2005 Legislative Bills
Updated September 12, 2005

  Senate Bills | State Joint Resolutions | House Bills | Budget Amendment | Resolutions
For Your Information | General Assembly Session Statistics | Legislative Legend

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The 30-day 2005 General Assembly session convened on January 12, 2005.  3,364 bills and resolutions, including 425 carried over from the 2004 session, were introduced. 

The changeover date for the passed bills in the Senate to go to the House of Delegates or vice versa was February 8, 2005.

The session ended on February 26, 2005 (sine die).

To check the latest status of bills, resolutions, and amendments or check for your legislator’s name, etc., visit the Virginia General Assembly Legislative Information System at  http://leg1.state.va.us/041/lis.htm

Normally, the governor reviews the hundreds of bills that did pass and decide what to do about them.  He signs, vetoes or amends some of them in April.  One day in April, the General Assembly returns for an annual, one-day event known as the “veto session.”  That is when the members review what the governor had done with their bills and decide whether to override any vetoes or approve any amendments.  See the statistics table at the bottom.

 

Senate Bills

SB 641 - Insurance; Mandated Coverage for Hearing Aids For Minors
Patron - Senator Patsy Ticer of Alexandria

Requires the state health plan, health insurers, health maintenance organizations, corporations providing health care coverage subscription contracts, and Medicaid to provide coverage for hearing aids and related services for children from birth to age five when a licensed audiologist prescribes such hearing aids and related services.  Such coverage shall include one hearing aid per hearing-impaired ear, up to a cost of $1,400, every 36 months.  The insured may choose a higher priced hearing aid and pay the difference in cost above $1,400.  No co-payment will apply.  Hearing aids are not to be considered durable medical equipment.

Comment:  VAD Board supported this bill.

Status:  Left in Committee on Commerce and Labor, 12/13/04.

SB 1300 - Deaf and Hearing-Impaired Jurors; Allows an Interpreter in Jury Room
Patron - Senator William C. Mims of Leesburg

Codifies the existing practice of appointing interpreters for deaf and hearing-impaired jurors and allowing their presence in the jury room during deliberations.  This bill puts language in the Code of Virginia to clarify that an interpreter can be in the jury room when there is a deaf juror.

VDDHH continues to work with the State Supreme Court to ensure communication access for deaf jurors, including the interpreter services as they have in the past.

Comment: VAD Board supported this bill.

Status: Passed in Senate 40-Y, 0-N; defeated in House 33-Y, 64-N, 2/24/05.

SB 1330 - Court Reporting, Board of; Created, Report
Patron - Senator Frederick M. Quayle of Chesapeake

Court reporters.  Creates the Virginia Board of Court Reporting to prescribe qualifications for court reporters and to issue licenses in order to establish and maintain a standard of competency for the protection of the public. The bill includes a provision requiring the Board to enact emergency regulations.

The bill does not impact CART providers at all as it is written and was not intended to impact them.

Status: Passed by indefinitely (failed) in Courts of Justice Committee.

SB 1335 - Communications Services; Various Revisions to Taxations
Patron - Senator Jay O'Brien of Clifton

Communications tax reform.  Completely revises the taxation of communications services.  Applies a statewide communications sales and use tax to retail communication and video services on a competitively neutral basis.  The communications sales and use tax rate will be 5%.

This bill is a companion bill to HB 2880.

Status: The bill was left in the Committee on Commerce and Labor 12-Y, 0-N, 2/7/05.

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Senate Joint Resolutions

SJ 366 - Hearing Aids, Children's; Joint Subcommittee to Study Funding and Promotion
Patron - Senator Patricia S. Ticer of Alexandria.

Study of the funding and promotion of children's hearing aids; report.  Establishes a joint subcommittee to study the funding and promotion of children's hearing aids. In conducting its study, the joint subcommittee shall assess current efforts and recommend new methods to promote and publicize the Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority (ATLFA) and the Consumer Services Fund (CSF) to parents of children determined to be born with a hearing deficiency discovered under the early identification and intervention program.

 Comment:

 Status:  Stricken at request of patron in Committee on Rules.

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House Bills

HR 1625 - Driver's License; Learner's Permits
Patron - Delegate Daniel W. Marshall III of Danville

Prohibits issuance of driver's licenses and learner's permits to persons incapable of communicating using the English language.  The prohibition extends to both original issues and to renewals.  In other words, this bill would amend Virginia law to make it illegal for applicants who can't read or write the English language or speak and understand the English language to receive driver's licenses or learner's permits.  The bill says it is not intended to bar issuing the license or permit solely because of an applicant's hearing impairment.

Comment:

Status: Failed to report (died) in Courts of Justice Committee, 7-Y, 10-N, 2/4/05.

HR 1740 - Health Insurance Coverage - Hearing Aids for Children
Patron - Delegate John Cosgrove of Virginia Beach

Requires health insurers, health maintenance organizations, and corporations providing health care coverage subscription contracts to provide coverage for hearing aids and related services for children from birth to age 18 when a licensed audiologist prescribes such hearing aids and related services.  The coverage shall include one hearing aid per hearing-impaired ear, up to a cost of $1,500, every 24 months.

Comment: VAD Board supported this bill.

Status: Tabled in Committee on Commerce and Labor, 21-Y, 1-N, 1/25/05.

HB 1803 - Persons With Disabilities; Agency Reorganization
Patron - Delegate Steven Landes of Weyers Cave

Consolidates the Department of Rehabilitative Services and the Departments for the Blind and Vision Impaired and the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing into the Department of Rehabilitative and Disability Services.

Comment:  There have been some attempts in the past several years to combine agencies serving disabled people into one agency or under one department under the disguise of saving tax money or improving service.  The disabled citizens, consumers, and taxpayers have raised strong opposition to this, pointing out that each agency have unique resources and maintain a staff with unique expertise (i.e., skills and knowledge in dealing with unique problems of its consumers).  In other words, the staff of the Department of Visually Disabled simply do not have the expertise to serve Deaf & Hard of Hearing consumers, and vice versa.  Therefore, any attempt to combine such agencies most likely will save very little, if any, tax money and result in degraded service to disabled citizens and taxpayers.

Status:  Tabled in Committee on General Laws as result of a strong opposition by the public.  Del. Landes himself tabled the bill when he realized that consumers with disabilities were satisfied with the service provided by all three agencies.

HB 2713 - Telecommunication Relay Services
Patron - Delegate Harvey B. Morgan of Glouchester

Allows money in the state Telecommunications Relay Service fund to be used to purchase equipment  (TTYs, VCO phones, CapTel phones, etc.) for use by hearing-impaired persons using the relay service. The Department for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, with the assistance of the State Corporation Commission, administers the telecommunications relay service for text telephones. The agency will continue to use General Fund dollars for the purchase of TAP equipment which is not used in conjunction with Relay (amplifiers, etc.).

Comment:  In recent years, many applicants of VDDHH's Technology Assistance Program (TAP) were put on a waiting list because there wasn't enough funding to provide assistive equipment to all applicants. This bill is expected to resolve this ongoing problem. Please note that the Relay Fund is expected to be able to absorb the costs of this action within existing funds.

VDDHH had to put applicants of the Technology Assistance Program (TAP) on a waiting list because the demand for assistive equipment provided by TAP exceeded the state-budgeted funding. This bill is expected to resolve this ongoing problem. Please note that the Relay Fund is expected to be able to absorb the costs of this action within existing funds.

This is the VDDHH Agency Bill, intended to use Relay funds to purchase Relay-related equipment for TAP applicants.

Comments

Status:  Left in Committee on Commerce and Labor.

 House Bill 2802 - Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault; Privileged Communications Between Victims and Advocates
Patron - Delegate Brian J. Moran of Alexandria

Provides that all written and oral communications between a victim and a domestic violence or sexual assault advocate, serving in the capacity of an advocate, or an interpreter for an advocate or a victim, shall be confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure in any judicial or administrative proceeding, without the written consent of the victim.

The bill protects the communications of domestic violence or sexual assault counselors and interpreters in those situations

Comments

Status: House refused to engross the bill.

House Bill 2880 - Communication Services; Various Revisions to Taxation

Patron - Delegate Samuel A. Nixon, Jr., of Richmond

 

Directs the Auditor of Public Accounts (APA) to review and collect information in 2005 regarding certain local communications taxes and report to the chairmen of the House and Senate Finance Committees and the Department of Taxation no later than December 1, 2005.

 

This bill establishes a new Communications Sales and Use Tax.  One part of the bill affects the way Virginia Relay is funded.  It eliminates the current $0.16 telephone surchange.  Instead, Relay will be funded by the Communications Sales and Use Tax Trust Fund.  Full authority for administration of Virginia Relay will move from the State Corporation Commission to VDDHH.  VDDHH has recommended some technical amendments to the bill to ensure that the Relay portions of the bill are current and accurate.

 

Comments

 

Status:  Passed in the General Assembly.  Approved by the Governor.

 

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Budget Amendments

 

Virginia Relay Funding (this refers to HB 2713)

 

An amendment to the Code of Virginia is requested to allow Virginia Relay funding to be used for 'end-user equipment'.  In 6 of the past 7 Fiscal Years, the VDDHH Technology Assistance Program has had to put qualified applicants on a waiting list to receive equipment because demand outstripped available funding.  This would make it possible to use the funds collected from the Virginia Relay surcharge to cover some equipment.  A budget request for $305,000 is also being made (see other budget amendments).

 

Studies (this refers to SJ 366 above)

 

A Report on Funding for Children's Hearing Aids was prepared by the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with the assistance of the Department of Health, the Department of Medical Assistance Services and the Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority.

 

Findings: Most insurers in Virginia do not provide coverage for the purchase of hearing aids.

 

Nearly 600 Virginia children under the age of six have a hearing loss. Medicaid in Virginia reports providing hearing aids (including cochlear implants) to 62 children through age six in Federal FY 2002.

 

Recommendation: Designate and promote the Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority (ATLFA) and the Consumer Services Fund (CSF) as sources of funding for families seeking assistance for the purchase of hearing aids for children under the age of six.

 

Virginia Schools for the Deaf - Consolidation (this refers to Budget Items 136#1s and 135#1h)

 

The following events took place regarding the consolidation:

 

December 1, 2004 - VSDB Consolidation Task Force Report came out, calling for the closure of two VSDB's in Hampton and Staunton and building a new facility in Fisherville, VA at the cost of $61.5 million.

 

December 9, 2004 - House of Delegates Speaker William Howell, R-Stafford, toured the Staunton campus with Del. R. Steven Landes, R-Weyers Cave, and Del. Chris Saxman, R-Staunton.

 

March 5, 2005 - due to heavy opposition from the VAD, VA Federation of the Blind, deaf/blind alumni, media, historical foundation, parents of deaf/blind students and supporters, the General Assembly dropped Fisherville as the possible site for the new school from the amendment and give the power to the State Board of Education to select a new site as they must report back to by July 31. 2005.  The Staunton News Leader published a number of articles written by some local legislators, some VSDB alumni and staff, parents of deaf/hard of hearing school children, and supporters of the Staunton school.

 

March 30, 2005 - Governor Warner made the budget amendment language change by striking out the provision for the new Fisherville facility and leave the rest to the State Board of Education per persuasion by Del. Saxman and Sen. Emmett Hanger, Jr..

 

April 6, 2005 - the General Assembly met to review Governor's vetoes/amends and accepted the amendment change for VDSB's.

 

June 3, 2005 - Frank Strassler, Executive Director of Historic Staunton Foundation, and VSDB-Staunton Superintendent Nancy Strong conducted a walking public tour of the VSDB campus, including 166-year-old Greek Revival Main Hall.  Del. Chris Saxman of Staunton said that the State Board of Education was very impressed with the outpouring of support for the VSDB campus from the community of Staunton.

 

July 31, 2005 -  the State Board of Education will make a decision to choose the consolidated school, either in Hampton or Staunton and is instructed by this amendment to consider the Public-Private Education Act (PPEA) and other options to obtain proposals for the Board to adopt by the end of July 2005.  Historic Staunton Foundation's preliminary cost estimate for rehabilitating buildings on the Staunton campus put the cost at about $21 million.  Meeting that deadline is in doubt.

 

October 2005 - The State Board of Education will report its findings to the Governor and legislative committees.  The Board may proceed with construction though a public-private partnership agreement if it receives a bid that does not exceed $ 61.5 million.

 

Comment:  The VAD Board and Legislative Committee asked that individuals contact Governor Mark Warner and ask him to take away the power assigned in Budget Item 136 #1c to the Board of Education in selecting a new site for the VSDB.  VAD's position is that Staunton is the best location for a consolidated school.

 

Other Budget Amendments

 

Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH)

Senator Ed Houck of Spotsylvania is the patron for a budget amendment that would do the following (based on VDDHH report):

 

1.  Replacement and update of TAPLoan site equipment

Virginia has 21 sites (including NVRC) where learn about, (and if qualified, apply for, and obtain loans) from equipment in the VDDHH Technology Assistance Program (TAP).  Updated equipment would be provided at a cost of $126,000.  In the past year, These sites served 1,117 individuals.

 

2.  Reducing TAP waiting lists

To eliminate the waiting list for TAP and update the program with the new CapTel phone, $360,000 per year is being requested.  This is similar to the Virginia Relay bill previously mentioned.

 

3.  Accommodations for outreach contractors

Funding for VDDHH outreach contractors, which include NVRC, has not just kept up despite increased demand, but has been reduced.  A total of $500,000 is being requested for contractors, of which $200,000 would be used solely for communication via interpreters, communication access real time translation and hearing assistive devices for consumer education programs.

 

4.  Visor alert program

To print and distribute visor alert cards to people who are deaf and hard of hearing, $5,000 has been requested.  These cards are used to inform public safety officers about an individual's deafness or hearing loss and how to best communicate.

The VAD Board is in favor of all budget amendments.

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Resolutions

(None relating to Deaf and Hard of Hearing issues)

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For Your Information

Health Insurance Coverage on Hearing Aids

A Report on Funding for Children's Hearing Aids was prepared by the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing with the assistance of the Department of Health, the Department of Medical Assistance Services and the Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority.

Findings:
1.  Most insurers in Virginia do not provide coverage for the purchase of hearing aids.
2.  Nearly 600 Virginia children under the age of six have a hearing loss.  Medicaid in Virginia reports providing hearing aids (including cochlear implants) to 62 children through age six in Federal FY 2002.

 Recommendation:
Designate and promote the Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority (ATLFA) and the Consumer Services Fund (CSF) as sources of funding for families seeking assistance for the purchase of hearing aids for children under the age of six.

 Virginia Schools for the Deaf - Consolidation

We are watching closely for action on consolidating the two Virginia Schools for the Deaf.  Delegates Steven Landes of Weyers Cave, Glenn Weatherholtz of Harrisonburg, and House Speaker William Howell of Fredericksburg paid a visit to the Staunton school last December.

The VAD Board strongly opposes the school consolidation task force report and urges the General Assembly to keep the VSDB in Staunton.

 

Gary Viall, Chair
VAD Legislation Committee

 

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General Assembly Session Statistics

 

Bills and Resolutions introduced:

Continued

Passed

Failed

Approved by Governor

Vetoed by Governor

2,939

425

1,611

1,753

951

3

 

 

47.9 %

52.1 %

59.0 %

0.002 %

 

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Legislative Legend

HB
SB

HR
SR

HJR
SJR

Y
N

House Bill 

Senate Bill

House Resolution

Senate Resolution

House Joint Resolution

Senate Joint Resolution

Yes

No

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Gary wants to thank the following people for their help in up-to-date
reporting on legislative bills, budget amendments, and  resolutions:

Cheryl Heppner (NVRC); Gordon Landes; Leslie Hutchinson Prince (VDDHH); Arva Priola; Fred Yates, Jr.; and Wayne Fricks.
 


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