2002 Legislative Bills
Updated May 29, 2002

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

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The 2002 General Assembly session convened on January  9, 2002.  2,876 bills (some carried over from last year) and resolutions were filed this year. Virginia legislators introduced almost 700 fewer bills and resolutions this year than in the past 60-day session two years ago, down from 3,173 in the 2000 session.  They now can introduce a bill only with the unanimous consent of their colleagues.

 

For the second year, rules limit the number of bills lawmakers can file after the first day of the session . The limit is five for delegates, eight for senators. There was no limit in 2000.

 

The changeover date was February 13th (when bills that have passed from one body; i.e. House, go to the other; i.e. Senate, or vice versa, for consideration). The 60-day session ended on Saturday, March 9th.

 

To check the latest status of bills, resolutions, and amendments or check for your legislator’s name, etc., click Legislative website at http://legis.state.va.us./online/v.htm .



Senate Bills

SB 401 - Health care coverage; hearing aids (revised from last year’s SB 1191).

Offered and Prefiled: January 9, 2002.

Chief Patron:  R. Edward Houck

 

 Requires health insurers, health maintenance organizations and corporations providing health care coverage subscription contracts to provide coverage for hearing aids and related services. Such coverage shall include one hearing aid per hearing-impaired ear, up to a cost of $1,200, every 48 months. The insured may choose a higher priced hearing aid and pay the difference in cost above $1,200, with no penalty to the insured or the hearing aid provider. The mandate does not apply to individual or small group policies, and does not cover aids for impaired ears that do not indicate a hearing loss of 30 dB or greater for at least one frequency between 500 Hz and 4,000 Hz. Insurers are prohibited from charging a co-payment or fee exceeding $100 per hearing aid.

 

Comment:  VAD Board is in favor.

 

*Status: SB 401 failed to report (defeated) in Committee on Commerce and Labor, (7-Y 7-N), 1/28/02

Latest note: As recent as 2/1/02, the removal of mandate from SB 401 is being discussed to keep the bill alive. See Arva Priola’s full report on the bill under “For your information” below.

 

 

SB 429 State employees’ health plan coverage for hearing aids (revised from last year’s SB 1192).

Offered and Prefiled: January 9, 2002.

Chief Patron:  R. Edward Houck.

 

Requires the state employee health care plan to provide coverage for hearing aids and related services. Such coverage shall include one hearing aid per hearing-impaired ear, up to a cost of $1,200, every 48 months. The covered person may choose a higher priced hearing aid and pay the difference in cost above $1,200, with no penalty to the covered person or the hearing aid provider. Hearing aids will not be covered for impaired ears that do not indicate a hearing loss of 30 dB or greater for at least one frequency between 500 Hz and 4,000 Hz. The plan shall not impose a copayment or fee in excess of $100 per hearing aid.

 

Comment:  VAD Board is in favor.

 

*Status:  Passed by for the day in Committee on Finance (likely not be reconsidered at a later date), (16-Y 0-N), 2/6/02.  Also reported that this bill is held back by Chief Patron.

 

 

SB 231 Rehabilitative services; vocational.

Presented and ordered printed, 1/9/02.

Chief Patron:  Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.

 

Revises state code language to reflect changes made in 1998 to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amend. The changes update the list of vocational rehabilitation services, add the new consumer option to develop all or part of the written plan for services with or without Department assistance, revise the name of the written plan for services to “Individualized Plan for Employment” to emphasize the plan’s goal to achieve an employment outcome and replace the outdated term “sheltered workshop” with “community  rehabilitation program.”

 

Comment: The outdate term “sheltered workshop” is replaced with more appropriate term “community rehabilitation program” to promote positive image.

 

*Status: Passed by Senate, 1/16/02; passed by House, 2/14/02; approved by Governor, 2/28/02.

 

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House Bills

 

HB 9 Office for Protection and Advocacy

Presented and Prefiled: November 13, 2001.

Chief Patron: Phillip A. Hamilton

Persons with mental retardation, developmental disabilities, or mental illness. Revises the external human rights system for persons with mental retardation, developmental disabilities, or mental illness. The Department for Rights of Virginians with Disabilities is removed from the executive branch and becomes an independent state agency renamed the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy. The bill creates a governing board for the Office, consisting of 11 members who are appointed by the Governor and the General Assembly for staggered terms. No such appointments shall be members of the General Assembly. This board shall hire the agency director, who shall be an attorney in good standing licensed to practice in Virginia. The Office is given the authority to access facilities and programs, receive notification of deaths in state facilities and to protect the confidentiality of records. The bill establishes within the Office an ombudsman program to become effective July 1, 2004, and creates the Protection and Advocacy Fund.

 

Comment: The purpose of Virginia Department of Rights for Virginians with Disabilities (DRVD) is to protect and advance the legal, human, and civil rights of persons with disabilities; combat and prevent abuse, neglect and discrimination; and promote independence, choice and self-determination by persons with disabilities.  The reason for  separation of the agency from executive branch is that the executive branch had often interfered the agency’s activities for political reasons and hampered its progress.  This is a very good bill.

*Status:  passed Senate with amendments, 40-Y 0-N, 3/4/02; adopted by House, 94-Y 3-N, 3/6/02; approved by Governor, 4/16/02.

 

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Budget Amendments

 

Increase by $250,000 Outreach Funding to the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 

An additional $250,000 for outreach funding is being requested.  It will be used to provide education on prevention, peer counseling, independent living needs, and help with a variety of issues faced by people with hearing loss.  Services would be provided through contractual agreements with organizations and agencies with specific expertise serving this population.

A significant increase in funding is needed to address the rapidly growing number of people with hearing loss.  The aging of the baby boom generation is being felt and hearing loss once reported in those over 60 is now being seen in people 10 years younger.  Studies also show a disturbing incidence of hearing loss in young adults.  Current agency staff and contractors providing these services are already at or beyond capacity.

 

Comment:  VAD Board is in favor.

 

*Status:  not likely due to anticipated state budget cutbacks because of sagging state economy.

 

Others: state budget allottments for the following (same amount in total for each biennial year except noted )2002-2004:

 

Item 1-A751 Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH)
with 14 positions $1,579,816  (for 1st year)
$1,579,974  (for 2nd year)
Item 1-A218 Virginia School for the Deaf & Blind at Staunton
with 149 positions $7,018,952
Item 1-A219 Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind & Multi-Disabled
with 130 positions $7,036,999
Item 1-A219 Virginia Community College System – Programs for the Deaf
J.Sargeant Reynolds Community College
with 4 positions $99,300
New River Community College
with 4 positions $120,500
Danville Community College
with 1 position $55,000

 

 

Item 138#10C in the State Budget for Department of Education: Elementary and Secondary

Inserted by Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.

"P. The Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall prepare a plan for consolidating services for the deaf and/or blind students at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind at Staunton to include: transfer of funds, future funding requirements, staffing requirements, facilities requirements, student transportation requirements, future use of the Hampton facility, and any other requirements needed to accommodate the transfer of the deaf and/or blind students from the Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind, and the Multi-Disabled at Hampton to the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind at Staunton. This plan shall also identify the arrangements that are necessary for transferring the multi-disabled students from the Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind, and the Multi-Disabled at Hampton to another state-operated facility that is qualified to deliver the required services or to private facilities so qualified. This plan shall be presented to the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Education, House Appropriations, Senate Education and Health, and Senate Finance Committees no later than December 1, 2002."

 

Comment: This has taken us by a surprise that the General Assembly in its last day of session passed the State Budget involving a budget item 138#10c for the consolidation of VA School for the Deaf and Blind in Hampton to School for the Deaf and Blind in Staunton. VAD has fought for the consolidation of two schools for nearly 30 years. The Board is in strong favor of this item.

 

*Status: Passed by the General Assembly, 3/9/02.  On May 17, 2002, Governor Mark Warner vetoed attempts to close the school for the deaf and blind in Hampton and transfer students and services to a sister facility in Staunton.  He called for “an objective study.” In other words, he wants a further study on how the closure will affect the Hampton school, an impact to services for deaf students with multi- disabilities, and effect on the Staunton school.

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Resolutions  

 

HJ 409 – Commending theaters showing captioned movies

Introduced and laid on Speaker’s table, 2/19/02.

Chief Patron: Kenneth R. Plum

Read as:

 

WHEREAS, the Coalition for Movie Captioning (CMC), established in October 1999, is a consortium of 10 nonprofit organizations working toward the goal of making all first-run movies accessible to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and late-deafened; 

WHEREAS, the CMC estimates that 28 million Americans with hearing loss can benefit from captioned movies; 

WHEREAS, captioning is beneficial to improving reading skills for America’s 26 million elementary school children, 30 million persons learning English as a second language, and 16 million people who lack basic literacy skills; and

WHEREAS, the number of movies produced with captions is increasing; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly commend theater owners in Virginia who show captioned movies; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates transmit a copy of this resolution to the National Association of Theater Owners as an expression of the General Assembly’s support for the showing of captioned first-run movies.

 

Comment: The resolution was introduced as it was too late to introduce any legislation to require movie captions.  This is the first step. We plan to  introduce a bill in the next session in 2003.

*Status: Agreed to by the House by voice vote, 2/22/02; agreed to by the Senate by voice vote, 2/28/02.

 

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For Your Information  

 

Mandate Movie Captioning

 

A bill is sought to ensure that those individuals who have difficulty hearing or understanding the soundtrack of movies shown in theaters will have effective access to publicly shown films.  Attending movies is a part of American culture, and it is time for deaf and hard of hearing residents (of which Virginia has approximately 650,000) to have the same access to movie theaters that others enjoy. Such access will enable parents who are deaf to be able to attend movies with their children, and will enable deaf and hard of hearing children to attend movies with their families and friends.

 

Captioning, which is similar to subtitles, can be done quite cheaply.  The state of Connecticut introduced such a captioning bill last year (2001) (it failed due to opposition by Tripod and movie industry).  The national Coalition for Movie Captioning is seeking help in introducing captioning legislation in all states.  It is too late to introduce this legislation in Virginia for 2002, but volunteers are needed to work on this project.

 

Latest status of Senate Bill 401 -Health Insurance Hearing Aid Coverage

Per report dated 1/28/02 by Avra Priola:

 

Once again the attempt to require health insurers in Virginia to provide coverage for hearing aids has failed.  Before the meeting of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee yesterday, the bill was already under heavy attack.  Representatives from HMOs and other lobbying groups were trying to introduce amendments that would require a higher co-payment, limit the cost of related services, make the bill applicable only to those using audiologists, set up a joint commission to fully examine hearing aids, requiring that the same provisions be passed for the state employee health and Medicaid plans, and even a provision addressing consumers who do not use the hearing aids.

 

Arva Priola, who has spearheaded consumer efforts on this bill for three years, said, “Today is was big business against everyday man and child in Virginia with hearing loss.”  Consumer speakers were: Evelyn Sas, a nurse who lost her job because of her hearing loss; Laureen Connell, a graduate of the University of Tennessee who lives in Northern Virginia and talked about growing up with hearing loss; Ivan Holmquist, a retired minister who talked about the children and hearing loss; and Arva, who gave a basic summary.

 

Organizations speaking against the bill included: Virginia Retail Merchants, Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Association of Health Care, and Free Clinic of Virginia.

The bill failed on the first vote.  Its Chief Patron, Senator Edward Houck, asked for a revote.  Northern Virginia’s Senator Richard Saslaw proposed an amendment to the bill that would reduce the age of coverage to 18.  The amendment passed by a vote of 8-7.  However, the other Northern Virginia Senator on the committee, Warren Barry, who had been a supporter of the bill, left the room when it came time to vote for the bill as amended.  Without him, it failed by a vote of 7-7.

The bill is now effectively dead for this session of the General Assembly.

 

Lobbyist Leslie Herdegen, who has assisted with consumer efforts for the past two years, said, “We did the best job I ever have seen a grassroots lobbyist and people do on any measure.  It just is a bad year for money in general, and the thought of adding this to the state employees and Medicaid plans was more than the budget will bear—yet the General Assembly likes for these to move forward in sync.  So, I think this bill fell victim to the budget crisis in the Commonwealth.”

 

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General Assembly Session Statistics

 as of March 13, 2002

 

Bills and Resolutions introduced:

Continued

Passed

Failed

Approved by Governor

Vetoed by Governor

2,645

553

1,382

1,816

875

11

 

 

  (43.2%)

  (55.7%)

  (63.3%)

  (0.8%)

 

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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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Special thanks to Arva Priola and Cheryl Heppner for some up-to-date reporting on some bills and budget amendments.

 

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