1998 Legislative Bills


Table of Contents

House Bills | Senate Bills | Resolutions
Budget Amendments | New Rules Bar Blizzard of Bills

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House Bills:

HB 596 -- Fees for Professionals at Adult Involuntary Commitment Proceedings
Patron: Eric I. Cantor

To increase fees for court-appointed professionals who participate in adult involuntary proceedings …. similar to  last year’s SB 1010 which was defeated.
Status: HB 596 passed in the House (95-Yes, 4-No) 2/13/98. Passed in the Senate (40-Yes, 0-No) 3/6/98.
Comment: The VAD Board supports this bill as it did last year.

HB 916 -- Hearing Impairment Identification and Monitoring System
Patron: L. Karen Darner
To require all newborns for hearing screening.
Status: HB 916 passed in the House (98-Yes, 4-No) 2/17/98.  Passed in the Senate (39-Yes, 0-No) 2/27/98.
Comment: The VAD Board supports this bill.

HB 941 -- Assistive Technology Device Warranties Act (Lemon Law)
Patron: Kenneth Plum

As same as last year’s SB 1160 which was failed. To create a "Lemon Law" for assistive technology devices such as TTYs, hearing aids, Braille printers, etc. to protect consumers from defects within a 12 month period after purchase. This bill says that when a device is sold, if it does not work the way it is supposed to and is brought back at least three times for the same problem, the device should be replaced or the money refunded. If the seller won’t fix the problem, replace the device or refund the money, the consumer has the right to pursue the matter under the Lemon Law. Many other states have passed such laws.

This bill is strongly opposed by hearing aid dealers and manufacturers as they say that they want a good relationship with their consumers and have concerns regarding possible unrealistic expectations from consumers that may result in an erroneous description of a defective device as a "lemon". The Association of Hearing Aid Manufacturers, Hearing Industry Association, American Academy of Audiology, International Hearing Society, and Academy of Dispensing Audiologists have fought Lemon Laws all over the country to keep hearing aids from being included. Some very active lobbyists have been contacting members of the General Assembly to keep hearing aids out of Virginia’s Lemon Law.

VAD has joined other nine groups to support this bill. Other groups are:

Status: HB 941 passed in the House (97-Yes, 1-No) 2/11/98. Concurred by the Senate (40-Yes, 0-No) 2/25/98. Adopted by House (94-Yes, 4-No) 2/27/98.
Comment: The VAD Board currently supports this bill as it did last year.

HB 1115 -- Information Technology Access by Individuals who are Blind
Patron: Patron L. Karen Darner
To secure the benefits of access to information technology for individuals who are blind or visually impaired through the procurement of such latest technology.
Status: Continued to 1999 in Committee on Science and Technology 2/6/98.
Action: The VAD Board supports this bill with the inclusion of "deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing."

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Senate Bills:

SB 270 -- Notification upon Identification of Hearing or Visual Impairment
Patron: Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.
To require local school boards notify parents of students identified as hearing or visually impaired of the services through VSDB, VDDHH, and VDVH.
Status: SB 270 passed in the Senate (40-Yes, 0-No) 2/16/98. Concurred by the House (98-Yes, 0-No) 3/4/98.
Comment: The VAD Board unanimously supports this bill.

SB 397 -- Schools for the Deaf and the Blind
Patron W. Henry Maxwell
To provide that VSDBs be included in any state funding for education initatives benefitting public schools.
Status: SB 397 passed in the Senate (40-Yes, 0-No) 2/16/98. Concurred by the House (100-Yes, 0-No) 2/25/98.
Comment: The VAD Board unanimously supports this bill.

SB 402 -- Assistive Technology Device Warranties Act
Patron: Emily Couric:
This is same HB 941.
Status:
SB 402 passed in the Senate (39-Yes, 0-No) 2/13/98.  Concurred by the House (98-Yes, 2-No) 2/24/98.
Comment: The VAD Board currently supports this bill as it did last year.

SB 580 -- Information Technology Access by Individuals who are Blind
Patron: Mary Margaret Whipple
This bill is same as HB 1115.
Status:
Continued to 1999 in Committee on General Laws 2/11/98.
Comment: The VAD Board supports this bill with the inclusion of "deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing."

SB 585 -- Hearing Impairment Identification and Monitoring System
Patron: Randy Forbes
To require all infants born in hospitals to be given hearing screenings by July 1, 1999 and those born outside hospitals to be offered screenings by July 1, 2000.
Status: SB 585 passed in the Senate (40-Yes, 0-No) 2/16/98.  Passed in the House (97-Yes, 0-No) 3/6/98.
Comment: The VAD Board supports this bill but wants infants born outside hospitals to be given screenings.

SB 591 -- Hearing Impairment Identification and Monitoring
Patron: S. Ticer
This bill is same as HB 916.
Status:
SB 591 passed in the Senate (40-Yes, 0-No) 2/16/98.  Passed in the House (40-Yes, 0-No) 3/6/98.
Comment:
The VAD Board supports this bill.

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Resolutions:

HJR 240 -- Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services
Patrons: Frank Hall and Joseph Gartlan
To provide approximate $89.4 million for addition/expansion of existing services to meet the growing needs of persons with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities. This includes $1.5 million for a statewide  coordinator for mental health services for the deaf, five more regional coordinator positions, interpreter funding pool and teleconferencing equipment.
Status: $2 million is included in the budget amendment Item 347 No. 10 to HB 30 Budget for the biennial 1999 and 2000.  Now reduced to $400,000.
Comment: VAD, State Advisory Council for Mental Health Services to Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing Persons, VDDHH, and SHHH endorse this resolution. We need to act on this right away and ask that the amount be restored to $2 million.

SJ 193 -- Study: Educational Needs of Emotionally Disturbed Children
Patron: Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.
To establish a joint subcommittee to study the educational needs of emotionally disturbed students with visual and hearing impairments through identification and review of educational programs currently available to them.
Status: SJ 193 passed in the Senate (40-Yes, 0-No) 2/11/98.  Now in the House Committee on Rules.
Comment: The VAD Board unanimously supports this bill.

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Budget Amendments:

Item 347 -- Mental Health Services for Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing
See under HJR 240 resolution above.

Item 82 -- Norton Relay Center (Virginia Relay Center)
Insertion of language as follows: "The Virginia Department of Information Technology is authorized to locate the Relay Center, for VDDHH, in Norton, VA.  In developing a request for proposals for the Relay Center for VDDHH, the department shall include provisions to require that: (1) the Center be located in Norton, VA; (2) employment levels be at a minimum of 104 full-time communications assistants; and (3) the contract be renewable for up to five years." This poses a big problem for us as there is no competition among major telephone companies as Sprint and MCI do not want to locate their relay centers in Norton.

The VAD Board awaits word from VAD TRS & Technology Committee headed by Mitch Travers for action on the Virginia relay service problems.  The Board still keeps in touch with VDDHH on this matter.

Item 138 -- $50 Million Educational Technology Program
Insertion of language as follows: "Grant funds are based on an average grant of $26,000 per school. For purposes of this grant program, eligible schools shall include those reporting membersip as of September 30, 1999, as well as division and regional vocational centers, regional special education centers, regular school year regional Governor's Schools, and the Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

This makes it easier for VSDBs to obtain money to acquire technology equipment (e.g., graphical calculators and personal computers for students) and makes up for the oversight.   Prior to this time, VSDBs had to seek donations from other sources.


If you need additional information or hear something new, please contact Gary Viall at (202) 205-7191 (TTY) or gary.viall@sba.gov (email).

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New Rules Bar Blizzard of Bills
Fairfax Journal, December 12, 1997

Every year, the General Assembly is snowed under by a blizzard of last-minute bills that harried legislators have almost no time to consider.

In a bid to show the flow of paper, the Joint Rules Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to limit each legislator to a total of five new bills and resolutions after the session begins, starting in 1999. Currently, there is no limit.

The new rules, however, still allow legislators to propose as many bills and resolutions as they want before the start of the session.Bills and resolutions will have to be in before New Year's Day to give the Division of Legislative Services time to frame the bill in legal language.

Legislators have been complaining for years about the chaotic calendar of the General Assembly which meets for 60 days in even-numbered years and 45 in odd-numbered ones.

The tight schedule is aggravated by legislators who file last-minute bills and resolutions.

Total legislation considered climbed from 1,712 measures in 1989 to 2,792 in 1996. This year's 46-day session dealt with 2,583 measures.

"We've been trying to find some way to cut down on the volume of legislation," said Del. Alan A. Diamonstein, D-Newport News.

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