” would be improved by the consistent use of benchmarking by state agencies.  Testimony on this study before the general assembly raised concern over state agency benchmarking because of the differing data issues and measuring approaches that affect their use by state government in Vermont.

(b)  The general assembly has a responsibility for the promotion of economic development in Vermont that builds on the unique strengths and challenges of doing business in Vermont.  The general assembly is interested in what criteria it should use to evaluate the effectiveness of economic development efforts.  Many states have structures and methods for measuring the effectiveness of economic development efforts.

(c)  The commission on the future of economic development is charged with benchmarking and measuring economic development.

(d)  Therefore, it is the intent of the general assembly in adopting this act to establish a logical structure and coherent and uniform set of benchmarks for economic development in this state.

Sec. 2.  COMMISSION ON THE FUTURE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

In fiscal year 2009, the Commission on the Future of Economic Development (CFED) shall:

(1)  Finish all 12 public engagement sessions.

(2)  The Snelling Center shall assemble all the products of the CFED meetings and submit them to CFED to develop meaningful, realistic, and verifiable goals and benchmarks for economic development.

(3)  The goals and benchmarks shall be submitted to the joint fiscal office, who shall work with the economists of the executive and legislative branches to:

(A)  review the techniques and products of evaluations of economic development used by other states;

(B)  use the econometrics for Vermont in developing benchmarks for the CFED goals by December 15, 2008.

(4)  Benchmarks shall be submitted to CFED for review and recommendations.

(5)  Benchmarks shall be submitted to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and military affairs on or before January 15, 2009.

(6)  CFED, with technical assistance from the joint fiscal office and the economists, shall annually review benchmarks and develop recommendations for adjustments to be submitted to the general assembly for approval.

Sec. 3.  LABOR MARKET MEASURES

The department of labor shall collaborate with the joint fiscal office and the agency of commerce and community development to develop a mutually acceptable set of employment measures and a means of communicating them to the general assembly.

Sec. 4.  REPEAL

Sec. 225 of No. 65 of the Acts of 2007 is repealed.


Sec. 5.  10 V.S.A. § 2 is added to read:

§ 2.  UNIFIED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BUDGET (UEDB)

(a)  For purposes of evaluating the effect on economic development in this state, the commissioner of finance and management, in collaboration with the secretary of commerce and community development, shall submit a unified economic development budget as part of the annual budget report to the general assembly under 32 V.S.A. § 306.

(b)  The unified economic development budget shall include appropriations or expenditures for all of the types of development assistance, workforce training and education, and the development‑related research granted or managed by the state during the prior four fiscal years by all agencies, departments, authorities, and other instrumentalities of the state.  The budget shall adjust expenditures or appropriations to enable year-to-year comparisons to be made.

(c)  The unified development budget shall specifically include:

(1)  The aggregate amount and program‑specific amounts of all state economic development assistance, including grants, loans, and tax expenditures.

(2)  The aggregate amount and program‑specific amounts of uncollected or diverted state tax revenues resulting from each type of development assistance provided in the tax statutes, as reported in the annual tax expenditure report (32 V.S.A. § 312).  If current data are not available, the report may use the average of the three most recent years reported.

(3)  Performance measurements, including estimated jobs created, increases or decreases in payroll including benefits, and other measures of economic advancement, with clear descriptions of data sources and methodologies.

(4)  A report of progress in developing consistent and measurable benchmarks of job creation.

(d)  The data presented shall be organized by categories such as administration, workforce education and training, tax expenditures, agriculture, tourism, technical assistance, planning, housing, transportation, technology, and research, among others deemed appropriate.  Every effort shall be made to standardize definitions of positions and other measures.

Sec. 6.  2009 UNIFIED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BUDGET REPORT

In the 2009 UEDB report, the commissioner of finance and management shall review the various reporting requirements relating to economic development including 10 V.S.A. §§ 2 and 7, and 32 V.S.A. § 307(c), and recommend how to consolidate and coordinate these reports to maximize administrative efficiency and information quality to enable continuing review and oversight by the general assembly.  The report shall include legislative proposals.

Sec. 7.  10 V.S.A. § 543 is amended to read:

§ 543.  WORKFORCE EDUCATION AND TRAINING FUND; GRANT PROGRAMS

* * *

(b)  Purposes.  The fund shall be used exclusively for the following two purposes:

* * *

(2)  internships to provide work-based learning opportunities with Vermont employers for students from Vermont colleges, public and private high schools, regional technical centers, and the Community High School of Vermont, and for students who are Vermont residents attending college, high school, technical or vocational schools out of state.

* * *

(d)  Eligible Activities.  Awards from the fund shall be made to employers and entities that offer programs that require collaboration between employees and businesses, including private, public, and nonprofit entities, institutions of higher education, technical centers, and workforce development programs.  Funding shall be for training programs and student internship programs that offer education, training, apprenticeship, mentoring, or work-based learning activities, or any combination; that employ innovative intensive student‑oriented competency-based or collaborative approaches to workforce development; and that link workforce education and economic development strategies.  Training programs or projects that demonstrate actual increased income and economic opportunity for employees and employers may be funded for more than one year.  Student internships and training programs that involve the same employer may be funded multiple times, provided that new students participate.

* * *

(f)  Awards.  Based on guidelines set by the council, the commissioner of labor shall make awards to the following:

(1)  Training Programs.  Public, private, and nonprofit entities for existing or new innovative training programs.  There shall be a preference for programs that include training for newly created or vacant positions.  Awards may be made to programs that retrain incumbent workers.  Awards under this subdivision shall be made to programs or projects that do all the following:

* * *

(G)  demonstrate an integrated connection between training and specific employment opportunities, including an effort and consideration  by participating employers to hire those who successfully complete a training programIf employment is not guaranteed at the successful completion of the training, the applicant must demonstrate employer involvement and that the training is likely to lead to employment in fields in which there is demand for jobs.

(H)  The department shall ensure there are resources available in each quarter of the fiscal year.

* * *

* * * Workforce Development for Green Industries * * *

Sec. 8.  FINDINGS; PURPOSE

(a)  The general assembly finds the following:

(1)  There is a growing global demand for products and services that will reduce the impact on the natural environment by individuals, businesses, governments, and many other entities.

(2)  There is a common international perception that Vermont has a very well‑defined green identity, a reputation developed through years of commitment to environmental integrity.

(3)  Vermont’s resources should be used to build a vibrant and strong environmental industry sector that creates high-wage jobs for Vermonters through the development and export of value‑added products and services designed to reduce our collective impact on the environment.

(4)  Vermont must create a framework that stimulates the innovation and investment necessary to expand the development of new renewable energy sources and distribution capacity.

(5)  Vermont’s economic development strategy must be designed to raise Vermont’s profile as a hub of environmental integrity, innovation, and opportunity for working Vermonters.

(b)  The purpose of this act is to effect the following:

(1)  To understand better and quantify the economic value and market opportunities and benefits of the emerging environmental technology sector in Vermont so that Vermont can derive economic value in the form of job creation, innovation, and development of technologies, products, and services that protect and enhance the environment.

(2)  To formulate a strategy for environmental technology sector workforce development and training and develop programs that promote and market that sector and create a competitive workforce equipped with the necessary skills and competencies to assure that Vermont is strategically positioned to compete effectively in environmental technology industries and the global marketplace and space.

Sec. 9.  WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PLAN; ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGY SECTOR JOB TRAINING; LABOR FORCE ANALYSIS

(a)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Environmental technology employee” means a fulltime employee primarily engaged in providing goods or delivering services in the environmental technology sector.

(2)  “Environmental technology sector” means businesses and organizations that work in or are related to at least one of the following:

(A)  Waste management, including waste collection, treatment, disposal, reduction, recycling, and remediation.

(B)  Natural resource protection and management, including water and wastewater purification and treatment, air pollution control and prevention or remediation, soil and groundwater protection or remediation, and hazardous waste control or remediation.

(C)  Energy efficiency or conservation.

(D)  Clean energy, including solar, wind, wave, hydro, geothermal, hydrogen, fuel cells, waste-to-energy, or biomass.

(E)  Any other environmental technology certified by the secretary of commerce and community development.

(b)  The commissioner of labor in collaboration with the secretary of commerce shall perform a labor force analysis using the inventory of green business developed by the agency of commerce and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  The analysis shall include the geographic distribution of existing businesses and anticipated opportunities for business recruitment in the environmental technology sector.  The analysis shall be issued in a written report to the house committee on commerce and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs no later than February 1, 2009 and shall include:

(1)  Regional profiles that identify the concentration and distribution of environmental technology opportunities in Vermont.

(2)  The skills and competencies necessary for successful employment in the environmental technology sector.

(3)  Projection of employer needs and employee skills required for the future of the environmental technology sector.

(c)  The commissioner of labor shall develop a workforce development plan relating to green building, energy efficiency, and renewable energy industries.  The plan shall be developed in consultation with the groups with knowledge and expertise pertaining to the workforce development needs of and implementation of training programs for the environmental technology sector as defined in subdivision (a)(2) of this section, including, but not limited to, the following:  representatives of the building trades; the Vermont workforce development council; weatherization contractors; Efficiency Vermont; appropriate educational institutions; Vermont businesses for social responsibility; Vermont fuel dealers association; Renewable Energy Vermont; Vermont green building network; the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce; the Vermont Chamber of Commerce; the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation (GBIC), the green institute for the advancement of sustainability; and Green for All.

* * * Employment Practices * * *

Sec. 10.  21 V.S.A. § 385 is amended to read:

§ 385.  ADMINISTRATION

The commissioner and the commissioner's authorized representatives have full power and authority for all the following:

* * *

(4)  To recommend and determine the amount of deductions for board, lodging, apparel, or other items or services supplied by the employer or any other conditions or circumstances as may be usual in a particular employer-employee relationship, including gratuities; provided, however, that in no case shall the total remuneration received by an employee, including wages, board, lodging, apparel, or other items or services supplied by the employer, including gratuities, be less than the minimum wage rate set forth in section 384 of this title.  No deduction may be made for the care, cleaning, or maintenance of required apparel.  No deduction for required apparel shall be made without the employee’s express written authorization and the deduction shall not:

(A)  Reduce the total remuneration received by an employee below the hourly minimum wage.

(B)  Include any administrative fees or charges.

(C)  Amend, nullify or violate the terms and conditions of any collective bargaining agreement.

* * *

Sec.  11.  ADULT TECHNICAL EDUCATION;  workforce education and training; REPORT

The commissioner of education shall:

(1)  Outline and review the current method or methods by which tuition is paid for students enrolled in secondary schools (“secondary students”) to attend regional technical center programs.

(2)  Consider and propose potential solutions to any barriers preventing, discouraging, or failing to encourage secondary students to attend regional technical center programs, including scheduling issues, availability of classes outside the traditional school day and academic year, and financial disincentives.

(3)  Outline and review the current method or methods by which the cost of adults entering programs at a regional technical center is funded, both for adults who have a high school diploma and for those who do not.

(4)  Consider and propose potential solutions to any barriers preventing, discouraging, or failing to encourage adults, with and without a high school diploma, to attend regional technical centers, including scheduling issues, availability of classes outside the traditional school day and academic year, and financial disincentives.

(5)  Consider and propose potential financial and other incentives to encourage regional technical centers to offer technical education programs at times other than the traditional school day and academic year and to otherwise make technical education programs more available to secondary students and to adults with and without high school diplomas.

(6)  Consider the positive and negative aspects of including within the definition of “pupil” for purposes of determining a district’s average daily membership all adult students with a high school diploma who are attending programs at a regional technical center and consider and propose other methods of subsidizing tuition for these students.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2009, the commissioner shall submit a written report to the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs, the house committee on commerce, and the senate and house committees on education detailing the results of the work performed pursuant to this section and all potential methods of addressing the identified issues.

Sec. 12.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.

And after passage, the title of the bill is to be amended to read:

     AN ACT RELATING TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT.

                                                                        HINDA MILLER

                                                                        VINCENT ILLUZZI

                                                                        JAMES C. CONDOS

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        SHAP SMITH

                                                                        BILL BOTZOW

                                                                        MICHELE F. KUPERSMITH

                                                                 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.

S. 301.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to enhancing the penalties for assaulting a law enforcement officer and to the crime of assault with bodily fluids.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Mullin, 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:


S. 301.  An act relating to enhancing the penalties for assaulting a law enforcement officer and to the crime of assault with bodily fluids.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House recede from its proposals of amendment, and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  13 V.S.A. § 1028 is amended to read:

§ 1028.  ASSAULT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, FIREFIGHTER, EMERGENCY ROOM PERSONNEL, OR EMERGENCY MEDICAL PERSONNEL MEMBER; ASSAULT WITH BODILY FLUIDS

(a)  A person convicted of a simple or aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency room personnel, or member of emergency services personnel as defined in subdivision 2651(6) of Title 24 while the officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel member is performing a lawful duty, in addition to any other penalties imposed under sections 1023 and 1024 of this title, shall:

(1)  For the first offense, be imprisoned not more than one year;

(2)  For the second offense and subsequent offenses, be imprisoned not more than ten years.

(b)(1)  No person shall intentionally cause blood, vomitus, excrement, mucus, saliva, semen, or urine to come in contact with a law enforcement officer while the officer is performing a lawful duty. 

(2)  A person who violates this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

And after passage, the title of the bill is to be amended to read:

     AN ACT RELATING TO ASSAULT OF EMERGENCY ROOM PERSONNEL AND TO ASSAULTING A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER WITH BODILY FLUIDS.

                                                                        KEVIN J. MULLIN

                                                                        JOHN F. CAMPBELL

                                                                        ALICE W. NITKA

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        AVIS GERVAIS

                                                                        ANDREW DONAGHY

                                                                        KATHY PELLETT

                                                                 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.

S. 311.

Appearing on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to the use value appraisal program.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Ayer, 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 Senate bill entitled:

S. 311.  An act relating to the use value appraisal program.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the Senate accede to the House proposal of amendment with further amendment to read as follows:

First:  In Sec. 11, ELECTRONIC COORDINATION PROJECT AND REPORT, in the third sentence, after the words “parts of the project” by inserting the following: to implement electronic coordination by July, 1, 2010 and by striking out the last sentence and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

The report shall document consistent, useful, and verifiable information on what the project will consist of and the costs involved.  The report shall determine what additional funds are needed to accomplish the appropriate levels of program coordination by July 1, 2010.  The report shall analyze different funding options, including a one-time or time-limited administrative fee based on a per-parcel, per-acre, or other basis and make a recommendation on how to fund the proposed budget for coordination.  The report shall also analyze the historical use of the free opt-out when the program is changed by the legislature.

Second:  In Sec. 12, OUTREACH EDUCATION ABOUT THE PROGRAM, in subdivision (a)(2)(A) at the end, before the semicolon, by inserting the following: , including whether the definitions should enable the enrollment of the farm buildings of animal and crop operations that do not qualify for the program under the existing definitions in subdivision (a)(2)(B), after “use” by inserting the words or restrictions on the use and at the end, before the semicolon, by inserting the following: , including hunting, fishing, other recreational activities and posting

                                                                        CLAIRE D. AYER

                                                                        HULL P. MAYNARD, JR.

                                                                        MARK A. MacDONALD

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        DAVID DEEN

                                                                        ALISON CLARKSON

                                                                        PHILIP WINTERS

                                                                 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.

H. 691.

Pending entry 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 executive and judicial branch fees.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Ayer, 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. 691.  An act relating to executive and judicial branch fees.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the Senate recede from its proposals of amendment and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

* * * Department of Public Safety * * *

Sec. 1.  20 V.S.A § 39(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Every person required to report the use or storage of hazardous chemicals or substances pursuant to EPCRA shall pay the following annual fees for each hazardous chemical or substance, as defined by the state emergency response commission, that is present at the facility:

(1)  $33.00 $35.00 for quantities between 100 and 999 pounds.

(2)  $50.00 $55.00 for quantities between 1,000 and 9,999 pounds.

(3)  $80.00 $90.00 for quantities between 10,000 and 99,999 pounds.

(4)  $250.00 $265.00 for quantities between 100,000 and 999,999 pounds.

(5)  $750.00 $800.00 for quantities exceeding 999,999 pounds.

(6)  An additional fee of $150.00 $175.00 will be assessed for each extremely hazardous chemical or substance as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 11002.

Sec. 2.  23 V.S.A. § 1203(k) is amended to read:

(k)  A copy of a videotape made of the alleged offense shall be provided to the defendant within ten days after the defendant requests the copy and pays a $15.00 $45.00 fee for its reproduction.  No fee shall be charged to a defendant whom the court has determined to be indigent.

Sec. 2a.  Rule 16(e) of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure is amended to read:

(e)  Videotapes.  A copy of a videotape made of the alleged offense and subsequent processing shall be available for purchase by the defendant directly from the law enforcement agency responsible for initiating the action upon written request and advance payment of a $15.00 $45.00 fee, except that no fee shall be charged to a defendant whom the court has determined to be indigent. A municipal or county law enforcement agency shall be entitled to all fees it collects for videotapes sold pursuant to this rule. Fees collected by the state for videotapes sold pursuant to this rule shall be deposited in the DUI enforcement special fund created under section 1220a of Title 23.  The original videotape may be erased 90 days after: 

(1)  the entry of final judgment, or

(2)  the date the videotape was made, if no civil or criminal action is filed.

* * * Department of Environmental Conservation * * *

Sec. 3.  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 subdivisions (j)(2)(A)(iii) and (2)(B)(iv)(I) or (II) of this section when the municipality agrees to become an applicant or co-applicant for an orphan stormwater system under section 1264c 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.

Sec. 4.  Sec. 30b of No. 76 of the Acts of 2007 is amended to read:

Sec. 30b.  IMPLEMENTATION AND REVERSION

(a)  Sec. 30a (exclusion from general permit fees) shall take effect upon passage and shall be effective retroactively back to August 1, 2006.  The department of environmental conservation shall refund any fees collected from applicants operating under SIC codes 2411, 2421, 2426 and 2429 pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 2822(j)(2)(A)(iii)(IV) between August 1, 2006 and the effective date of this section June 30, 2008.

(b)  Sec. 30a (exclusion from general permit fees) shall expire on July 1, 2008 and, on that date, the content of 3 V.S.A. § 2822(i) shall revert to the content that existed before the amendment contained in this act.

* * * Sheriffs * * *

Sec. 5.  32 V.S.A. § 1591(1)(A) is amended to read:

(A)  For serving each process, the fees shall be as follows:

* * *

(ii)  $30.00 $50.00 upon presentation of each return of service for the service of papers relating to divorce, annulments, separations, or support complaints;

(iii)  $30.00 $50.00 upon presentation of each return of service for the service of papers relating to civil suits except as provided in subdivisions 1591(1)(A)(ii) and 1591(1)(A)(vii) of this title;

(iv)  $30.00 $50.00 upon presentation of each return of service for the service of a subpoena and shall be limited to that one fee for each return of service;

* * *

* * * Department of Labor * * *

Sec. 6.  21 V.S.A. § 711(a) is amended to read:

(a)  A worker’s compensation administration fund is created pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32 to be expended by the commissioner for the administration of the worker’s compensation and occupational disease programs.  The fund shall consist of contributions from employers made at a rate of 0.42 0.81 percent of the direct calendar year premium for worker’s compensation insurance, one percent of self-insured worker’s compensation losses, and one percent of worker’s compensation losses of corporations approved under the chapter 9 of this title.  Disbursements from the fund shall be on warrants drawn by the commissioner of finance and management in anticipation of receipts authorized by this section.

Sec. 6a.  21 V.S.A. § 144(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The elevator safety review board is established within the department, and shall consist of five seven members, one of whom shall be the commissioner or the commissioner’s designee, one of whom shall be the commissioner of labor or the commissioner of labor’s designee, and four five members to be appointed by the governor as follows: one representative from a major elevator manufacturing company; one representative from an elevator servicing company; an owner or manager of a multistoried building, in which a conveyance is installed; an elevator inspector; and an individual who actually installs, maintains and repairs conveyances.  The members appointed by the governor shall be appointed for staggered terms of three years, and shall be entitled to compensation and expenses as provided in 32 V.S.A. § 1010.

Sec. 6b.  21 V.S.A. § 152 is amended to read:

§ 152.  NEW INSTALLATIONS; ANNUAL INSPECTIONS AND REGISTRATIONS

(a)  A new conveyance shall not be placed in operation until it has been inspected by an elevator inspector other than the installer, and a certificate of operation has been issued.

(b)  Every conveyance subject to this subchapter shall be inspected annually by an elevator inspector who may charge a fee for the service as established by the board by rule.  Rules adopted by the board under this subsection shall take into account the degree of difficulty required by the inspection, the frequency of use of the conveyance, and the mode of operation of the conveyance, such as cable, traction, hydraulic, light use, or platform liftAn inspector may charge a fee not to exceed $100.00 for each inspection.  The inspector shall notify the department if a conveyance is found to be in violation of this subchapter or any rule adopted under this subchapter.

(c)  An elevator inspector shall issue a certificate of operation after the inspector has inspected a new or existing conveyance, and has determined that the conveyance is in compliance with this subchapter.  A certificate of operation shall be renewed annually.  An owner of a conveyance shall ensure that the required inspections and tests are performed at intervals that comply with rules adopted by the board.  Certificates of operation shall be clearly displayed on or in each conveyance or in each machinery room.

(d)  The department may issue a conditional certificate of operation for a conveyance that is not in complete compliance, provided the conveyance has been inspected and determined to be safe for temporary operation.  This conditional certificate of operation permits shall permit a conveyance to operate for no more than 30 180 days or until the conveyance is in compliance, whichever occurs first.

(e)  The inspector shall submit $25.00 of the fee charged for each inspection to the department for each certificate of operation issued under this subchapter.

(f)  As established by the board by rule, an inspector may charge a fee not to exceed $250.00 for each inspection, and this fee shall be subject to the provisions of subchapter 6 of chapter 7 of Title 32.

(g)  Until rules are adopted under subsection (f) of this section, an inspector may charge a fee not to exceed $100.00, and this fee shall be subject to the provisions of subchapter 6 of chapter 7 of Title 32.

Sec. 6c.  COMMISSIONER OF PUBLIC SAFETY; REPORT

By January 15, 2009, the commissioner of public safety shall file a report with the house and senate committees on government operations that identifies barriers to adequate training of elevator inspectors, elevator mechanics, and lift mechanics.

Sec. 6d.  REPEAL

21 V.S.A. § 152(g) (inspector fee cap of $100.00) shall be repealed on the effective date of rules adopted pursuant to 21 V.S.A. § 152.


Sec. 6e.  ELEVATOR SAFETY REVIEW BOARD; RULEMAKING

Notwithstanding the requirement that an emergency rule be made in response to “imminent peril to the public health, safety or welfare,” the elevator safety review board shall by emergency rulemaking pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 844adopt rules that set fees as required by 21 V.S.A. § 152(b).  Emergency rules shall be filed as soon as possible after notice and an opportunity to be heard by persons who may be affected by them.  The board shall propose a permanent rule on the same subject at the same time that it adopts an emergency rule.

[Sec. 7.  DELETED]

Sec. 8.  23 V.S.A. § 1402(e) is added to read:

(e)  Pilot project allowing annual permits for low-bed trailers.

(1)  The commissioner may issue an annual permit to allow the transportation of a so-called “low-bed” trailer.  A “low-bed” trailer is defined as a trailer manufactured for the primary purpose of carrying heavy equipment on a flat-surfaced deck, which deck is at a height equal to or lower than the top of the rear axle group.

(2)  A blanket permit may be obtained for an annual fee of $275.00 per unit, provided the total vehicle length does not exceed 75 feet, does not exceed a loaded width of 12'6", does not exceed a total weight of 108,000 lbs., and has a height not exceeding 14 feet.

(3)  Warning signs and flags shall be required if the vehicle exceeds 75 feet in length, or exceeds 8'6" in width.

(4)  This subsection shall expire on June 30, 2010.  No later than

January 15, 2010, the department of motor vehicles, after consultation with the agency of transportation, Vermont League of Cities and Towns, and Vermont Truck and Bus Association, shall report to the house and senate committees on transportation on the results of this two-year pilot project.  The report shall include recommendations on extending this provision on low-bed trailers, as well as other recommendations relating to longer vehicle lengths.

Sec. 9.  INTENT

It is the intent of the general assembly that the Vermont traumatic brain injury fund created in 33 V.S.A. § 7801 shall be used for the benefit of all Vermonters suffering from traumatic brain injuries, including residents who have served in the armed forces of the United States in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sec. 9a.  33 V.S.A. chapter 78 is added to read:

Chapter 78.  INDIVIDUALS WITH TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI)

§ 7801.  VERMONT TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY Fund

(a)  The Vermont traumatic brain injury fund is established in the office of the state treasurer as a special fund to be a source of financing for services for individuals with TBI and for programs established by or through contracts with the agency of human services for the treatment of traumatic brain injuries.

(b)  Into the fund shall be deposited proceeds from grants, donations, contributions, taxes, and any other sources of revenue as may be provided by statute, rule, or act of the general assembly.

(c)  The fund shall be administered pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, except that interest earned on the fund and any remaining balance shall be retained in the fund.

(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 services for individuals with TBI and for programs for the treatment of brain injuries established by or through contracts with the agency of human services.

(e)  The agency of human services shall develop a policy for disbursement of monies from the fund created in subsection (a) of this section and submit the policy to the joint fiscal committee for approval at its September 2008 meeting.

Sec. 10.  INITIAL FUNDING

In FY 2009, $140,000.00 is transferred from the Vermont campaign fund established in 17 V.S.A. § 2856 to the Vermont traumatic brain injury fund established in 33 V.S.A. § 7801.

* * * Criminal Justice Training Council * * *

Sec. 11.  20 V.S.A. § 2355(f)(1) is amended to read:

(1)  The tuition fee for basic training required under section 2358 of this title shall be $5,847.00 $6,417.00.  This fee shall not be charged for persons employed by police agencies at the time of training.

* * * Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets * * *

Sec. 12.  6 V.S.A. § 2964(a) is amended to read:

(a)  A producer or packer of agricultural products produced in Vermont annually may apply to the secretary for an identification label which may be applied to his or her products to indicate that they have been produced in Vermont and have met standards of quality as have been or may be established by the secretary.  The person requesting the labels shall annually pay a fee based on the volume of sales for each category of products in the previous year according to the following fee schedule:  $20.00 $25.00 for a prior annual sales volume less than $20,000.00 $25,000.00; $50.00 for a prior annual sales volume from $20,000.00 $25,000.00 to under $100,000.00; $150.00 $100.00 for a prior annual sales volume from $100,001.00 to $500,000.00; $250.00 for a prior annual sales volume from $500,001.00 to $1,000,000.00 $100,000.00 to $250,000.00; and $500.00 for a prior annual sales volume greater than $1,000,000.00 $250,000.00.  The applicant shall also pay for the cost of all labels requested.

Sec. 13.  20 V.S.A. § 3581(c) is amended to read:

(c)(1)  A mandatory license fee surcharge of $2.00 $3.00 per license shall be collected by each city, town, or village for the purpose of funding the dog, cat, and wolf-hybrid spaying and neutering program established in subchapter 6 of chapter 193 of this title.

(2)  An optional license fee surcharge of up to $10.00 per license is to be implemented by the legislative body of a city, town, or village which has established an animal and rabies control program for the sole purpose of funding the rabies control program.

(3)  The license fee surcharges in this subsection shall not be considered part of the license fee for purposes of calculating a penalty for late payment.

Sec. 14.  AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND MARKETS REPORT ON FUNDING OF VERMONT SPAY NEUTER INCENTIVE PROGRAM

On or before January 15, 2009, the secretary of agriculture, food and markets shall report to the house and senate committees on agriculture, the senate committee on finance, the house committee on ways and means, and the house and senate committees on judiciary with a report regarding the continued funding of the Vermont spay neuter incentive program.  The report shall include:

(1)  A summary of the activities and services provided by the Vermont spay neuter incentive program;

(2)  An estimate of the annual cost of operating the Vermont spay neuter incentive program based on a presumption of the program meeting a reasonable demand on program services; and

(3)  A recommendation of a funding mechanism or mechanisms outside  the general fund for the continued operation of the Vermont spay neuter incentive program.

Sec. 15.  RULES RELATING TO THE VERMONT SPAY NEUTER INCENTIVE PROGRAM; VETERINARIANS; AGENCY OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND MARKETS

The agency of agriculture, food and markets shall adopt rules under chapter 25 of Title 3 for the Vermont spay neuter incentive program (VSNIP) that include:

(1)  A requirement that a veterinarian shall biannually provide a copy of the certificate of rabies vaccination or otherwise provide to the agency of agriculture, food and markets identifying information pertaining to the certificate.

(2)  A requirement that the agency of agriculture, food and markets biannually provide a copy of the certificate or otherwise provide identifying information pertaining to the certificate to the clerk of the municipality in which the owner of the dog resides.

Sec. 16.  COLLECTION OF SALES AND USE TAX ON THE SALE OF  ANIMALS

No later than January 15, 2009, the department of taxes shall issue a report to the house committee on ways and means and the senate committee on finance on its efforts to date and strategies to increase the collection of sales and use tax on the sale of animals by people licensed under chapter 194 or 199 of Title 20 and by people not required to be licensed under those statutory provisions.

Sec. 16a.  STATUTORY REVISION

The legislative council in collaboration with the agency of agriculture, food and markets shall review chapters 194 and 199 of Title 20 and suggest ways to clarify and better organize the language contained therein.  A report of the results of such review shall be provided to the senate committee on finance and the house committee on ways and means no later than January 15, 2009.

* * * Judiciary * * *

Sec. 17.  4 V.S.A. § 1105 is amended to read:

§ 1105.  Answer to complaint; default

* * *

(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 $20.00 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. 18.  4 V.S.A. § 1109 is amended to read:

§ 1109.  Remedies for failure to pay

* * *

(b)  A judicial bureau judgment shall provide notice that a $15.00 $30.00 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. 19.  32 V.S.A § 1431 is amended to read:

§ 1431.  Fees in supreme, superior, district, family, and environmental courts

(a)  Prior to the entry of any cause in the supreme court there shall be paid to the clerk of the court for the benefit of the state a fee of $225.00 $250.00 in lieu of all other fees not otherwise set forth in this section.

(b)(1)  Prior to the entry of any cause in the superior court or environmental court there shall be paid to the clerk of the court for the benefit of the state a fee of $225.00 $250.00 in lieu of all other fees not otherwise set forth in this section.

(2)  Prior to the entry of any divorce or annulment proceeding in the family court there shall be paid to the clerk of the court for the benefit of the state a fee of $225.00 $250.00 in lieu of all other fees not otherwise set forth in this section; however, if the divorce or annulment complaint is filed with a stipulation for a final order acceptable to the court, the fee shall be $75.00.

* * *

(4)  Prior to the entry of any motion or petition to vacate, modify or enforce an order for parental rights and responsibilities, parent-child contact, or maintenance in the family court there shall be paid to the clerk of the court for the benefit of the state a fee of $75.00 in lieu of all other fees not otherwise set forth in this section; however,.  Prior to the entry of any motion or petition to vacate or modify an order for parental rights and responsibilities, parent-child contact, or maintenance in the family court, there shall be paid to the clerk of the court for the benefit of the state a fee of $100.00 in lieu of all other fees not otherwise set forth in this section.  However, if the motion or petition is filed with a stipulation for an order acceptable to the court, the fee shall be $25.00.  All motions or petitions filed by one party at one time shall be assessed one fee.

* * *

(c)  Prior to the entry of a small claims action there shall be paid to the clerk for the benefit of the state county in lieu of all other fees not otherwise set forth in this section, a fee of $60.00 $75.00 if the claim is for more than $500.00 $1,000.00 and $35.00 $50.00 if the claim is for $500.00 $1,000.00 or less.  The filing fee for civil suspension proceedings filed pursuant to 23 V.S.A § 1205 shall be $75.00, which shall be taxed in the bill of costs in accordance with sections 1433 and 1471 of this title  Prior to the entry of any postjudgment motion in a small claims action, there shall be paid to the clerk for the benefit of the county a fee of $50.00.  The fee for every counterclaim in small claims proceedings shall be $25.00, payable to the county, if the counterclaim is for more than $500.00, and $15.00 if the counterclaim is for $500.00 or less.

(d)  Prior to the entry of any subsequent pleading which sets forth a claim for relief in the supreme court or the superior, environmental, or district court, there shall be paid to the clerk of the court for the benefit of the state a fee of $100.00 for every appeal, cross-claim, or third-party claim and a fee of $75.00 for every counterclaim in the superior or environmental court in lieu of all other fees not otherwise set forth in this section.  The fee for every counterclaim in small claims’ proceedings shall be $25.00 if the counterclaim is for more than $500.00 and $15.00 if the counterclaim is for $500.00 or less.  The fee for an appeal of a magistrate’s decision in the family court shall be $100.00.  The filing fee for civil suspension proceedings filed pursuant to 23 V.S.A § 1205 shall be $75.00, which shall be taxed in the bill of costs in accordance with sections 1433 and 1471 of this title.

(e)  Prior to the filing of any postjudgment motion in the superior, environmental, or district court, including motions to reopen civil suspensions, there shall be paid to the clerk of the court for the benefit of the state a fee of $50.00 $75.00 except for small claims actions for which the fee shall be $25.00 in lieu of all other fees not otherwise set forth in this section.

(f)  The filing fee for all actions filed in the judicial bureau shall be $30.00 $50.00; the state or municipality shall not be required to pay the fee; however, if the respondent denies the allegations on the ticket, the fee shall be taxed in the bill of costs in accordance with sections 1433 and 1471 of this title and shall be paid to the clerk of the bureau for the benefit of the state.

(g)  Prior to the filing of any postjudgment motion in the judicial bureau there shall be paid to the clerk of the bureau, for the benefit of the state, a fee of $25.00 $35.00.  Prior to the filing of any appeal from the judicial bureau to the district court there shall be paid to the clerk of the court, for the benefit of the state, a fee of $75.00 $100.00.

(g)(h)  Pursuant to Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure 3.1, Vermont Rules of Appellate Procedure 24(a), or District Court Civil Rules 3.1, part or all of the filing fee may be waived if the court finds that the applicant is unable to pay it.  The clerk of the court or the clerk's designee shall establish the in forma pauperis fee in accordance with procedures and guidelines established by administrative order of the supreme court.

Sec. 20.  32 V.S.A. § 1434(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The following entry fees shall be paid to the probate court for the benefit of the state, except for subdivision (13)(17) of this subsection which shall be for the benefit of the county in which the fee was collected:

(1)  Estates of $10,000.00 or less                                 $35.00        $25.00

(2)  Estates of more than $10,000.00 to

not more than $150,000.00 $50,000.00                                                     $75.00

(3)  Estates of more than $50,000.00 to

not more than $150,000.00                                                                      $200.00

(4)  Estates of more than $150,000.00 to

not more than $500,000.00                                                    $150.00    $375.00

(4)(5)  Estates of more than $500,000.000 to

not more than $1,000,000.00                                $325.00    $625.00

(6)  Estates of more than $1,000,000.00 to

not more than $5,000,000.00                                                   $1,000.00

(7)  Estates of more than $5,000,000.00 to

not more than $10,000,000.00                                                             $1,500.00

(8)  Estates of more than $10,000,000.00                                   $1,750.00

(5)(9)  Testamentary trusts of $20,000.00 or less                              $50.00

(6)(10)  Testamentary trusts of more than $20,000.00        $100.00

(7)(11)  Annual accounts on testamentary trusts of

more than $20,000.00                                                                  $25.00  $30.00

(8)(12)  Annual accounts on decedents’ estates

filed for any period ending more than one year

following the opening of the estate                                                              $25.00

(9)(13)  Adoptions                                                                           $75.00

(10)(14)  Guardianships for minors                                                   $35.00

(11)(15)  Guardianships for adults                                                    $50.00

(12)(16)  Petitions for change of name                $50.00   $75.00

(13)(17)  Filing of a will for safekeeping, except

that there shall be no fee for the filing of subsequent

wills in that district for the same person                                          $20.00

(14)(18)  Corrections for vital records                                  $25.00

(15)(19)  Orders of authorization                                                      $25.00

(16)(20)  Conveyances of title to real estate pursuant

to section 1801 of Title 14                                                                          $50.00

(17)(21)  Petitions for the removal of a trustee pursuant

to 14 V.S.A. § 2314(c) of trusts of $20,000.00 or less                               $50.00

(18)(22)  Petitions for removal of a trustee pursuant

to 14 V.S.A. § 2314(c) of trusts more than $20,000.00                $100.00

(19)(23)  Petitions concerning advance directives pursuant

to 18 V.S.A. § 9718                                                                                 $75.00

(20)(24)  Civil actions brought pursuant to subchapter 3

of chapter 107 of Title 18.                                                                         $50.00

Sec. 21.  32 V.S.A. § 1751 is amended to read:

§ 1751.  Fees when not otherwise provided

* * *

(b)  Whenever probate, district, environmental, family, or superior court officers and employees or officers and employees of the judicial bureau furnish copies or certified copies of records, the following fees shall be collected for the benefit of the state:

* * *

(5)  For a response to a request for a record of criminal history of a person based upon name and date of birth, $10.00 $30.00.

(6)  For appointment as an acting judge pursuant to 4 V.S.A § 22(b) for the purpose of performing a marriage, $100.00.

However, the fees provided for in this subsection shall not be assessed by these officers and employees in furnishing copies or certified copies of records to any agency of any municipality, state, or federal government or to veterans honorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States, their dependents or beneficiaries, in the prosecution of any claim for benefits from the United States government, or any state agency.

Sec. 22.  32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 6 is amended to read:

Subchapter 6.  Executive and Judicial Branch Fees

§ 601.  STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

It is the purpose of this subchapter to establish a uniform policy on the creation and review of executive and judicial branch fees, and to require that any such fee be created solely by the general assembly.

§ 602.  DEFINITIONS

* * *

(2)  “Fee”:

(A)  Means a monetary charge by an agency or the judiciary for a service or product provided to, or the regulation of, specified classes of individuals or entities.

* * *

§ 605.   CONSOLIDATED EXECUTIVE BRANCH ANNUAL FEE REPORT AND REQUEST

* * *

§ 605a.  CONSOLIDATED JUDICIAL BRANCH FEE REPORT AND REQUEST

(a)  The justices of the supreme court or the court administrator if one is appointed pursuant to 4 V.S.A. § 21, in consultation with the justices of the supreme court, shall submit a consolidated judicial branch fee report and request no later than the third Tuesday of the legislative session of 2011 and every three years thereafter.  The report shall be submitted to the house committee on ways and means, the senate committee on finance, and the house and senate committees on government operations.

(b)  A fee report shall contain for each fee in existence on the preceding July 1:

(1)  Its statutory authorization and termination date if any.

(2)  Its current rate or amount and the date this was last set or adjusted by the general assembly or by the joint fiscal committee.

(3)  The fund into which its revenues are deposited.

(4)  The revenues derived from it in each of the two previous fiscal years.

(c)  A fee request shall contain any proposal to:

(1)  Create a new fee, or change, reauthorize, or terminate an existing fee, which shall include a description of the services provided or the function performed.

(2)  Set a new or adjust an existing fee rate or amount.  Each new or adjusted fee rate shall be accompanied by information justifying the rate, which may include:

(A)  The relationship between the revenue to be raised by the fee or change in the fee and the cost or change in the cost of the service, product, or regulatory function supported by the fee, with costs construed pursuant to subdivision 603(2) of this title.

(B)  The inflationary pressures that have arisen since the fee was last set.

(C)  The effect on budgetary adequacy if the fee is not increased.

(D)  The existence of comparable fees in other jurisdictions.

(E)  Policies that might affect the acceptance or the viability of the fee amount.

(F)  Other considerations.

(3)  Designate, or redesignate, the fund into which revenue from a fee is to be deposited.

(d)  For the purpose of the review and report, a “fee” shall mean any source of state revenue classified by the department of finance and management accounting system as “fees.”

§ 606.  LEGISLATIVE FEE REVIEW PROCESS; FEE BILL

When the consolidated fee report reports and request is requests are submitted to the general assembly pursuant to section sections 605 and 605a of this title, it they shall immediately be forwarded to the house ways and means committee, which shall consult with other standing legislative committees having jurisdiction of the subject area of a fee contained in the report reports and request requests.  As soon as possible, the ways and means committee shall prepare and introduce a “consolidated fee bill” proposing:

(1)  The creation, change, reauthorization, or termination of any fee.

(2)  The amount of a newly created fee, or change in amount of an existing or reauthorized fee.

(3)  The designation, or redesignation, of the fund into which revenue from a fee is to be deposited.

* * * Department of Buildings and General Services * * *

Sec. 23.  3 V.S.A. § 2476 is amended to read:

§ 2476.  DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM AND MARKETING

(a)  The department of tourism and marketing of the agency is created, as successor to the department of travel.  The department shall be administered by a commissioner.

(b)  The department of tourism and marketing shall be responsible for the promotion of Vermont goods and services as well as the promotion of Vermont's travel, recreation and cultural attractions through advertising and other informational programs, and for provision of travel and recreation information and services to visitors to the state, in coordination with other agencies of state government, chambers of commerce and travel associations, and the private sector.

(c)  A special fund is established to be administered as provided under subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, and to be known as the brochure distribution special fund for the purposes of ensuring that the fees collected under this subsection are utilized to fund travel destination promotion and information at the state's travel information centers. Revenues to the fund shall be those fees collected for the placement and distribution of brochures of businesses in the state travel information centers and in other locations deemed appropriate by the department.

(d)  The department of tourism and marketing is authorized to accept brochure distribution fees, and to enter into agreements with other state agencies and departments to provide marketing, promotion and advertising services.  On and after July 1, 1997, all departments engaging in marketing activities shall submit to and coordinate marketing plans with the commissioner of the department of tourism and marketing.

(e)(d)  The department shall annually prepare a report, to be included in the report of the agency required by section 2422 of this title, on the status of the Connecticut River valley tourism district, and how it is meeting the goals of the department.

Sec. 24.  29 V.S.A. § 169 is added to read:

§ 169.  BROCHURE DISTRIBUTION FEES

(a)  The department of buildings and general services is authorized to accept brochure distribution fees, and to enter into agreements with other state agencies and departments to provide marketing, promotion, and advertising services.

(b)  A special fund is established to be administered as provided under subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32, and to be known as the brochure distribution special fund for the purposes of ensuring that the fees collected under this section are utilized to fund travel destination promotion and information at the state's travel information centers.  Revenues to the fund shall be those fees collected for the placement and distribution of brochures of businesses in the state travel information centers and in other locations deemed appropriate by the department.

(c)  Brochure distribution fees authorized under subsection (a) of this section shall be set by the department and shall be based on the location or locations of distribution, the size of the brochures, and the number of brochures distributed.  The department shall report the details of the fees established under this section every three years pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 605.

Sec. 25.  32 V.S.A § 603 is amended to read:

§ 603.  FEE CREATION, AMOUNT, AND ADJUSTMENT OF AMOUNT

* * *

(3)  Fees for transcripts, reproductions not covered by subsection 316(d) of Title 1, conferences, forms for commercial use, publications and costs of distribution, advertising, training, charges to attend one-time agency events, and sales of products are hereby authorized, and the following, unless otherwise specified by law, may be set by the department providing the service or product, and shall be reasonably and directly related to their costs, as provided in subdivision (2) of this section:

(A)  transcripts;

(B)  reproductions not covered by subsection 316(d) of Title 1;

(C)  conferences;

(D)  forms for commercial use;

(E)  publications of the department;

(F)  costs of distribution of department materials;

(G)  advertising for department services or products;

(H)  training;

(I)  charges to attend one-time department events; and

(J)  sales of department products.

(4)  Fees collected under this subdivision (3) of this section shall be credited to special funds established and managed pursuant to subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of this title, and shall be available to the charging departments to offset the costs of providing these services or products.  However, for purposes of fees established under this subdivision for copies of public records, the fees shall be calculated as provided in 1 V.S.A. § 316.  These fees shall be reported in accordance with section 605 of this title.

[Sec. 26.  DELETED]

* * * Vermont State Archives * * *

Sec. 27.  32 V.S.A. § 1715(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Upon payment of a $10.00 fee, the commissioner of health or the commissioner of buildings and general services Vermont state archives and records administration shall provide certified copies of vital records or shall ascertain and certify what the vital records available to the commissioners show, except that the commissioners shall not copy the word “illegitimate” from any birth certificate furnished.  The fee for the search of the vital records is $3.00 which is credited toward the fee for the first certified copy based upon the search.

* * * Attorney General * * *

Sec. 28.  3 V.S.A. § 163(c)(9) is amended to read:

(9)  Each participant shall pay a fee to the local juvenile court diversion project.  The amount of the fee shall be determined by project officers based upon the financial capabilities of the participant.  The fee shall not exceed $50.00 $150.00.  The fee shall be a debt due from the participant, but shall not be grounds for exclusion from participation in the program.  Fees under this subdivision shall be paid to the court diversion fund and shall be used solely for the purpose of the court diversion program.

* * * Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Health Care Administration

 * * *

Sec. 29.  9 V.S.A. § 5302(e) is amended to read:

(e)  At the time of the filing of the information prescribed in subsections (a), (b), (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 $600.00.  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.

Sec. 30.  9 V.S.A. § 5305(b) is amended to read:

(b)  A person filing a registration statement shall pay a filing 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 applicant is seeking registration, but in no case shall such fee be less than $400.00 nor more than $1,250.00 $600.00.  Open-end investment companies shall pay a registration fee and an annual renewal fee for each portfolio as long as the registration of those securities remains in effect.  If a registration statement is withdrawn before the effective date or a preeffective stop order is issued under section 5306 of this chapter, the commissioner shall retain the fee.

Sec. 31.  9 V.S.A. § 5410(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The fee for an individual is $55.00 $60.00 when filing an application for registration as an agent, $55.00 $60.00 when filing a renewal of registration as an agent, and $55.00 $60.00 when filing for a change of registration as an agent.  If the filing results in a denial or withdrawal, the commissioner shall retain the fee.

* * * Secretary of State * * *

Sec. 32.  9A V.S.A. § 9-525(a)(1) and (2) are amended to read:

(1)  $20.00 $25.00 if the record is communicated in writing; and

(2)  $20.00 $25.00 if the record is communicated by another medium authorized by filing office rule.

Sec. 33.  11 V.S.A. § 1625(a) is amended to read:

(a)  A person, copartnership, association, limited liability company, or corporation required by the provisions of this chapter to file a return, shall, at the time of filing as provided, pay a registration fee of $40.00 $50.00 to the secretary of state for the benefit of the state.

Sec. 34.  11 V.S.A. § 3013(a)(1), (15), and (16) are amended to read:

(1)  Articles of organization $ 75.00 $100.00

(15)  Annual report of a domestic limited liability company 20.00 25.00

(16)  Annual report of a foreign limited liability company 100.00 125.00

Sec. 35.  11A  V.S.A. § 1.22(a)(16) and (17) are amended to read:

(16)  Annual report of a foreign corporation 150.00 175.00

(17)  Annual report of a domestic corporation 25.00 $35.00

[Sec. 36.  DELETED]

Sec. 37.  23 V.S.A. § 4(78) is added to read:

(78)  “Enhanced license” shall mean an operator’s license, commercial driver license, junior operator’s license, or nondriver identification card that denotes identity and citizenship, and includes facilitative technology identified by the Department of Homeland Security.

Sec. 38.  23 V.S.A. § 102(d) is amended to read:

(d)  The commissioner may authorize background investigations for potential employees that may include criminal, traffic, and financial records checks; provided, however, that the potential employee is notified and has the right to withdraw his or her name from application.  Additionally, employees who are authorized to manufacture or produce operators’ licenses and identification cards, including enhanced licenses, may be subject to appropriate security clearance if required by federal law, including background investigations that may include criminal and traffic, records checks, and providing proof of United States citizenship.  The commissioner may, in connection with a formal disciplinary investigation, authorize an appropriate a criminal or traffic record background investigation of a current employee; provided, however, that the background review is necessary and relevant to the issue under disciplinary investigation.  Information acquired through a background the investigation that may be shall be provided to the commissioner or designated division director, and must be maintained in a secure manner.  If the information acquired is used as a basis for any disciplinary action, it must be given to the employee during any pre‑termination hearing or contractual grievance hearing to allow the employee an opportunity to respond to or dispute the information.  If no disciplinary action is taken against the employee, the information acquired through the background check shall be destroyed.
* * * Department of Motor Vehicles * * *
Sec. 39.  23 V.S.A. § 7 is added to read: 
§ 7.  ENHANCED DRIVER LICENSE; MAINTENANCE OF DATABASEINFORMATION; FEE
(a)  The face of an enhanced license shall contain the individual’s name, date of birth, gender, a unique identification number, full facial photograph or imaged likeness, address, signature, issuance and expiration dates, and citizenship.  The back of the enhanced license shall have a machine-readable zone.  A Gen 2 vicinity Radio Frequency Identification chip shall be embedded in the enhanced license in compliance with the security standards of the Department of Homeland Security.

(b)  In addition to any other requirement of law or rule, before an enhanced license may be issued to a person, the person shall present for inspection and copying satisfactory documentary evidence to determine identity and United States citizenship.  An application shall be accompanied by:  a photo identity document, documentation showing the person’s date and place of birth, proof of the person’s Social Security number, and documentation showing the person’s principal residence address.  To be issued, an enhanced license must meet the same requirements as those for the issuance of a United States passport.  Before an application may be processed, the documents and information shall be verified as determined by the commissioner.

(c)  No person shall compile or maintain a database of electronically readable information derived from an operator’s license, junior operator’s license, enhanced license, learner permit, or nondriver identification card.  This prohibition shall not apply to a person who accesses, uses, compiles, or maintains a database of the information for law enforcement or governmental purposes.

(d)  The fee for an enhanced license shall be $25.00 in addition to the fees otherwise established by this title.

Sec. 40.  23 V.S.A. § 601(a) is amended to read:

(a)  A resident who intends to operate motor vehicles shall procure a proper license.  A resident who has moved into the state from another jurisdiction with a valid license to operate motor vehicles under section 411 of this title shall procure a license within 60 days of moving into the state.  Operators’ licenses shall not be issued to nonresidents.  All operator licenses issued under this chapter shall expire every four years at midnight on the eve of the anniversary of the date of birth of the applicant at the end of the term for which they were issued.  All junior operator licenses shall expire at midnight on the eve of the anniversary of the date of birth of the applicant at the end of the term for which they were issued.  A person born on February 29 shall, for the purposes of this section, be considered as born on March 1. 

Sec. 41.  REPEAL

The following in Title 23 are repealed:

(1)  § 618 (anatomical gifts); and

(2)  § 4111(a)(10) (commercial driver license form regarding anatomical gifts).


Sec. 42.  18 V.S.A. § 5238(3) is amended to read:

(3)  “Document of gift” means an organ donor card, a statement attached to or imprinted on the reverse side of a Vermont motor vehicle operator’s license, a will, or other writing used to make an anatomical gift.

Sec. 43.  18 V.S.A. § 5239 is amended to read:

§ 5239.  MAKING, AMENDING, REVOKING, AND REFUSING TO MAKE ANATOMICAL GIFTS BY AN INDIVIDUAL

(a)  An individual who is at least 18 years of age may:

(1)  Make an anatomical gift for any of the purposes stated in

section 5242 of this title.

(2)  Limit an anatomical gift to one or more of those purposes.

(3)  Refuse to make an anatomical gift.

(b)  An anatomical gift may be made only by a document of gift signed by the donor.  If the donor cannot sign, the document of gift must be signed by another individual and by two witnesses, all of whom have signed at the direction and in the presence of the donor and of each other, and state that it has been so signed.

(c)  If a document of gift is attached to or imprinted on a donor’s motor vehicle operator’s license, the document of gift must comply with subsection (b) of this section. Revocation, suspension, expiration or cancellation of the license does not invalidate the anatomical gift.

(d)  An anatomical gift by will takes effect upon death of the testator, whether or not the will is probated.  If, after death, the will is declared invalid for testamentary purposes, the validity of the anatomical gift is unaffected.

(e)(d)  A donor may amend or revoke an anatomical gift, not made by will, only by one of the following methods:

(1)  A signed statement.

(2)  An oral statement made in the presence of two individuals.

(3)  Any form of communication during a terminal illness or injury addressed to a physician.

(4)  The delivery of a signed statement to a specified donee to whom a document of gift had been delivered.

(f)(e)  The donor of an anatomical gift made by will may amend or revoke the gift in the manner provided for amendment or revocation of wills or as provided in subsection (e)(d) of this section.

(g)(f)  An anatomical gift that is not revoked by the donor before death is irrevocable and does not require the consent or concurrence of any person after the donor’s death.

(h)(g)  An individual may refuse to make an anatomical gift of the individual’s body or part by any one either of the following:

(1)  A writing signed in the same manner as a document of gift.

(2)  A statement attached to or imprinted on the donor’s Vermont motor vehicle operator’s license.

(3)  Any other writing used to identify the individual as refusing to make an anatomical gift.  During a terminal illness or injury, the refusal may be an oral statement or other form of communication. 

Sec. 44.  AUTHORITY FOR LIMITED SERVICE POSITIONS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES

Three limited service positions are created within the department of motor vehicles.  These shall be used for the administration of the enhanced license program and shall be for a period of three years. 

Sec. 45.  EFFECTIVE DATES

This act shall take effect July 1, 2008, except for:

(1)  Sec. 13, which shall take effect April 1, 2009; and

(2)  Sec. 39, which shall not take effect until the commissioner of motor vehicles determines that the systems necessary to operate the program are available.

                                                                        CLAIRE D. AYER

                                                                        MARK A. MacDONALD

                                                                        HULL P. MAYNARD, JR.

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        CAROLYN BRANAGAN

                                                                        MICHAEL OBUCHOWSKI

                                                                        WILLIAM N. ASWAD

                                                                 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.

Rules Suspended; Bills Delivered

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

S. 261, S. 301, S. 311.

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. 358, H. 203, H. 599, H. 617, H. 635, H. 691, H. 776, H. 885, H. 887

Recess

On motion of Senator Shumlin the Senate recessed until 5:30 P.M.

Called to Order

At 5:55 P.M. the Senate was called to order by the President.

Rules Suspended; Reports of Committees of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate

H. 615.

Pending entry 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 juvenile judicial proceedings.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Nitka, 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. 615.  An act relating to juvenile judicial proceedings.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the Senate recede from its proposals of amendment, and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:


Sec. 1.  33 V.S.A. chapter 51 is added to read:

Chapter 51.  GENERAL PROVISIONS

§ 5101.  Purposes  

(a)  The juvenile judicial proceedings chapters shall be construed in accordance with the following purposes:

(1)  To provide for the care, protection, education, and healthy mental, physical, and social development of children coming within the provisions of the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.

(2)  To remove from children committing delinquent acts the taint of criminality and the consequences of criminal behavior and to provide supervision, care, and rehabilitation which assure:

(A)  balanced attention to the protection of the community;

(B)  accountability to victims and the community for offenses; and

(C)  the development of competencies to enable children to become responsible and productive members of the community.

(3)  To preserve the family and to separate a child from his or her parents only when necessary to protect the child from serious harm or in the interests of public safety.

(4)  To assure that safety and timely permanency for children are the paramount concerns in the administration and conduct of proceedings under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.

(5)  To achieve the foregoing purposes, whenever possible, in a family environment, recognizing the importance of positive parent-child relationships to the well-being and development of children.

(6)  To provide judicial proceedings through which the provisions of the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters are executed and enforced and in which the parties are assured a fair hearing, and that their constitutional and other legal rights are recognized and enforced.

(b)  The provisions of the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters shall be construed as superseding the provisions of the criminal law of this state to the extent the same are inconsistent with this chapter.

§ 5102.  Definitions and provisions of general application  

As used in the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1)  “Care provider” means a person other than a parent, guardian, or custodian who is providing the child with routine daily care but to whom custody rights have not been transferred by a court.

(2)  “Child” means any of the following:

(A)  An individual who is under the age of 18 and is a child in need of care or supervision as defined in subdivision (3)(A), (B), or (D) of this section (abandoned, abused, without proper parental care, or truant).

(B)(i)  An individual who is under the age of 18, is a child in need of care or supervision as defined in subdivision (3)(C) of this section (beyond parental control), and was under the age of 16 at the time the petition was filed; or

(ii)  an individual who is between the ages of 16 to 17.5, is a child in need of care or supervision as defined in subdivision (3)(C) of this section (beyond parental control), and who is at high risk of serious harm to himself or herself or others due to problems such as substance abuse, prostitution, or homelessness.

(C)  An individual who has been alleged to have committed or has committed an act of delinquency after becoming ten years of age and prior to becoming 18 years of age; provided, however:

(i)  that an individual who is alleged to have committed an act specified in subsection 5204(a) of this title after attaining the age of 10 but not the age of 14 may be treated as an adult as provided therein;

(ii)  that an individual who is alleged to have committed an act specified in subsection 5204(a) of this title after attaining the age of 14 but not the age of 16 shall be subject to criminal proceedings as in cases commenced against adults, unless transferred to the court in accordance with the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters;

(iii)  that an individual who is alleged to have committed an act before attaining the age of 10 which would be murder as defined in section 2301 of Title 13 if committed by an adult may be subject to delinquency proceedings; and

(iv)  that an individual may be considered a child for the period of time the court retains jurisdiction under section 5104 of this title.   

(3)  “Child in need of care or supervision (CHINS)” means a child who:

(A)  has been abandoned or abused by the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian.  A person is considered to have abandoned a child if the person is: unwilling to have physical custody of the child; unable, unwilling, or has failed to make appropriate arrangements for the child’s care; unable to have physical custody of the child and has not arranged or cannot arrange for the safe and appropriate care of the child; or has left the child with a care provider and the care provider is unwilling or unable to provide care or support for the child, the whereabouts of the person are unknown, and reasonable efforts to locate the person have been unsuccessful.

(B)  is without proper parental care or subsistence, education, medical, or other care necessary for his or her well-being;

(C)  is without or beyond the control of his or her parent, guardian, or custodian; or

(D)  is habitually and without justification truant from compulsory school attendance.

(4)  “Commissioner” means the commissioner of the department for children and families or the commissioner’s designee.

(5)  “Conditional custody order” means an order issued by the court in a juvenile proceeding conferring legal custody of a child to a parent, guardian, relative, or a person with a significant relationship with the child subject to such conditions and limitations as the court may deem necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of the child.  Any conditions and limitations shall apply only to the individual to whom custody is granted.

(6)  “Court” means the Vermont family court.

(7)  “Custodial parent” means a parent who, at the time of the commencement of the juvenile proceeding, has the right and responsibility to provide the routine daily care and control of the child.  The rights of the custodial parent may be held solely or shared and may be subject to the court-ordered right of the other parent to have contact with the child.

(8)  “Custodian” means a person other than a parent or legal guardian to whom legal custody of the child has been given by order of a Vermont family or probate court or a similar court in another jurisdiction.

(9)  “Delinquent act” means an act designated a crime under the laws of this state, or of another state if the act occurred in another state, or under federal law.  A delinquent act shall include 7 V.S.A. §§ 656 and 657; however, it shall not include:

(A)  Snowmobile offenses in subchapter 1 and motorboat offenses in subchapter 2 of chapter 29 of Title 23, except for violations of sections 3207a, 3207b, 3207c, 3207d, and 3323.

(B)  Motor vehicle offenses committed by an individual who is at least 16 years of age, except for violations of subchapter 13 of chapter 13 and of section 1091 of Title 23.        

(10)  “Delinquent child” means a child who has been adjudicated to have committed a delinquent act.

(11)  “Department” means the department for children and families.

(12)  “Guardian” means a person who, at the time of the commencement of the juvenile judicial proceeding, has legally established rights to a child pursuant to an order of a Vermont probate court or a similar court in another jurisdiction.

(13)  “Judge” means a judge of the family court.

(14)  “Juvenile judicial proceedings chapters” means this chapter and chapters 52 and 53 of this title.

(15)  “Juvenile proceeding” means a proceeding in the family court under the authority of the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.

(16)(A)  “Legal custody” means the legal status created by order of the court under the authority of the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters which invests in a party to a juvenile proceeding or another person the following rights and responsibilities:

(i)  The right to routine daily care and control of the child and to determine where and with whom the child shall live.

(ii)  The authority to consent to major medical, psychiatric, and surgical treatment for a child.

(iii)  The responsibility to protect and supervise a child and to provide the child with food, shelter, education, and ordinary medical care. 

(iv)  The authority to make decisions which concern the child and are of substantial legal significance, including the authority to consent to marriage and enlistment in the armed forces of the United States, and the authority to represent the child in legal actions.

(B)  If legal custody is transferred to a person other than a parent, the rights, duties, and responsibilities so transferred are subject to the residual parental rights of the parents.

(17)  “Listed crime” means the same as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301.

(18)  “Noncustodial parent” means a parent who is not a custodial parent at the time of the commencement of the juvenile proceeding.

(19)  “Officer” means a law enforcement officer, including a state police officer, sheriff, deputy sheriff, municipal police officer, or constable who has been certified by the criminal justice training council pursuant to section 2358 of Title 20.

(20)  “Parent” means a child’s biological or adoptive parent, including custodial parents, noncustodial parents, parents with legal or physical responsibilities or both and parents whose rights have never been adjudicated.

(21)  “Parent-child contact” means the right of a parent to have visitation with the child by court order.

(22)  “Party” includes the following persons:

(A)  The child with respect to whom the proceedings are brought.

(B)  The custodial parent, the guardian, or the custodian of the child in all instances except a hearing on the merits of a delinquency petition. 

(C)  The noncustodial parent for the purposes of custody, visitation, and such other issues  which the court may determine are proper and necessary to the proceedings, provided that the noncustodial parent has entered an appearance.

(D)  The state’s attorney.

(E)  The commissioner.

(F)  Such other persons as appear to the court to be proper and necessary to the proceedings.

(23)  “Probation” means the legal status created by order of the family court in proceedings involving a violation of law whereby a delinquent child is subject to supervision by the department under conditions specified in the court’s juvenile probation certificate and subject to return to and change of legal status by the family court for violation of conditions of probation at any time during the period of probation.

(24)  “Protective supervision” means the authority granted by the court to the department in a juvenile proceeding to take reasonable steps to monitor compliance with the court’s conditional custody order, including unannounced visits to the home in which the child currently resides.

(25)  “Reasonable efforts” means the exercise of due diligence by the department to use appropriate and available services to prevent unnecessary removal of the child from the home or to finalize a permanency plan.  When making the reasonable efforts determination, the court may find that no services were appropriate or reasonable considering the circumstances.  If the court makes written findings that aggravated circumstances are present, the court may make, but shall not be required to make, written findings as to whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent removal of the child from the home.  Aggravated circumstances may exist if:

(A)  a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the parent has subjected a child to abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse;

(B)  a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the parent has been convicted of murder or manslaughter of a child;

(C)  a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that the parent has been convicted of a felony crime that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent; or

(D)  the parental rights of the parent with respect to a sibling have been involuntarily terminated.

(26)  “Residual parental rights and responsibilities” means those rights and responsibilities remaining with the parent after the transfer of legal custody of the child, including the right to reasonable contact with the child, the responsibility for support, and the right to consent to adoption.

(27)  “Shelter” means a shelter designated by the commissioner where a child taken into custody pursuant to subdivision 5301(3) of this title may be held for a period not to exceed seven days.

(28)  “Youth” shall mean a person who is the subject of a motion for youthful offender status or who has been granted youthful offender status.

§ 5103.  Jurisdiction  

(a)  The family court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all proceedings concerning a child who is or who is alleged to be a delinquent child or a child in need of care or supervision brought under the authority of the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters, except as otherwise provided in such chapters.

(b)  Orders issued under the authority of the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters shall take precedence over orders in other family court proceedings and any order of another court of this state, to the extent they are inconsistent.  This section shall not apply to child support orders in a divorce, parentage, or relief from abuse proceedings until a child support order has been issued in the juvenile proceeding.

(c)  Except as otherwise provided by this title, jurisdiction over a child shall not be extended beyond the child’s 18th birthday.

(d)  The court may terminate its jurisdiction over a child prior to the child’s 18th birthday by order of the court.  If the child is not subject to another juvenile proceeding, jurisdiction shall terminate automatically in the following circumstances:

(1)  Upon the discharge of a child from juvenile probation, providing the child is not in the legal custody of the commissioner.

(2)  Upon an order of the court transferring legal custody to a parent, guardian, or custodian without conditions or protective supervision.

(3)  Upon the adoption of a child following a termination of parental rights proceeding.

§ 5104.   Retention of jurisdiction over youthful offenders    

(a)  The family court may retain jurisdiction over a youthful offender up to the age of 22.

(b)  In relation to the retention of jurisdiction provision of subsection (a) of this section, any party may request, or the court on its own motion may schedule, a hearing to determine the propriety of extending the jurisdictional time period.  This hearing shall be held within the three-month time period immediately preceding the child’s 18th birthday, and the order of continued jurisdiction shall be executed by the court on or before that birthday. In determining the need for continued jurisdiction, the court shall consider the following factors:

(1)  the extent and nature of the child’s record of delinquency;

(2)  the nature of past and current treatment efforts and the nature of the child’s response to them;

(3)  the prospects for reasonable rehabilitation of the child by use of procedures, services, and facilities currently available to the court; and

(4)  whether the safety of the community will best be served by a continuation of jurisdiction.

(c)  A hearing under subsection (b) of this section shall be held in accordance with the procedures provided in section 5113 of this title.

§ 5105.  Venue and Change of Venue 

(a)  Proceedings under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters may be commenced in the county where:

(1)  the child is domiciled;

(2)  the acts constituting the alleged delinquency occurred; or

(3)  the child is present when the proceedings commenced, if it is alleged that a child is in need of care or supervision.

(b)  If a child or a parent, guardian, or custodian changes domicile during the course of a proceeding under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters or if the petition is not brought in the county in which the child is domiciled, the court may change venue upon the motion of a party or its own motion, taking into consideration the domicile of the child and the convenience of the parties and witnesses.

§ 5106.  Powers and duties of commissioner

Subject to the limitations of the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters or those imposed by the court, and in addition to any other powers granted to the commissioner under the laws of this state, the commissioner has the following authority with respect to a child who is or may be the subject of a petition brought under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters: 

(1)  To undertake assessments and make reports and recommendations to the court as authorized by the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.

(2)  To investigate complaints and allegations that a child is in need of care or supervision for the purpose of considering the commencement of proceedings under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.

(3)  To supervise and assist a child who is placed under the commissioner’s supervision or in the commissioner’s legal custody by order of the court.

(4)  To place a child who is in the commissioner’s  legal custody in a family home or a treatment, rehabilitative, detention, or educational facility or institution subject to the provisions of sections 5292 and 5293 of this title.  To the extent that it is appropriate and possible siblings in the commissioner’s custody shall be placed together. 

(5)  To make appropriate referrals to private or public agencies.

(6)  To perform such other functions as are designated by the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.

§ 5107.  Contempt power   

Subject to the laws relating to the procedures therefor and the limitations thereon, the court has the power to punish any person for contempt of court for disobeying an order of the court or for obstructing or interfering with the proceedings of the court or the enforcement of its orders.


§ 5108.  Authority to issue warrants  

(a)  The court may order a parent, guardian, or custodian to appear at any hearing or to appear at the hearing with the child who is the subject of a petition.

(b)  If, after being summoned, cited, or otherwise notified to appear, a party fails to do so, the court may issue a warrant for the person’s appearance. 

(c)  If the child is with the parent, guardian, or custodian, the court may issue a warrant for the person to appear in court with the child or, in the alternative, the court may issue an order for an officer to pick up the child and bring the child to court.

(d)  If a summons cannot be served or the welfare of the child requires that the child be brought forthwith to the court, the court may issue a warrant for the parent, guardian, or custodian to appear in court with the child.  In the alternative, the court may issue an order for an officer to pick up the child and bring the child to court during court hours.

(e)  A person summoned who fails to appear without reasonable cause may be found in contempt of court.

§ 5109.  Subpoena 

Upon application of a party or on the court’s own motion, the clerk of the court shall issue subpoenas requiring attendance and testimony of witnesses and production of papers at any hearing under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.

§ 5110.  Conduct of hearings 

(a)  Hearings under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters shall be conducted by the court without a jury and shall be confidential.  

(b)  The general public shall be excluded from hearings under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters, and only the parties, their counsel, witnesses, persons accompanying a party for his or her assistance, and such other persons as the court finds to have a proper interest in the case or in the work of the court, including a foster parent or a representative of a residential program where the child resides, may be admitted by the court.  This subsection shall not prohibit a victim’s exercise of his or her rights under sections 5333 and 5234 of this title, and as otherwise provided by law. 

(c)  There shall be no publicity given by any person to any proceedings under the authority of the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters except with the consent of the child, the child’s guardian ad litem, and the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian.  A person who violates this provision may be subject to contempt proceedings pursuant to Rule 16 of the Vermont Rules for Family Proceedings.

§ 5111.  Noncustodial Parents    

(a)  If a child is placed in the legal custody of the department and the identity of a parent has not been legally established at the time the petition is filed, the court may order that the mother, the child, and the alleged father submit to genetic testing and may issue an order establishing parentage pursuant to subchapter 3A of Title 15.  A parentage order issued pursuant to this subsection shall not be deemed to be a confidential record.

(b)  If a child is placed in the legal custody of the department, the department shall make reasonably diligent efforts to locate a noncustodial parent as early in the proceedings as possible, and notify the court of the noncustodial parent’s address.  A hearing shall not be delayed by reason of the inability of the department to locate or serve a noncustodial parent. 

(c)  The court may order a custodial parent to provide the department with information regarding the identity and location of a noncustodial parent.

(d)  As soon as his or her address is known, a noncustodial parent shall be served with the petition and a copy of the summons.  Thereafter, the court shall mail notices of the hearing to the noncustodial parent.  The noncustodial parent shall be responsible for providing the court with information regarding any changes in address.

§ 5112.  Attorney and guardian ad litem for child  

(a)  The court shall appoint an attorney for a child who is a party to a proceeding brought under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters. 

(b)  The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for a child who is a party to a proceeding brought under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.  In a delinquency proceeding, a parent, guardian, or custodian of the child may serve as a guardian ad litem for the child, providing his or her interests do not conflict with the interests of the child.  The guardian ad litem appointed under this section shall not be a party to that proceeding or an employee or representative of such party.

§ 5113.  Modification or vacation of orders 

(a)  An order of the court may be set aside in accordance with Rule 60 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.

(b)  Upon motion of a party or the court’s own motion, the court may amend, modify, set aside, or vacate an order on the grounds that a change in circumstances requires such action to serve the best interests of the child.  The motion shall set forth in concise language the grounds upon which the relief is requested.

(c)  Any order under this section shall be made after notice and hearing; however, the court may waive the hearing upon stipulation of the parties.  All evidence helpful in determining the questions presented, including hearsay, may be admitted and relied upon to the extent of its probative value, even though not competent in a hearing on the petition.

§ 5114.  Best interests of the child 

(a)  At the time of a permanency review under section 5321 of this title, a modification hearing under section 5113 of this title, or at any time a petition or request to terminate all residual parental rights of a parent without limitation as to adoption is filed by the commissioner or the attorney for the child, the court shall consider the best interests of the child in accordance with the following:

(1)  The interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents, siblings, foster parents, if any, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests.

(2)  The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community.

(3)  The likelihood that the parent will be able to resume or assume parental duties within a reasonable period of time.

(4)  Whether the parent has played and continues to play a constructive role, including personal contact and demonstrated emotional support and affection, in the child’s welfare.

(b)  Except in cases where a petition or request to terminate all residual parental rights of a parent without limitation as to adoption is filed by the commissioner or the attorney for the child, the court shall also consider whether the parent is capable of playing a constructive role, including demonstrating emotional support and affection, in the child’s welfare.

§ 5115.  Protective order 

(a)  On motion of a party or on the court’s own motion, the court may make an order restraining or otherwise controlling the conduct of a person if the court finds that such conduct is or may be detrimental or harmful to a child.

(b)  The person against whom the order is directed shall be served with notice of the motion and the grounds therefor and be given an opportunity to be heard.

(c)  Upon a showing that there is a risk of immediate harm to a child, the court may issue a protective order ex parte.  A hearing on the motion shall be held no more than 10 days after the issuance of the order.

(d)  The court may review any protective order at a subsequent hearing to determine whether the order should remain in effect.

(e)  A person who is the subject of an order issued pursuant to this section and who intentionally violates a provision of the order that concerns contact between the child and that person shall be punished in accordance with 13 V.S.A. § 1030.

§ 5116.  Costs and expenses for care of child 

(a)  The commissioner may incur such expenses for the proper care, maintenance, and education of a child, including without limitation, the expenses of medical, surgical, or psychiatric examination or treatment, as the commissioner considers necessary in connection with proceedings under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.

(b)  The costs of any proceeding under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters incurred under the provisions of Title 33 shall be borne by the court.

(c)  The court may, in any order of disposition under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters, make and enforce by levy and execution an order of child support to be paid by the parent of the child.

(d)  The court may delegate to the office of magistrate its authority to make and enforce an order of child support to be paid by the parent of a child.

(e)  A child support order shall only remain in effect as long as the child who is the subject of the support order is in the legal custody of the commissioner and placed with someone other than the parent or parents responsible for support.

(f)  Except as otherwise provided in section 5119 of this title, orders issued pursuant to this section shall not be confidential.

(g)  Notwithstanding subsection 5103(b) of this title, an order terminating a parent’s residual parental rights ends that parent’s obligation to pay child support.  However, in no event shall an order terminating residual parental rights terminate an obligation for child support arrearages accrued by the parent prior to the date of the termination of parental rights order.

§ 5117.  records OF JUVENILE JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS  

(a)  Except as otherwise provided, court and law enforcement reports and files concerning a person subject to the jurisdiction of the court shall be maintained separate from the records and files of other persons.  Unless a charge of delinquency is transferred for criminal prosecution under chapter 52 of this title or the court otherwise orders in the interests of the child, such records and files shall not be open to public inspection nor their contents disclosed to the public by any person.  However, upon a finding that a child is a delinquent child by reason of commission of a delinquent act which would have been a felony if committed by an adult, the court, upon request of the victim, shall make the child’s name available to the victim of the delinquent act.  If the victim is incompetent or deceased, the child’s name shall be released, upon request, to the victim’s guardian or next of kin.

(b)(1)  Notwithstanding the foregoing, inspection of such records and files by the following is not prohibited:

(A)  A court having the child before it in any juvenile judicial proceeding.

(B)  The officers of public institutions or agencies to whom the child is committed as a delinquent child.

(C)  A court in which a person is convicted of a criminal offense for the purpose of imposing sentence upon or supervising the person, or by officials of penal institutions and other penal facilities to which the person is committed, or by a parole board in considering the person’s parole or discharge or in exercising supervision over the person.

(D)  Court personnel, the state’s attorney or other prosecutor authorized to prosecute criminal or juvenile cases under state law, the child’s guardian ad litem, the attorneys for the parties, probation officers, and law enforcement officers who are actively participating in criminal or juvenile proceedings involving the child.

(E)  The child who is the subject of the proceeding, the child’s parents, guardian, custodian, and guardian ad litem may inspect such records and files upon approval of the family court judge.

(F)  Any other person who has a need to know may be designated by order of the family court.

(2)  Files inspected under this subsection shall be marked: UNLAWFUL DISSEMINATION OF THIS INFORMATION IS A CRIME PUNISHABLE BY A FINE UP TO $2,000.00.

(c)  Upon motion of a party in a divorce or parentage proceeding related to parental rights and responsibilities for a child or parent-child contact, the court may order that court records in a juvenile proceeding involving the same child or children be released to the parties in the divorce proceeding.  Files inspected under this subsection shall be marked:  UNLAWFUL DISSEMINATION OF THIS INFORMATION IS A CRIME PUNISHABLE BY A FINE OF UP TO $2,000.00.  The public shall not have access to records from a juvenile proceeding that are filed with the court or admitted into evidence in the divorce or parentage proceeding.

(d)  Such records and files shall be available to state’s attorneys and all other law enforcement officers in connection with record checks and other legal purposes.

(e)  Any records or reports relating to a matter within the jurisdiction of the court prepared by or released by the court or the department for children and families, any portion of those records or reports, and information relating to the contents of those records or reports shall not be disseminated by the receiving persons or agencies to any persons or agencies, other than those persons or agencies authorized to receive documents pursuant to this section.

(f)  This section does not provide access to records sealed in accordance with section 5119 of this title unless otherwise provided in section 5119.

§ 5118.  Limited exception to confidentiality of records of juveniles maintained by the family court 

(a)  For the purposes of this section:

(1)  “Delinquent act requiring notice” means conduct resulting in a delinquency adjudication related to a listed crime as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301(7).

(2)  “Independent school” means an approved or recognized independent school under 16 V.S.A. § 166.

(b)  While records of juveniles maintained by the family court should be kept confidential, it is the policy of the general assembly to establish a limited exception for the overriding public purposes of rehabilitating juveniles and protecting students and staff within Vermont’s public and independent schools.

(c)  Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a court finding that a child has committed a delinquent act requiring notice shall, within seven days of such finding, provide written notice to the superintendent of schools for the public school in which the child is enrolled or, in the event the child is enrolled in an independent school, the school’s headmaster.

(d)  The written notice shall contain only a description of the delinquent act found by the court to have been committed by the child and shall be marked: “UNLAWFUL DISSEMINATION OF THIS INFORMATION IS A CRIME PUNISHABLE BY A FINE UP TO $2,000.00.”  The envelope in which the notice is sent by the court shall be marked:  “CONFIDENTIAL:  TO BE OPENED BY THE SUPERINTENDENT OR HEADMASTER ONLY.”

(e)  The superintendent or headmaster, upon receipt of the notice, shall inform only those persons within the child’s school with a legitimate need to know of the delinquent act, and only after first evaluating rehabilitation and protection measures that do not involve informing staff or students.  Persons with a legitimate need to know are strictly limited to only those for whom the information is necessary for the rehabilitation program of the child or for the protection of staff or students.  “Need to know” shall be narrowly and strictly interpreted.  Persons receiving information from the superintendent or headmaster shall not, under any circumstances, discuss such information with any other person except the child, the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian, others who have been similarly informed by the superintendent or headmaster, law enforcement personnel, or the juvenile’s probation officer.

(f)  The superintendent and headmaster annually shall provide training to school staff about the need for confidentiality of such information and the penalties for violation of this section.

(g)  The written notice shall be maintained by the superintendent or headmaster in a file separate from the child’s education record.  If the child transfers to another public or independent school, the superintendent or headmaster shall forward the written notice in the original marked envelope to the superintendent or headmaster for the school to which the child transferred.  If the child either graduates or turns 18 years of age, the superintendent or headmaster then possessing the written notice shall destroy such notice.

(h)  If legal custody of the child is transferred to the commissioner, or if the commissioner is supervising the child’s probation, upon the request by a superintendent or headmaster, the commissioner shall provide to the superintendent or headmaster information concerning the child which the commissioner determines is necessary for the child’s rehabilitation or for the protection of the staff or students in the school in which the child is enrolled.

(i)  A person who intentionally violates the confidentiality provisions of this section shall be fined not more than $2,000.00.

(j)  Except as provided in subsection (i) of this section, no liability shall attach to any person who transmits, or fails to transmit, the written notice required under this section.

§ 5119.  Sealing of records  

(a)(1)  In matters relating to a child who has been adjudicated delinquent on or after July 1, 1996, the court shall order the sealing of all files and records related to the proceeding if two years have elapsed since the final discharge of the person unless, on motion of the state’s attorney, the court finds: 

(A)  the person has been convicted of a listed crime as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301 or adjudicated delinquent of such an offense after such initial adjudication, or a proceeding is pending seeking such conviction or adjudication; or 

(B)  rehabilitation of the person has not been attained to the satisfaction of the court. 

(2)  At least 60 days prior to the date upon which a person is eligible to have his or her delinquency record automatically sealed pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection, the court shall provide such person’s name and other identifying information to the state’s attorney in the county in which the person was adjudicated delinquent.  The state’s attorney may object, and a hearing may be held to address the state’s attorney’s objection. 

(3)  The order to seal shall include all the files and records relating to the matter in accordance with subsection (d) of this section; however, the court may limit the order to the court files and records only upon good cause shown by the state’s attorney.

(4)  The process of sealing files and records under this subsection for a child who was adjudicated delinquent on or after July 1, 1996, but before July 1, 2001 shall be completed by January 1, 2010.  The process of sealing files and records under this subsection for a child who was adjudicated delinquent on or after July 1, 2001 but before July 1, 2004 shall be completed by January 1, 2008. 

(b)  In matters relating to a child who has been adjudicated delinquent prior to July 1, 1996, on application of the child or on the court’s own motion and after notice to all parties of record and hearing, the court shall order the sealing of all files and records related to the proceeding if it finds: 

(1)  the person has not been convicted of a listed crime as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301 or adjudicated delinquent for such an offense after such initial adjudication, and no new proceeding is pending seeking such conviction or adjudication; and 

(2)  the person’s rehabilitation has been attained to the satisfaction of the court. 

(c)  On application of a person who, while a child, was found to be in need of care or supervision or, on the court’s own motion, after notice to all parties of record and hearing, the court may order the sealing of all files and records related to the proceeding if it finds: 

(1)  the person has reached the age of majority; and

(2)  sealing the person’s record is in the interest of justice.

(d)  Except as provided in subdivision (a)(3) and subsection (h) of this section or otherwise provided, orders issued in accordance with this section shall include the files and records of the court, law enforcement, prosecution, and the department for children and families related to the specific court proceeding that is the subject of the sealing. 

(e)(1)  Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, upon the entry of an order sealing such files and records under this section, the proceedings in the matter under this act shall be considered never to have occurred, all general index references thereto shall be deleted, and the person, the court, and law enforcement officers and departments shall reply to any request for information that no record exists with respect to such person upon inquiry in any matter.  Copies of the order shall be sent to each agency or official named in the order. 

(2)(A)  Any court, agency, or department that seals a record pursuant to an order under this section may keep a special index of files and records that have been sealed.  This index shall only list the name and date of birth of the subject of the sealed files and records and the docket number of the proceeding which was the subject of the sealing.  The special index shall be confidential and may be accessed only for purposes for which a department or agency may request to unseal a file or record pursuant to subsection (f) of this section. 

(B)  Access to the special index shall be restricted to the following persons: 

(i)  the commissioner and general counsel of any administrative department; 

(ii)  the secretary and general counsel of any administrative agency;

(iii)  a sheriff;

(iv)  a police chief; 

(v)  a state’s attorney; 

(vi)  the attorney general; 

(vii)  the director of the Vermont crime information center; and

(viii)  a designated clerical staff person in each office identified in subdivisions (i)–(vii) of this subdivision (B) who is necessary for establishing and maintaining the indices for persons who are permitted access. 

(C)  Persons authorized to access an index pursuant to subdivision (B) of this subdivision (2) may access only the index of their own department or agency. 

(f)(1)  Except as provided in subdivisions (2), (3), and (4) of this subsection, inspection of the files and records included in the order may thereafter be permitted by the court only upon petition by the person who is the subject of such records, and only to those persons named in the record. 

(2)  Upon a confidential motion of any department or agency that was required to seal files and records pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, the court may permit the department or agency to inspect its own files and records if it finds circumstances in which the department or agency requires access to such files and records to respond to a legal action, a legal claim, or an administrative action filed against the department or agency in relation to incidents or persons that are the subject of such files and records.  The files and records shall be unsealed only for the minimum time necessary to address the circumstances enumerated in this subdivision, at which time the records and files shall be resealed. 

(3)  Upon a confidential motion of the department for children and families, the court may permit the department to inspect its own files and records if the court finds extraordinary circumstances in which the state’s interest in the protection of a child clearly outweighs the purposes of the juvenile sealing law and the privacy rights of the person or persons who are the subjects of the record, and the sealed record is necessary to accomplish the state’s interest.  The motion may be heard ex parte if the court, based upon an affidavit, finds a compelling purpose exists to deny notice to the subject of the files and records when considering whether to grant the order.  If the order to unseal is issued ex parte, the court shall send notice of the unsealing to the subject of the files and records within 20 days unless the department provides a compelling reason why the subject of the files and records should not receive notice.  The files and records shall be unsealed only for the minimum time necessary to address the extraordinary circumstances, at which time the files and records shall be resealed. 

(4)  Upon a confidential motion of a law enforcement officer or prosecuting attorney, the court may permit the department or agency to inspect its own files and records if the court finds extraordinary circumstances in which the state’s interest in public safety clearly outweighs the purposes of the juvenile sealing law and the privacy rights of the person or persons who are the subjects of the record, and the sealed record is necessary to accomplish the state’s interest.  The motion may be heard ex parte if the court, based upon an affidavit, finds a compelling public safety purpose exists to deny notice to the subject of the files and records when considering whether to grant the order.  If the order to unseal is issued ex parte, the court shall send notice of the unsealing to the subject of the files and records within 20 days unless the law enforcement officer or prosecuting attorney provides a compelling public safety reason why the subject of the files and records should not receive notice.  The files and records shall be unsealed only for the minimum time necessary to address the extraordinary circumstances, at which time the files and records shall be resealed. 

(5)  The order unsealing a record must state whether the record is unsealed entirely or in part and the duration of the unsealing.  If the court’s order unseals only part of the record or unseals the record only as to certain persons, the order must specify the particular records that are unsealed or the particular persons who may have access to the record, or both. 

(g)  On application of a person who has pleaded guilty to or has been convicted of the commission of a crime committed under the laws of this state prior to attaining the age of majority, or on the motion of the court having jurisdiction over such a person, after notice to all parties of record and hearing, the court shall order the sealing of all files and records related to the proceeding if it finds:  

(1)  two years have elapsed since the final discharge of the person;  

(2)  the person has not been convicted of a listed crime as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301 or adjudicated delinquent for such an offense after the initial conviction, and no new proceeding is pending seeking such conviction or adjudication; and

(3)  the person’s rehabilitation has been attained to the satisfaction of the court. 

(h)(1)  In matters relating to a person who was charged with a criminal offense on or after July 1, 2006 and prior to the person attaining the age of majority, the files and records of the court applicable to the proceeding shall be sealed immediately if the case is dismissed.

(2)  In matters relating to a person who was charged with a criminal offense prior to July 1, 2006 and prior to the person attaining the age of majority, the person may apply to seal the files and records of the court applicable to the proceeding.  The court shall order the sealing, provided that two years have elapsed since the dismissal of the charge. 

(i)  Upon receipt of a court order to seal a record relating to an offense for which there is an identifiable victim, a state’s attorney shall record the name and date of birth of the victim, the offense, and the date of the offense.  The name and any identifying information regarding the defendant shall not be recorded.  Victim information retained by a state’s attorney pursuant to this subsection shall be available only to victims’ advocates, the victims’ compensation program, and the victim and shall otherwise be confidential. 

(j)  For purposes of this section, to “seal” a file or record means to physically and electronically segregate the record in a manner that ensures confidentiality of the record and limits access only to those persons who are authorized by law or court order to view the record.  A “sealed” file or record is retained and shall not be destroyed unless a court issues an order to expunge the record. 

(k)  The court shall provide assistance to persons who seek to file an application for sealing under this section. 

(l)  Any entities subject to sealing orders pursuant to this section shall establish policies for implementing this section and shall provide a copy of such policies to the house and senate committees on judiciary no later than January 15, 2007.  State’s attorneys, sheriffs, municipal police, and the judiciary are encouraged to adopt a consistent policy that may apply to each of their independent offices and may submit one policy to the general assembly. 

§ 5120.  Indian Child Welfare Act

The federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., governs any proceeding under this title that pertains to an Indian child, as defined by the Indian Child Welfare Act, and prevails over any inconsistent provision of this title.

§ 5121.  CASE PLANNING PROCESS

The department shall actively engage families, and solicit and integrate into the case plan the input of the child, the child’s family, relatives and other persons with a significant relationship to the child.  Whenever possible, parents, guardians and custodians shall participate in the development of the case plan.

§ 5122.  MISCONDUCT DURING COURT PROCEEDINGS

A person who engages in misconduct while participating in a court proceeding under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters may be subject to appropriate sanctions, including criminal charges, as provided by relevant law, regulation, rule, or employment policy.  The confidentiality requirements of subsection 5110(c) of this title shall not apply to the extent necessary to report and respond to allegations of misconduct under the juvenile judicial proceedings chapters.  This section shall not be construed to create a private right of action or a waiver of sovereign immunity.

Sec. 2.  33 V.S.A. chapter 52 is added to read:

Chapter 52.  DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS

Subchapter 1.  Commencement of Proceedings

§ 5201.  Commencement of Delinquency Proceedings  

(a)  Proceedings under this chapter shall be commenced by:

(1)  transfer to the court of a proceeding from another court as provided in section 5203 of this title; or

(2)  the filing of a delinquency petition by a state’s attorney.

(b)  If the proceeding is commenced by transfer from another court, no petition need be filed; however, the state’s  attorney shall provide to the court the name and address of the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian and the name and address of any noncustodial parent if known. 

(c)  Consistent with applicable provisions of Title 4, any proceeding concerning a child who is alleged to have committed an act specified in subsection 5204(a) of this title after attaining the age of 14, but not the age of 18, shall originate in district or superior court, provided that jurisdiction may be transferred in accordance with this chapter.

(d)  If the state requests that custody of the child be transferred to the department, a temporary care hearing shall be held as provided in subchapter 3 of this chapter.   

(e)  A petition may be withdrawn by the state’s attorney at any time prior to the hearing thereon, in which event the child shall be returned to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, the proceedings under this chapter terminated, and all files and documents relating thereto sealed under section 5119 of this title.

§ 5202.  Order of adjudication; noncriminal

(a)(1)  An order of the juvenile court in proceedings under this chapter shall not:

(A)  be deemed a conviction of crime;

(B)  impose any civil disabilities sanctions ordinarily resulting from a conviction; or

(C)  operate to disqualify the child in any civil service application or appointment.

(2)  Notwithstanding subdivision (1) of this subsection, an order of delinquency in proceedings transferred under subsection 5203(b) of this title, where the offense charged in the initial criminal proceedings was a violation of those sections of Title 23 specified in subdivision 801(a)(1), shall be an event in addition to those specified therein, enabling the commissioner of motor vehicles to require proof of financial responsibility under chapter 11 of Title 23.

(b)  The disposition of a child and evidence given in a hearing in a juvenile proceeding shall not be admissible as evidence against the child in any case or proceeding in any other court except after a subsequent conviction of a felony in proceedings to determine the sentence.

§ 5203.  Transfer from other courts

(a)  If it appears to a district court that the defendant was under the age of 16 years at the time the offense charged was alleged to have been committed and the offense charged is not one of those specified in subsection 5204(a) of this title, that court shall forthwith transfer the case to the juvenile court under the authority of this chapter.

(b)  If it appears to a district court that the defendant was over the age of 16 years and under the age of 18 years at the time the offense charged was alleged to have been committed, or that the defendant had attained the age of 14 but not the age of 16 at the time an offense specified in subsection 5204(a) of this title was alleged to have been committed, that court may forthwith transfer the proceeding to the juvenile court under the authority of this chapter, and the minor shall thereupon be considered to be subject to this chapter as a child charged with a delinquent act.

(c)  If it appears to the state’s attorney that the defendant was over the age of 16 and under the age of 18 at the time the offense charged was alleged to have been committed and the offense charged is not an offense specified in subsection 5204(a) of this title, the state’s attorney may file charges in a juvenile court or the district court.  If charges in such a matter are filed in district court, the district court may forthwith transfer the proceeding to the juvenile court under the authority of this chapter, and the person shall thereupon be considered to be subject to this chapter as a child charged with a delinquent act.

(d)  Any such transfer shall include a transfer and delivery of a copy of the accusatory pleading and other papers, documents, and transcripts of testimony relating to the case.  Upon any such transfer, that court shall order that the defendant be taken forthwith to a place of detention designated by the juvenile court or to that court itself, or shall release the child to the custody of his or her parent or guardian or other person legally responsible for the child, to be brought before the juvenile court at a time designated by that court.  The juvenile court shall then proceed as provided in this chapter as if a petition alleging delinquency had been filed with the court under section 5223 of this title on the effective date of such transfer.

(e)  Motions to transfer a case to family court for youthful offender treatment shall be made under section 5281 of this title.  

§ 5204.  Transfer from juvenile court 

(a)  After a petition has been filed alleging delinquency, upon motion of the state’s attorney and after hearing, the juvenile court may transfer jurisdiction of the proceeding to district court, if the child had attained the age of 10 but not the age of 14 at the time the act was alleged to have occurred, and if the delinquent act set forth in the petition was any of the following:

(1)  arson causing death as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 501;

(2)  assault and robbery with a dangerous weapon as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 608(b);

(3)  assault and robbery causing bodily injury as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 608(c);

(4)  aggravated assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1024;

(5)  murder as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2301;

(6)  manslaughter as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2304;

(7)  kidnapping as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2405;

(8)  unlawful restraint as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2406 or 2407;

(9)  maiming as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2701;

(10)  sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3252(a)(1) or (a)(2);

(11)  aggravated sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3253; or

(12)  burglary into an occupied dwelling as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1201(c).

(b)  The state’s attorney of the county where the juvenile petition is pending may move in the juvenile court for an order transferring jurisdiction under subsection (a) of this section within ten days of the filing of the petition alleging delinquency.  The filing of the motion to transfer jurisdiction shall automatically stay the time for the hearing provided for in section 5225 of this title, which stay shall remain in effect until such time as the juvenile court may deny the motion to transfer jurisdiction.

(c)  Upon the filing of a motion to transfer jurisdiction under subsection (b) of this section, the juvenile court shall conduct a hearing in accordance with procedures specified in subchapter 2 of this chapter to determine whether:

(1)  there is probable cause to believe that the child committed an act listed in subsection (a) of this section; and

(2)  public safety and the interests of the community would not be served by treatment of the child under the provisions of law relating to juvenile courts and delinquent children.

(d)  In making its determination as required under subsection (c) of this section, the court may consider, among other matters:

(1)  The maturity of the child as determined by consideration of his or her age, home, environment; emotional, psychological and physical maturity; and relationship with and adjustment to school and the community.

(2)  The extent and nature of the child’s prior record of delinquency.

(3)  The nature of past treatment efforts and the nature of the child’s response to them.

(4)  Whether the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated, or willful manner.

(5)  The nature of any personal injuries resulting from or intended to be caused by the alleged act.

(6)  The prospects for rehabilitation of the child by use of procedures, services, and facilities available through juvenile proceedings.

(7)  Whether the protection of the community would be better served by transferring jurisdiction from the juvenile court to the district court.

(e)  A transfer under this section shall terminate the jurisdiction of the juvenile court over the child only with respect to those delinquent acts alleged in the petition with respect to which transfer was sought.

(f)  The juvenile court, following completion of the transfer hearing, shall make written findings and, if the court orders transfer of jurisdiction from the juvenile court, shall state the reasons for that order.  If the juvenile court orders transfer of jurisdiction, the child shall be treated as an adult.  The state’s attorney shall commence criminal proceedings as in cases commenced against adults.

(g)  The order granting or denying transfer of jurisdiction shall not constitute a final judgment or order within the meaning of Rules 3 and 4 of the Vermont Rules of Appellate Procedure.

(h)  If a person who has not attained the age of 16 at the time of the alleged offense has been prosecuted as an adult and is not convicted of one of the acts listed in subsection (a) of this section but is convicted only of one or more lesser offenses, jurisdiction shall be transferred to the juvenile court for disposition.  A conviction under this subsection shall be considered an adjudication of delinquency and not a conviction of crime, and the entire matter shall be treated as if it had remained in juvenile court throughout.  In case of an acquittal for a matter specified in this subsection and in case of a transfer to juvenile court under this subsection, the court shall order the sealing of all applicable files and records of the court, and such order shall be carried out as provided in subsection 5119(e) of this title.

(i)  The record of a hearing conducted under subsection (c) of this section and any related files shall be open to inspection only by persons specified in subsections 5117(b) and (c) of this title in accordance with section 5119 of this title and by the attorney for the child.

§ 5205.  Fingerprints; photographs

(a)  Fingerprint files of a child under the jurisdiction of the court shall be kept separate from those of other persons under special security measures limited to inspection by law enforcement officers only on a need-to-know basis unless otherwise authorized by the court in individual cases.

(b)  Copies of fingerprints shall be maintained on a local basis only and not sent to central state or federal depositories except in national security cases.

(c)  Fingerprints of persons under the jurisdiction of the court shall be removed and destroyed when:

(1)  the petition alleging delinquency with respect to which such fingerprints were taken does not result in an adjudication of delinquency; or

(2)  jurisdiction of the court is terminated, provided that there has been no record of a criminal offense by the child after reaching 16 years of age.

(d)  If latent prints are found at the scene of an offense and there is reason to believe that a particular child was involved, the child may be fingerprinted for purposes of immediate comparison, and, if the result is negative, the fingerprint card shall be immediately destroyed.

(e)  No photograph shall be taken of any child when taken into custody without the consent of the judge unless the case is transferred for criminal proceeding.

(f)  A person who violates this section shall be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than $500.00, or both.

Subchapter 2.  Petition, Merits, and Disposition

§ 5221.  Citation and Notice to Appear at Preliminary Hearing 

(a)  Citation.  If an officer has probable cause to believe that a child has committed or is committing a delinquent act and the circumstances do not warrant taking the child into custody pursuant to subchapter 3 of this chapter, the officer may issue a citation to appear before a judicial officer in lieu of arrest.

(b)  Appearance in court.  A child who receives a citation described in this section shall appear at the court designated in the citation at the time and date specified in the citation unless otherwise notified by the court.

(c)  Notice to parent.  The officer who issues the citation shall also issue or cause to be issued a notice to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  The notice shall indicate the date, time, and place of the preliminary hearing and shall direct the responsible adult to appear at the hearing with the child.

(d)  Form.  The citation to appear shall be dated and signed by the issuing officer and shall direct the child to appear before a judicial officer at a stated time and place.  The citation shall state the name of the child to whom it is addressed, the delinquent act that the child is alleged to have committed, and a notice that the child is entitled to be represented by an attorney at the hearing and that an attorney will be appointed for the child if the parent or guardian is indigent and cannot afford an attorney.

(e)  Filing of citation.  The issuing officer shall sign the citation and file the citation and an affidavit as to probable cause with the state’s attorney.

§ 5222.  Petition; contents

(a)  The petition shall be supported by an affidavit as to probable cause.   The petition shall contain the following:

(1)  A concise statement of the facts which support the conclusion that the child has committed a delinquent act, together with a statement that it is in the best interests of the child that the proceedings be brought.

(2)  The name, date of birth, telephone number, and residence address, if known, of the child and the custodial and noncustodial parents or the guardian or custodian of the child, if other than parent.   If a parent is a participant in the Safe At Home Program pursuant to 15 V.S.A. § 1152, the petition shall so specify.


(b)  If a temporary care order has been issued or the state is requesting that custody be transferred to the commissioner, the petition shall contain jurisdictional information as required by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, 15 V.S.A. § 1032 et seq.

(c)  A petition alleging a delinquent act may not be amended to allege that a child is in need of care or supervision, and a child who has been adjudged a delinquent child as a result of a delinquency petition may not be subsequently adjudged a child in need of care or supervision, unless a separate petition alleging that the child is in need of care or supervision is filed.

§ 5223.  Filing of Petition 

(a)  When notice to the child is provided by citation, the state’s attorney shall file the petition and supporting affidavit at least ten days prior to the date for the preliminary hearing specified in the citation.

(b)  The court shall send or deliver a copy of the petition and affidavit to all persons required to receive notice, including the noncustodial parent, as soon as possible after the petition is filed and at least five days prior to the date set for the preliminary hearing..

§ 5224.   Failure to Appear at Preliminary Hearing  

If a child or custodial parent, guardian or custodian fails to appear at the preliminary hearing as directed by a citation, the court may issue a summons to appear, an order to have the child brought to court, or a warrant as provided in section 5108 of this title.

§ 5225.  Preliminary Hearing  

(a)  A preliminary hearing shall be held at the time and date specified on the citation or as otherwise ordered by the court.  If a child is taken into custody prior to the preliminary hearing, the preliminary hearing shall be at the time of the temporary care hearing. 

(b)  Counsel for the child shall be assigned prior to the preliminary hearing. 

(c)  At the preliminary hearing, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the child.  The guardian ad litem may be the child’s parent, guardian or custodian.  On its own motion or motion by the child’s attorney, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem other than a parent, guardian or custodian. 

(d)  At the preliminary hearing, a denial shall be entered to the allegations of the petition, unless the juvenile, after adequate consultation with the guardian ad litem and counsel, enters an admission.

(e)  The court may order the child to abide by conditions of release pending a merits or disposition hearing.

§ 5226.  Notification of conditions of release to victim in delinquency proceedings

A victim in a delinquency proceeding based on a listed crime shall be notified promptly by the prosecutor’s office when conditions of release are initially ordered or modified by the court and of the identity of the child when the conditions of release relate to the victim or a member of the victim’s family or current household.  A victim in a delinquency proceeding based on an act that is not a listed crime shall be notified promptly by the court when conditions of release are initially ordered or modified by the court and shall be notified promptly of the identity of the child when the conditions of release relate to the victim or a member of the victim’s family or current household.  Victims are entitled only to information contained in the conditions of release that pertain to the victim or a member of the victim’s family or current household.

§ 5227.  Timelines for pretrial and merits hearing  

(a)  Pre-trial hearing.  At the preliminary hearing, the court shall set a date for a pretrial hearing on the petition.  The pretrial hearing shall be held within 15 days of the preliminary hearing.  In the event there is no admission or dismissal at the pretrial hearing, the court shall set the matter for a hearing to adjudicate the merits of the petition.

(b)  Merits hearing.  Except for good cause shown, a merits hearing shall be held and merits adjudicated no later than 60 days from the date of the preliminary hearing.

§ 5228.  Constitutional Protections for a Child in Delinquency Proceedings

A child charged with a delinquent act need not be a witness against, nor otherwise incriminate, himself or herself.  Any extrajudicial statement, if constitutionally inadmissible in a criminal proceeding, shall not be used against the child.  Evidence illegally seized or obtained shall not be used over objection to establish the charge against the child.  A confession out of court is insufficient to support an adjudication of delinquency unless corroborated in whole or in part by other substantial evidence.

§ 5229.  Merits Adjudication  

(a)  The parties at a merits hearing in a delinquency proceeding shall be limited to the state’s attorney and the child who is the subject of the petition.  A merits adjudication hearing shall not proceed forward unless the child who is the subject of the delinquency petition is present in court.  

(b)  The state shall have the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the child has committed a delinquent act. 

(c)  If the child who is the subject of the delinquency petition enters an admission to the petition, the court shall not accept the admission without first addressing the child personally in open court and determining that:

(1)  the plea is voluntary;

(2)  the child understands the nature of the delinquent act charged, the right to contest the charge, and the rights which will be waived if the admission is accepted by the court; and

(3)  there is a factual basis for the delinquent act charged in the petition.

(d)  A merits hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Evidence. 

(e)  If the merits are contested, the court, after hearing the evidence, shall make its findings on the record. 

(f)  If the court finds that the allegations made in the petition have not been established beyond a reasonable doubt, the court shall dismiss the petition and vacate any orders transferring custody to the state or other person or any conditional custody orders.

(g)  If, based on the child’s admission or the evidence presented, the court finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the child has committed a delinquent act, the court shall order the department to prepare a disposition case plan within 28 days of the merits adjudication and shall set the matter for a disposition hearing.  In no event, shall a disposition hearing be held later than 35 days after a finding that a child is delinquent.

(h)  The court may proceed directly to disposition providing that the child, the custodial parent, the state’s attorney, and the department agree.

§ 5230.  Disposition Case Plan

(a)  Filing of case plan.  The department shall file a disposition case plan no later than 28 days from the date of the finding by the court that a child is delinquent.  The disposition case plan shall not be used or referred to as evidence prior to a finding that a child is delinquent.

(b)  Content of case plan.  A disposition case plan shall include, as appropriate:

(1)  An assessment of the child’s medical, psychological, social, educational, and vocational needs.

(2)  An assessment of the impact of the delinquent act on the victim and the community, including, whenever possible, a statement from the victim.

(3)  A description of the child’s home, school, community, and current living situation.

(4)  An assessment of the child’s and family’s strengths and risk factors.

(5)  Proposed conditions of probation which address the identified risks and provide for, to the extent possible, repair of the harm to victims and the community.  Proposed conditions may include a recommendation as to the term of probation. 

(6)  The plan of services shall describe the responsibilities of the child, the parent, guardian or custodian, the department, other family members, and treatment providers, including a description of the services required to achieve successful completion of the goals of probation and, if the child has been placed in the custody of the department, the permanency goal.

(c)  Case plan for child in custody.  If a child is in the custody of the commissioner at the time of disposition or if a transfer of custody is requested, the case plan shall include the following additional information:

(1)  A permanency goal if the child is in custody.  The long-term goal for a child found to be delinquent and placed in the custody of the department is a safe and permanent home.  A disposition case plan shall include a permanency goal and an estimated date for achieving the permanency goal.  The plan shall specify whether permanency will be achieved through reunification with a parent, custodian, or guardian; adoption; permanent guardianship; or other permanent placement.  In addition to a primary permanency goal, the plan may identify a concurrent permanency goal.

(2)  A recommendation with respect to custody for the child and a recommendation for parent-child contact if appropriate.

(3)  A request for child support if the child has been placed in the custody of the department or the department recommends a transfer of custody.

§ 5231.  Disposition Hearing

(a)  Timeline.  A disposition hearing shall be held no later than 35 days after a finding that a child is delinquent.

(b)  Hearing procedure.  If disposition is contested, all parties shall have the right to present evidence and examine witnesses.  Hearsay may be admitted and may be relied on to the extent of its probative value.   If reports are admitted, the parties shall be afforded an opportunity to examine those persons making the reports, but sources of confidential information need not be disclosed.

(c)  Standard of proof.  If the court terminates the parental rights of one or both parents, the standard of proof on the issue of such termination shall be clear and convincing evidence.  On all other issues, the standard of proof shall be a preponderance of the evidence. 

(d)  Termination of parental rights.  If the commissioner or the attorney for the child seeks an order terminating parental rights of one or both parents and transfer of custody to the commissioner without limitation as to adoption, the court shall consider the best interests of the child in accordance with section 5114 of this title.

(e)  Further hearing.  On its own motion or the motion of a party, the court may schedule a further hearing to obtain reports or other information necessary for the appropriate disposition of the case.  The court shall make an appropriate order for the temporary care of the child pending a final disposition order.  The court shall give scheduling priority to cases in which the child has been removed from the home.

§ 5232.  Disposition Order 

(a)  If a child is found to be a delinquent child, the court shall make such orders at disposition as may provide for:

(1)  the child’s supervision, care, and rehabilitation;

(2)  the protection of the community;

(3)  accountability to victims and the community for offenses committed; and

(4)  the development of competencies to enable the child to become a responsible and productive member of the community. 

(b)  In carrying out the purposes outlined in subsection (a) of this section, the court may:

(1)  Place the child on probation subject to the supervision of the commissioner, upon such conditions as the court may prescribe.  The length of probation shall be as prescribed by the court or until further order of the court.

(2)  Order custody of the child be given to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  For a fixed period of time following disposition, the court may order that custody be subject to such conditions and limitations as the court may deem necessary and sufficient to provide for the safety of the child and the community.   Conditions may include protective supervision for up to one year following the disposition order unless further extended by court order.    The court shall schedule regular review hearings to determine whether the conditions continue to be necessary.

(3)  Transfer custody of the child to a noncustodial parent, relative, or person with a significant connection to the child.

(4)  Transfer custody of the child to the commissioner.

(5)  Terminate parental rights and transfer custody and guardianship to the department without limitation as to adoption.

(c)  If the court orders the transfer of custody of the child pursuant to subdivisions (b)(4) and (5) of this section, the court shall establish a permanency goal for the child and adopt a case plan prepared by the department designed to achieve the permanency goal.  If the court determines that the plan proposed by the department does not adequately support the permanency goal for the child, the court may reject the plan proposed by the department and order the department to prepare and submit a revised plan for court approval.

§ 5233.  Victim’s statement at disposition proceeding; victim notification

(a)  Upon the filing of a delinquency petition, the court shall notify a victim of his or her rights as provided by law and his or her responsibilities regarding the confidential nature of juvenile proceedings.

(b)  A victim of a delinquent act has the right in a disposition proceeding to file with the court a written or recorded statement of the impact of the delinquent act on the victim and the need for restitution.  A victim of a delinquent act involving a listed crime also has the right to be present at the disposition hearing for the sole purpose of presenting to the court the impact of the delinquent act on the victim and the need for restitution.  A victim of a delinquent act that is not a listed crime may be present at the disposition hearing for the sole purpose of presenting to the court the impact of the delinquent act on the victim and the need for restitution if the court finds that the victim’s presence at the disposition hearing is in the best interests of the child and the victim.  The court shall take a victim’s views into consideration in the court’s disposition order.  A victim shall not be allowed to be personally present at any portion of the disposition hearing except to present the impact statement unless authorized by the court.

(c)  After an adjudication of delinquency has been made involving an act that is not a listed crime, the court shall inform the victim of the disposition of the case.  Upon request of the victim, the court may release to the victim the identity of the child if the court finds that release of the child’s identity to the victim is in the best interests of both the child and the victim.

(d)  After an adjudication of delinquency has been made involving an act that is a listed crime, the state’s attorney’s office shall inform the victim of the disposition in the case.  Upon request of the victim, the state’s attorney’s  office shall release to the victim the identity of the child. 

(e)  For the purposes of this section, disposition in the case shall include whether the child was placed on probation and information regarding conditions of probation relevant to the victim.

§ 5234.  Rights of victims in delinquency proceedings involving a listed crime

The victim in a delinquency proceeding involving a listed crime shall have the following rights:

(1)  To be notified by the prosecutor’s office in a timely manner when a predispositional or dispositional court proceeding is scheduled to take place and when a court proceeding of which he or she has been notified will not take place as scheduled.

(2)  To be notified by the prosecutor’s office as to whether delinquency has been found and disposition has occurred, including any conditions or restitution relevant to the victim.

(3)  To present a victim’s impact statement at the disposition hearing in accordance with subsection 5233(b) of this title and to be notified as to the disposition pursuant to subsection 5233(d) of this title.

(4)  Upon request, to be notified by the agency having custody of the delinquent child before he or she is discharged from a secure or staff-secured residential facility. The name of the facility shall not be disclosed.  An agency’s inability to give notification shall not preclude the release.  However, in such an event, the agency shall take reasonable steps to give notification of the release as soon thereafter as practicable.  Notification efforts shall be deemed reasonable if the agency attempts to contact the victim at the address or telephone number provided to the agency in the request for notification.

(5)  To obtain the name of the child in accordance with sections 5226 and 5233 of this title.

(6)  To be notified by the court of the victim’s rights under this section.

§ 5235.  JUVENILE RESTITUTION

(a)  Restitution shall be considered in every case in which a victim of a delinquent act has suffered a material loss.  For purposes of this section, “material loss” means uninsured property loss, uninsured out-of-pocket monetary loss, uninsured lost wages, and uninsured medical expenses.

(b)  When ordered, restitution may include:

(1)  return of property wrongfully taken from the victim;

(2)  cash, credit card, or installment payments paid to the restitution unit; and

(3)  payments in kind, if acceptable to the victim.

(c)  In awarding restitution, the court shall make findings in accordance with subdivision 5262(b)(2) of this title.

(d)  If restitution is ordered, the victim shall be entitled to payment from the crime victims’ restitution fund, pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 5363.  An order of restitution shall establish the amount of material loss incurred by the victim, which shall be the restitution judgment order.  Every order of restitution shall include:

(1)  the juvenile’s name and address;

(2)  the name of the victim;

(3)  the amount ordered; and

(4)  any co-defendant names if applicable.

(e)  In the event the juvenile is unable to pay the restitution judgment order at the time of disposition, the court shall fix the amount thereof, which shall not exceed an amount the juvenile can or will be able to pay, and shall fix the manner of performance or refer to a restorative justice program that will address how loss resulting from the delinquency will be addressed, subject to modification under section 5264 of this title.

(f)  The court shall transmit a copy of a restitution order to the restitution unit, which shall make payment to the victim in accordance with 13 V.S.A. § 5363.

(g)  To the extent that the victims’ compensation board has made payment to or on behalf of the victim in accordance with chapter 167 of Title 13, restitution, if imposed, shall be paid to the restitution unit, which shall make payment to the crime victims’ compensation fund.

(h)  When restitution is requested but not ordered, the court shall set forth on the record its reasons for not ordering restitution.

(i)  Any information concerning restitution payments made by a juvenile shall be available to the Vermont restitution unit for purposes of determining restitution obligations of adult and juvenile co-defendants.

(j)  In accordance with 13 V.S.A. § 5363, the restitution unit is authorized to make payments to victims of delinquent acts where restitution was ordered by a court prior to July 1, 2008, and the order was first entered on or after July 1, 2004.

(k)(1)  The restitution unit may bring an action to enforce a restitution order issued under this section in the superior or small claims court of the county where the offender resides or in the county where the order was issued.  In an action under this subsection, a restitution order issued in a juvenile proceeding shall be enforceable in superior or small claims court in the same manner as a civil judgment.  Superior and small claims court filing fees shall be waived for an action under this subsection, and for an action to renew a restitution judgment.

(2)  An action under this subsection may be brought only after the offender reaches 18 years of age, and shall not be subject to any limitations period.

(3)  For purposes of this subsection, a restitution order issued in a juvenile proceeding shall not be confidential.

Subchapter 3.  Children in Custody

§ 5251.  Taking into custody

A child may be taken into custody by an officer:

(1)  pursuant to the laws of arrest of this state;

(2)  pursuant to an order of the court under the provisions of this chapter and chapters 51 and 53 of this title; or

(3)  when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the child has committed a delinquent act; and that the child’s immediate welfare or the protection of the community, or both, require the child’s removal from the child’s current home.   

§ 5252.  Request for Emergency Care Order 

(a)  If an officer takes a child who is alleged to be delinquent into custody, the officer shall immediately notify the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian and release the child to the care of child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian unless the officer determines that the child’s immediate welfare or the protection of the community, or both, require the child’s continued removal from the home.

(b)  If the officer determines that the child’s immediate welfare, the protection of the community, or both, require the child’s continued removal from the home, the officer shall:

(1)  Take the child into custody pending either issuance of an emergency care order or direction from the state’s attorney to release the child.

(2)  Prepare an affidavit in support of a request for an emergency care order.  The affidavit shall include the reasons for taking the child into custody and, if known, placements with which the child is familiar, the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the child’s parents, guardians, or custodians, and the name, address, and phone number of any relative who has indicated an interest in taking temporary custody of the child.  The officer shall contact the department, and, if the department has knowledge of the reasons for the removal of the child, the department may prepare an affidavit as a supplement to the affidavit of the law enforcement officer.

(3)  Provide the affidavit to the state’s attorney. 

(c)  If the child is taken into custody during regular court hours, the state’s attorney shall immediately file a request for an emergency care order accompanied by the supporting affidavit or direct the immediate return of the child to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.    If the child is taken into custody after regular court hours or on a weekend or holiday, the state’s attorney or officer shall contact a judge to request an emergency care order or return the child to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  If an order is granted, the state’s attorney shall file the supporting affidavit with the family court on the next day that the court is open.  

(d)  If the judge denies a request for an emergency care order, the state’s attorney shall direct the immediate return of the child to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.    

§ 5253.  Emergency Care Order; CONDITIONAL CUSTODY ORDER

(a)(1)  Transfer of temporary custody.  The court may issue an emergency care order transferring temporary custody of the child to the department pending a temporary care hearing if the court determines that:

(A)  there is probable cause that the child has committed a delinquent act; and

(B)  continued residence in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare because:

(i)  the child cannot be controlled at home and is at risk of harm to self or others; or

(ii)  continued residence in the home will not safeguard the

well-being of the child and the safety of the community because of the serious and dangerous nature of the act the juvenile is alleged to have committed. 

(2)  The determination may be made ex parte, provided that it is reasonably supported by the affidavit prepared in accordance with subsection 5152(b) of this title. 

(b)  Contents of emergency care order.  The emergency care order shall contain:  

(1)  A written finding that the child’s continued residence in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare and the factual allegations that support that finding.

(2)  The date, hour, and place of the temporary care hearing to be held pursuant to section 5255 of this title.

(3)  Notice of a parent’s right to counsel at the temporary care hearing.

(c)  Conditional custody order.  If the court determines that the child may safely remain in the custody of the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, the court may deny the request for an emergency care order and issue an emergency conditional custody order.  The order shall contain:

(1)  Conditions and limitations necessary to protect the child, the community, or both.

(2)  The date, hour, and place of the temporary care hearing to be held pursuant to section 5255 of this title.

(3)  Notice of a parent’s right to counsel at the hearing. 

§ 5254.  Notice of Emergency Care Order and Temporary Care Hearing

(a)  Notice to custodial parent.  An officer shall deliver a copy of the emergency care order or conditional custody order to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian of the child.  If delivery cannot be made in a timely manner, the officer shall otherwise notify or cause to be notified the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian of the order, the date, time, and place of the temporary care hearing, and the right to counsel.  If the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian cannot be located, the officer shall so certify to the court in an affidavit describing the efforts made to locate the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.

(b)  Notice to noncustodial parent.  The department shall make reasonable efforts to locate any noncustodial parent and provide the noncustodial parent with the emergency care or conditional custody order, notice of the date, hour, and place of the temporary care hearing and of the right to counsel.  If the noncustodial parent cannot be located, the department shall provide to the court a summary of the efforts made to locate the noncustodial parent.

(c)  Notice to other parties.  The court shall notify the following persons of the date and time of the temporary care hearing:

(1)  The state’s attorney.

(2)  The department.

(3)  An attorney to represent the child.

(4)  A guardian ad litem for the child.

(5)  An attorney to represent each parent.  The attorney may be court-appointed in the event a parent is eligible, or may be an attorney who has entered an appearance on behalf of a parent.

§ 5255.  Temporary Care Hearing     

(a)  A temporary care hearing shall be held within 72 hours of the issuance of an emergency care order or conditional custody order under section 5253 of this title.  State holidays shall be excluded from the computation of 72 hours.  If the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian has not been notified in accordance with section 5254 of this title and does not appear or waive appearance at the temporary care hearing and files thereafter with the court an affidavit so showing, the court shall hold another temporary care hearing within one business day of the filing of the affidavit as if no temporary care hearing had theretofore been held.

(b)  If the state’s attorney is seeking a temporary care order, the state’s attorney shall file a petition on or before the temporary care hearing.  If the state’s attorney elects not to file a petition, the state’s attorney shall so notify the court, and the court shall vacate any temporary orders.

(c)  The following persons shall be present at the temporary care hearing:

(1)  The child.

(2)  The child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, unless he or she cannot be located or fails to appear in response to notice.

(3)  The child’s guardian ad litem.

(4)  An attorney for the child.

(5)  An attorney for the custodial parent, if requested.

(6)  A representative of the department.

(7)  The state’s attorney.

(d)   A noncustodial parent and his or her attorney shall have the right to be present at the hearing.  The hearing shall not be delayed by reason of the inability of the department to locate the noncustodial parent. 

(e)  The department shall provide the following information to the court at the hearing:

(1)  Any reasons for the child’s removal which are not set forth in the affidavit required pursuant to section 5252 of this title.

(2)  Services, if any, provided to the child and the family in an effort to prevent removal.

(3)  The need, if any, for continued custody of the child with the department pending a hearing to adjudicate the merits of the petition.

(4)  Services which could facilitate the return of the child to the custody of the parent or guardian.

(5)(A)  The identity of a noncustodial parent and any relatives known to the department who may be suitable, willing, and available to assume temporary custody of the child.

(B)  With respect to any person whom the department identifies pursuant to this subdivision, the department shall conduct an assessment of the suitability of the person to care for the child.  The assessment shall include consideration of the person’s ability to care for the child’s needs, a criminal history record as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2056a(a)(1) in accordance with subdivision (5)(C) of this subsection, and a check of allegations of prior child abuse or neglect by the person or by other adults in the person’s home.  The court may continue the hearing if necessary to permit the department to complete the assessment.

(C)  The department shall request from the Vermont criminal information center criminal history record information for any person being considered to assume temporary legal custody of the child pursuant to this subdivision.  The request shall be in writing and shall be accompanied by a release signed by the person.  The department through the Vermont criminal information center shall request criminal history record information from the appropriate state criminal repositories in all states in which it has reason to believe the person has resided or been employed.  If no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the department through the Vermont criminal information center shall request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation a national criminal history record check of the person's criminal history.  The request to the FBI shall be accompanied by a set of the person's fingerprints and a fee established by the Vermont criminal information center.  The Vermont criminal information center shall send the department the criminal history record from any state repository and the FBI of a person about whom a request is made under this subdivision or inform the department that no record exists.  The department shall promptly provide a copy of the criminal history record, if any, to the person and shall inform the person that he or she has the right to appeal the accuracy and completeness of the record through the Vermont criminal information center.  Upon completion of the process under this subdivision, the person's fingerprint card shall be destroyed.

(6)  Additional information as required by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act pursuant to 15 V.S.A. § 1037 and the Indian Child Welfare Act pursuant to 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq. 

(f)  All parties shall have the right to present evidence on their own behalf and examine witnesses.  Hearsay, to the extent it is deemed relevant and reliable by the court, shall be admissible.  The court may in its discretion limit testimony and evidence to only that which goes to the issues of removal, custody, and the child’s welfare. 

(g)  The temporary care hearing shall also be a preliminary hearing on the petition.

§ 5256.  Temporary Care Order

(a)  The court shall order that custody be returned to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that return to the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child because of any of the following:

(1)  The child cannot be controlled at home and is at risk of harm to self or others.

(2)  Continued residence in the home will not protect the community because of the serious and dangerous nature of the act the child is alleged to have committed.

(3)  The child’s welfare is otherwise endangered.

(b)  Upon a finding that any of the conditions set forth in subsection (a) of this section exists, the court may issue such temporary orders related to the custody of the child as it deems necessary and sufficient to protect the welfare and safety of the child, and the safety of the community, including:

(1)  A conditional custody order returning custody of the child to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, subject to such conditions and limitation as the court may deem necessary and sufficient to protect the child and the community.

(2)  An order transferring temporary custody of the child to a noncustodial parent or a relative.

(3)  A temporary care order transferring temporary custody of the child to the commissioner.

(c)(1)  If the court transfers custody of the child to the commissioner, the court shall issue a written temporary care order.  The order shall include:

(A)  a finding that remaining in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare and the facts upon which that finding is based; and

(B)  a finding as to whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent the unnecessary removal of the child from the home.

(2)  If at the conclusion of the hearing the court lacks sufficient evidence to make findings on whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent the removal of the child from the home, that determination shall be made at the next scheduled hearing in the case but, in any event, no later than 60 days after the issuance of the initial order removing a child from the home.

(3)  The order may include such other provisions as may be necessary for the protection and welfare of the child:

(A)  Conditions of release.

(B)  An order for parent-child contact under such terms and conditions as are necessary for the protection of the child.

(C)  An order that the department provide the child with services if legal custody of the child has been transferred to the commissioner.

(D)  An order that the department refer a parent to services.

(E)  A genetic testing order if parentage of the child is at issue.

(F)  An order that the department make diligent efforts to locate the noncustodial parent.

(G)  An order that the custodial parent provide the department with names of all potential noncustodial parents and relatives of the child.

(H)  An order establishing protective supervision and requiring the department to make appropriate service referrals for the child and the family if legal custody is transferred to an individual other than the commissioner.

(4)  In his or her discretion, the commissioner may provide assistance and services to children and families to the extent that funds permit, notwithstanding subdivision (3)(C) of this subsection.

§ 5257.  Filing of Initial Case Plan

(a)  If a temporary care order is issued granting custody to the commissioner, the department shall prepare and file with the court an initial case plan for the child and the family within 60 days of the child’s removal from the home.  The department shall provide a copy of the case plan to the parties, their attorneys, and the guardian ad litem.

(b)  The initial case plan shall not be used or referred to as evidence prior to a finding that the child has committed a delinquent act.

§ 5258.  PostDisposition Review and Permanency Review for Delinquents in Custody

Whenever custody of a delinquent child is transferred to the commissioner, the custody order of the court shall be subject to a postdisposition review hearing pursuant to section 5320 of this title and permanency reviews pursuant to section 5321 of this title.  At the permanency review, the court shall review the permanency plan and determine whether the plan advances the permanency goal recommended by the department.  The court may accept or reject the plan, but may not designate a particular placement for a child in the department’s legal custody.

Subchapter 4.  Probation

§ 5261.  Powers and responsibilities of the commissioner regarding juvenile probation

The commissioner shall be charged with the following powers and responsibilities regarding the administration of juvenile probation:

(1)  To maintain supervision of juveniles placed on probation.

(2)  To supervise the administration of juvenile probation services, including the authority to enter into contracts with community-based agencies to provide probation services which may include restitution and community service programs and to establish policies and standards and adopt rules regarding juvenile probation investigation, supervision, casework and caseloads, record-keeping, and the qualification of juvenile probation officers.

(3)  To prescribe rules, consistent with any orders of the court, governing the conduct of juveniles on probation.


§ 5262.  Conditions of probation

(a)  The conditions of probation shall be such as the court in its discretion deems necessary to ensure to the greatest extent reasonably possible that the juvenile will be provided a program of treatment, training, and rehabilitation consistent with the protection of the public interest. The court shall provide as an explicit condition of every juvenile probation certificate that if the juvenile is adjudicated a delinquent or is convicted of an adult crime while on probation, then the court may find the juvenile in violation of the conditions of probation.

(b)  The court may, as a condition of probation, require that the juvenile:

(1)  Work faithfully for a prescribed number of hours at a community service activity acceptable to the court or, if so ordered by the court, at a community service activity acceptable to a probation officer.

(2)  Make restitution or reparation to the victim of the juvenile’s conduct for the damage or injury which was sustained. When restitution or reparation is a condition of probation, the court shall fix the amount thereof.  The court shall further determine the amount the juvenile can or will be able to pay and fix the manner of performance.  In the alternative, the court may refer the determination of the amount, the ability to pay, and the manner of performance to a restorative justice panel.

(3)  Participate in programs designed to develop competencies to enable the child to become a responsible and productive member of the community. 

(4)  Refrain from purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition, any destructive device, or any dangerous weapon unless granted written permission by the court or juvenile probation officer.

(5)  Report to a juvenile probation officer at reasonable times as directed by the court or the probation officer.

(6)  Permit the juvenile probation officer to visit the juvenile at reasonable times at home or elsewhere.

(7)  Remain within the jurisdiction of the court unless granted permission to leave by the court or the probation officer.

(8)  Answer all reasonable inquiries by the juvenile probation officer and promptly notify the probation officer of any change in address or employment.

(9)  Satisfy any other conditions reasonably related to the juvenile’s rehabilitation.

(10)  Reside at home or other location specified by the court.

(11)  Attend or reside at an educational or vocational facility or a facility established for the instruction, recreation, or residence of persons on probation.

(12)  Work faithfully at suitable employment or faithfully pursue a course of study or of vocational training that will equip the juvenile for suitable employment.

(13)  Undergo available medical treatment, participate in psychiatric treatment or mental health counseling, and participate in alcohol or drug abuse assessment or treatment on an outpatient or inpatient basis.

§ 5263.  Juvenile probation certificate 

(a)  When a juvenile is placed on probation, the court shall issue a written juvenile probation certificate setting forth:

(1)  the name of the juvenile;

(2)  the nature of the delinquent act committed by the juvenile;

(3)  the date and place of the juvenile delinquency hearing;

(4)  the order of the court placing the juvenile on probation; and

(5)  the conditions of the juvenile’s probation.

(b)  The juvenile probation certificate shall be furnished to and signed by the juvenile and a custodial parent, guardian or custodian of the child, if other than parent.  It shall be fully explained to them, and they shall be informed about the consequences of violating the conditions of probation, including the possibility of revocation of probation.  A copy of the juvenile probation certificate shall also be furnished to the commissioner.  The probation certificate is not invalidated if it is not signed as required by this subsection.

(c)  The signature of a custodial parent, guardian, or custodian on a probation certificate shall constitute verification that the parent, guardian, or custodian understands the terms of juvenile probation and agrees to facilitate and support the child’s compliance with such terms and to attend treatment programs with the child as recommended by the treatment provider.

(d)  The juvenile probation certificate shall be full authority for the exercise by the commissioner of all the rights and powers over and in relation to the juvenile prescribed by law and by the order of the court.

§ 5264.  Modification of conditions  

(a)  During the period of probation, the court, on application of a juvenile probation officer, the state’s attorney, the juvenile, or on its own motion may modify the requirements imposed upon the juvenile or add further requirements authorized by section 5262 of this title.  A juvenile may request modification of a restitution issue determined by a restorative panel.

(b)  Whenever the court proposes any modification of the conditions of probation, the juvenile probationer shall have a reasonable opportunity to contest the modification prior to its imposition.

§ 5265.  Violation of conditions of probation 

(a)  If the juvenile fails to comply with conditions of probation, the state’s attorney, a juvenile probation officer, or the court on its own motion may initiate a proceeding to establish that the juvenile is in violation of probation conditions.

(b)  A juvenile probationer shall not be found in violation of conditions of probation unless the juvenile probationer is found to have violated a condition of probation, is again adjudicated a delinquent, or is convicted of a crime.

§ 5266.  Summons, apprehension, and detention of juvenile probationer

At any time before the discharge of a juvenile probationer or the termination of the period of probation:

(1)  The court may summon the juvenile to appear before it or may issue an order for the juvenile’s detention.

(2)  Any juvenile probation officer may detain a juvenile probationer or may authorize any officer to do so by giving the officer a written statement setting forth that the juvenile has, in the judgment of the juvenile probation officer, violated a condition of probation.  The written statement delivered with the juvenile by the detaining officer to the supervisor of the juvenile facility or residential program to which the juvenile is brought for detention shall be sufficient authority for detaining the juvenile.

(3)  Any juvenile probationer apprehended or detained in accordance with the provisions of this chapter shall have no right of action against the juvenile probation officer or any other person because of such apprehension or detention.

§ 5267.  Detention hearing 

(a)  Whenever a juvenile probationer is detained on the grounds that the juvenile has violated a condition of probation, the juvenile shall be given a hearing before a judicial officer prior to the close of business on the next court business day in order to determine whether there is probable cause to hold the juvenile for a violation hearing.  The juvenile and the adult who signed the probation certificate shall be given:

(1)  notice of the detention hearing and its purpose and the allegations of violations of conditions of probation; and

(2)  notice of the juvenile’s right to be represented by counsel and right to be assigned counsel if the juvenile is unable to obtain counsel.

(b)  At the detention hearing the juvenile shall be given:

(1)  an opportunity to appear at the hearing and present evidence on his or her own behalf; and

(2)  upon request, the opportunity to question witnesses against him or her unless, for good cause, the judicial officer decides that justice does not require the appearance of the witness.

(c)  If probable cause is found to exist, the juvenile shall be held for a hearing to determine if the juvenile violated the conditions of probation.  If probable cause is not found to exist, the proceedings shall be dismissed.

(d)  A juvenile held in detention pursuant to a request to find the juvenile in violation of probation may be released by a judicial officer pending hearing or appeal.

§ 5268.  Notice; violation hearing 

(a)  The court shall not find a juvenile in violation of the juvenile’s probation without a hearing, which shall be held promptly in the court in which the probation was imposed.  If the juvenile is held in detention prior to the hearing, the hearing shall take place at the earliest possible time.  Prior to the hearing, the juvenile and the adult who signed the probation certificate shall receive a written notice of the hearing at his or her last known address stating that the juvenile has allegedly violated one or more conditions of probation and which condition or conditions have been violated.  At the hearing, the juvenile shall have:

(1)  The right to legal counsel if requested by the juvenile probationer or the adult who signed the probation certificate to be assigned by the court in the same manner as in criminal cases.

(2)  The right to disclosure of evidence against the juvenile.

(3)  The opportunity to appear and to present evidence on the juvenile’s behalf.

(4)  The opportunity to question witnesses against the juvenile.

(b)  The state’s attorney having jurisdiction or the commissioner shall establish the alleged violation by a preponderance of the evidence, if the juvenile probationer contests the allegation.

§ 5269.  Disposition alternatives upon violation of conditions of probation 

If a violation of conditions of probation is established, the court may, in its discretion, modify the conditions of probation or order any of the disposition alternatives provided for in section 5232 of this title.

§ 5270.  Final judgment 

An order placing a juvenile on probation and a finding that a juvenile violated a condition of probation shall constitute a final judgment.

§ 5271.  Discharge from probation 

(a)  The court placing a juvenile on probation may terminate probation and discharge the juvenile at any time.

(b)  Upon the termination of the period of probation, the juvenile probationer shall be discharged from probation.

§ 5272.  Juvenile justice unit; juvenile justice director 

(a)  A juvenile justice unit is created in the family services division of the department.  The unit shall be headed by a juvenile justice director.

(b)  The juvenile justice director shall have the responsibility and authority to monitor and coordinate all state and participating regional and local programs that deal with juvenile justice issues, including prevention, education, enforcement, adjudication, and rehabilitation.

(c)  The juvenile justice director shall ensure that the following occur:

(1)  Development of a comprehensive plan for a coordinated and sustained statewide program to reduce the number of juvenile offenders, involving state, regional, and local officials in the areas of health, education, prevention, law enforcement, corrections, teen activities, and community wellness.

(2)  Cooperation among state, regional, and local officials, court personnel, service providers, and law enforcement agencies in the formulation and execution of a coordinated statewide juvenile justice program.

(3)  Cooperation among appropriate departments, including the department and the departments of education, corrections, employment and training, developmental and mental health services, and public safety, and the office of alcohol and drug abuse programs.

(4)  A study of issues relating to juvenile justice and development of recommendations regarding changes in law and rules, as deemed advisable.

(5)  Compilation of data on issues relating to juvenile justice and analysis, study, and organization of such data for use by educators, researchers, policy advocates, administrators, legislators, and the governor.

Subchapter 5.  Youthful Offenders

§ 5281.  MOTION IN DISTRICT COURT

(a)  A motion may be filed in the district court requesting that a defendant under 18 years of age in a criminal proceeding who had attained the age of 10 but not the age of 18 at the time the offense is alleged to have been committed be treated as a youthful offender.  The motion may be filed by the state’s attorney, the defendant, or the court on its own motion.

(b)  Upon the filing of a motion under this section and the entering of a conditional plea of guilty by the youth, the district court shall enter an order deferring the sentence and transferring the case to the family court for a hearing on the motion.  Copies of all records relating to the case shall be forwarded to the family court.  Conditions of release and any department of corrections supervision or custody shall remain in effect until the family court approves the motion for treatment as a youthful offender and orders conditions of juvenile probation pursuant to section 5284 of this title.

(c)  A plea of guilty entered by the youth pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall be conditional upon the family court granting the motion for youthful offender status. 

(d)(1)  If the family court denies the motion for youthful offender treatment pursuant to subsection 5284 of this title, the case shall be returned to the district court and the youth shall be permitted to withdraw the plea.  The conditions of release imposed by the district court shall remain in effect, and the case shall proceed as though the motion for youthful offender treatment had not been made. 

(2)  Subject to Rule 11 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rule 410 of the Vermont Rules of Evidence, the family court’s denial of the motion for youthful offender treatment and any information related to the youthful offender proceeding shall be inadmissible against the youth for any purpose in the subsequent criminal proceeding in district court.   

§ 5282.  REPORT FROM THE DEPARTMENT

(a)  Within 30 days after the case is transferred to family court, unless the court extends the period for good cause shown, the department shall file a report with the family court.

(b)  A report filed pursuant to this section shall include the following elements:

(1)  A recommendation as to whether youthful offender status is appropriate for the youth.

(2)  A disposition case plan including proposed services and proposed conditions of juvenile probation in the event youthful offender status is approved. 

(3)  A description of the services that may be available for the youth when he or she reaches 18 years of age.

(c)  A report filed pursuant to this section is privileged and shall not be disclosed to any person other than the department, the court, the state’s attorney, the youth, the youth’s attorney, the youth’s guardian ad litem, the department of corrections, or any other person when the court determines that the best interests of the youth would make such a disclosure desirable or helpful.

§ 5283.  HEARING IN FAMILY COURT

(a)  Timeline.  A hearing on the motion for youthful offender status shall be held no later than 35 days after the transfer of the case from district court.

(b)  Notice.  Notice of the hearing shall be provided to the state’s attorney; the youth; the youth’s parent, guardian, or custodian; the department; and the department of corrections.

(c)  Hearing procedure.   

(1)  If the motion is contested, all parties shall have the right to present evidence and examine witnesses.  Hearsay may be admitted and may be relied on to the extent of its probative value.   If reports are admitted, the parties shall be afforded an opportunity to examine those persons making the reports, but sources of confidential information need not be disclosed.

(2)  Hearings under subsection 5284(a) of this title shall be open to the public.  All other youthful offender proceedings shall be confidential.

(d)  The burden of proof shall be on the moving party to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a child should be granted youthful offender status.  If the court makes the motion, the burden shall be on the youth.

(e)  Further hearing.  On its own motion or the motion of a party, the court may schedule a further hearing to obtain reports or other information necessary for the appropriate disposition of the case.    


§ 5284.  DETERMINATION AND ORDER

(a)  In a hearing on a motion for youthful offender status, the court shall first consider whether public safety will be protected by treating the youth as a youthful offender.  If the court finds that public safety will not be protected by treating the youth as a youthful offender, the court shall deny the motion and return the case to district court pursuant to subsection 5281(d) of this title.  If the court finds that public safety will be protected by treating the youth as a youthful offender, the court shall proceed to make a determination under subsection (b) of this section.

(b)(1)  The court shall deny the motion if the court finds that:

(A)  the youth is not amenable to treatment or rehabilitation as a youthful offender; or

(B)  there are insufficient services in the juvenile court system and the department to meet the youth’s treatment and rehabilitation needs.

(2)  The court shall grant the motion if the court finds that:

(A)  the youth is amenable to treatment or rehabilitation as a youthful offender; and

(B)  there are sufficient services in the juvenile court system and the department to meet the youth’s treatment and rehabilitation needs.

(c)  If the court approves the motion for youthful offender treatment, the court:

(1)  shall approve a disposition case plan and impose conditions of juvenile probation on the youth; and

(2)  may transfer legal custody of the youth to a parent, relative, person with a significant relationship with the youth, or commissioner, provided that any transfer of custody shall expire on the youth’s eighteenth birthday. 

(d)  The department shall be responsible for supervision of and providing services to the youth until he or she reaches the age of 18.  A lead case manager shall be designated who shall have final decision-making authority over the case plan and the provision of services to the youth.  The youth shall be eligible for appropriate community-based programming and services provided by the department.

(e)  The youth shall not be permitted to withdraw his or her plea of guilty after youthful offender status is approved except to correct manifest injustice pursuant to rule 32(d) of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure. 


§ 5285.  Modification or revocation of disposition

(a)  If it appears that the youth has violated the terms of juvenile probation ordered by the court pursuant to subdivision 5284(c)(1) of this title, a motion for modification or revocation of youthful offender status may be filed in family court.  The court shall set the motion for hearing as soon as practicable. The hearing may be joined with a hearing on a violation of conditions of probation under section 5265 of this title.  A supervising juvenile or adult probation officer may detain in an adult facility a youthful offender who has attained the age of 18 for violating conditions of probation.  

(b)  A hearing under this section shall be held in accordance with section 5268 of this title.

(c)  If the court finds after the hearing that the youth has violated the terms of his or her probation, the court may:

(1)  maintain the youth’s status as a youthful offender, with modified conditions of juvenile probation if the court deems it appropriate;

(2)  revoke the youth’s status as a youthful offender status and return the case to the district court for sentencing; or

(3)  transfer supervision of the youth to the department of corrections.

(d)  If a youth’s status as a youthful offender is revoked and the case is returned to the district court under subdivision (c)(2) of this section, the district court shall hold a sentencing hearing and impose sentence.  When determining an appropriate sentence, the district court may take into consideration the youth’s degree of progress toward rehabilitation while on youthful offender status.  The district court shall have access to all family court records of the proceeding.  

§ 5286.  Review prior to the age of 18

(a)  The family court shall review the youth’s case before he or she reaches the age of 18 and set a hearing to determine whether the court’s jurisdiction over the youth should be continued past the age of 18.   The hearing may be joined with a motion to terminate youthful offender status under section 5285 of this title.  The court shall provide notice and an opportunity to be heard at the hearing to the state’s attorney, the youth, the department, and the department of corrections. 

(b)  After receiving a notice of review under this section, the state may file a motion to modify or revoke pursuant to section 5285 of this title.  If such a motion is filed, it shall be consolidated with the review under this section and all options provided for under section 5285 of this title shall be available to the court.

(c)  The following reports shall be filed with the court prior to the hearing:

(1)  The department shall report its recommendations, with supporting justifications, as to whether the family court should continue jurisdiction over the youth past the age of 18 and, if continued jurisdiction is recommended, whether the department or the department of corrections should   be responsible for supervision of the youth.

(2)  If the department recommends that the department of corrections be responsible for supervision of the youthful offender past the age of 18, the department shall notify the department of corrections, which shall report on the services which would be available for the youth in the event supervision over him or her is transferred to the department of corrections.  

(d)  If the court finds that it is in the best interest of the youth and consistent with community safety to continue the case past the age of 18, it shall make an order continuing the court’s jurisdiction up to the age of 22.  The order shall specify whether the youth will be supervised by the department or the department of corrections.  Irrespective of which department is specified in the order, the department and the department of corrections shall jointly develop a case plan for the youth and coordinate services and share information to ensure compliance with and completion of the juvenile disposition.

(e)  If the court finds that it is not in the best interest of the youth to continue the case past the age of 18, it shall terminate the disposition order, discharge the youth, and dismiss the case in accordance with subsection 5287(c) of this title.

§ 5287.  Termination or continuance of PROBATION

(a)  A motion may be filed at any time in the family court requesting that the court terminate the youth’s status as a youthful offender and discharge him or her from probation.  The motion may be filed by the state’s attorney, the youth, the department, or the court on its own motion.  The court shall set the motion for hearing and provide notice and an opportunity to be heard at the hearing to the state’s attorney, the youth, and the department.   

(b)  In determining whether a youth has successfully completed the terms of probation, the court shall consider:

(1)  the degree to which the youth fulfilled the terms of the case plan and the probation order;

(2)  the youth’s performance during treatment;

(3)  reports of treatment personnel; and

(4)  any other relevant facts associated with the youth’s behavior.

(c)  If the court finds that the youth has successfully completed the terms of the probation order, it shall terminate youthful offender status, discharge the youth from probation, and file a written order dismissing the family court case.  The family court shall provide notice of the dismissal to the district court, which shall dismiss the district court case. 

(d)  Upon discharge and dismissal under subsection (c) of this section, all records relating to the case in the district court shall be expunged, and all records relating to the case in the family court shall be sealed pursuant to section 5119 of this title.

(e)  If the court denies the motion to discharge the youth from probation, the court may extend or amend the probation order as it deems necessary.

§ 5288.  Rights of victims in youthful offender proceedings

(a)  The victim in a proceeding involving a youthful offender shall have the following rights:

(1)  To be notified by the prosecutor in a timely manner when a court proceeding is scheduled to take place and when a court proceeding to which he or she has been notified will not take place as scheduled.

(2)  To be present during all court proceedings subject to the provisions of Rule 615 of the Vermont Rules of Evidence and to express reasonably his or her views concerning the offense and the youth.

(3)  To request notification by the agency having custody of the youth before the youth is released from a residential facility.

(4)  To be notified by the prosecutor as to the final disposition of the case.

(5)  To be notified by the prosecutor of the victim’s rights under this section.

(b)  In accordance with court rules, at a hearing on a motion for youthful offender treatment, the court shall ask if the victim is present and, if so, whether the victim would like to be heard regarding disposition.  In ordering disposition, the court shall consider any views offered at the hearing by the victim.  If the victim is not present, the court shall ask whether the victim has expressed, either orally or in writing, views regarding disposition and shall take those views into consideration in ordering disposition.

(c)  No youthful offender proceeding shall be delayed or voided by reason of the failure to give the victim the required notice or the failure of the victim to appear.

(d)  For purposes of this section “victim” shall have the same meaning as in subdivision 5301(4) of Title 13.

Subchapter 6.  Placement of Minors in Secure Facilities

§ 5291.  Detention of Minors Charged as Delinquents in a Secure Facility for the Detention of Delinquent Children

(a)  Unless ordered otherwise at or after a temporary care hearing, the commissioner shall have sole authority to place the child who is in the custody of the department in a secure facility for the detention of minors.

(b)  Upon a finding at the temporary care hearing that no other suitable placement is available and the child presents a risk of injury to him- or herself, to others, or to property, the court may order that the child be placed in a secure facility used for the detention of delinquent children until the commissioner determines that a suitable placement is available for the child.  Alternatively, the court may order that the child be placed in a secure facility used for the detention of delinquent children for up to seven days.  Any order for placement at a secure facility shall expire at the end of the seventh day following its issuance unless, after hearing, the court extends the order for a time period not to exceed seven days.

§ 5292.  Detention in Adult Facilities of Minors Charged or Adjudicated as Delinquents

(a)  A minor charged with a delinquent act shall not be detained under this chapter in a jail or other facility intended or used for the detention of adults unless the child is alleged to have committed a crime punishable by life imprisonment and it appears to the satisfaction of the court that public safety and protection reasonably require such detention.

(b)  A minor who has been adjudicated as a delinquent child shall not by virtue of such adjudication be committed or transferred to an institution or other facility used primarily for the execution of sentences of persons convicted of a crime.

(c)  The official in charge of a jail or other facility intended or used for the detention of adult offenders or persons charged with crime shall inform the court immediately when a minor who is or appears to be under the age of 18 years is received at the facility other than pursuant to subsection (a) of this section or section 5293 of this title and shall deliver the minor to the court upon request of the court or transfer the minor to the detention facility designated by the court by order.

§ 5293.  Disposition of minors adjudicated as adult offenders; separation of persons under 18 years from adults

(a)  Pretrial detention.

(1)  A minor who is under the age of 18 who has been arrested shall not be placed in a facility for adult offenders unless a felony charge has been filed in district court or the district court has exercised jurisdiction over the matter and the state’s attorney has determined that a felony charge will be filed without delay.  A minor who is eligible for release under chapter 229 of Title 13 shall be released.

(2)(A)  A minor who is under the age of 18 who has been arrested for a misdemeanor shall immediately and without first being taken elsewhere:

(i)  be released to his or her custodial parent, guardian, or custodian; or

(ii)  be delivered to the district court.

(B)  If the minor is delivered to the district court, the arresting officer shall immediately file written notice thereof with the court together with a statement of the reason for taking the minor into custody.  A minor who is eligible for release under chapter 229 of Title 13 shall be released.  In the event that the minor is not released:

(i)  the minor shall not be detained in a facility for adult offenders; and

(ii)  The court shall defer to the commissioner of corrections concerning the facility in which the minor shall be detained.

(b)  Sentencing of minor.  If a minor is convicted of an offense in a court of criminal jurisdiction as an adult, the court shall sentence the minor as an adult.

(c)  Placement of minors under 16. The commissioner of corrections shall not place a minor under the age of 16 who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a correctional facility used to house adult offenders.

(d)  Placement of minors over 16 convicted of felony. The commissioner of corrections may place in a facility for adult offenders a minor who has attained the age of 16 but is under the age of 18 who has been convicted of a felony and who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

(e)  Placement of minor over 16 convicted of misdemeanor.  The commissioner of corrections shall not place in a facility for adult offenders a minor who has attained the age of 16 but is under the age of 18 who has been convicted of a misdemeanor

(f)  Transfer of minor at 18th birthday. At the 18th birthday of a minor convicted of a misdemeanor, the commissioner may transfer the minor to a facility for adult offenders.

(g)  Applicability. The provisions of this section shall apply to the commitment of minors to institutions within or outside the state of Vermont.

Sec. 3.  33 V.S.A. chapter 53 is added to read:

Chapter 53.  Children in Need of Care

or Supervision

§ 5301.  Taking into custody 

A child may be taken into custody:

(1)  Pursuant to an order of the family court under the provisions of this chapter.

(2)  By an officer when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the child is in immediate danger from his or her surroundings and that removal from the child’s current home is necessary for the child’s protection.

(3)  By an officer when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the child has run away from a custodial parent, a foster parent, a guardian, a custodian, a noncustodial parent lawfully exercising parent-child contact, or care provider.

§ 5302.  Request for Emergency Care Order  

(a)  If an officer takes a child into custody pursuant to subdivision 5301(1) or (2) of this title, the officer shall immediately notify the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian and release the child to the care of the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian unless the officer determines that the child’s immediate welfare requires the child’s continued absence from the home.

(b)  If the officer determines that the child’s immediate welfare requires the child’s continued absence from the home, the officer shall:

(1)  Remove the child from the child’s surroundings, contact the department, and deliver the child to a location designated by the department.  The department shall have the authority to make reasonable decisions concerning the child’s immediate placement, safety and welfare pending the issuance of an emergency care order.

(2)  Prepare an affidavit in support of a request for an emergency care order and provide the affidavit to the state’s attorney.  The affidavit shall include:  the reasons for taking the child into custody; and to the degree known, potential placements with which the child is familiar; the names, addresses, and telephone number of the child’s parents, guardian, custodian, or care provider; the name, address, and telephone number of any relative who has indicated an interest in taking temporary custody of the child.  The officer shall contact the department and the department may prepare an affidavit as a supplement to the affidavit of the law enforcement officer if the department has additional information with respect to the child or the family.

(c)  If the child is taken into custody during regular court hours, the state’s attorney shall immediately file a request for an emergency care order accompanied by the supporting affidavit or direct the immediate return of the child to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  If the child is taken into custody after regular court hours or on a weekend or holiday, the state’s attorney or officer shall contact a judge to request an emergency care order or return the child to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  If an order is granted, the state’s attorney shall file the supporting affidavit with the court on the next day that the court is open.

(d)  If the judge denies a request for an emergency care order, the state’s attorney shall direct the immediate return of the child to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.    

§ 5303.  Procedure for runaway children  

(a)  If an officer takes a child into custody pursuant to subdivision 5301(3) of this title, the officer shall deliver the child to:  

(1)  the child’s custodial parent, foster parent, guardian, custodian, or noncustodial parent lawfully exercising parent-child contact; or

(2)  a shelter designated by the department pursuant to section 5304 of this title as qualified to assist children who have run away for the purpose of reuniting them with their parents, guardian, or legal custodian.

(b)  Upon delivery of a child to a shelter, the shelter program director or his or her designee, shall notify the child’s parents, guardian, or custodian that the child has been taken into custody and make reasonable efforts to mediate the differences between the parties.

(c)  A child may remain at a designated shelter for a period not to exceed seven days.

(d)  Upon expiration of the seven-day period or sooner at the request of the child or the custodial parent:


(1)  the child shall be released to his or her custodial parent, foster parent, guardian, custodian, or noncustodial parent lawfully exercising parent-child contact; or

(2)  an officer shall seek an emergency care order pursuant to section 5302 of this title.

(e)  Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the custody status of the child shall remain the same during the period of time the child is at the shelter.

§ 5304.  Designated shelters for runaway children  

The commissioner shall designate shelters throughout the state where a child taken into custody pursuant to subdivision 5301(3) of this title may be housed for a period not to exceed seven days.

§ 5305.  Emergency Care Order; CONDITIONAL CUSTODY  ORDER

(a)  Transfer of temporary custody.  If the court determines that the child’s continued residence in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare, the court may issue an emergency care order transferring temporary custody of the child to the department pending a temporary care hearing.  The determination may be made ex parte, provided that it is reasonably supported by the affidavit prepared in accordance with section 5302 of this title. 

(b)  Contents of emergency care order.  The emergency care order shall contain: 

(1)  a written finding that the child’s continued residence in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare and the factual allegations that support that finding;

(2)  the date, hour, and place of the temporary care hearing to be held pursuant to section 5307 of this title; and

(3)  notice of a parent’s right to counsel at the temporary care hearing.

(c)  Conditional custody order.  If the court determines that the child may safely remain in the custody of the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian subject to such conditions and limitations necessary and sufficient to protect the child pending a temporary care hearing, the court may deny the request for an emergency care order and issue an emergency conditional custody order.  An emergency conditional custody order shall contain the date, hour, and place of the temporary care hearing and notice of a parent’s right to counsel at the hearing.

§ 5306.  Notice of Emergency Care Order and TEMPORARY CARE Hearing

(a)  Notice to custodial parent.  An officer shall deliver a copy of the emergency care order or conditional custody order to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian of the child.  If delivery cannot be made in a timely manner, the officer shall otherwise notify or cause to be notified the custodial parent of the order, the date, the time and place of the temporary care hearing, and the parent’s right to counsel.  If the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian cannot be located, the officer shall so certify to the court in an affidavit describing the efforts made to locate such persons.

(b)  Notice to noncustodial parent.  The department shall make reasonable efforts to locate any noncustodial parent and provide the noncustodial parent with the emergency care order or conditional custody order, notice of the date, hour, and place of the temporary care hearing, and right to counsel.  If the noncustodial parent cannot be located, the department shall provide to the court a summary of the efforts made to locate the parent.

(c)  Failure to locate.  The hearing shall not be delayed by reason of not being able to locate either the custodial or noncustodial parent.

(d)  Notice to other parties.  The court shall notify the following persons of the date and time of the temporary care hearing:

(1)  The state’s attorney.

(2)  A representative of the department.

(3)  An attorney to represent the child.

(4)  A guardian ad litem for the child.

(5)  An attorney to represent each parent.  The attorney may be court-appointed in the event the parent is eligible, or may be an attorney who has entered an appearance on behalf of a parent. 

§ 5307.  Temporary Care Hearing

(a)  A temporary care hearing shall be held within 72 hours of the issuance of an emergency care order or conditional custody order under section 5305 of this title.  State holidays shall be excluded from the computation of 72 hours.   If the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian has not been notified in accordance with section 5306 of this title and does not appear or waive appearance at the temporary care hearing and files thereafter with the court an affidavit so showing, the court shall hold another temporary care hearing within one business day of the filing of the affidavit as if no temporary care hearing had theretofore been held.

(b)  If the state’s attorney is seeking a temporary care order, he or she shall file a petition in accordance with section 5308 of this title prior to the temporary care hearing.  If the state’s attorney elects not to file a petition, he or she shall so notify the court, and the court shall vacate any temporary order order and order the return of the child to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.

(c)  The following persons shall be present at the temporary care hearing:

(1)  The child, unless the child is under 10 years of age and the presence of the child is waived by the child’s attorney.  For good cause shown, the court may waive the presence of a child who is 10 years of age or older.

(2)  The child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, unless the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian cannot be located or fails to appear in response to notice.

(3)  The child’s guardian ad litem.

(4)  An attorney for the child.

(5)  An attorney for the custodial parent, if requested.

(6)  The department.

(7)  The state’s attorney.

(d)  A noncustodial parent and his or her attorney shall have the right to be present at the hearing; however, the hearing shall not be delayed by reason of the inability of the department to locate the noncustodial parent.

(e)  The department shall provide the following information to the court at the hearing:

(1)  Any reasons for the child’s removal which are not set forth in the affidavit required pursuant to subsection 5302(b) of this title.

(2)  Services, if any, provided to the child and the family in an effort to prevent removal.

(3)  The need, if any, for continued custody of the child with the department, pending a hearing to adjudicate the merits of the petition.

(4)  Services which could facilitate the return of the child to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.

(5)(A)  The identity and location of a noncustodial parent, a relative, or person with a significant relationship with the child known to the department who may be appropriate, capable, willing, and available to assume temporary legal custody of the child.  If the noncustodial parent cannot be located, the department shall provide to the court a summary of the efforts made to locate the parent.

(B)  With respect to any person whom the department identifies pursuant to this subdivision, the department shall conduct an assessment of the suitability of the person to care for the child.  The assessment shall include consideration of the person’s ability to care for the child’s needs, a criminal history record as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2056a(a)(1) in accordance with subdivision (5)(C) of this subsection, and a check of allegations of prior child abuse or neglect by the person or by other adults in the person’s home.  The court may continue the hearing if necessary to permit the department to complete the assessment.

(C)  The department shall request from the Vermont criminal information center criminal history record information for any person being considered to assume temporary legal custody of the child pursuant to this subdivision.  The request shall be in writing and shall be accompanied by a release signed by the person.  The department through the Vermont criminal information center shall request criminal history record information from the appropriate state criminal repositories in all states in which it has reason to believe the person has resided or been employed.  If no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the department through the Vermont criminal information center shall request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation a national criminal history record check of the person's criminal history.  The request to the FBI shall be accompanied by a set of the person's fingerprints and a fee established by the Vermont criminal information center.  The Vermont criminal information center shall send the department the criminal history record from any state repository and the FBI of a person about whom a request is made under this subdivision or inform the department that no record exists.  The department shall promptly provide a copy of the criminal history record, if any, to the person and shall inform the person that he or she has the right to appeal the accuracy and completeness of the record through the Vermont criminal information center.  Upon completion of the process under this subdivision, the person's fingerprint card shall be destroyed.

(6)  Additional information as required by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act pursuant to 15 V.S.A. § 1037 and the Indian Child Welfare Act pursuant to 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq. 

(f)  All parties shall have the right to present evidence on their own behalf and examine witnesses.  Hearsay, to the extent it is deemed relevant and reliable by the court, shall be admissible.  The court may, in its discretion, limit testimony and evidence to only that which goes to the issues of removal of the child from the home and the child’s temporary legal custody.

(g)  The temporary care hearing shall also be a preliminary hearing on the petition.

§ 5308.  Temporary Care Order

(a)  The court shall order that legal custody be returned to the child’s custodial parent, guardian, or custodian unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a return home would be contrary to the child’s welfare because any one of the following exists:

(1)  A return of legal custody could result in substantial danger to the physical health, mental health, welfare, or safety of the child.

(2)  The child or another child residing in the same household has been physically or sexually abused by a custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, or by a member of the child’s household, or another person known to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.

(3)  The child or another child residing in the same household is at substantial risk of physical or sexual abuse by a custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, or by a member of the child’s household, or another person known to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  It shall constitute prima facie evidence that a child is at substantial risk of being physically or sexually abused if:

(A)  a custodial parent, guardian, or custodian receives actual notice that a person has committed or is alleged to have committed physical or sexual abuse against a child; and

(B)  a custodial parent, guardian, or custodian knowingly or recklessly allows the child to be in the physical presence of the alleged abuser after receiving such notice.

(4)  The custodial parent, guardian, or guardian has abandoned the child.

(5)  The child or another child in the same household has been neglected and there is substantial risk of harm to the child who is the subject of the petition.

(b)  Upon a finding that any of the conditions set forth in subsection (a) of this section exists, the court may issue such temporary orders related to the legal custody of the child as it deems necessary and sufficient to protect the welfare and safety of the child, including, in order of preference:

(1)  A conditional custody order returning legal custody of the child to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, subject to such conditions and limitations as the court may deem necessary and sufficient to protect the child.

(2)(A)  An order transferring temporary legal custody to a noncustodial parent.  Provided that parentage is not contested, upon a request by a noncustodial parent for temporary legal custody and a personal appearance of the noncustodial  parent, the noncustodial parent shall present to the court a care plan that describes the history of the noncustodial parent’s contact with the child, including any reasons why contact did not occur, and that addresses:

(i)  the child’s need for a safe, secure, and stable home;

(ii)  the child’s need for proper and effective care and control; and

(iii)  the child’s need for a continuing relationship with the custodial parent, if appropriate.

(B)  The court shall consider court orders and findings from other proceedings related to the custody of the child.

(C)  The court shall transfer legal custody to the noncustodial parent unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the transfer would be contrary to the child’s welfare because any of the following exists:

(i)  The care plan fails to meet the criteria set forth in subdivision (2)(A) of this subsection.

(ii)  Transferring temporary legal custody of the child to the noncustodial parent could result in substantial danger to the physical health, mental health, welfare, or safety of the child.

(iii)  The child or another child residing in the same household as the noncustodial parent has been physically or sexually abused by the noncustodial parent or a member of the noncustodial parent’s household, or another person known to the noncustodial parent.

(iv)  The child or another child residing in the same household as the noncustodial parent is at substantial risk of physical or sexual abuse by the noncustodial parent or a member of the noncustodial parent’s household, or another person known to the noncustodial parent.  It shall constitute prima facie evidence that a child is at substantial risk of being physically or sexually abused if:

(I)  a noncustodial parent receives actual notice that a person has committed or is alleged to have committed physical or sexual abuse against a child; and

(II)  the noncustodial parent knowingly or recklessly allows the child to be in the physical presence of the alleged abuser after receiving such notice.

(v)  The child or another child in the noncustodial parent’s household has been neglected, and there is substantial risk of harm to the child who is the subject of the petition.

(D)  If the noncustodial parent’s request for temporary custody is contested, the court may continue the hearing and place the child in the temporary custody of the department, pending further hearing and resolution of the custody issue.  Absent good cause shown, the court shall hold a further hearing on the issue within 30 days.

(3)  An order transferring temporary legal custody of the child to a relative, provided:

(A)  The relative seeking legal custody is a grandparent,

great-grandparent, aunt, great-aunt, uncle, great-uncle, stepparent, sibling, or step-sibling of the child.

(B)  The relative is suitable to care for the child.  In determining suitability, the court shall consider the relationship of the child and the relative and the relative’s ability to:

(i)  Provide a safe, secure, and stable environment.

(ii)  Exercise proper and effective care and control of the child.

(iii)  Protect the child from the custodial parent to the degree the court deems such protection necessary.

(iv)  Support reunification efforts, if any, with the custodial parent.

(v)  Consider providing legal permanence if reunification fails.

(C)  In considering the suitability of a relative under this subdivision (3), the court may order the department to conduct an investigation and file a written report of its findings with the court.  The court may place the child in the temporary custody of the department, pending such investigation.

(4)  A temporary care order transferring temporary legal custody of the child to a relative who is not listed in subdivision (3)(A) of this subsection or a person with a significant relationship with the child, provided that the criteria in subdivision (3)(B) of this subsection are met.  The court may make such orders as provided in subdivision (3)(C) of this subsection to determine suitability under this subdivision.

(5)  A temporary care order transferring temporary legal custody of the child to the commissioner. 

(c)  If the court transfers legal custody of the child, the court shall issue a written temporary care order. 

(1)  The order shall include:

(A)  a finding that remaining in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare and the facts upon which that finding is based; and

(B)  a finding as to whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent unnecessary removal of the child from the home.  If the court lacks sufficient evidence to make findings on whether reasonable efforts were made to prevent the removal of the child from the home, that determination shall be made at the next scheduled hearing in the case but, in any event, no later than 60 days after the issuance of the initial order removing a child from the home.

(2)  The order may include other provisions as may be necessary for the protection and welfare of the child, such as:

(A)  Establishing parent-child contact under such terms and conditions as are necessary for the protection of the child.

(B)  Requiring the department to provide the child with services, if legal custody of the child has been transferred to the commissioner.

(C)  Requiring the department to refer a parent for appropriate assessments and services, including a consideration of the needs of children and parents with disabilities, provided that the child’s needs are given primary consideration.

(D)  Requiring genetic testing if parentage of the child is at issue.

(E)  Requiring the department to make diligent efforts to locate the noncustodial parent.

(F)  Requiring the custodial parent to provide the department with names of all potential noncustodial parents and relatives of the child.

(G)  Establishing protective supervision and requiring the department to make appropriate service referrals for the child and the family, if legal custody is transferred to an individual other than the commissioner.

(3)  In his or her discretion, the commissioner may provide assistance and services to children and families to the extent that funds permit, notwithstanding subdivision (2)(B) of this subsection.

(d)  If a party seeks to modify a temporary care order in order to transfer legal custody of a child from the commissioner to a relative or a person with a significant relationship with the child, the relative shall be entitled to preferential consideration under subdivision (b)(3) of this section, provided that a disposition order has not been issued and the motion is filed within 90 days of the date that legal custody was initially transferred to the commissioner.

§ 5309.  Filing of a petition 

(a)  The state’s attorney having jurisdiction shall prepare and file a petition alleging that a child is in need of care or supervision upon the request of the commissioner or, in the event the child is truant from school, upon the request of the superintendent of the school district in which the child is enrolled or resides.  If the state’s attorney fails to file a petition within a reasonable amount of time, the department or the superintendent of the school district may request that the attorney general file a petition on behalf of the department.

(b)  If the court has issued an emergency care order placing the child who is the subject of the petition in the temporary legal custody of the department or has issued a conditional custody order, the state’s attorney shall file the petition on or before the date of the temporary care hearing.  

(c)  A petition may be withdrawn by the state’s attorney at any time prior to the hearing thereon, in which event the child shall be returned to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian, the proceedings under this chapter terminated, and all files and documents relating thereto sealed under section 5119 of this title.

(d)  Upon the request of the secretary of the agency of human services, the state’s attorney may file a petition pursuant to subsection (a) of this section alleging that a 16- to 17.5-year-old youth who is not in the custody of the state is a child in need of care or supervision under subdivision 5102(2)(B)(ii) of this title when the child meets the criteria set forth in subdivision 5102(2)(B)(ii) of this title.  The petition shall be accompanied by a report from the department which sets forth facts supporting the specific criteria of subdivision 5102(2)(B)(ii) of this title and that it is in the best interests of the child to be considered as a child in need of care or supervision.

§ 5310.  Petition, contents 

(a)  The petition shall be supported by an affidavit of an officer or the department. 

(b)  The petition shall contain the following:

(1)  A concise statement of the facts which support the conclusion that the child is a child in need of care or supervision together with a statement that it is in the best interests of the child that the proceedings be brought. 

(2)  The name, date of birth, telephone number, and residence address, if known, of the child, the custodial and noncustodial parents, the guardian or custodian of the child if other than parent.  If a parent is a participant in the Safe At Home Program pursuant to 15 V.S.A. § 1152, the petition shall so specify.

(3)  Jurisdictional information required pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, 15 V.S.A. § 1032 et seq.

§ 5311.  Service of Summons and Petition; no request for temporary care Order

(a)  When the state’s attorney files a petition but does not request a temporary care order, the court shall set a date for a preliminary hearing on the petition no later than 15 days from the date the petition is filed and issue a judicial summons addressed to the custodial parent, guardian, custodian, or care provider.  A copy of the petition shall be attached to the summons.  The court shall make reasonably diligent efforts to serve a noncustodial parent with a copy of the summons and petition.

(b)  The summons shall contain:

(1)  The name and address of the person to whom the notice is directed.

(2)  The date, time, and place for the preliminary hearing on the petition.

(3)  The name of the minor on whose behalf the petition has been brought.

(4)  Notice of a parent’s right to counsel.

(5)  A statement that the parent, guardian or custodian may be liable for the cost of the support of a child if the child is placed in the legal custody of the department.

(6)  An order directing the parent, guardian, custodian, or care provider to appear at the hearing with the child.

(c)  The summons and petition may be served by mailing a copy by certified mail return receipt requested to the child and to the child’s parent, guardian, custodian, or care provider.  Service of the summons and petition may also be made by any sheriff, deputy, or constable.  The court shall provide a copy of the summons to the state’s attorney and a copy of the summons and petition to the department and the attorney for the child. 

(d)  Notice and a copy of the petition shall be served on all persons required to receive notice as soon as possible after the petition is filed and at least five days prior to the date set for the preliminary hearing.

(e)  A party may waive service of the petition and notice by written stipulation or by voluntary appearance at the hearing.

(f)  Once a parent, guardian, or custodian has been served, the court shall provide notice of hearing either directly or by mail.  The parent shall be responsible for providing the court with information regarding any changes in address. 

§ 5312.  Failure to Appear at Preliminary Hearing    

(a)  If a parent, guardian, or custodian has been served by certified mail with the petition and notice of hearing and fails to appear at the preliminary hearing, the court may order that the parent, guardian, or custodian be served with a judicial summons ordering the person to appear in court with the child at a specified date and time.

(b)  If, after being summoned to appear, the parent, guardian, or custodian fails to appear or fails to bring the child to court as ordered, the court may issue a pick-up order or warrant pursuant to section 5108 of this title. 

§ 5313.  Timelines for pretrial and merits hearing

(a)  Pretrial hearing.  At the time of the temporary care hearing or at the preliminary hearing on the petition if there is no request for temporary legal custody, the court shall set a pretrial hearing on the petition.  The hearing shall be held within 15 days of the temporary care hearing or the preliminary hearing.  In the event that there is no admission or dismissal at or before the pretrial hearing, the court shall set the matter for a hearing to adjudicate the merits of the petition.

(b)  Merits hearing.  If the child who is the subject of the petition has been removed from the legal custody of the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian pursuant to a temporary care order, a merits hearing shall be held and merits adjudicated no later than 60 days from the date the temporary care order is issued, except for good cause shown.  In all other cases, merits shall be adjudicated in a timely manner in the best interests of the child.

§ 5314.  Filing of Initial Case Plan 

(a)  If a temporary care order is issued transferring legal custody of the child to the commissioner, the department shall prepare and file with the court an initial case plan for the child and the family within 60 days of removal of a child from home.  The department shall provide a copy of the case plan to the parties, their attorneys, and the guardian ad litem.

(b)  The initial case plan shall not be used or referred to as evidence prior to a finding that a child is in need of care or supervision.


§ 5315.  Merits Adjudication 

(a)  At a hearing on the merits of a petition, the state shall have the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the child is in need of care and supervision.  In its discretion, the court may make findings by clear and convincing evidence.

(b)  The parties may stipulate to the merits of the petition.  Such stipulation shall include a stipulation as to the facts that support a finding that the child is in need of care and supervision.

(c)  If the merits are contested, all parties shall have the right to present evidence on their own behalf and to examine witnesses.

(d)  A merits hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Evidence.  A finding of fact made after a contested temporary care hearing based on nonhearsay evidence may be adopted by the court as a finding of fact at a contested merits hearing provided that a witness who testified at the temporary care hearing may be recalled by any party at a contested merits hearing to supplement his or her testimony.  

(e)  If the merits are contested, the court after hearing the evidence shall make its findings on the record. 

(f)  If the court finds that the allegations made in the petition have not been established, the court shall dismiss the petition and vacate any temporary orders in connection with this proceeding.

(g)  If the court finds that the allegations made in the petition have been established based on the stipulation of the parties or on the evidence if the merits are contested, the court shall order the department to prepare a disposition case plan within 28 days of the merits hearing and shall set the matter for a disposition hearing.

(h)  The court in its discretion and with the agreement of the parties may waive the preparation of a disposition case plan and proceed directly to disposition based on the initial case plan filed with the court pursuant to section 5314 of this title.      

§ 5316.   Disposition Case Plan

(a)  The department shall file a disposition case plan ordered pursuant to subsection 5315(g) of this title no later than 28 days from the date of the finding by the court that a child is in need of care or supervision. 

(b)  A disposition case plan shall include, as appropriate:

(1)  A permanency goal.  The long-term goal for a child found to be in need of care and supervision is a safe and permanent home.  A disposition case plan shall include a permanency goal and an estimated date for achieving the permanency goal.  The plan shall specify whether permanency will be achieved through reunification with a custodial parent, guardian, or custodian; adoption; permanent guardianship; or other permanent placement.  In addition to a primary permanency goal, the plan may identify a concurrent permanency goal.

(2)  An assessment of the child’s medical, psychological, social, educational, and vocational needs.

(3)  A description of the child’s home, school, community, and current living situation.

(4)  An assessment of the family’s strengths and risk factors, including a consideration of the needs of children and parents with disabilities, provided that the child’s needs are given primary consideration.

(5)  A statement of family changes needed to correct the problems necessitating state intervention, with timetables for accomplishing the changes.

(6)  A recommendation with respect to legal custody for the child and a recommendation for parent-child contact and sibling contact, if appropriate.

(7)  A plan of services that shall describe the responsibilities of the child, the parents, guardian, or custodian, the department, other family members, and treatment providers, including a description of the services required to achieve the permanency goal.  The plan shall also address the minimum frequency of contact between the social worker assigned to the case and the family.

(8)  A request for child support.

(9)  Notice to the parents that failure to accomplish substantially the objectives stated in the plan within the time frames established may result in termination of parental rights.

§ 5317.  Disposition Hearing 

(a)  Timeline.  A disposition hearing shall be held no later than 35 days after a finding that a child is in need of care and supervision.

(b)  Hearing procedure.  If disposition is contested, all parties shall have the right to present evidence and examine witnesses.  Hearsay may be admitted and may be relied on to the extent of its probative value.  If reports are admitted, the parties shall be afforded an opportunity to examine those making the reports, but sources of confidential information need not be disclosed.

(c)  Standard of proof.  If the court terminates the parental rights of one or both parents, the standard of proof on the issue of termination shall be clear and convincing evidence.  On all other issues, the standard of proof shall be a preponderance of the evidence.

(d)  Termination of parental rights.  If the commissioner or the attorney for the child seeks an order at disposition terminating the parental rights of one or both parents and transfer of legal custody to the commissioner without limitation as to adoption, the court shall consider the best interests of the child in accordance with section 5114 of this title.

(e)  Further hearing.  On its own motion or on the motion of a party, the court may schedule a further hearing to obtain reports or other information necessary for the appropriate disposition of the case.  The court shall make an appropriate order for the temporary care of the child pending a final disposition order.  The court shall give scheduling priority to cases in which the child has been removed from home.

§ 5318.  Disposition Order

(a)  Custody.  At disposition, the court shall make such orders related to legal custody for a child who has been found to be in need of care and supervision as the court determines are in the best interest of the child, including:

(1)  An order continuing or returning legal custody to the custodial parent, guardian, or custodian.  Following disposition, the court may issue a conditional custody order for a fixed period of time not to exceed two years.   The court shall schedule regular review hearings to determine whether the conditions continue to be necessary.

(2)  When the goal is reunification with a custodial parent, guardian, or custodian an order transferring temporary custody to a noncustodial parent, a relative, or a person with a significant relationship with the child.  The order may provide for parent-child contact.   Following disposition, the court may issue a conditional custody order for a fixed period of time not to exceed two years.  The court shall schedule regular review hearings to evaluate progress toward reunification and determine whether the conditions and continuing jurisdiction of the juvenile court are necessary.

(3)  An order transferring legal custody to a noncustodial parent and closing the juvenile proceeding.  The order may provide for parent-child contact with the other parent.  Any orders transferring legal custody to a noncustodial parent issued under this section shall not be confidential and shall be made a part of the record in any existing parentage or divorce proceeding involving the child.  On the motion of a party or on the court’s own motion, the court may order that a sealed copy of the disposition case plan be made part of the record in a divorce or parentage proceeding involving the child.

(4)  An order transferring legal custody to the commissioner.  

(5)  An order terminating all rights and responsibilities of a parent by transferring legal custody and all residual parental rights to the commissioner without limitation as to adoption.

(6)  An order of permanent guardianship pursuant to 14 V.S.A. § 2664.

(7)  An order transferring legal custody to a relative or another person with a significant relationship with the child.  The order may be subject to conditions and limitations and may provide for parent-child contact with one or both parents.  The order shall be subject to periodic review as determined by the court.

(b)  Case plan.  If the court orders the transfer of custody pursuant to subdivision (a)(2), (4), or (5) of this section, the court shall establish a permanency goal for the minor child and adopt a case plan prepared by the department which is designed to achieve the permanency goal.  If the court determines that the plan proposed by the department does not adequately support the permanency goal for the child, the court may reject the plan proposed by the department and order the department to prepare and submit a revised plan for court approval.

(c)  Sixteen- to 17.5-year-olds.  In the event that custody of a 16- to 17.5-year-old is transferred to the department pursuant to a petition filed under subsection 5309(d) of this title services to the child and to his or her family shall be provided through a coordinated effort by the agency of human services, the department of education, and community-based interagency teams. 

(d)  Modification.  A disposition order is a final order which may only be modified based on the stipulation of the parties or pursuant to a motion to modify brought under section 5113 of this title. 

(e)  Findings.  Whenever the court orders the transfer of legal custody to a noncustodial parent, a relative, or a person with a significant relationship with the child, such orders shall be supported by findings regarding the suitability of that person to assume legal custody of the child and the safety and appropriateness of the placement.    

§ 5319.  Parent-Child Contact and Contact with Siblings and Relatives

(a)  The court shall order parent-child contact unless the court finds that it is necessary to deny parent-child contact because the protection of the physical safety or emotional well-being of the child so requires.  Except for good cause shown, the order shall be consistent with any existing parent-child contact order.

(b)  The court may determine the reasonable frequency and duration of parent-child contact and may set such conditions for parent-child contact as are in the child’s best interests including whether parent-child contact should be unsupervised or supervised.  The court may allocate the costs of supervised visitation.

(c)  Parent-child contact may be modified by stipulation or upon motion of a party or upon the court’s own motion pursuant to section 5113 of this title. 

(d)  The court may terminate a parent-child contact order in a juvenile proceeding upon a finding that:

(1)  a parent has without good cause failed to maintain a regular schedule of contact with the child and that the parent’s failure to exercise regular contact has had a detrimental impact on the emotional well-being of the child; or

(2)  continued parent-child contact in accordance with the terms of the prior order will have a detrimental impact on the physical or emotional well-being of the child.

(e)  Upon motion of the child’s attorney, the court may also order contact between the child and the child’s siblings, an adult relative with whom the child has a significant relationship, or an adult friend with whom the child has a significant relationship.

(f)  Failure to provide parent-child contact due to the child’s illness or other good cause shall not constitute grounds for a contempt or enforcement proceeding against the department.

§ 5320.  PostDisposition Review Hearing

If the permanency goal of the disposition case plan is reunification with a parent, guardian, or custodian, the court shall hold a review hearing within 60 days of the date of the disposition order for the purpose of monitoring progress under the disposition case plan and reviewing parent-child contact.  Notice of the review shall be provided to all parties.  A foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative caregiver shall be provided with notice of any post disposition review hearings and an opportunity to be heard at the hearings.  Nothing in this section shall be construed as affording such person party status in the proceeding.

§ 5321.  Permanency hearing 

(a)  Purpose.  Unless otherwise specified therein, an order under the authority of this chapter transferring legal custody or residual parental rights and responsibilities of a child to the department pursuant to subdivision 5318(a)(4) or (5) of this title shall be for an indeterminate period and shall be subject to periodic review at a permanency hearing.   At the permanency hearing, the court shall determine the permanency goal for the child and an estimated time for achieving that goal.  The goal shall specify when:

(1)  legal custody of the child will be transferred to the parent, guardian, or custodian;

(2)  the child will be released for adoption;

(3)  a permanent guardianship will be established for the child;

(4)  a legal guardianship will be established for the child pursuant to an order under chapter 111 of Title 14; or

(5)  the child will remain in the same living arrangement or be placed in another planned permanent living arrangement because the commissioner has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the court a compelling reason that it is not in the child’s best interests to:

(A)  return home;

(B)  have residual parental rights terminated and be released for adoption; or

(C)  be placed with a fit and willing relative or legal guardian.

(b)  The court shall adopt a case plan designed to achieve the permanency goal.  At the permanency review, the court shall review the permanency plan and determine whether the plan advances the permanency goal recommended by the department.  The court may accept or reject the plan, but may not designate a particular placement for a child in the department’s legal custody.

(c)  A permanency review hearing shall be held no less than every 12 months with the first hearing to be held 12 months after the date the legal custody of the child was transferred, subject to the following exceptions:

(1)  If the child was three years of age or younger at the time of the initial transfer of legal custody, the court may order that permanency review hearings be held as frequently as every three months.

(2)  If the child is between the ages of three and six at the time of the initial transfer of legal custody, the court may order that permanency review hearings be held as frequently as every six months.

(d)  If the court shortens the time for the permanency review hearing for a younger sibling, that shortened review interval shall be applied to all siblings in the family who are in the legal custody of the department.  

(e)(1)  The department shall file with the court a notice of permanency review together with a case plan and recommendation for a permanency goal.  The department shall provide notice to the state’s attorney having jurisdiction and to all parties to the proceeding in accordance with the rules for family proceedings.  The court shall hold a permanency review hearing within 30 days of the filing of notice by the department.  Failure to give such notice or to review an order shall not terminate the original order or limit the court’s jurisdiction.

(2)  A foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative caregiver for the child shall be provided notice of and an opportunity to be heard at any permanency hearing held with respect to the child.  Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as affording such person party status in the proceeding.

(f)  All evidence helpful in determining the questions presented, including hearsay, may be admitted and relied upon to the extent of its probative value even though not competent at an adjudication hearing. 

(g)  The permanency hearing may be held by an administrative body appointed or approved by the court.  The administrative body may consist of one but not more than three persons.  No person employed by the department shall be a member of the administrative body.  In the event that the administrative body determines that the existing order should be altered, it shall submit its recommendation to the court for its consideration.  In the event that the administrative body determines that the existing order should not be altered, its determination shall be binding unless any party requests review by the court within ten days of receipt of the determination.  A copy of the determination shall be sent to each party and to the court.  The court, on its own motion or on the request of any party, shall conduct a review de novo within 30 days of receipt of such request.

(h)  Upon the filing of a petition for a finding of reasonable efforts and a report or affidavit by the department for children and families with notice to all parties, the court shall hold a hearing within 30 days of the filing of the petition to determine, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the department for children and families has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan for the child that is in effect at the time of the hearing.  The hearing may be consolidated with or separate from a permanency hearing.  Reasonable efforts to finalize a permanency plan may consist of:

(1)  reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family following the child’s removal from the home, where the permanency plan for the child is reunification; or

(2)  reasonable efforts to arrange and finalize an alternate permanent living arrangement for the child, in cases where the permanency plan for the child does not include reunification.

§ 5322.  Placement of a Child in a Facility Used for Treatment of Delinquent Children

A child found by the court to be a child in need of care and supervision shall not be placed in or transferred to an institution used solely for the treatment or rehabilitation of delinquent children unless the child has been charged with or adjudicated as having committed a delinquent act.

Sec. 4.  33 V.S.A. § 5802 is added to read:

§ 5802.  SEPARATION OF VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND PERPETRATOR

The commissioner of the department for children and families shall develop policies applicable when the department knows or learns that a sexual assault perpetrator and his or her victim have been simultaneously placed at the facility.  The policies shall include processes and procedures for investigation and, if appropriate, continued separation of or minimizing incidental contact between the perpetrator and the victim, while ensuring that they both receive educational and other appropriate services.

Sec. 5.  13 V.S.A. § 1030 is amended to read:

§ 1030.  VIOLATION OF AN ABUSE PREVENTION ORDER OR, AN  ORDER AGAINST STALKING OR SEXUAL ASSAULT, OR A PROTECTIVE ORDER CONCERNING CONTACT WITH A CHILD

(a)  A person who commits an act prohibited by a court or who fails to perform an act ordered by a court in violation of an abuse prevention order issued under chapter 21 of Title 15 or chapter 69 of Title 33, a protective order that concerns contact with a child and is issued under chapter 51 of Title 33, or an order against stalking or sexual assault issued under chapter 178 of Title 12, after the person has been served notice of the contents of the order as provided in those chapters; or a foreign abuse prevention order issued by a court in any other state, federally recognized Indian tribe, territory or possession of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia; shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.

(b)  A person who is convicted of a second or subsequent offense under this section shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $25,000.00, or both.

* * *

(e)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to diminish the inherent authority of the courts to enforce their lawful orders through contempt proceedings.

* * *

Sec. 6.  Rule (3)(c)(6) of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure is amended to read:

(6)  The person has violated an order issued by a court in this state pursuant to 12 V.S.A. chapter 178, 15 V.S.A. chapter 21, or 33 V.S.A. chapter 69 or subsection 5115(e).

Sec. 7.  Section 6(b) of the Rules of Public Access to Court Records is amended to read:

(b)  Exceptions.  The public shall not have access to the following judicial branch records:

* * *

(34)  Records from a juvenile proceeding that are filed with the court or admitted into evidence in a divorce or parentage proceeding.

(35)  Any other record to which public access is prohibited by statute.

Sec. 8.  33 V.S.A. § 3902 is amended as follows:

§ 3902.  ASSIGNMENT OF SUPPORT RIGHTS BY PUBLIC ASSISTANCE RECIPIENTS; PROCEEDINGS TO ESTABLISH SUPPORT OBLIGATION

* * *

(e)  When a responsible parent is receiving welfare assistance under Title XVI of the Social Security Act or chapter 11 of this title, on the parent’s own behalf or on behalf of a dependent child, no amounts shall accrue or be collected under the support order while the welfare assistance is being received.  The commissioner shall monitor receipt of welfare assistance by responsible parents to ensure collection action is not instituted while welfare assistance is being received and that collection action is instituted promptly when the responsible parent no longer receives assistance.

(f)  If a support order has been entered and the legal custodian and obligee relinquishes physical responsibility of the child to a caretaker without modifying the physical rights and responsibilities order, the office of child support may change the payee of support upon the caretaker’s receipt of Reach Up family assistance (RUFA) from the department for children and families.  The obligor’s obligation under the support order to pay child support and medical support continues but shall be payable to the office of child support upon the caretaker’s receipt of RUFA and shall continue so long as the assignment is in effect.  The office of child support shall notify the obligor and obligee under the support order, by first class mail at last known address, of the change of payee.

Sec. 9.  33 V.S.A. § 3903 is amended to read:

§ 3903.  CHILD SUPPORT DEBT

(a)  Except as otherwise provided in this section, any payment of Reach Up financial assistance made to or for the benefit of a dependent child creates a debt due and owing to the department for children and families by any responsible parent in an amount equal to the amount of Reach Up financial assistance paid.

(1)  A debt shall not be incurred by any responsible parent while that parent receives public assistance for the benefit of any of his or her dependent children.  A debt previously incurred by any responsible parent shall not be collected from the responsible parent while that parent receives public assistance for the benefit of his or her dependent children, or assistance under Title XVI of the Social Security Act.

(2)(b)  Collection of child support debts shall be made as provided by this section and section 3902 of this title and by subchapter 7 of chapter 11 of Title 15.  Regardless of the amount of Reach Up financial assistance paid, the court may limit the child support debt, taking into consideration the criteria of section 659 of Title 15.  The department for children and families and the responsible parent may limit the child support debt by stipulation which shall be enforceable on its terms unless it is modified.

Sec. 10.  REPORT FROM THE DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

(a)  No later than March 1, 2009, the department for children and families shall report to the general assembly on the following:

(1)  Procedures used to identify parents with disabilities.

(2)  Procedures for modifying case plans, disposition of case plans, service plans, and permanency plans to include the use of adaptive equipment and parental supports for parents with disabilities.

(3)  Procedures used to assess family strengths and weaknesses as they relate to children and parents with disabilities.

(4)  The state’s ability to accommodate the court-related needs of children and parents with disabilities as they relate to juvenile judicial proceedings.

(b)  In preparation of the report, the department for children and families shall consult with:

(1)  The family support project at the University of Vermont.

(2)  The Vermont judiciary.

(3)  The office of the defender general.

(4)  The department of disabilities, aging, and independent living.

Sec. 11.  REPORT FROM THE CENTER FOR CRIME VICTIM SERVICES

The center for crime victim services shall report to the house and senate committees on judiciary no later than January 15, 2012 on the implementation and operation of the juvenile restitution provisions established by this act.

Sec. 12.  JUVENILE JURISDICTION POLICY AND OPERATIONS COORDINATING COUNCIL

(a)  The juvenile jurisdiction policy and operations coordinating council is established in order to plan and develop the steps advisable better to address age-appropriate responses to older youth within the juvenile justice system.  The council shall report to the house and senate committees on judiciary on or before December 15, 2008.  The report may consider the juvenile justice jurisdiction study submitted to the agency of human services in December 2007 as well as other relevant information and recommend any changes to Vermont juvenile justice jurisdiction policy the council decides are advisable. 

(b)(1)  The council shall develop an implementation plan for each of the following options:

(A)  Maintaining the current jurisdiction statute and continuing jurisdiction of the family court in delinquency proceedings until age 22.

(B)  Changing the initial court of jurisdiction in all misdemeanor proceedings to the family court, with the possibility to be waived to district court, and continuing family court jurisdiction until age 22.

(C)  Changing the initial court of jurisdiction in all juvenile proceedings to the family court with the possibility to be waived to district court and continuing family court jurisdiction until age 22.  

(2)  Each option in subdivision (1) of this subsection shall address:

(A)  Estimated numbers of youth to be served by the department of corrections and by the department for children and families.

(B)  Resource increases needed by the department for children and families to implement each option, including probation supervision staff, locked capacity, and contracted services.

(C)  Potential decreases in the department of corrections services.

(D)  Resource increases and decreases in the judicial system.

(E)  The net costs.

(c)  With respect to any policy changes recommended, the report shall include:

(1)  Necessary statutory changes.

(2)  Necessary structural modifications to the juvenile system, including personnel and programming requirements and changes.

(3)  Cost implications and financial impacts.

(4)  Review of the impact on 16- and 17-year-olds of being commingled with older offenders.

(5)  A summary of evidence-based research on outcomes and recidivism rates by juvenile offenders and juvenile delinquents, including comparisons of minors processed as juvenile delinquents with minors processed as adult offenders. 

(d)  The council shall consist of the following members:

(1)  The administrative judge or designee.

(2)  The court administrator or designee.

(3)   The defender general or designee.

(4)  The attorney general or designee.

(5)  The executive director of the department of state's attorneys and sheriffs or designee.

(6)  The commissioner of the department for children and families or designee.

(7)  The director of the juvenile justice commission or designee.

(8)  The commissioner of corrections or designee.

(9)  The commissioner of public safety or designee.

(10)  A mental health professional with experience working with juveniles, appointed by the Vermont council of developmental and mental health services.

(11)  A law enforcement officer with experience working with juveniles, appointed by the commissioner of public safety.

(12)  The executive director of the center for crime victim services or his or her designee.

Sec. 13.  REPEAL

The following are repealed:

(1)  33 V.S.A. chapter 55 (judicial proceedings).

(2)  13 V.S.A. § 5320 (notification of conditions of release to victim in delinquency proceedings).

Sec. 14.  EFFECTIVE DATE AND APPLICATION

This act shall take effect January 1, 2009 and shall apply to any petition filed after the effect date or any permanency review hearing held after the effective date.

                                                                        ALICE W. NITKA

                                                                        M. JANE KITCHEL

                                                                        RICHARD W. SEARS, JR.

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        WILLIAM LIPPERT

                                                                        MARGARET K. FLORY

                                                                        SANDY HAAS

                                                                 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.

H. 859.

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

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Sears, 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. 859.  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.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House recede from its proposal of amendment to the Senate proposal of amendment, that the Senate recede from its proposal of amendment and that the bill be further amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS AND INTENT

(a)  The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Vermont’s incarcerated population is growing at an unsustainable rate.

(2)  Property and drug offenders are the fastest growing segment of the prison population.  Between 2000 and 2006, over one-half the increase in the felony prison population was due to property and substance abuse offenses.

(3)  Seventy-seven percent of those sentenced for a property or drug felony have a substance abuse disorder.  Two-thirds of them report having received mental health treatment in the past.  Fifty-five percent report being frequently unemployed prior to incarceration.

(4)  Of those incarcerated for a property or drug felony, only 13 percent are receiving treatment.

(b)  The general assembly further finds that:

(1)  Each month, approximately 70 inmates meet the criteria for reentering the community under the supervision of the commissioner of corrections on conditional reentry status.  However, almost one-half are not released because of insufficient housing options.

(2)  Studies show that the length of sentences served by offenders does not affect their recidivism rates.  Therefore, current law authorizes the commissioner of corrections to release certain offenders on reintegration furlough 90 days prior to the minimum sentence date.  However, on average, eligible inmates serve only 53 days on reintegration furlough status.  If all those who are eligible serve the full 90 days of reintegration status, the result could be a savings of up to 90 corrections beds.

(c)  The general assembly intends:

(1)  to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and reduce the cost to the state of incarcerating offenders by increasing substance abuse treatment services, vocational training, and transitional housing available to offenders, and by establishing processes for reducing incarceration time when appropriate; and

(2)  that the provisions of this act are a long-range plan to guide expenditures from additional corrections savings in future years.

Sec. 2.  28 V.S.A. § 102(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The commissioner is charged with the following powers:

* * *

(5)  To order the assignment and transfer of persons committed to the custody of the commissioner to correctional facilities, including out-of-state facilities.

* * *

Sec. 3.  28 V.S.A. § 202 is amended to read:

§ 202.  POWERS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COMMISSIONER REGARDING PROBATION

The commissioner shall be charged with the following powers and responsibilities regarding the administration of probation:

(1)  To maintain general supervision of persons placed on probation, and to prescribe rules and regulations, consistent with any orders of the court, governing the conduct of such persons;

(2)  To supervise the administration of probation services and establish policies and standards and make rules and regulations regarding probation investigation, supervision, case work and case loads, record keeping, and the qualification of probation officers;

(3)  To use electronic monitoring equipment such as global position monitoring, automated voice recognition telephone equipment, and transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment to enable more effective or efficient supervision of individuals placed on probation.  Transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment shall be used for such purposes as discouraging persons whose licenses have been suspended for DUI from operating motor vehicles on Vermont highways.   

Sec. 4.  28 V.S.A. § 205(c) is added to read:

(c)(1)  Unless the court in its discretion finds that the interests of justice require additional standard and special conditions of probation, when the court orders a specific term of probation for a qualifying offense, the offender shall be placed on administrative probation, which means that the only conditions of probation shall be that the probationer:

(A)  register with the department of corrections’ probation and parole office in his or her district;

(B)  notify the probation officer of his or her current address each month;

(C)  within 72 hours, notify the department of corrections if probable cause is found for a criminal offense during the term of probation; and

(D)  not be convicted of a criminal offense during the term of probation.

(2)  As used in this subsection, “qualifying offense” means:

(A)  Unlawful mischief under 13 V.S.A. § 3701.

(B)  Retail theft under 13 V.S.A. §§ 2575 and 2577.

(C)  Operating after suspension or revocation of license under 23 V.S.A. § 674(a).

(D)  Bad checks under 13 V.S.A. § 2022.

(E)  Theft of services under 13 V.S.A. § 2582.

(F)  Disorderly conduct under 13 V.S.A. § 1026, unless the original charge was a listed offense as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301(7).

(G)  Theft of rented property under 13 V.S.A. § 2591.

(H)  Operation without consent of owner under 23 V.S.A. § 1094(a).

(I)  Petit larceny under 13 V.S.A. § 2502.

(J)  Negligent operation of a motor vehicle under 23 V.S.A. § 1091(a).

(K)  False reports to law enforcement under 13 V.S.A. § 1754.

(L)  Setting fires under 13 V.S.A. § 508.

(M)  A first offense of a minor’s misrepresenting age, procuring, possessing, or consuming liquors under 7 V.S.A. § 657.

(N)  Simple assault by mutual consent under 13 V.S.A. § 1023(b) unless the original charge was a listed offense as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 5301(7).

(O)  Unlawful trespass under 13 V.S.A. § 3705(a).

(P)  A first offense of possession under 18 V.S.A. § 4230(a)(1).

(3)  Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a court from requiring participation in the restorative justice program established in chapter 12 of this title.

Sec. 5.  28 V.S.A. § 252(b) is amended and (d) is added to read:

(b)  When imposing a sentence of probation, the court may, as a condition of probation, require that the offender:

* * *

(16)  Satisfy any other conditions reasonably related to his or her rehabilitation.  The court shall not impose a condition prohibiting the offender from engaging in any legal behavior unless the condition is reasonably related to the offender’s rehabilitation or necessary to reduce risk to public safety.

(d)  The commissioner shall review the record of each probationer serving a specified term during the month prior to the midpoint of that probationer’s specified term and may file a motion requesting the sentencing court to dismiss the probationer from probation or deduct a portion of the specified term from the period of probation if the offender has successfully completed a program or has attained a goal or goals specified by the conditions of probation.  The commissioner may include in the motion a request that the court deduct a portion of the specified term for each condition completed or goal attained. Any motion under this section shall be made pursuant to a rule adopted by the commissioner under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 which shall provide that the decision to make or refrain from making a motion shall be made at the sole discretion of the commissioner and shall not be subject to appeal.

Sec. 6.  28 V.S.A. § 105 is added to read:

§ 105.  CASELOAD CAPACITY

(a)  Corrections officers designated to work exclusively with offenders in the community who are 21 years of age and younger shall have caseloads of no more than 25 youths.

(b)  The department shall review the severity of offenses and assess the risk to reoffend of all offenders older than 21 years of age under its jurisdiction in the community and assign one of the following levels of supervision to each offender: 

(1)  Risk management supervision, which shall mean supervision at a level of intensity that includes case planning and measures to reduce risk of reoffense.

(2)  Response supervision, which shall mean monitoring of the offender’s compliance with conditions of probation or parole, including staff responding to violation behavior.

(3)  Administrative supervision, which shall mean monitoring of the offender’s address and compliance with the law. 

(c)  An offender may be reassigned to a lower supervision level after a reassessment of the offender’s risk.

(d)  The department shall establish the following caseload ranges for offender profiles:

(1)  All listed offenders requiring risk management shall be supervised at no more than 45 offenders per corrections officer.

(2)  All nonlisted offenders requiring risk management shall be supervised at no more than 60 offenders per corrections officer.

(3)  All offenders requiring response supervision shall be supervised at no more than 150 offenders per corrections officer.

(4)  All offenders requiring administrative supervision may be supervised on caseloads consistent with the capacity of automated status reporting systems as established by the department.

(5)  When there is a mixed profile caseload in which a single corrections officer supervises offenders with different supervision levels and at least one‑third of the offenders require a more intensive supervision demand than the other offenders, the caseload shall be supervised at the lowest level of offender-to-staff ratio. 

(e)  If the caseloads established in subsection (d) of this section are exceeded for longer than 120 days, the commissioner shall be authorized to designate community correctional officers to partially augment staffing caseloads.  If such designation does not remedy the excess caseloads:

(1)  The commissioner shall report to the joint corrections oversight committee the causes for the excess and proposals for addressing them.

(2)  The department shall have the authority, if the commissioner believes that the excess will not be eliminated within 60 days, to hire persons from the positions drawn from the state’s vacancy pool as limited service employees for an initial period of up to one year.  The initial period may be extended for up to two more years if the department deems it necessary.

(f)  Each time a position is established under subdivision (e)(2) of this section, the commissioner shall report it at the next meeting of the joint corrections oversight committee.  The costs for each position shall be presented in the department’s budget adjustment proposal and, if the positions are necessary for an ongoing period, in the department’s annual budget request.

Sec. 7.  28 V.S.A. § 403(1) is amended to read:

(1)  To supervise and control persons placed on parole, subject to the rules and orders of the parole board as to the conditions of parole.  The commissioner may use electronic monitoring equipment such as global position monitoring, automated voice recognition telephone equipment, and transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment to enable more effective or efficient supervision of individuals placed on parole.  Transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment shall be used for such purposes as discouraging persons whose licenses have been suspended for DUI from operating motor vehicles on Vermont highways;

Sec. 8.  28 V.S.A. § 723(c) is added to read:

(c)  Prior to release under this section, the department shall screen and, if appropriate, assess each felony drug and property offender for substance abuse treatment needs using an assessment tool designed to assess the suitability of a broad range of treatment services, and it shall use the results of this assessment in preparing a reentry plan.  The department shall attempt to identify all necessary services in the reentry plan and work with the offender to make connections to necessary services prior to release so that the offender can begin receiving services immediately upon release. 

Sec. 9.  28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(8)(E) and (F) are added to read:

(8)  To prepare for reentry into the community.

* * *

(E)  An offender incarcerated for driving while under the influence of alcohol under 13 V.S.A. § 1210(d) or (e) may be furloughed to the community up to 180 days prior to completion of the minimum sentence at the commissioner’s discretion and in accordance with rules adopted pursuant to subdivision (C) of this subdivision (8), provided that an offender sentenced to a minimum term of fewer than 270 days shall not be eligible for furlough under this subdivision until the offender has served at least 90 days of his or her minimum term of incarceration and provided that the commissioner uses electronic equipment to continually monitor the offender’s location and blood alcohol level, or other equipment such as an alcohol ignition interlock system, or both.

(F)  Prior to release under this subdivision (8), the department shall screen and, if appropriate, assess each felony drug and property offender for substance abuse treatment needs using an assessment tool designed to assess the suitability of a broad range of treatment services, and it shall use the results of this assessment in preparing a reentry plan.  The department shall attempt to identify all necessary services in the reentry plan and work with the offender to make connections to necessary services prior to release so that the offender can begin receiving services immediately upon release. 

Sec. 10.  28 V.S.A. § 808(b) is amended to read:

(b)  An inmate granted a furlough pursuant to this section may be accompanied by an employee of the department, in the discretion of the commissioner, during the period of the inmate’s furlough.  The department may use electronic monitoring equipment such as global position monitoring, automated voice recognition telephone equipment, and transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment to enable more effective or efficient supervision of individuals placed on furlough.

Sec. 11.  33 V.S.A. § 708 is amended to read:

§ 708.  TREATMENT AND SERVICES

* * *

(d)  A person judged by a law enforcement officer to be incapacitated, and who has not been charged with a crime, may be lodged in protective custody in a lockup or community correctional center secure facility not operated by the department of corrections for up to 24 hours or until judged by the person in charge of the facility to be no longer incapacitated, if and only if:

(1)  The person refuses to be transported to an appropriate facility for treatment, or if once there, refuses treatment or leaves the facility before he or she is considered by the responsible staff of that facility to be no longer incapacitated; or

(2)  No approved substance abuse treatment program with detoxification capabilities and no staff physician or other medical professional at the nearest licensed general hospital can be found who will accept the person for treatment.

(e)  No person shall be lodged in a lockup or community correctional center secure facility under subsection (d) of this section without first being evaluated by a substance abuse crisis team, a designated substance abuse counselor, a clinical staff person of an approved substance abuse treatment program with detoxification capabilities or a professional medical staff person at a licensed general hospital emergency room and found to be indeed incapacitated.

(f)  No lockup or community correctional center shall  A lockup not operated by the department of corrections shall not refuse to admit an incapacitated person in protective custody whose admission is requested by a law enforcement officer, in compliance with the conditions of this section.

(g)  Notwithstanding subsection (d) of this section, a person under 18 years of age who is judged by a law enforcement officer to be incapacitated and who has not been charged with a crime shall not be held at a lockup or community correctional center.  If needed treatment is not readily available the person shall be released to his or her parent or guardian.  If the person has no parent or guardian in the area, arrangements shall be made to house him or her according to the provisions of chapter 55 of this title.  The official in charge of an adult jail or lockup shall notify the director of the office of drug and alcohol abuse of any person under the age of 18 brought to an adult jail or lockup pursuant to this chapter.

(h)  If an incapacitated person in protective custody is lodged in a lockup or community correctional center secure facility, his or her family or next of kin shall be notified as promptly as possible.  If the person is an adult and requests that there be no notification, his or her request shall be respected.

(i)  A taking into protective custody under this section is not an arrest.

(j)  Law enforcement officers or , persons responsible for supervision in a lockup or community correctional center or secure facility, members of a substance abuse crisis team or , and designated substance abuse counselors who act under the authority of this section are acting in the course of their official duty and are not criminally or civilly liable therefor, unless for gross negligence or willful or wanton injury.

Sec. 12.  33 V.S.A. § 708a is added to read:

§ 708a.  INCARCERATION FOR INEBRIATION PROHIBITED

A person who has not been charged with a crime shall not be incarcerated in a facility operated by the department of corrections on account of the person’s inebriation.

Sec. 13.  TRANSITION UNITS

(a)  The general assembly intends in this act to provide to offenders who are eligible for release into the community the opportunity for a successful transition.

(b)  The commissioner of corrections shall report to the corrections oversight committee on or before November 1, 2008, on:

(1) the feasibility and costs of establishing within the Northwest State Correctional Facility a transition unit which is modeled on the transition unit at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility which enables inmates to work in the community while residing in the facility.  In considering options, the commissioner shall consider remodeling a unit in which the general assembly has already invested funds for upgrade; and

(2)  the feasibility and costs of incorporating a transition unit into any facility where renovations are necessary to implement the provisions of this act.

Sec. 14.  CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES REORGANIZATION; PLAN

(a)  Findings.  Department of corrections expenditures on correctional services including out-of-state beds grew from $93,255,650.00 in fiscal year 2004 to $120,533,309.00 in fiscal year 2008.  The amount of funding proposed for fiscal year 2009 is $123,589,833.00.  This rate of increase has been and remains unsustainable.

(b)  Action.  In order to reduce the unsustainable increases in the expenditures of the department of corrections, the following action shall be taken by the executive branch:

(1)  In fiscal year 2009, the Dale Correctional Facility in Waterbury shall be closed.

(2)  In fiscal year 2009, the mission of the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor shall change to be a therapeutic community in a work camp model, consistent with any further directive set forth in the Capital Construction and State Bonding Act for fiscal year 2009.

(3)  In fiscal year 2009, sections of the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans shall be closed and the facility otherwise configured to house and program women, with consideration given to housing male detainees, consistent with any further directive set forth in the Capital Construction and State Bonding Act for fiscal year 2009.

(c)  Goal; fiscal year 2009.  It is the goal of the general assembly to achieve in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2009 approximately $600,000.00 in savings in the department of corrections budget, which will be reinvested in substance abuse screening, assessment, treatment, and reentry support, the goal of which is to reduce recidivism for the target group indentified in Sec. 1(a) of this act.

(d)  Goal; fiscal year 2010.  It is the goal of the general assembly to achieve in fiscal year 2010 approximately $3,044,949 in savings in the department of corrections budget, some of which will be reinvested in a variety of effective programs to further reduce recidivism for the target group indentified in Sec. 1(a) of this act. 

(e)  The general assembly recognizes and values the dedication and experience of the classified state employees of the department of corrections, whose skill and expertise will continue to be needed as the department continues to pursue its goals and mission.  Therefore, the restructuring necessary to achieve the cost savings required for this act shall result in the following:

(1)  The incumbents in the five classified positions that will be eliminated at Northwest State Correctional Facility shall continue to be employed at that facility in classified positions that are vacant, unless the incumbents voluntarily seek employment in other state positions or leave state service.

(2)  The temporary and exempt superintendent positions at the Dale facility shall be eliminated.

(3)  An incumbent in a classified position that will be eliminated at the Dale facility who does not accept any existing vacant classified position and who exercises the contractual right to fill an existing temporary position at any department facility shall receive his or her classified position base salary and the benefits of the bargaining unit to which that temporary position would be assigned if permanent, with the exceptions of scheduling days of work, shift assignment, and post assignment.  The rights established by this subdivision shall be available until January 1, 2011, or until an affected employee accepts an existing classified position, whichever occurs first.

(4)  Except as otherwise provided in this section, all existing state employee contract provisions and protections shall remain fully in force for any affected corrections employee covered by the contract.

(5)  Up to 120 hours of training, as appropriate based on levels of previous training and experience, for employees of those facilities involved in the reorganization described in this section who will need training due to a change in assigned duties.

(f)  As part of the reorganization, the department of corrections shall work with community-based organizations to provide services for inmates, including at least as many services in the St. Albans facility for women as were offered in the Windsor and Dale facilities.


Sec. 15.  BUDGETARY SAVINGS; ALLOCATIONS IN FISCAL YEAR 2009 AND FISCAL YEAR 2010

(a)  It is the intent of the general assembly to achieve savings in the department of corrections budget which will be reinvested in substance abuse screening, assessment, and treatment and reentry support to result in reduced recidivism.

(b)  In fiscal year 2009, from within the amounts appropriated to the department of corrections from the general fund, the department shall spend $600,000 as follows:

(1)  The amount of $100,000.00 shall be to increase the capacity of the department of corrections’ intensive substance abuse program (ISAP) to provide services to those offenders with drug abuse disorders who are on preapproved furlough status under 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(7).

(2)  The amount of $200,000.00 shall be to fund the establishment of a screening and assessment pilot program at a location approved by the court administrator to:

(A)  conduct a voluntary and confidential screening and assessment, when screening indicates that an assessment is appropriate, for substance abuse and mental health treatment needs at the time of arraignment of individuals charged with felony property, drug, or fraud offenses;

(B)  conduct a mandatory screening and assessment, when screening indicates that an assessment is appropriate, for substance abuse and mental health treatment needs following adjudication and prior to sentencing of individuals found guilty of felony property, drug, or fraud offenses;

(C)  provide the results of any screening and assessment conducted under this section to the judge following adjudication and prior to sentencing so that the judge can use the information to determine the level of treatment to be provided while the individual is in the custody of the commissioner of corrections; and

(D)  enable the commissioner to gather data regarding the prevalence of co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.   

(3)  The amount of $88,000.00 shall be to assess offenders for substance abuse treatment needs prior to release.

(4)  The amount of $150,000.00 shall be used to fund substance abuse programs and vocational training in the Windsor work camp facility.

(5)  the amount of $62,000.00 shall be for entering into contracts with several community‑based substance abuse treatment providers in different geographic regions of the state to provide the substance abuse treatment services to persons on conditional reentry status pursuant to subchapter 1A of chapter 11 of 28 V.S.A. or furlough pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808.

(c)  Based on a recommendation from the commissioner of corrections and the corrections oversight committee, the joint fiscal committee may authorize further spending of funds from the fiscal year 2009 corrections appropriation for all or part of the amounts of this subsection, in the order listed in this subsection.  In fiscal year 2010, from within the amounts appropriated to the department of corrections from the general fund, the department shall reinvest a portion of the savings identified by the commissioner of corrections and the corrections oversight committee as follows:

(1)  The amount necessary to continue funding the screening and assessment pilot program established in subdivision (b)(2) of this section for one more year.

(2)  The amount of $150,000.00 shall be to provide grants to community providers of transitional housing to increase the number of beds available by 10 beds for three to six months of housing for at least 20 offenders reentering the community on furlough pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808 or on conditional reentry pursuant to subchapter 1A of chapter 11 of Title 28.

(3)  The amount of $200,000.00 shall be to develop the capacities of community substance abuse treatment providers to work effectively with offenders and to function efficiently as a collaborative system.

(4)  The amount of $1,200,000.00 shall be to provide grants to community providers to increase by 60 the number of beds available for at least 120 offenders who will be staying in the transitional housing for three to six months before reentering the community on furlough pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808 or conditional reentry, pursuant to subchapter 1A of chapter 11 of Title 28.  The new transitional housing shall include a range from lightly supervised with no treatment programs to heavily supervised with wrap-around treatment programs.  Of the amount appropriated in this subdivision, $200,000.00 shall be used to:

(A)  provide life skills programming;

(B)  expand housing readiness, search, and retention services; and

(C)  expand housing assistance funding which may be granted to housing authorities and other community agencies in response to requests for proposals or memorandums of understanding entered into in accordance with department policy and directives.

(5)  The amount of $365,000.00 shall be to expand the ISAP program to include a residential component for those who have been furloughed to the community pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(7);

(6)  The amount of $650,000.00 shall be to provide vocational training and residential substance abuse programs in one or more state-owned and ‑operated work camps.

(7)  The amount of $110,000.00 shall be for recovery centers.

(8)  The amount of $50,000.00 shall be to increase the capacity of the department of corrections’ intensive substance abuse program (ISAP) to provide services to those offenders with drug abuse disorders who are on preapproved furlough status under 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(7).

(9)  The amount of $150,000.00 shall be used to expand the availability of public inebriate beds outside the department of corrections.

(10)  The amount of $211,000.00 shall be used to purchase electronic monitoring equipment, including automated voice recognition telephone equipment, global position monitoring system bracelets, and transdermal alcohol monitoring equipment.  The commissioner shall use the equipment to augment supervision of offenders on probation, parole, or furlough and to enhance the capacity of field staff to monitor and control offenders who would otherwise be incarcerated.

(d)  The joint fiscal office shall track and report to the joint fiscal committee in January and July of 2009 savings in the corrections budget resulting from the provisions of this act, including savings resulting from increased use of electronic monitoring equipment following passage of this act.

Sec. 16.  STATEWIDE DRUG COURT STUDY

The court administrator, the defender general, the executive director of the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs, the deputy commissioner of the department of health in charge of the office of alcohol and drug abuse programs, and the commissioner of mental health shall report to the house and senate committees on judiciary by December 15, 2008, on the advisability and feasibility of expanding the drug court program to every county in the state.  The report shall address:

(1)  the financial costs of expanding the drug court program statewide;

(2)  the workforce impact which a statewide expansion of the program would have and whether new staff would be required;

(3)  whether current state facilities have the capacity to support statewide expansion and whether and where any new facilities would be required; and

(4)  any other matter deemed relevant to the issue of statewide drug court expansion.    

Sec. 17.  PUBLIC INEBRIATES TASK FORCE

(a)  A public inebriates task force is established.  The task force shall consist of the following members:

(1)  Two members employed by the office of alcohol and drug abuse programs appointed by the commissioner of the department of health.

(2)  Two substance abuse treatment providers appointed by the substance abuse treatment providers association.

(3)  One member appointed by the department of public safety.

(4)  One member appointed by the Vermont police association.

(5)  One member appointed by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

(6)  Two members appointed by the Vermont medical society who shall be hospital emergency department personnel.

(7)  Two members appointed by the Vermont recovery network.

(8)  Two employees of the department of corrections appointed by the commissioner of the department of corrections.

(9)  A representative of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.

(b)  The task force shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary, institutions, and appropriations no later than January 1, 2010 with a plan to ensure that public inebriates are given appropriate care rather than incarcerated.  The plan shall ensure the regional availability of supportive voluntary and secure accommodations for public inebriates by January 1, 2011, and shall include a timetable for providing reimbursement of expenses to programs that house and maintain public inebriates.

Sec. 18.  ACCOUNTABILITY; REPORTS

(a)  On or before January 15, 2009, the commissioner of corrections and the court administrator shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary and the house committee on corrections and institutions on implementing the screening and assessment pilot program authorized and funded in Sec. 15(b)(2) of this act, as well as recommendations for continuing the program or expanding the program or both.

(b)  On or before January 15, 2010, the commissioner of corrections shall report to the senate committee on judiciary, the senate committee on institutions, the house committee on corrections and institutions, and the house committee on judiciary on:

(1)  the prevalence of co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders among those committed to the custody of the commissioner of corrections;

(2)  the success of and problems encountered in:

(A)  expanding the ISAP program pursuant to Sec. 15(b)(1) of this act;

(B)  developing reentry plans which identify services needed by offenders upon release, and in working with community providers to ensure that each offender receives those services immediately upon release;

(C)  implementing the screening and assessment pilot program authorized and funded in Sec. 15(b)(2) of this act, as well as recommendations for continuing the program or expanding the program or both.  The commissioner shall make this report jointly with the court administrator;

(3)  the progress made since passage of this act in establishing a comprehensive system of community substance abuse treatment services which is coordinated with corrections services;

(4)  a proposal to increase the furlough days for nonlisted offenders from the existing average of 53 to a target of 75; and

(5)  the advisability of establishing a third 100-bed work camp in fiscal year 2011. 

(c)  On or before January 15, 2011, the commissioner of corrections shall report to the senate committee on judiciary, the house committee on corrections and institutions, and the house committee on judiciary on the successes of and problems encountered in working to meet the following goals with the funds provided and through the programs established in this act:

(1)  increase by at least 30 the number of offenders with sentences of one or more years placed in the department of corrections’ intensive substance abuse program (ISAP) pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(7);

(2)  move at least 10 offenders who are in the intensive phase of receiving ISAP services under 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(7) and who are unsuccessful and would otherwise be reincarcerated to a community-based residential substance abuse treatment program which may be a component of ISAP;

(3)  incarcerate no more than 20 percent of offenders who are receiving substance abuse treatment services under 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(7); 

(4)  reduce by 10 percent the number of reincarcerations of those on conditional reentry with a high need for substance abuse treatment;

(5)  increase by 25 the average per month number of inmates released on furlough, pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808; and

(6)  increase the average number of days inmates are released on reintegration furlough pursuant to 28 V.S.A. § 808(a)(8) prior to the minimum sentence to as close to 90 days as possible. 

(d)  Until the corrections oversight committee informs the commissioner that it no longer requires the information, the commissioner of corrections shall include in monthly reports to the committee:

(1)  the number of inmates eligible for furlough under 28 V.S.A. § 808 and considered appropriate for release by the commissioner but who have not been released because the commissioner is unable to find appropriate housing, employment, treatment, or other services;

(2)  which treatment or other services would have been necessary and in which geographic region the services would have been needed to enable release;

(3)  the number of days of incarceration that could have been avoided if the community resources had been available and these offenders had been released; and

(4)  a detailed description of the progress made on increasing the use of electronic monitoring as authorized by 28 V.S.A. §§ 202, 403(1) and 808(b). 

(e)  On or before January 15, 2011, the court administrator’s office, in consultation with the office of alcohol and drug abuse programs in the Vermont department of health, the department of corrections, the defender general, and the executive director of the department of state’s attorneys and sheriffs, shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary on the costs, cost savings, and effectiveness of the screening and assessment pilot project established pursuant to Sec. 15(b)(2) of this act and shall make a recommendation as to the continuation of the screening and assessment pilot project and its expansion to other counties.

(f)  The joint fiscal office and the office of finance and management shall jointly document the impact of the policies and provisions of this act on corrections costs and shall report their findings to the general assembly on or before January 15, 2010, and in January of each year for five years thereafter.

(g)  The Vermont center for justice research shall study and evaluate the effectiveness of the system of administrative probation established by subsection 205(c) of Title 28, including whether the people who receive such probation commit further offenses and the nature of those offenses.  The center shall report its evaluation of administrative probation to the senate and house committees on judiciary on or before December 15, 2011.

Sec. 19.  CORRECTIONS OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE; CHILDREN OF INCARCERATED PARENTS; REPORT

(a)  During the summer and fall of 2008, the corrections oversight committee shall investigate issues regarding minor children of incarcerated parents.  The investigation shall include:

(1)  A report from the commissioner of corrections on data on the prevalence of inmates who are parents of minor children including the number of inmates who are primary caregivers of minor children.

(2)  Identification of mail, telephone, and visiting policies that promote appropriate family contact.

(3)  A report from the secretary of human services on how to provide appropriate support and assistance to the children of incarcerated parents.

(b)  The committee shall make recommendations regarding:

(1)  Ways to increase and improve appropriate contact between minor children and their incarcerated parents.

(2)  Data to be collected to enable the general assembly to understand the impact of incarceration of parents on minor children and to help policy makers access resources and formulate solutions.  The committee shall also make recommendations on how the data will be collected.

(3)  Cost estimates of resources needed to make recommended changes.

(4)  Appropriate support and assistance to the children of incarcerated parents using existing resources, programs, and staff of the agency of human services.

(c)  The committee shall report its findings and recommendations to the general assembly on or before January 15, 2009. 

Sec. 20.  2 V.S.A. § 801(d) is amended to read:

(d)  When the general assembly is in session, the committee shall meet at the call of the chair.  The committee may meet four six times during adjournment, and may meet more often subject to approval of the speaker of the house and the president pro tempore of the senate.


Sec. 21.  LAW ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY BOARD; ANNUAL REPORT; CHILDREN OF ARRESTED PARENTS

The law enforcement advisory board created in 24 V.S.A. § 1939 shall review and evaluate current law enforcement practices and procedures in arresting a parent or caretaker of a minor child, particularly when the child is present at the time of the arrest.  The board shall solicit input from Kids Apart, the Vermont agency of human services’ child trauma work group, and the Vermont network against domestic and sexual violence.  In its 2009 annual report to the general assembly and the governor, the board shall report its findings and recommendations for improving current practices and procedures.

Sec. 22.  EFFECTIVE DATES

(a)  Secs. 11 and 12 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2011.

(b)  All remaining sections of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2008.

                                                                        RICHARD W. SEARS, JR.

                                                                        SUSAN J. BARTLETT

                                                                        PHILIP B. SCOTT

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        JASON LORBER

                                                                        ALICE EMMONS

                                                                        JOHN RODGERS

                                                                 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.

Rules Suspended; House Proposal of Amendment to Senate Proposal of Amendment Concurred In

H. 402.

Pending entry 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 recapture of health insurance benefits by Group F members of the Vermont state retirement system.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

The House concurs in the Senate proposal of amendment with a proposal of amendment to read as follows:

By adding Sec. 3 and Sec. 4 to read as follows:


Sec. 3.  3 V.S.A. § 455(a)(9)(B) is amended to read:

(B)  any regular officer or employee of the department of public safety assigned to police and law enforcement duties, including the commissioner of public safety appointed before July 1, 2001; but, irrespective of the member’s classification, shall not include any member of the general assembly as such, any person who is covered by the Vermont teachers’ retirement system, any person engaged under retainer or special agreement or C beneficiary employed by the department of public safety for not more than 208 hours per year, or any person whose principal source of income is other than state employment.  In all cases of doubt, the retirement board shall determine whether any person is an employee as defined in this subchapter.  Also included under this subdivision are employees of the department of liquor control who exercise law enforcement powers, employees of the department of fish and wildlife assigned to law enforcement duties, motor vehicle inspectors, full-time deputy sheriffs employed by the state of Vermont, full-time members of the capitol police force, investigators employed by the criminal division of the office of the attorney general, department of state’s attorneys, department of health, or office of the secretary of state, who have attained full-time certification from the Vermont criminal justice training council, who are required to perform law enforcement duties as the primary function of their employment, and who may be subject to mandatory retirement permissible under 29 U.S.C. section 623(j), who are first included in membership of the system on or after July 1, 2000.  Also included under this subdivision are full‑time firefighters employed by the state of Vermont.

Sec. 4.  GROUP C PARTICIPATION; CAPITOL POLICE; TRANSFER; EFFECTIVE DATE

Members of the capitol police force who participate in a state retirement plan other than the group C plan shall have the option to transfer to the group C plan.  Election to join the group C plan shall be made by June 30, 2009 to be effective on July 1, 2009 and shall be irrevocable.  All past service accrued through the date of transfer shall be calculated based upon the plan in which the service accrued with all appropriate provisions and penalties applied.

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


Rules Suspended; Report of Committees of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate

H. 890.

Pending entry 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 compensation for compensation for certain state employees.

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. 890.  An act relating to compensation for compensation for certain state employees.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that Senate recede from its proposal of amendment and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  32 V.S.A. § 1003(b)(1) is amended to read:

(1) Heads of the following departments, offices and agencies:

                                                                        Base Salary as

                                                                                    of

                                                                         July 8, 2007

   (A)           Administration                                 $90,745

* * *

   (Y)           Mental Health                                      84,834

   (Z)           Military                                              76,953 84,834

   (Z)(AA)           Motor vehicles                           76,953

   (AA)(BB)          Natural resources                     90,745

   (BB)(CC)          Natural resources board chair-

                                    person                                76,953

   (CC)(DD)          Public Safety                            84,834

   (DD)(EE)          Public service                            84,834

   (EE)(FF)          Taxes                                           84,834

   (FF)(GG)          Tourism and marketing              76,953

   (GG)(HH)          Transportation                           90,745

   (HH)(II)          Vermont health access                  84,834

   (II)(JJ)          Veterans home                                 76,953

Sec. 2.  RATE OF ADJUSTMENT

(a)  For purposes of determining annual salary adjustments, special salary increases, and bonuses under subsections 1003(b) and 1020(b) of Title 32, “the total rate of adjustment available to classified employees under the collective bargaining agreement” shall be deemed to be 3.5 percent for those earning up to and including $28.85/hour for fiscal year 2009, but in no case shall an adjustment result in an annual salary exceeding $60,000.00 for fiscal year 2009.

(b)  Managerial and confidential classified employees in the executive branch earning $28.85/hour or more shall receive no cost of living adjustment in fiscal year 2009.  In no case shall a cost of living adjustment result in an annual salary exceeding $60,000.00 for fiscal year 2009.  In fiscal year 2010, managerial and confidential classified employees in the executive branch shall return to the salary schedule they would be on as if these fiscal year 2009 limitations had not been imposed.

Sec. 3.  PAY ACT APPROPRIATIONS

(a)  Executive branch.  The two-year agreements between the state of Vermont and the Vermont state employees’ association for the defender general, nonmanagement, supervisory, state police, and corrections bargaining units for the period July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2010, shall be funded as follows:

(1)  Fiscal year 2009:

(A)  General fund.  The amount of $538,094.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the secretary of administration for proportional distribution to the departments of corrections, defender general, state’s attorneys and sheriffs, and public safety to fund the fiscal year 2009 collective bargaining agreement and the requirements of this act.

(B)  Transportation fund.  The amount of $1,210,258.00 is appropriated from the transportation fund to the secretary of administration for distribution to the agency of transportation and the department of public safety to fund the fiscal year 2009 collective bargaining agreement and the requirements of this act.

(C)  Other funds.  The administration shall provide additional spending authority to departments through the existing process of excess receipts to fund the fiscal year 2009 collective bargaining agreement and the requirements of this act.  The estimated amounts are $1,205,810.00 from special fund sources and $4,016,461.00 from federal and other sources.

(D)  With due regard to the possible availability of other funds, for fiscal year 2009, the secretary of administration may transfer from the various appropriations and various funds and from the receipts of the liquor control board such sums as the secretary may determine to be necessary to carry out the purposes of this act to the various agencies supported by state funds.

(2)  Fiscal year 2010:

(A)  General fund.  The amount of $6,297,693.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the secretary of administration for distribution to departments for the fiscal year 2010 collective bargaining agreement and the requirements of this act.

(B)  Transportation fund.  The amount of $2,180,510.00 is appropriated from the transportation fund to the secretary of administration for distribution to the agency of transportation and the department of public safety to fund the fiscal year 2010 collective bargaining agreement and the requirements of this act.

(C)  Other funds.  The administration shall provide additional spending authority to departments through the existing process of excess receipts to fund the fiscal year 2010 collective bargaining agreement and the requirements of this act.  The estimated amounts are $1,230,031.00 from special fund sources and $4,095,444.00 from federal and other sources.

(D)  With due regard to the possible availability of other funds, for fiscal year 2010, the secretary of administration may transfer from the various appropriations and various funds and from the receipts of the liquor control board such sums as the secretary may determine to be necessary to carry out the purposes of this act to the various agencies supported by state funds.

(3)  This section shall include sufficient funding to ensure administration of exempt attorney pay plans, including deputy state’s attorneys and public defenders, subject to the approval of the secretary of administration.

(b)  Judicial branch. 

(1)  The annual salary of an exempt employee who earns an annual salary of less than $60,000.00 as of July 5, 2008 shall not be increased to a salary greater than $60,000.00 for fiscal year 2009.

(2)  The two-year agreements between the state of Vermont and the Vermont state employees’ association for the judicial bargaining unit for the period July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2010, and salary increases for exempt employees earning annual salaries of less than $60,000.00 as of July 5, 2008, shall be funded as follows:

(3)  Fiscal year 2009; general fund.  The amount of $330,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the judiciary to fund the fiscal year 2009 collective bargaining agreement and the requirements of this act.

(4)  Fiscal year 2010; general fund.  The amount of $706,615.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the judiciary to fund the fiscal year 2010 collective bargaining agreement and the requirements of this act.

(c)  Legislative branch. 

(1)  For the period July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010, the legislature shall be funded as follows:   Fiscal year 2010; general fund.  The amount of $143,670.00 is appropriated from the general fund to the legislature to fund the fiscal year 2010 requirements of this act.  This appropriation shall be allocated to the respective legislative appropriation units as determined by the chief legislative counsel and the chief legislative fiscal officer.

(2)  The annual salary of an exempt employee who earns $60,000.00 or more shall receive no adjustment in fiscal year 2009.  The annual salary of an exempt employee who earns an annual salary of less than $60,000.00 as of July 5, 2008 shall not be increased to a salary greater than $60,000.00 in fiscal year 2009.

Sec. 4.  APPROPRIATION REDUCTIONS

(a)  Position reductions.  The secretary of administration shall reduce fiscal year 2009 general fund appropriations in the executive branch of state government by $3,670,000.00 consistent with reductions in positions in the executive branch.  In addition, the secretary of administration shall reduce fiscal year 2009 general fund appropriations in the executive branch of state government by $250,000 by not filling up to four exempt positions, not including attorneys and clerical personnel.  In order to maintain direct services to Vermonters, the secretary shall give preference to reducing those positions which do not provide those direct services.  The secretary shall provide a report to the house and senate committees on appropriations and government operations in January 2009 that lists all appropriation reductions, transfers, and substitutions within fiscal year 2009 appropriated funds that are proposed to achieve the general fund savings in this subsection.

(b)  Reductions in contractual services and temporary positions.  The secretary of administration shall reduce fiscal year 2009 general fund appropriations budgeted for contractual services and temporary positions in the executive branch of state government by $2,300,000.00.  The secretary shall provide a report to the house and senate committees on appropriations and government operations in January 2009 that lists all appropriation reductions, transfers, and substitutions within fiscal year 2009 appropriated funds that are proposed to achieve the general fund savings in this subsection.

Sec. 5.  JOINT LEGISLATIVE Government Accountability committee

(a)  There is created a joint legislative government accountability committee.  The committee shall recommend mechanisms for state government to be more forward-thinking, strategic, and responsive to the long-term needs of Vermonters.  In pursuit of this goal, the committee shall:

(1)  Make recommendations for enhancing the state’s ability to measure the performance of programs which have been or will be undertaken with government investments. 

(2)  Propose areas for the review of statutory mandates for public services that may result in service duplication and to review the alignment of financial and staff resources required to carry out those mandates.

(3)  Review the legislative process for the creation and elimination of positions and programs and make recommendations for enhancements to the process that support greater long-range planning and responsiveness to the needs of Vermonters.

(4)  Recommend strategies and tools which permit all branches of state government to prioritize the investment of federal, state, and local resources in programs that respond to the needs of the citizens of Vermont in a collaborative, cost-effective, and efficient manner.  Pursuant to those strategies and tools, functions which are not critical to an agency or department mission may be recommended for elimination, while other functions may be optimized.

(5)  Review strategies with similar aims in other jurisdictions in the context of federal, state, and local relationships.

(b)  The membership of the committee shall be appointed each biennial session of the general assembly.  The committee shall comprise eight members:  four members of the house of representatives who shall not all be from the same party, one from the committee on government operations, one from the committee on appropriations, and two other members, appointed by the speaker of the house; and four members of the senate who shall not all be from the same party, one from the committee on government operations, one from the committee on appropriations, and two other members, appointed by the committee on committees.  The committee may also include in its recommendations that the committee membership be altered.

(c)  The committee shall elect a chair, vice chair, and clerk from among its members and shall adopt rules of procedure.  The chair shall rotate biennially between the house and the senate members.  The committee shall keep minutes of its meetings and maintain a file thereof.  A quorum shall consist of five members.

(d)  When the general assembly is in session, the committee shall meet at the call of the chair.  The committee may meet up to four times during adjournment, and may meet more often subject to the approval of the speaker of the house and the president pro tempore of the senate.

(e)  For attendance at a meeting when the general assembly is not in session, members of the committee shall be entitled to compensation for services and reimbursement of expenses as provided under subsection 406(a) of Title 2.

(f)  The professional and clerical services of the joint fiscal office and the legislative council shall be available to the committee.

(g)  At least annually, the committee shall report its activities, together with recommendations, if any, to the general assembly.

Sec. 6.  PAY ACT FUNDING

(a)  The commissioner of finance and management shall submit a preliminary plan to the joint fiscal committee at its September/October 2008 meeting on levels of funding for the pay act for fiscal year 2009 funding.  The plan shall outline the funds available and any additional offsets the commissioner is planning to offer to meet pay act requirements.  The committee shall hear any testimony it deems necessary on the service impact of the pay act funding for fiscal year 2009. 

(b)  At the November meeting of the joint fiscal committee, the commissioner shall submit a  report that includes the following:

(1)  The allocation by department and section from the fiscal year 2008 pay act appropriation and the appropriations for pay act needs of this act and any other offsets to meet pay act needs;

(2)  The source of funds and the specific percentage of need being met in each department from the allocation;

(3)  Any proposed transfers between departments to meet pay act needs;

(4)  A summary of fiscal impacts by department in fiscal year 2009 due to shortfalls in pay act funds and added assessments of internal service funds;

(5)  A preliminary assessment of the administration’s intention to meet departmental pay act expense roll‑outs for fiscal year 2010.

Sec. 7.  3 V.S.A. § 2222(i) is amended to read:

(i)  The secretary of administration is authorized to transfer vacant positions throughout the executive branch of state government, and to adjust appropriations in the executive branch in accordance with the secretary's statewide vacancy savings plan that reflects realistic savings due to vacant positions. Such appropriation adjustments shall result in no change to the total statewide legislative appropriations to the executive branch. This authority is separate from the secretary's authority provided in section 706 of Title 32. A report of all actions taken during the preceding fiscal year pursuant to this authority shall be furnished to the legislature no later than January 15 of each year.  The report shall include a list of all authorized filled and vacant positions by department and all positions subject to this subdivision and shall indicate whether each position is classified, exempt, or temporary.  In addition, the secretary shall periodically furnish the legislature with a report of accomplishments and recommendations concerning improvements in better managing resources on a statewide basis.

Sec. 8.  SECRETARY OF ADMINISTRATION; REPORT; STATE EMPLOYEE POSITIONS

(a)  The general assembly finds that the goal in reducing state employee positions is to meet certain financial targets and not to simply reduce positions.  Because the general assembly needs detailed information to evaluate the specific actions required to meet these financial targets, the reports required by this section and 3 V.S.A. § 2222(i) are necessary for the general assembly to perform its constitutional responsibilities.

(b)  The secretary of administration shall submit the report required under 3 V.S.A. § 2222(i) to the joint fiscal committee and chairs of every legislative standing committee on July 1, 2008, September 1, 2008, and November 1, 2008.  In addition to the information required by 3 V.S.A. § 2222(i), the secretary shall also report on the number of positions eliminated since January 1, 2008 by department and indicate whether each position is classified, exempt, or temporary.  The secretary shall also recommend positions for elimination that are necessary to meet the financial targets and explain the projected fiscal year savings attributable to the positions by funding source and appropriations by name and unit.

(c)  When state employee positions are proposed to be eliminated or employees are reduced, the secretary of administration shall submit to the chairs of the house and senate committees on government operations and the joint fiscal committee a report that shall include:

(1)  Total financial implications by department of the position eliminations or reductions, including specific savings by fund type.

(2)  For each specific position:

(A)  The department organizational chart for each division affected, including identification of the position eliminated or reduced and all other positions that are vacant at the start of fiscal year 2009;

(B)  The title, position number, and date the position was vacated;

(C)  The reason that the position is available for elimination or reduction;

(D)  Position classification:  exempt; classified; applicable bargaining unit, if any;

(E)  The projected fiscal year 2009 savings attributable to the position by funding source and appropriations by name and unit.

(F)  A statement on how the service or activity with which that position was involved will be addressed.

Sec. 9.  POSITION ELIMINATIONS

Notwithstanding 3 V.S.A. § 327(b), no position shall be eliminated or abolished unless by act of the general assembly.

Sec. 10.  REPEAL

(a)  Sec. 5 of this act shall be repealed on July 1, 2013.

(b)  Sec. 9 of this act shall be repealed on July 1, 2010.

Sec. 11.  EFFECTIVE DATE

Sec. 5 of this act shall take effect upon passage.

                                                                        JEANETTE K. WHITE

                                                                        WILLIAM T. DOYLE

                                                                        SUSAN J. BARTLETT

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate


                                                                        KENNETH ATKINS

                                                                        PATRICIA A. McDONALD

                                                                 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.

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. 402, H. 615, H. 859, H. 890.

Rules Suspended; Reports of Committees of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate

S. 107.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to mapping class four town highways and trail and mass discontinuances for unmapped town highways.

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 Senate bill entitled:

S. 107.  An act relating to mapping class four town highways and trail and mass discontinuances for unmapped town highways.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House recede from its proposal of amendment and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS; INTENT

(a)  The general assembly finds that:

(1)  it has been unclear whether a municipality may, pursuant to 19 V.S.A. § 305(h), discontinue all town highways that are not on the sworn certificate of the description and measurement of town highways, or whether a municipality may discontinue only all town highways that are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail;

(2)  when the general assembly enacted 19 V.S.A. § 305(h), it intended this provision to apply only to those town highways that are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail.

(b)  The general assembly intends that 19 V.S.A. § 305(h) is intended to apply only to those highways that are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail.

Sec. 2.  19 V.S.A. § 302(a)(6)(A) is amended to read:

(A)  Unidentified corridors are town highways that:

(i)  have been laid out as highways by proper authority through the process provided by law at the time they were created or by dedication and acceptance; and

(ii)  do not, as of July 1, 2009 2010, appear on the town highway map prepared pursuant to section 305 of this title; and

(iii)  are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail; and

(iv)  are not legal trails.

Sec. 3.  19 V.S.A. § 305(h) is amended to read:

(h)  Notwithstanding the provisions of subchapter 7 of chapter 7 of this title, on or before July 1, 2009 2010, a municipality's legislative body may vote to discontinue all town highways that are not otherwise clearly observable by physical evidence of their use as a highway or trail and that are not included as such on the sworn certificate of the description and measurement of town highways filed with the town clerk on February 10 of that year pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.  For the purposes of this section, a town highway shall be deemed to be included on the sworn certificate of the description and measurement of town highways if:

* * *

                                                                        JEANETTE K. WHITE

                                                                        EDWARD S. FLANAGAN

                                                                        WILLIAM T. DOYLE

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate


                                                                        SUE MINTER

                                                                        DENNIS DEVEREUX

                                                                 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.

S. 246.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to electronic access to criminal and family court records.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Campbell, 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 Senate bill entitled:

S. 246.  An act relating to electronic access to criminal and family court records.

     Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House recede from its proposals of amendment, and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  12 V.S.A. § 5 is amended to read:

§ 5.  DISSEMINATION OF ELECTRONIC CASE RECORDS

(a)  The court shall not permit public access via the internet to criminal case records or family court case records.  The court may permit criminal justice agencies, as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2056a, Internet access to criminal case records for criminal justice purposes, as defined in section 2056a.

(b)  This section shall not be construed to prohibit the court from providing electronic access to:

(1)  court schedules of the district or family court, or opinions of the district court; or

(2)  state agencies in accordance with data dissemination contracts entered into under Rule 6 of the Vermont Rules of Electronic Access to Court Records.

Sec. 2.  20 V.S.A. § 2056b is amended to read:

§ 2056b.  DISSEMINATION OF CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS TO PERSONS CONDUCTING RESEARCH

(a)  The Vermont criminal information center may provide Vermont criminal history records as defined in section 2056a of this title to bona fide persons conducting research related to the administration of criminal justice, subject to conditions approved by the commissioner of public safety to assure the confidentiality of the information and the privacy of individuals to whom the information relates.  Bulk criminal history data may only be provided in a format that excludes the subject’s name and any unique numbers that may reference the identity of the subject, except that the state identification number may be provided.  Researchers must sign a user agreement which specifies data security requirements and restrictions on use of identifying information.

(b)  No person shall confirm the existence or nonexistence of criminal history record information to any person who would not be eligible to receive the information pursuant to this subchapter other than the subject and properly designated employees of an organization who have a documented need to know the contents of the record.

(c)  A person who violates the provisions of this section with respect to unauthorized disclosure of confidential criminal history record information obtained from the center under the authority of this section shall be fined not more than $5,000.00.  Each unauthorized disclosure shall constitute a separate civil violation.

Sec. 3.  20 V.S.A. § 2056c is amended to read:

§ 2056c.  DISSEMINATION OF CRIMINAL HISTORY CONVICTION RECORDS TO EMPLOYERS THE PUBLIC

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Applicant” means an individual seeking or being sought for employment, a volunteer position with an employer, or admission to a course of instruction offered by the Vermont criminal justice training council.

(2)  “Criminal conviction record” means the record of convictions in Vermont.

(3)  “Employer” means any individual, organization, or governmental body, including partnership, association, trustee, estate, corporation, joint stock company, insurance company, or legal representative, whether domestic or foreign, or the receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, trustee or successor thereof, and any common carrier by mail, motor, water, air, or express company or an authorized agent.  Authorized agent shall include a person who is licensed under chapter 59 of Title 26 to provide private investigative services.

(4)  “The center” means the Vermont criminal information center.

(b)(1)  An employer may obtain from the center a criminal conviction record for any applicant who has given written authorization on a release form provided by the center, provided that the employer has filed a user’s agreement with the center.  The user’s agreement shall require the employer to comply with all statutes, rules, and policies regulating the release of criminal conviction records and the protection of individual privacy.  The user’s agreement shall be signed and kept current by the employer.

(2)  An individual, organization, or governmental body doing business in Vermont which has one or more individuals performing services for it within this state and which is a qualified entity that provides care or services to children, the elderly, or persons with disabilities as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 5119c may obtain from the center an out-of-state criminal conviction record for any applicant who has given written authorization on a release form provided by the center, provided that the employer has filed a user’s agreement with the center and complies with all other provisions of this section.

(c)(1)  The employer may obtain a criminal conviction record only:

(A)  after the applicant has been given an offer of employment conditioned on the record check;

(B)  after a volunteer has been offered a position conditioned on the record check.

(2)  The Vermont criminal justice training council may obtain a criminal conviction record only after an applicant has been accepted into a course of instruction offered by the Vermont criminal justice training council conditioned on the record check.

(3)  An organization that receives a criminal conviction record pursuant to this section shall provide a free copy of such record to the record subject within ten days of receipt of the record.

(4)  An organization entitled to receive a criminal conviction record pursuant to this section shall not require an applicant to obtain or submit personally a copy of his or her criminal conviction record for purposes of employment or acceptance into a course offered by the Vermont criminal justice training council.

(d)(1)  Employers shall be provided with informational material by the center prior to authorization to request criminal conviction records.  The materials shall address the following topics:

(A)  Requirements of the user agreement.

(B)  How to obtain criminal conviction records from the center.

(C)  How to interpret criminal conviction records.

(D)  How to obtain source documents summarized in the criminal conviction records.

(E)  Misuse of criminal conviction records.

(2)  Employers shall certify on the user agreement that they have read and understood the materials prior to receiving authorization to request records from the center.

(e)  The release form shall contain the applicant’s name, signature, date of birth, place of birth, and the signature as attested to by a notary public.  The release form shall state that the applicant has the right to appeal the findings to the center, pursuant to rules adopted by the commissioner of public safety.

(f)(1)  Except as otherwise authorized by this chapter, no person shall confirm the existence or nonexistence of criminal conviction record information or disclose the contents of a criminal conviction record without the record subject’s permission to any person other than the applicant and properly designated employees of the employer who have a documented need to know the contents of the record.

(2)  An employer who receives criminal conviction records pursuant to this section shall maintain a confidential log of all record requests as specified by the center.  The employer shall confidentially retain records relating to requests for criminal conviction records for a period of three years.  At the end of the retention period, if logs and records are to be destroyed, they shall be shredded.

(g)  A person who violates subsection (f) of this section shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $5,000.00.  Each unauthorized disclosure shall constitute a separate civil violation.  The office of the attorney general shall have authority to enforce this section.

(h)  The center shall provide notice of the penalty for unauthorized disclosure on a form accompanying any report of a criminal conviction record to an employer.  The notice shall include, in boldface print, the following statements:  THE REQUESTOR AGREES TO USE CRIMINAL CONVICTION RECORD INFORMATION RECEIVED FROM THE VERMONT CRIMINAL INFORMATION CENTER FOR THE PURPOSES INTENDED BY LAW.  THE REQUESTOR AGREES NOT TO DISCLOSE THE CONTENTS OF ANY CRIMINAL CONVICTION RECORD WITHOUT THE APPLICANT’S PERMISSION TO ANY PERSON OTHER THAN THE APPLICANT AND PROPERLY DESIGNATED EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE A DOCUMENTED NEED TO KNOW THE CONTENTS OF THE RECORD. A VIOLATION MAY RESULT IN A CIVIL PENALTY OF UP TO $5,000.00. EACH UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE SHALL CONSTITUTE A SEPARATE CIVIL VIOLATION.

(i)  Nothing in this section shall create a statutory duty for an employer to perform a criminal conviction record check on every job applicant hired by the employer.  An employer’s failure to obtain a criminal conviction record on an employee who subsequently commits a criminal offense shall not be the sole factor in determining civil or criminal liability unless otherwise authorized by law.

(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “The center” means the Vermont criminal information center.

(2)(A)  “Criminal conviction record” means the record of convictions in a Vermont district court.

(B)  Release of conviction records by the center pursuant to this section or pursuant to any other provision of state law which permits release of Vermont criminal records shall include only the charge for which the subject of the record was convicted, and shall not include docket numbers.

(b)  A person may obtain from the center a criminal conviction record for any purpose provided that the requestor has completed a user’s agreement with the center.  The user’s agreement shall prohibit the alteration of criminal records and shall require the requestor to comply with all statutes, rules, and policies regulating the release of criminal conviction records and the protection of individual privacy.  

(c)  Criminal conviction records shall be disseminated to the public by the center under the following conditions:

(1)  Public access to criminal conviction records shall be provided by a secure Internet site or other alternatives approved by the center. 

(2)  A requestor who wishes to receive criminal conviction records from the center shall accept the terms of a user agreement with the center.  The user agreement shall specify the conditions under which record information is being released and specify guidelines for the proper interpretation and use of the information.

(3)  Prior to receiving criminal conviction records using the center’s Internet site, a requestor shall establish a secure, online account with the center.  Issuance of the account is conditioned upon the requestor’s willingness to accept the terms of a user agreement with the center which specifies the conditions under which record information is being released and specifies guidelines for the proper interpretation and use of the information.

(4)  All queries shall be by name and date of birth of the subject.

(5)  Only “no record” responses and record responses which constitute an exact match to the query criteria shall be returned automatically online.  In the event that query criteria suggest a possible match, center staff will determine whether the query criteria match a record in the repository and shall return the result to the requestor.

(6)  An electronic log shall be kept of all transactions that shall indicate the name of the requestor, the date of the request, the purpose of the request, and the result of the request.  This log shall not be available to any person, other than center staff on a need-to-know basis, except pursuant to a court order. 

(7)  The center’s Internet site shall provide an electronic mechanism for users to notify the center of possible record errors.

(8)  The center’s Internet site shall provide links to center training information regarding best practices for the use of record checks as part of a complete background check process.

(9)  The center shall charge a fee of $20.00 for each criminal record check query pursuant to this section.

(10)  No person entitled to receive a criminal conviction record pursuant to this section shall require an applicant to obtain, submit personally, or pay for a copy of his or her criminal conviction record.

Sec. 4.  20 V.S.A. § 2063 is amended to read:

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

(a)  Except as otherwise provided for in this section, the cost of each check for a criminal history record as defined in section 2056a of this title or a criminal conviction record as defined in section 2056c of this title based on name and date of birth shall be $10.00 $20.00.  Out-of-state criminal history record checks shall include any additional fees charged by the state from which the record is requested.

(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:

(1)  Requests made by any individual, organization, or governmental body doing business in Vermont which has one or more individuals performing services for it within this state and which is a qualified entity that provides care or services to children, the elderly, or persons with disabilities as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 5119c.

(2)  Requests made by researchers approved by the Vermont criminal information center to conduct research related to the administration of criminal justice.  A fee, however, may be charged by the center which shall reflect the cost of generating the requested information.

(3)  Requests made by individuals to review their own record at the Vermont criminal information center; however, copies of the individual's record are not exempt from the 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).

(c)(1)  The criminal history record check fund is established and shall be managed by the commissioner of public safety in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32.  All The first $179,000.00 of fees paid each year under this section shall be placed in the fund and used for personnel and equipment related to the processing, maintenance, and dissemination of criminal history records.  The commissioner of finance and management may draw warrants for disbursements from this fund in anticipation of receipts.

(2)  After the first $179,000.00 of fees paid each year under this section are placed in the criminal history record check fund, all additional fees paid during that year under this section shall go to the general fund.

(d)  The department of public safety shall have the authority, with the approval of the secretary of administration, to establish limited service positions as are necessary to provide criminal record checks in a timely manner, provided that there are sufficient funds in the criminal history record check fund to pay for the costs of these positions.

Sec. 5.  20 V.S.A. § 2056c(c)(9) is amended to read:

(9)  The center shall charge a fee of $20.00 $30.00 for each criminal record check query pursuant to this section.


Sec. 6.  20 V.S.A. § 2063 is amended to read:

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

(a)  Except as otherwise provided for in this section, the cost of each check for a criminal history record as defined in section 2056a of this title or a criminal conviction record as defined in section 2056c of this title based on name and date of birth shall be $20.00 $30.00.  Out-of-state criminal history record checks shall include any additional fees charged by the state from which the record is requested.

* * *

(c)(1)  The criminal history record check fund is established and shall be managed by the commissioner of public safety in accordance with the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32.  The first $179,000.00 $200,00.00 of fees paid each year under this section shall be placed in the fund and used for personnel and equipment related to the processing, maintenance, and dissemination of criminal history records.  The commissioner of finance and management may draw warrants for disbursements from this fund in anticipation of receipts.

(2)  After the first $179,000.00 $200,00.00 of fees paid each year under this section is are placed in the criminal history record check fund, all additional fees paid during that year under this section shall go to the general fund.

* * *

Sec. 7.  REPORT

On or before January 15, 2010, the joint fiscal office, in consultation with the judiciary and the Vermont crime information center, shall report to the senate and house committees on judiciary on the fiscal impacts of the records request fees established by this act.

Sec. 8.  EFFECTIVE DATE

Secs. 5 and 6 of this act shall take effect on July 1, 2009.

Sec. 9.  REPEALS

(a)  20 V.S.A. § 2056g (dissemination of criminal history records to licensed private investigators) is repealed.

(b)  20 V.S.A. § 20 V.S.A. §§ 2056c(c)(9) and 2063(a) and (c) (all relating to criminal history record check fees and the criminal history record check fund) shall be repealed effective July 1, 2010.

                                                                        JOHN F. CAMPBELL

                                                                        KEVIN J. MULLIN

                                                                         ALICE W. NITKA

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        MAXINE JO GRAD

                                                                        JIM CONDON

                                                                        KATHLEEN KEENAN

                                                                 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.

S. 250.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on Senate bill entitled:

An act relating to decreasing the amounts of cocaine and heroin required to be possessed to trigger drug trafficking penalties.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Sears, 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 Senate bill entitled:

S. 250.  An act relating to decreasing the amounts of cocaine and heroin required to be possessed to trigger drug trafficking penalties.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House recede from its proposals of amendment, and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  18 V.S.A. § 4231(c)(1) is amended to read:

(c)(1)  Trafficking.  A person knowingly and unlawfully possessing cocaine in an amount consisting of 300 150 grams or more of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing cocaine with the intent to sell or dispense the cocaine shall be imprisoned not more than 30 years or fined not more than $1,000,000.00, or both.  There shall be a permissive inference that a person who possesses cocaine in an amount consisting of 300 150 grams or more of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing cocaine intends to sell or dispense the cocaine.  The amount of possessed cocaine under this subdivision to sustain a charge of conspiracy under 13 V.S.A. § 1404 shall be no less than 800 400 grams in the aggregate.

Sec. 2.  18 V.S.A. § 4233(c) is amended to read:

(c)  Trafficking.  A person knowingly and unlawfully possessing heroin in an amount consisting of seven 3.5 grams or more of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing heroin with the intent to sell or dispense the heroin shall be imprisoned not more than 30 years or fined not more than $1,000,000.00, or both.  There shall be a permissive inference that a person who possesses heroin in an amount of seven 3.5 grams or more of one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures, or substances containing heroin intends to sell or dispense the heroin.  The amount of possessed heroin under this subsection to sustain a charge of conspiracy under 13 V.S.A. § 1404 shall be no less than 20 10 grams in the aggregate.

Sec. 3.  18 V.S.A. § 4252 is added to read:

§ 4252.  PENALTIES FOR DISPENSING OR SELLING REGULATED DRUGS IN A DWELLING

(a)  No person shall knowingly permit a dwelling, building, or structure owned by or under the control of the person to be used for the purpose of illegally dispensing or selling a regulated drug.

(b)  A landlord shall be in violation of subsection (a) of this section only if the landlord knew at the time he or she signed the lease agreement that the tenant intended to use the dwelling, building, or structure for the purpose of illegally dispensing or selling a regulated drug.

(c)  A person who violates this section shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00 or both.

Sec. 4.  SENTENCING COMMISSION DRUG POLICY STUDY

(a)(1)  The Vermont sentencing commission shall review current state practices regarding:

(A)  sentencing for drug offenses;

(B)  prevention and treatment of drug abuse; and

(C)  investigation, prosecution, and punishment for drug offenses. 

(2)  The commission shall determine whether Vermont laws are consistent with best practices, considering the costs and benefits to different approaches with best practices.  This review shall be given priority as the commission outlines its work for 2008 and 2009. 

(b)  The commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the senate and house committees on judiciary no later than March 30, 2009.  

(c)  In conducting the review, the committee shall have the assistance and cooperation of all state and local agencies and departments, including the department of public safety.

                                                                        RICHARD W. SEARS, JR.

                                                                        KEVIN J. MULLIN

                                                                        WILLIAM H. CARRIS

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        WILLIM LIPPERT

                                                                        MAXINE JO GRAD

                                                                        MARGARET FLORY

                                                                 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.

S. 281.

Pending entry on the Calendar for notice, on motion of Senator Shumlin, the rules were suspended and the report of the Committee of Conference on Senate bill entitled:

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

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Kittell, 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 Senate bill entitled:

S. 281.  An act relating to end-of-life care and plain management.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that the House recede from its proposal of amendment and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

Sec. 1.  STUDY AND REPORT ON PALLIATIVE CARE, END-OF-LIFE CARE, AND PAIN MANAGEMENT

(a)  There is created a legislative study committee on palliative care, end-of-life care, and pain management.  The study committee shall consist of three members of the house of representatives, appointed by the speaker of the house, and three members of the senate, appointed by the committee on committees.  The study committee shall discuss and make recommendations on legislative and nonlegislative solutions for improving palliative care, end-of-life care, management of chronic pain, and access to these services for children, in collaboration with:

(1)  the department of health;

(2)  the department of disabilities, aging, and independent living;

(3)  the Vermont Program for Quality in Health Care;

(4)  the Hospice & Palliative Care Council of Vermont;

(5)  the Vermont health care ombudsman;

(6)  the Vermont long-term care ombudsman;

(7)  Patient Choices at End of Life – Vermont;

(8)  the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare;

(9)  the Community of Vermont Elders;

(10)  the Vermont Ethics Network;

(11)  the Vermont Health Care Association;

(12)  the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems;

(13)  the Vermont Medical Society;

(14)  the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights;

(15)  the American Cancer Society;

(16)  AARP Vermont; and

(17)  other interested stakeholders.

(b)  The study committee, at its first meeting, shall elect two legislative members as co-chairs.  The legislative council and the joint fiscal office shall provide staff support to the study committee.  Prior to the first meeting of the study committee, the legislative council staff shall collect from the department of health and the office of the attorney general existing data and background material relevant to the work of the committee.

(c)  The study committee shall consider:

(1)  recommendations for improving ongoing coordination of activities directed toward improving palliative care, end-of-life care, and pain management services throughout the state based on available data and studies from existing sources;

(2)  how best to protect the interests of persons who:

(A)  have a terminal illness;

(B)  are receiving hospice care; or

(C)  are suffering chronic pain;

(3)  how to advance the goal of improving health care services for children with painful or life-threatening medical conditions, including:

(A)  the current availability of insurance coverage for pediatric palliative care services and treatment for chronic pain; and

(B)  avenues for increasing children’s access to care;

(4)  recommendations for improving methods of informing consumers about options in this state for end-of-life care, palliative care, and management of chronic pain, and about the importance of having an advance directive; and

(5)  such other issues as the study committee determines to be necessary and appropriate.

(d)  No later than January 15, 2009, the study committee shall provide a written report on its findings and recommendations, including the appropriateness of an annual report card and future activities, to the house committees on human services and on health care and the senate committee on health and welfare. 

(e)  The study committee shall meet no more than four times and legislative members of the study committee shall be entitled to receive per diem compensation and reimbursement of expenses as provided in section 406 of Title 2.

                                                                        SARA B. KITTELL

                                                                        EDWARD S. FLANAGAN

                                                                        DOUGLAS A. RACINE

                                                                 Committee on the part of the Senate

                                                                        WILLIAM FRANK

                                                                        NORMAN McALLISTER

                                                                        KATHLEEN C. KEENAN

                                                                 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.

Rules Suspended; Point of Order; Report of Committee of Conference Accepted and Adopted on the Part of the Senate

H. 711.

Pending entry 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 agricultural, forestry, and horticultural education.

Was taken up for immediate consideration.

Senator Starr, 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. 711.  An act relating to agricultural, forestry, and horticultural education.

Respectfully reports that it has met and considered the same and recommends that Senate recede from its proposals of amendment and that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

* * * Agricultural, Forestry, and Horticultural Education * * *

Sec. 1.  INTENT

It is the intent of Secs. 1–3 of this act to enhance the ability of regional technical centers and secondary schools in Vermont to teach and prepare students for careers in agriculture, forestry, and horticulture and to determine what steps are necessary to prepare the next generation for involvement in these sectors of Vermont’s economy.

Sec. 2.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Education and training are essential to meeting the goals of No. 38 of the Acts of 2007, pertaining to the viability of Vermont agriculture.

(2)  There is currently an absence of statewide oversight and coordination of agriculture, forestry, and horticulture (AF&H) education and training.

(3)  There is a teacher crisis in secondary and postsecondary AF&H education because the pool of applicants is not adequate to replace retiring faculty, some of whom have more than 40 years of experience.

(4)  Careers in the AF&H fields:

(A)  provide business opportunities while taking advantage of Vermont’s natural assets;

(B)  benefit local economies due to the multiplier effect of local investment; and

(C)  provide opportunities for young Vermonters to remain in the state.

(5)  In order for Vermont to capitalize on opportunities in the AF&H fields, comprehensive and effective postsecondary education and training are needed.

(6)  It is critical to understand the current system, methods, and curriculum of educating students in the AF&H fields before taking additional steps toward that end.

Sec. 3.  AGRICULTURAL, FORESTRY, AND HORTICULTURAL EDUCATION

(a)  The agency of agriculture, food and markets and the department of education shall jointly perform a needs assessment on AF&H education in secondary schools, regional technical centers, and the community high school of Vermont and provide recommendations for technical assistance for existing programs.

(b)  A report of the needs assessment required in subsection (a) of this section shall be delivered to the house and senate committees on agriculture and on education, the house committee on institutions and corrections, and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs by January 15, 2009.  The report of the needs assessment shall include discussion and recommendations relating to the following:

(1)  The ability of secondary schools, regional technical centers, and the community high school of Vermont to prepare students for AF&H careers.

(2)  The effectiveness of the organizational structures of secondary schools, regional technical centers, and the community high school of Vermont in providing AF&H education.

(3)  The reasons why some secondary schools, regional technical centers, and the community high school of Vermont do not provide AF&H education.

(4)  The opportunities for and barriers to AF&H career paths.

(5)  Options for providing statewide leadership on AF&H technical and curriculum support.

(6)  An assessment of postsecondary teacher degree and certification programs or opportunities at Vermont institutions of higher learning.

(7)  The role organizations such as FFA, the Vermont youth conservation corps, FEED (food education every day), Foodworks, NOFA (northeast organic farming association), and 4-H perform in support of AF&H education.

(8)  The opportunities to enhance AF&H education through collaboration of secondary and postsecondary educational institutions.

(c)  The secretary of the agency of agriculture, food and markets and the commissioner of education shall propose funding needed to support the intent of this act in their respective budgets for FY 2010.

(d)  Resources utilized in preparing the report required in subsection (b) of this section shall include:

(1)  current and retired instructors;

(2)  regional technical center directors and administrators of the community high school of Vermont;

(3)  secondary schools and regional technical centers with existing AF&H education programs;

(4)  postsecondary schools including Vermont Technical College

(5)  the workforce training council and the department of labor;

(6)  other northeastern states where similar efforts are being made and models have been created.

(7)  the department of corrections

(8)  the Vermont youth conservation corps

(e)  The report required in subsection (b) of this section shall also include a summary of the agency of agriculture, food and markets’ and the department of education’s efforts to implement the provisions of Sec. 4 of No. 201 of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006).

* * * Animal Dissection * * *

Sec. 4.  16 V.S.A. § 912 is added to read:

§ 912.  PUPIL’S RIGHT OF REFUSAL; ANIMAL DISSECTION

(a)  A student in a public elementary or secondary school or an approved independent school shall have the right to be excused from participating in any lesson, exercise, or assessment requiring the student to dissect, vivisect, or otherwise harm or destroy an animal or any part of an animal, or to observe any of these activities, as part of a course of instruction.

(b)  Each school district and approved independent school shall adopt and implement policies regarding a student’s right to be excused under this section, which shall include:

(1)  Procedures by which the school shall provide:

(A)  Timely notification to each student enrolled in the course and to the student’s parent or guardian of the student’s right to be excused from participating in or observing the lesson; and

(B)  The process by which a student may exercise this right. 

(2)  Alternative education methods through which a student excused under this section can learn and be assessed on material required by the course.

(3)  A statement that no student shall be discriminated against based on his or her decision to exercise the right to be excused afforded by this section.

(c)  As used in this section, the word “animal” means any organism of the kingdom animalia and includes an animal’s cadaver or the severed parts of an animal’s cadaver.

Sec. 5.  PUPIL’S RIGHT OF REFUSAL; ANIMAL DISSECTION

On or before August 15, 2008, each school district and approved independent school shall develop and implement procedures pursuant to 16 V.S.A. § 912(b), created in Sec. 4 of this act, which shall be adopted as policy within the district or approved independent school no later than November 1, 2008. 

* * * Unnecessary, Duplicative, and Burdensome Reports; Repeal * * *

Sec. 6.  REPEAL; MANDATED REPORTING 

The following are repealed:

(1)  16 V.S.A. § 164(8) (state board of education’s biennial report to the legislature regarding its activities and including the commissioner’s report).

(2)  16 V.S.A. § 216(c)(2) (commissioner’s annually updated and published list of school and community programs that have the potential to improve childhood wellness).

(3)  16 V.S.A. § 1165(f) (school district’s annual report to the commissioner regarding alcohol and drug abuse in the district). 

(4)  16 V.S.A. § 1165(g) (commissioner’s annual report to the alcohol and drug abuse council regarding the progress of alcohol and drug abuse education in the schools). 

(5)  16 V.S.A. § 1422(d) (superintendent’s annual report to the department regarding results of hearing and vision tests). 

(6)  Sec. 121a(d) of No. 71 of the Acts of the 1997 Adj. Sess. (1998) (annual report from the department and others to the legislature regarding the status of technical education pilot projects).

(7)  Sec. 3(b) of No. 150 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000) as amended by Sec. 21 of No. 182 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) (commissioner’s report concerning initial implementation of regional high school choice).

(8)  Sec. 156(c) of No. 152 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000) (department’s annual report regarding special education cost-containment initiatives). 

(9)  16 V.S.A. § 2177(d) (the Vermont state colleges’ biennial report to the legislature regarding its activities).

(10)  16 V.S.A. § 2281(c) (the university of Vermont president’s biennial report to the legislature regarding the activities of the university and the state agricultural college).

(11)  16 V.S.A. § 2322 (the state agricultural college dean’s biennial submission of the estimated budget for the college’s research station and a statement of federal and other available funding).

(12)  16 V.S.A. § 2536 (the university of Vermont and state agricultural college trustees’ annual report to the legislature and the governor concerning the work of its units, including receipts, disbursements, resources, and liabilities).

(13)  16 V.S.A. § 2856(g) (adjutant general’s annual report to the legislature regarding educational loan programs for national guard members).

(14)  Sec. 90 of No. 60 of the Acts of 1997 as amended by Sec. 33 of No. 49 of the Acts 1999 (repeal of legislative oversight committee on restructuring education and assumption of the committee’s duties by standing legislative committees).

(15)  Sec. 71(f) of No. 68 of the Acts of the 2002 Adj. Sess. (2003) as amended by Sec. 1 of No. 4 of the Acts of 2005 of No. 4 of the Acts of 2005 (annual report of the council on education governance to the legislature regarding its progress and any recommendations for legislation necessary to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act).

(16)  Sec. 168a(c) of No. 71 of the Acts of 2005 (commissioner issues a request for proposals, chooses grant recipients, determines the amounts to be awarded to each recipient, and monitors the progress of each grant recipient for fiscal year 2006; annual report by the council on education governance to the legislature regarding its progress and recommendations for legislative change).

Sec. 7.  16 V.S.A. § 165(a)(2) is amended to read:

(2)  The school, at least annually, reports student performance results to community members in a format selected by the school board.  In the case of a regional technical center, the community means the school districts in the service region.  The school report shall include:

(A)  information indicating progress toward meeting standards from the most recent measure taken;

(B)  information about the health and social well-being status of children in the school district;

(C)  information indicating progress toward meeting the goals of an annual action plan;

(D)  any other statistical information about the school or community that the school board deems necessary to place student performance results in context;

(E)  information about early reading instruction provided under subsection 2903(c) of this title;

(F)  early care and education opportunities available to children;

(G)  community support available to families;

(H)  a description of how the school ensures that each student receives appropriate career counseling and program information regarding availability of education and apprenticeship program offerings at technical centers;

(I)  if the school is a secondary school, data describing student participation in technical education, regional job opportunities and the number of graduates from the previous year who have entered postsecondary education, the military and the job market; 

(J)  if the school is a secondary school, information and supporting data presented in a manner designed to protect student confidentiality on the following:

(i)  student attendance, including unexcused absences;

(ii) student discipline; and

(iii)  if the school is a secondary school, the dropout and graduation rates; and

(K)  data provided by the commissioner which enable a comparison with other schools, or school districts if school level data are not available, for cost-effectiveness.  The commissioner shall establish which data are to be included pursuant to this subdivision and, notwithstanding that the other elements of the report are to be presented in a format selected by the school board, shall develop a common format to be used by each school in presenting the data to community members.  The commissioner shall provide the most recent data available to each school no later than October 1 of each year.  Data to be presented may include student-to-teacher ratio, administrator-to-student ratio, administrator-to-teacher ratio, and cost per pupil.

Sec. 8.  16 V.S.A. § 909(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The department of education shall:

(1)  provide for pre-service and in-service training programs for school personnel on alcohol and drug abuse prevention and on the effects and legal consequences of the possession and use of tobacco products.  At least one training program shall be made available in electronic format.  Each superintendent shall determine the content, duration, and frequency of training on issues concerning alcohol and drug abuse for the districts in his or her supervisory union;

* * *

Sec. 9.  16 V.S.A. § 2177(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The books and accounts of the corporation shall be audited annually as of June 30 under the supervision of the auditor of accounts who shall publish the audit report in detail

Sec. 10.  16 V.S.A. § 2281(a) is amended to read:

(a)  The books and accounts of the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College shall be audited annually as of June 30, under the supervision of the auditor of accounts. The report of such audit shall be published in detail by the auditor of accounts. 

Sec. 11.  24 V.S.A. § 5261 is amended to read:

§ 5261.  ANNUAL REPORT; AUDIT

On or before March 31 of each year, the authority shall report on its activities for the preceding calendar 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 and the cost thereof shall be considered an expense of the authority and a copy thereof shall be filed with the state treasurer. 

Sec. 12.  Sec. 7 of No. 43 of the Acts of 2005 is amended to read:

Sec. 7.  UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

The sum of $1,700,000 is appropriated to the department of buildings and general services for the University of Vermont to assist with construction, renovation, and major facility maintenance to the university campus that advances the mission of the university to prepare the students to lead productive lives and to interpret and share knowledge for the benefit of Vermont and for society as a whole.  The university shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.

(Total appropriation – Section 7                                                        $1,700,000)

Sec. 13.  Sec. 8 of No. 147 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read:

Sec. 8.  UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

The sum of $1,800,000 is appropriated to the University of Vermont to assist with construction of the plant sciences building and with major facility maintenance to the university campus.  The university shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.

(Total appropriation – Section 8                                                        $1,800,000)

Sec. 14.  Sec. 9 of No. 147 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read:

Sec. 9.  VERMONT STATE COLLEGES

The sum of $1,800,000 is appropriated to the Vermont state colleges for major facility maintenance.  The state colleges shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.

(Total appropriation – Section 9                                                        $1,800,000)


Sec. 15.  Sec. 4(c) of No. 192 of the Acts of the 2005 Adj. Sess. (2006) is amended to read: 

(c)  On or before January 15, 2007, and on or before January 15 for five years thereafter, the task force shall report on its activities during the preceding year to the house and senate committees on education and judiciary.  The task force shall cease to exist after it files the report due on January 15, 2012.

Sec. 16.  Sec. 9 of No. 52 of the Acts of 2007 is amended to read:

Sec. 9.  UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

The sum of $1,600,000 is appropriated to the University of Vermont for construction, renovation, or maintenance projects.  The university shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.

(Total appropriation – Section 9                                               $ 1,600,000)

Sec. 17.  Sec. 10 of No. 52 of the Acts of 2007 is amended to read:

Sec. 10.  VERMONT STATE COLLEGES

The sum of $1,600,000 is appropriated to the Vermont State Colleges for major facility maintenance.  The state colleges shall file with the general assembly an annual report, on or before January 15, that details the status of capital projects funded in whole or in part by state capital appropriations.

(Total appropriation – Section 10                                             $ 1,600,000)

* * * Special Education Audits * * *

Sec. 18.  SPECIAL EDUCATION AUDITS

(a)  The commissioner of education, in consultation with the Vermont superintendents association, the Vermont council of special education administrators, and the Vermont association for school business officials, shall examine the process by which the department audits special education expenditure reports submitted for reimbursement under chapter 101 of Title 16. In addition, the commissioner shall consider whether certified public accountants who are auditing school districts for other purposes could also conduct special education expenditure audits with departmental supervision.  The commissioner shall make recommendations to improve the timeliness and efficiency of the audit process that, at a minimum, include provisions to ensure that:

(1)  Each audit is completed and provided to the district within one year after the district submits its expenditure report.

(2)  The department provides clear guidelines to districts regarding the type of records that will be audited and how to maintain those records in the most efficient way.

(3)  Each audit report provides recommendations to a district to help it correct any deficiencies in its system for making special education reimbursement claims.

(b)  The commissioner of education, in consultation with the Vermont superintendents association, the Vermont council of special education administrators, and the Vermont association for school business officials, shall also consider and make recommendations to amend the special education funding provisions of chapter 101 of Title 16 in order to streamline the process by which districts document costs and submit claims for reimbursement. 

(c)  The commissioner shall submit the recommendations required in subsections (a) and (b) of this section to the house and senate committees on education by January 15, 2009.

(d)  The department shall not conduct audits of any special education expenditure report submitted for reimbursement in connection with the 2007–2008 school year; provided, however, the superintendents of districts submitting those reports shall certify to the commissioner that:

(1)  Appropriate supporting documentation for eligible expenditures, such as invoices and tuition bills, have been received and are on file. 

(2)  Time studies as described in the Technical Guide for Special Education Staff Documentation have been conducted and are on file for all staff time for which reimbursement is sought. 

 * * * Union School Districts; Streamlining Process * * *

Sec. 19.  16 V.S.A. § 701 is amended to read:

§ 701.  POLICY

It is declared to be the policy of the state to provide equal educational opportunities for all children in Vermont by authorizing two or more school districts, including an existing union school district, to establish a union school district for the purpose of owning, constructing, maintaining, or operating schools and to constitute the district so formed a municipal corporation with all of the rights and responsibilities which a town school district has in providing education for its youth.


Sec. 20.  16 V.S.A. § 701b is amended to read:

§ 701b.  APPLICATION OF CHAPTER

(a)  Whenever referred to in this subchapter, the term “school district” shall include a “town school district,” “incorporated school district,” “union school district,” or “city school district,” and this subchapter shall accordingly apply to the organization and operation of a union school district of which any school district is a member or prospective member.  The provisions of this subchapter shall apply and take precedence in the event of any conflict between those provisions and the provisions of the charter of a municipality which is a member or prospective member of a union district.  Upon the organization of a union district under this subchapter, any charter of a member municipality is considered to be thereby amended accordingly without further action. 

(b)  If a union school district votes to participate in a planning committee pursuant to section 706 of this title, its member districts shall not participate on the study committee.  If the participating union school district votes to join another union school district that is successfully formed, any conflicting terms of its articles of agreement are repealed in favor of the terms of the articles of agreement of the newly formed union school district.  If the proposed union school district is to be a unified union school district, however, only town districts and incorporated districts may participate in the joint study and vote on its formation.  A successful vote to form a unified union school district dissolves any preexisting union school district within its borders, and any assets or liabilities held by that union school district shall be transferred to the new unified union district.

Sec. 21.  16 V.S.A. § 706 is amended to read:

§ 706.  FORMATION OF PROPOSAL TO FORM PLANNING COMMITTEE

When it appears to the boards of school directors of two or more school districts believe that a planning committee should be established to study the advisability of forming a union school district, or if petitioned to do so by five percent of the voters eligible to vote at the last annual or special school district meeting petition the board of their respective school districts to do so, each of the boards of school directors shall meet with the superintendent of schools for each participating district and with his or her. With the advice of the superintendent, the boards shall establish a budget, and shall fix the number of persons who will to serve on the planning committee, for the purpose of preparing that prepares the report required by this subchapter.  Each The boards’ proposal shall ensure that each participating district shall share in the committee’s budget, and as nearly as possible be represented on the planning committee, in that proportion which the equalized pupils (as defined in section 4001 of this title) of the district bear to the total equalized pupils of all school districts which intending to participate in the committee’s study.  It is not necessary that each participating district vote to establish a union school district planning committee on the same date.  Nothing herein in this section shall be construed to prohibit informal exploration between and among school districts prior to the formation of a planning committee established pursuant to this section.

Sec. 22.  16 V.S.A. § 706a is amended to read:

§ 706a.  APPROVAL OF PLANNING BUDGET; APPOINTMENT OF PLANNING COMMITTEE

When the budget is established, participating district shares calculated, and the number of persons to serve on the planning committee is fixed, the 

(a)  If the proposed budget established in section 706 of this chapter exceeds $25,000.00, then:

(1)  The voters of each participating district shall be warned to meet at an annual or special school district meeting to vote on the following question a question in substantially the following form: “Shall the school district of ............................... appropriate $ ............................... as funds necessary to support the district’s financial share of the district in order to finance the a study of to determine the advisability of forming a union school district with some or all of the following school districts: ............................... and………….., and the school directors be authorized to appoint a planning committee for that purposeIt is estimated that the district’s share, if all the above-listed districts vote to participate, will be $........................................  The total proposed budget, to be shared by all participating districts, is
$..........
”  It is not necessary for the voters of each participating district to vote on the same date to establish a union school district planning committee. 

(2)  If the vote is in the affirmative in two or more districts, the board of school directors of each participating district boards of the participating districts shall appoint a planning committee consisting of the number of persons previously fixed.  At least one school director from each participating district shall be on the committee.  A district board may appoint residents to the committee who are not school directors. 

In the event the district votes to join the union school district, any

(3)  The sums expended by it for planning purposes under this section, shall be considered a part of the approved cost of any project in which the district participates in pursuant to sections 3447 to through 3449 of this title. 

(b)  If the proposed budget established in section 706 of this chapter does not exceed $25,000.00, then the boards of the participating districts shall appoint a planning committee consisting of the number of persons previously fixed.  At least one school director from each participating district shall be on the