Thumbnails Outlines
House Calendar
Friday, January 10, 2014
4th DAY OF THE ADJOURNED SESSION
House Convenes at 9:30 A.M.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page No.
ACTION CALENDAR
Third Reading
S. 25
An act relating to public advocacy in utility matters ........................... 117
Rep. Poirier et al amendment ........................................................................ 117
Consent Calendar
H.C.R. 173
Congratulating Evan Russell on his golfing accomplishments . 123
H.C.R. 174
Extending best wishes to Mable Fay on her 90th birthday ........ 123
H.C.R. 175
Honoring Heinz Hester for his leadership in the development of an
international student exchange program ........................................................ 123
H.C.R. 176
Congratulating the 2013 U-32 Raiders Division II boys’
championship track and field team ................................................................ 123
H.C.R. 177
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B.
Johnson’s declaration of the U.S. War on Poverty ........................................ 123
H.C.R. 178
Recognizing January 9, 2014 as Homeless Awareness Day at the
State House .................................................................................................... 123
H.C.R. 179
Congratulating the 2013 U-32 Raiders Division II girls’
championship track and field team ................................................................ 123
H.C.R. 180
Congratulating Clara Emlen of Calais on being named the 2014
America’s National Teenager ........................................................................ 123
S.C.R. 28
Senate concurrent resolution congratulating the Yankee Male
Chorus on its 60th anniversary ...................................................................... 123
S.C.R. 29
Senate concurrent resolution congratulating Hastings Store on its
centennial anniversary and Jane and Garey Larrabee on 40 years as the store’s
proprietors ...................................................................................................... 123
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ORDERS OF THE DAY
ACTION CALENDAR
Third Reading
S. 25
An act relating to public advocacy in utility matters
Amendment to be offered by Reps. Poirier of Barre City, Komline of
Dorset, and Browning of Arlington to S. 25
By amending the House Proposal of Amendment by striking out Secs. 1 and
2 in their entirety and by inserting in lieu thereof new Secs. 1 and 2 and Sec. 2a
as follows:
Sec. 1.
30 V.S.A. part 1, chapter 16 is added to read:
CHAPTER 16.
RATEPAYER ADVOCATE
§ 651.
FINDINGS; INTENT
(a)
Many Vermonters believe there is a need for additional independent
advocacy within proceedings before the Public Service Board on behalf of
ratepayers, many of whom do not have the financial resources or expertise to
fully participate in and advance their interests in its proceedings.
(b)
It is the intent of the General Assembly to create an independent office
to advocate for the lowest reasonable rates for Vermont ratepayers, consistent
with an equitable distribution of rates among all classes of ratepayers and the
maintenance of adequate service provided by Vermont companies subject to
the jurisdiction of the Public Service Board.
§ 652. DEFINITIONS
As used in this chapter:
(1) “Advocate” means the Ratepayer Advocate established under section
653 of this chapter.
(2) “Board” means the Public Service Board established under section 3
of this title.
(3)
“Committee” means the Committee on Public Service Oversight
established under 2 V.S.A. chapter 29.
(4)
“Department” means the Department of Public Service established
(5) “Office” means the Office of the Ratepayer Advocate established by
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section 653 of this chapter.
(6)
“Ratepayer” means a person who purchases or contracts for the
purchase of a service provided by a public service company subject to
regulation by the Public Service Board under section 203 of this title or who
purchases or contracts for the purchase of propane from a retail distributor of
propane.
§ 653.
OFFICE; RATEPAYER ADVOCATE; APPOINTMENT
(a)
There is created an independent Office of the Ratepayer Advocate to
consist of a Ratepayer Advocate and such other persons as the Advocate deems
necessary to conduct the business of the Office, pursuant to the terms of this
chapter.
(b)
The Committee shall appoint a Ratepayer Advocate, an exempt
position, to represent the interests of ratepayers before the Public Service
Board.
§ 654.
QUALIFICATIONS; TERM
(a)
The Advocate shall be an attorney admitted to practice before the
Vermont Supreme Court and shall perform his or her duties independently.
(b)
The Advocate shall satisfy the qualifications established under section 4
(qualifications of the Members and Clerk of the Public Service Board and
Commissioner of Public Service) of this title.
(c)
The Advocate or any full-time employee of the Office shall not actively
engage in any other business or profession; serve as the representative of any
political party or on any executive committee or other governing body thereof;
serve as an executive, officer, or employee of any political party, committee,
organization, or association; receive remuneration for activities on behalf of
any candidate for public office; or engage on behalf of any candidate for public
office in the solicitation of votes or other activities on behalf of such
candidacy.
The Advocate or any employee of the Office shall not become a
candidate for election to public office unless he or she first resigns from his or
her office or employment.
(d)
The term of the Advocate shall be six years.
Any appointment to fill a
vacancy shall be for the unexpired portion of the term vacated.
An Advocate
wishing to succeed himself or herself in office may seek reappointment under
the terms of this section.
The Advocate may be removed from office only by a
three-quarters’ majority vote of the Committee.
§ 655.
DUTIES AND POWERS
It shall be the duty of the Advocate to provide legal representation for
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Vermont ratepayers in proceedings before the Board, and to assist ratepayers
with resolving disputes with public service companies and retail distributors of
propane.
The Advocate shall have the powers necessary to carry out the duties
of his or her office, including the following specific powers:
(1)
to recommend to the Board by petition the commencement of any
proceeding or action or to appear, in the name of ratepayers, in any proceeding
or action before the Board and urge therein any position which he or she deems
to be in the interest of ratepayers, and use therein all forms of discovery
available to attorneys in civil actions generally;
(2)
to have access to and use of all files, records, and data of the Board
and the Department available to any other attorney representing a party in a
proceeding before the Board;
(3)
in any proceeding in which he or she has participated as a party, to
seek review of any determination, finding, or order of the Board, or of any
hearing examiner designated by the Board, in the name of ratepayers;
(4)
to prepare and issue reports, recommendations, and proposed orders
to the Board, the Governor, and the General Assembly on any matter or subject
within the jurisdiction of the Board, and to make recommendations as he or she
deems appropriate for legislation relative to Board or Department procedures,
rules, jurisdiction, personnel, and functions;
(5) to appear in the name of Vermont ratepayers before other state
agencies, federal agencies, and state and federal courts in connection with
matters under the jurisdiction of the Board or otherwise involving Vermont
utilities and which may affect the interests of Vermont ratepayers;
(6)
subject to Committee approval, to establish eligibility criteria and
resource allocation for parties seeking independent representation;
(7)
to establish a mechanism for receiving, tracking, and if possible,
resolving ratepayer complaints and disputes with public service companies and
retail distributors of propane;
(8)
to receive funds appropriated to the Office by the General Assembly
or allocated to it by the Board under section 658 of this chapter; and to receive
grants, gifts, loans, or contributions from any other source, with the approval
of the Committee;
(9)
to submit an annual budget to the Public Service Oversight
Committee established under 2 V.S.A. chapter 29; and
(10)
subject
to
the
criteria
and
requirements established
under
sections 20 and 21 of this title, to retain additional personnel in particular
proceedings and, with Board approval, allocate expenses incurred to the public
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service company or companies involved in those proceedings.
§ 656.
EMPLOYEES
The Committee may authorize the Advocate to employ legal, technical, and
clerical
assistants
whose
qualifications,
duties,
responsibilities,
salaries,
expenses, and status, whether exempt or classified, the Committee shall
prescribe.
§ 657.
RECEIPT OF PLEADINGS
The Board shall furnish the Advocate with copies of the initial pleadings in
all proceedings before the Board.
§ 658.
FINANCING OF THE OFFICE
Based on a budget approved by the Public Service Oversight Committee,
and in a manner determined by the Board, the Board shall annually allocate a
portion of the revenue generated from the taxes imposed under sections 22
(gross operating revenue tax) and 23 (public service reserve fund) of this title
for the purpose of maintaining and financing the Office.
In addition, the Board
shall allocate expenses incurred in particular proceedings to the public service
company or companies involved in the proceedings as provided in sections 20
and 21 of this title.
§ 659.
LEGISLATIVE CONTROL
(a)
The Advocate is under the Legislative Branch of government.
Neither
the Governor nor any executive agency has the authority to withhold funds
appropriated to the Office by the General Assembly or allocated to it by the
Board.
(b)
Neither the Governor nor any executive agency shall have the authority
to determine the number, or fix the compensation, of the employees of the
Office or to exercise any manner of control over them.
Sec. 2.
2 V.S.A. chapter 29 is added to read:
CHAPTER 29.
PUBLIC SERVICE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
§ 981.
PUBLIC SERVICE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
(a)
A joint legislative Public Service Oversight Committee is created.
The
Committee shall be appointed biennially and consist of eight members:
four
members of the House appointed by the Speaker, not all from the same
political party, and four members of the Senate appointed by the Senate
Committee on Committees, not all from the same political party.
(b)
The Committee shall elect a chair, vice chair, and clerk from among its
members.
The chair shall alternate biennially between the House and Senate
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members.
A quorum shall consist of six members.
(c)
Committee action shall be taken only if there is a quorum and the
proposed action is approved by majority vote of those members physically
present and voting.
(d)
The Committee may adopt rules of procedure to carry out its duties.
§ 982.
FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES
(a)
The Public Service Oversight Committee shall appoint the Ratepayer
Advocate described in 30 V.S.A. chapter 16.
The Committee shall assess
candidates using the following criteria:
(1)
commitment to the interests of Vermont ratepayers;
(2)
knowledge
of
or
expertise
in
regulatory
matters
within
the
jurisdiction of the Public Service Board;
(3)
possession of desirable personal characteristics, including integrity,
diligence, administrative and communication skills, and regard for the public
good; and
(4)
impartiality and the ability to remain free from undue influence by a
personal, political, business, or professional relationship with any company or
matter subject to regulation by the Public Service Board.
(b)
The Public Service Oversight Committee shall carry on a continuing
review of the functions and performance of the Office of the Ratepayer
Advocate, the Public Service Board, and the Department of Public Service.
The purpose of this review is to assess whether these entities are functioning in
a manner that best serves the interests of ratepayers, as well as the general
good of the State, as appropriate.
(c)
In conducting its review and in order to fulfill its duties, the Committee
shall consult the following:
(1)
the Ratepayer Advocate;
(2)
the Public Service Board;
(3)
the Commissioner of Public Service;
(4)
ratepayers
and
advocacy
groups
regarding
their
satisfaction,
complaints, and recommendations;
(5)
public service companies subject to regulation by the Public Service
Board; and
(6)
any other person or entity as determined by the Committee.
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(d)
The Committee shall work with, assist, and advise other committees of
the General Assembly, members of the Executive Branch, and the public on
matters
relating
to
state
utility
regulation.
Annually,
on
or
before
December 15,
the
Committee
shall
report
its
activities,
together
with
recommendations, if any, to the Governor and the House Committees on
Commerce and Economic Development and on Natural Resources and Energy
and the Senate Committees on Finance, on Natural Resources and Energy, and
on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.
§ 983.
MEETINGS AND STAFF SUPPORT
(a)
The Committee may meet during a session of the General Assembly at
the call of the Chair or by majority of the members of the Committee.
The
Committee may meet during adjournment subject to the approval of the
Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
(b)
For attendance at meetings which are held when the General Assembly
is not in session, the members of the Committee shall be entitled to the same
per diem compensation and reimbursement for necessary expenses as those
provided to members of standing committees under section 406 of this title.
(c)
The Legislative Council and the Joint Fiscal Office shall provide
professional and administrative support to the Committee.
The Department of
Public Service and other agencies of the State shall provide information,
assistance, and support upon request of the Committee.
Sec. 2a.
TRANSFER OF POSITIONS
On or before July 1, 2013, the Department of Public Service, Public
Advocacy Division shall transfer three exempt attorney positions and one
classified administrative support position, as well as appropriate amounts for
personal services and operating expenses, to the Office of the Ratepayer
Advocate.
In addition, the Department of Public Service, Consumer Affairs
and Public Information Division shall transfer three consumer affairs specialist
positions, as well as appropriate amounts for personal services and operating
expenses, to the Office of the Ratepayer Advocate.
Consent Calendar
Concurrent Resolutions for Adoption Under Joint Rule 16a
The following concurrent resolutions have been introduced for approval by
the Senate and House and will be adopted automatically unless a Senator or
Representative
requests
floor
consideration
before
today’s
adjournment.
Requests for floor consideration in either chamber should be communicated to
the Secretary’s office and/or the House Clerk’s office, respectively. For text of
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resolutions, see Addendum to House Calendar and Senate Calendar of
1/9/2014.
H.C.R. 173
House concurrent resolution congratulating Evan Russell on his golfing
accomplishments
H.C.R. 174
House concurrent resolution extending best wishes to Mable Fay on her 90th
birthday
H.C.R. 175
House concurrent resolution honoring Heinz Hester for his leadership in the
development of an international student exchange program
H.C.R. 176
House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2013 U-32 Raiders Division II
boys’ championship track and field team
H.C.R. 177
House concurrent resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of President
Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of the U.S. War on Poverty
H.C.R. 178
House concurrent resolution recognizing January 9, 2014 as Homeless
Awareness Day at the State House
H.C.R. 179
House concurrent resolution congratulating the 2013 U-32 Raiders Division II
girls’ championship track and field team
H.C.R. 180
House concurrent resolution congratulating Clara Emlen of Calais on being
named the 2014 America’s National Teenager
S.C.R. 28
Senate concurrent resolution congratulating the Yankee Male Chorus on its
60th anniversary
S.C.R. 29
Senate concurrent resolution congratulating Hastings Store on its centennial
anniversary and Jane and Garey Larrabee on 40 years as the store’s proprietors
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Information Notice
Deadline for Introducing Bills
Pursuant to Rule 40(b) of the Rules and Orders of the Vermont House of
Representatives, during the second year of the biennium, except with the prior
consent of the Committee on Rules, no member may introduce a bill into the
House drafted in standard form after the last day of January.
In order to meet this deadline all bill requests must be submitted to
Legislative Council no later than the close of business on Wednesday January
15, 2014.
Pursuant to Rule 40(c) during the second year of the biennium, except with
the prior consent of the Committee on Rules, no committee, except the
Committees on Appropriations, Ways and Means or Government Operations,
may introduce a bill drafted in standard form after the last day of March
(March 31, 2014).
The Committees on Appropriations and Ways and Means
bill may be drafted in standard form at any time, and Government Operations
bills pertaining to city or town charters, may be drafted in standard form at any
time.
Joint Assembly
January 15, 2014 - 2:00 PM - Budget Address