1999 Legislative Bills
Updated June 28, 1999

House Bills | Senate Bills | Budget Amendment

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House Bills:

HB 1414 - Driver’s Licenses
Patron: Mary T. Christian
To provide for display of licensee’s disabilities, chronic medical conditions, and /or drug allergies on his driver’s license.
Status:
Stricken from docket by Transportation Committee (23-Y, 0-N).
Comment:
The VAD Board supports this bill as long as it is not mandatory for deaf or hard of hearing to apply. VDDHH Board supports this. This action will not take place as it is no longer a bill.

HB 1676 - Employees with Disabilities Tax Credit
Patron John S. Reid

To provide a two-year tax credit to an employer equal to 20 percent of the first $6,000 in wages paid annually to an otherwise qualified employee with a disability.  The credit applies to employees to employees who have completed or are completing rehabilitative services from the Department of Rehabilitative Services, the Department of the Visually Handicapped or the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Individuals will be certified to the Department of Taxation by the Department of Rehabilitative Services. The credit will be available for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2000, but before December 31. 2003.
Status:
Passed in the House (100-Y, 0-N) 2/7/99; passed in the Senate (40-Y, 0-N), 2/17/99; signed by the Governor 3/22/99.
Comment: The VAD Board supports this bill.

HB 2051 - Interpreters for Deaf and Non-English-speaking Defendants
Patron: Glenn M. Weatherholtz

To require a defendant for whom an interpreter is appointed to pay, as a part of court costs, the fee for such interpreter if the defendant is found guilty.
Status: Failed to pass in the Senate 2/21/99.
Comment: The Legislative Committee Chair contacted NAD Law Center as he felt that this bill violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.  On January 22,  NAD Law Center's Legislative Assistant John Elledge contacted Delegate Weatherholtz's office and explained that (1) this may be against existing federal laws (ADA, Rehab Act, etc.) as well as the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution; (2) this may cause innocent defendants to plead guilty just to save money (especially for misdemeanors) without really realizing how a guilty plea will affect future educational, employment and credit opportunities; and (3) the state may end up spending a lot more money defending this legistation in court.  On January 26, Delegate Weatherholtz instructed his aide to prepare an amendment to HB 2051 to strike out all references to "Interpreters for the Deaf" so this measure will simply address language interpreters.

HB 2358 - Income Tax: Accessibility Features for the Disabled Tax Credit, known as "Visitability Tax Credit "
Patron: James F. Almand

To provide an income tax credit to individuals who add certain features to their homes so they are accessible to the disabled, effective for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2000. The amount of the credit is 25 percent of the amount spent on such features, not to exceed $500 or the individual’s tax liability in the taxable year the feature is completed. This idea was copied from Georgia Visitability Tax Credit language and the federal HUD definition of Visitability. This section would also include such features as installation of audio loops and TTY’s.
Status:
Passed in the House (100-Y, 0-N) 2/7/99; passed in the Senate (40-Y, 0-N), 2/18/99; signed by the Governor 3/24/99.
Comment
: The VAD Board supports this bill.

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Senate Bills

SB 1305 - Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind at Staunton
Patron: Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.

To direct the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB) to provide an Educational program for children in preschool through grade 12 who have visual and Hearing disabilities and who are identified as emotionally disturbed pursuant to Board of Education regulations. This will include emotionally disturbed students for the first time at the Staunton school.
Status:
Passed in the Senate (38-Y, 0-N), 2/4/99; passed in the House (100-Y, 0-N) 2/17/99; signed by the Governor 3/25/99.
Comment:
The VAD Board supports this bill.

SB 1306 - Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind
Patron: Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.

To eliminate the authority of the Board of Education to establish attendance zones for Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, located in Staunton and in Hampton. This bill will remove the controversial I-95 boundary line that divides the attendance zone between those two schools.
Status:
Passed in the Senate (40-Y, 0-N), 2/1/99; passed in the House (100-Y, 0-N) 2/17/99; signed by the Governor 3/25/99.
Comment:
The VAD Board supports this bill.

SJ 362 - Speech and Hearing Professionals to Continue Discussion
Patron: Joseph V. Gartlan, Jr.
To encourage the Speech and Hearing Association of Virginia and the Virginia Association for Hearing Aid Specialists, along with their respective licensing boards, to continue their discussions regarding the possible merger of their respective boards to make it easier for customers to have a site specific for the filing of complaints.
Status: Passed in the Senate (39-Y, 0-N) 2/1/99; passed in the House (100-Y, 0-N) 2/18/99.
Comment:
The VAD Board supports this bill.

SJ 476 - Study; Teacher Salary Scales at Schools for the Deaf and the Blind
Patron: Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.
To request the Departments of Education and Planning and Budget to examine the teacher salary scales for the Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.  The Departments are to consider salary scales for teachers in the Staunton and Hampton Public Schools and must report their findings and recommendations to the Advisory Commission on the Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind by September 30, 1999 and submit findings and recommendations to the Governor and the 2000 session.
Status: Passed in the Senate (39-Y, 1-N) 2/4/99; passed in the House (98-Y, 0-N) 2/17/99.
Comment:
The VAD Board supports this bill.

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Budget Amendments:

HB 1450 - Budget Bill
Patron: Vincent F. Callahan, Jr.
SB 800 - Budget Bill
Patron: Stanley C. Walker.
These bills are formally introduced to appropriate the public revenue for the two years, 1999 and 2000. The various amendment item numbers are assigned by the Legislative Information Services as budget amendments are processed. Among them that affect us are:

In HB 1450:

  1. Item 316 #1h - $250,000 request for expanded VDDHH outreach services. For more information, see under "For Your Information" below.
  2. Item 161 C - $135,000 request for two full-time co-directors for Interpreter Training Programs by Virginia Community College System for J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond and New River Community College in Dublin.
  3. Item 17.30 - $1,303,000 request for renovation of the Stuart Building for the proposed behavior.ED center at VSDB-Staunton (capital budget amendment).
  4. Item ____ - $49,000 request for two dormitory positions and the technology position for VSDB-Staunton.

 

For Your Information

$1,500,000 Proposal for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People Outreach Services:
This proposal was made by a group of representatives from VAD, SHHH, NVRC, disAbility Center, Centers for Independent Living (CILs), and other supporters and its Chief Patron is Del. Karen Darner of Arlington.  The advocates met many legislators and their aides and held a press conference on Tuesday, January 19, 1999, at the State Capitol in Richmond.  See Item 316 #1h under Budget Amendments above.

Proposed that the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia allocate $1.5 million in General Funds to the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) to be used for Outreach Services for citizens of Virginia who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing for education on prevention, and for community Education on issues and independent living needs pertaining to people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. Such funds will be administered through the VDDHH, and by means of contractual agreements, will be used to expand outreach services through private contractors. Services will be provided by private contractors (Community Centers for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons, Centers for Independent Living and others) that meet the criteria set by VDDHH in meeting the diverse communication modes and respecting the unique needs of people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing. The central office for the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will need additional staff to manage the expanded outreach programs.

Demographics (number of people):

The VDDHH total budget for outreach to individuals and communities is currently only $250,000.

The benefits of outreach services include community education, renewed self respect for individuals with hearing loss, increased health and safety awareness, increased education for the deaf and hard of hearing people, more interaction with the community, better relationships with friends and family, improved mental health and community awareness, and increased employment.

The value of private outreach contractors is well known and documented. VHHDD records indicate a three-fold increase in outreach services in the past year, due mostly to the efforts of private contractors. Private contracting has proved to be more cost effective for the Commonwealth of Virginia in reaching more Virginians with hearing loss.

__________

Source: Disability Services Board News, January 1999

The Disability Commission , a state disability commission, chaired by Lt. Governor Hager, set its legislative agenda last December as it currently pushes some of its priorities in the General Assembly as follows:

  1. $1.1 million to continue building the network of Disability Services Boards (44) across the state (first priority);
  2. $1.0 million addition to the existing Assistive Technology Loan Fund to cover loan guarantees , buy-down interest rates, and operating expenses (second priority);
  3. $500,000 addition to the Consumer Service Fund of last resort;
  4. an additional case manager for Long-Term Rehabilitative Case Management Program;
  5. $480,000 for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to serve youth in transition from high school;
  6. $450,000 to convert three satellite CILs into full-fledged CILs;
  7. $135,000 for sign language interpreter training (see Budget Amendments under Item 161 C above);
  8. $400,000 for consumer-directed Personal Assistance Services (PAS);
  9. $5.7 million for "2000 Jobs by the Year 2000" for people with disabilities. This proposal would provide funding to expand long-term employment services for 1,300 individuals with severe disabilities and will allow people with severe disabilities to access and maintain employment choices.

HJ 571 - Study: Visually Handicapped
Patron: Anne G. Rhodes

To request the Department for the Visually Handicapped to review the Code of Virginia and to make recommendations on a standard terminology for the statutes relating to visual impairment.  In short, it is to study changing the word "handicapped" as it relates to Department of Visually Handicapped.
Status: Passed in the House (100-Y, 0-N) 2/5/99; passed in the Senate (40-Y, 0-N) 2/17/99.
Comment: This does not affect the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.


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