2003 Legislative Bills
Updated January 31, 2003

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The 2003 General Assembly session convened on January 8, 2003.  2,661 bills and resolutions are filed this year in addition to 517 carried over from last year. 

Virginia legislators introduced almost 200 fewer bills and resolutions this year for the 45-day session. They now can introduce a bill only with the unanimous consent of their colleagues. 

For the third 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 1st  (when bills that have passed from one body; i.e. House, go to the other; i.e. Senate, or vice versa, for consideration). The 45-day session ends on Saturday, February 22nd.

To check the latest status of bills, resolutions, and amendments or check for your legislatorís name, etc., click Legislative website at:http://leg1.state.va.us/031/bil.htm .

Senate Bills

SB 1079  Mandatory outpatient treatment.
Patron - Henry L. Marsh III

Establishes a program of mandatory outpatient treatment in those jurisdictions served by a community services board that the Commissioner designates as having adequate and appropriate resources for the provision of mandatory outpatient treatment. The bill authorizes mandatory outpatient treatment only for persons previously hospitalized due to noncompliance with prescribed psychiatric treatment. The bill requires that a specific written treatment plan be prepared by the community services board that gives consideration to the treatment preferences of the individual and explicitly bars the forcible administration of medication. The bill also authorizes law-enforcement personnel to transport the individual to a treatment facility for persuasion and evaluation by a treatment provider only when the individual has substantially failed to comply with the treatment plan without good cause, and only for a 3-hour period, including transportation time. The bill also limits the duration of the court order to 180 days or less, and provides the person with procedural protections, including the right to an adversary hearing, the right to counsel, the right to an appeal, and the right to a jury trial on appeal.

Comment:  This is so complicated.  No action from VAD Board since this bill was killed.

Status:  Senate: Passed by indefinitely (killed) in Education and Health Committee, 14-Y 0-N, 1/16/03.


SB 1083  Sharing of protected health information between state agencies.
Patron - Benjamin J. Lambert III

Expands the authority to share protected health information to include the Department of Rehabilitative Services and the Departments for the Aging, the Blind and Vision Impaired, and the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing or any successors in interest thereof. Present law, enacted in 2002, was intended to clarify the authority of various state departments to obtain and the discretion of health care providers to disclose protected health information in compliance with the regulations promulgated by the federal Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended. The present statute covers the Departments of Health, Medical Assistance Services, Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, and Social Services. This provision extends this protection and authority to the other agencies within the purview of Virginia's Secretary of Health and Human Resources. The implementation of the 2002 provision has been estimated by the relevant auditors within the presently covered agencies to have saved the Commonwealth more than $1 million since July 1, 2002. This provision is a recommendation of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Lead Poisoning Prevention.

 Comment:  This bill is to protect the sharing of health information between state agencies.  VAD Board opposed this as they need more informationÖwhat about passing the information via relay service?

Status:  House:  Referred to Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, 1/24/03.


SB 1159  Study; hearing aids for small children.
Patron - Patricia S. Ticer

Requests the State Corporation Commission to study the costs and benefits of requiring insurers to cover hearing aids for children under age 5. In conducting its study, the Commission shall examine (i) the cost of providing hearing aids to children under age 5, including the effect on health insurance premiums, (ii) the effects on the speech, language, and emotional development of children who have not had hearing aids before age 5, (iii) the costs of providing special services to children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, (iv) the additional costs of education of children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, and (v) any other matter the Commission deems relevant.

Comment:  This is a good bill.  VAD Board is in favor.

Status:  SenateĒ stricken from docket by Rules Committee, 14-Y 0-N, 1/27/03.


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House Bills


HB 2032  Healthcare coverage; hearing aids.
Patron - J. Chapman Petersen

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. Such coverage shall include 1 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, with no penalty to the insured or the hearing aid provider.

Comment:  same as last yearís, except up to age 18.  The VAD Board supports this bill.

Status:  Passed by in Commerce and Labor Committee, 22-Y 0-N, 1/14/03.


HB 2553  Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind.
Patron - R. Steven Landes

 Provides for the closure of the Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind, and Multi-Disabled at Hampton and the transfer of students, programs, and services to the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind at Staunton by the commencement of the 2003-2004 school year. The surviving school shall be renamed the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind. 

The Board of Education is to coordinate with the board of visitors of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind at Staunton, the board of visitors of the Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind, and Multi-Disabled at Hampton, and the Advisory Commission on the Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind to effectuate the closure of the School at Hampton and the transfer of students, programs, and services to the School at Staunton. 

The members of the Advisory Commission on the Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind appointed and currently serving who are the parents of students who are attending or have attended the School at Hampton or who are former students of either school shall complete such term. For purposes of future appointments to the Advisory Commission for positions for students or parents of students who have attended the School, "School" shall be construed to include the School at Hampton.

Currently, both schools offer services for deaf students in preK-12 and blind students in preK-12; the Staunton school provides services for preK-12 students who have "visual and sensory disabilities and who are identified as emotionally disturbed," while the Hampton school provides services for preK-12 students with sensory-impaired multiple disabilities.

Statistics information:



VSDB-Staunton VSDB-Hampton
Deaf Students 124 23
Blind Students 29 5
Deaf / Muli-Disabled 0 30
Blind / Multi-Disabled 0 45
Total 153 103

For 208 days of schooling, it costs $45, 875 per student at Staunton and $68,320.37 per student at Hampton.

Comment:  VAD Board strongly supports this bill.  This is a good bill for the sake of economy, efficiency, and quality of education for deaf and hard of hearing children. However, the education of deaf/ and blind/multi-disabled is a concern.

 Status:  House: Tabled in Appropriations Committee, 22-Y 3-N, 1/29/03.

For more information, please see Budget Amendment section below.


HB 2570  Governor's emergency powers; closed captioning of emergency news.
Patron - L. Karen Darner

Gives the Governor the power to require any television broadcast station located in Virginia that is capable of providing closed captioning of live news broadcasts to provide such captioning of any news that may affect the health, safety or welfare of the deaf and hard-of-hearing citizens of the Commonwealth. 

Comment:  VAD Board supports this bill.  This bill is a surprise one and unusual.  Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires TV stations to provide emergency bulletins.  This is a result of three weeks of sniper shooting in District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia last October.  This bill is for our safety.  However, in the event of power outage, televisions are useless.  The hearing people can get news/broadcast from portable radios whereas deaf people cannot.

Status:  House: stricken at request of Patron in Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee, 22-Y 0-N, 1/31/03.


HB 2745  Designation; hearing or speech impairment; operator of an automobile.
Patron - Daniel W. Marshall, III

Designation of hearing or speech impairment by the operator of an automobile.  VDDHH commented that there is a mechanism in place for designation for deaf/ hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired drivers on driverís license.

Comment: This is a result of the police visor development last year.  VAD Board does not endorse this bill.

Status:  House:  read second time and engrossed (text), 1/31/03.


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Budget Amendments

Gordon Landes of Alexandria has been following the bill on the merger of the Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind at Staunton and Hampton; he reported the bill's status below as of January 30, 2003:

Item 138#4h Amendment

Delegate Steven Landes carried HB 2553 to the subcommittee where the bill was tabled. The Department of Planning and Budget addressed the House Appropriation Chairman Vincent F. Callahan and his 24 members of the Appropriation committee.  Provides for the closure of the Virginia School for the Deaf,  Blind, and the Multi-Disabled at Hampton and the transfer of students, programs, and services to the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind at Staunton by the commencement of the 2003-2004 school year.  The surviving school shall be renamed the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

Although the Staunton campus has major capital needs, it may be able to manage the increase in the number of students on a temporary basis depending on the needs of the new students. To absorb the additional students on a more permanent basis, the school will need to, as a minimum, renovate two existing buildings, one for the use as a dormitory, and one for use as a classroom facility. The cost of these renovations are estimated at $5.0 million and are shown as $1.0 million in FY 2004 budget and $4.0 in the FY 2005 budget.

 However, Delegate Landes requested that language be placed in the budget bill to require the Virginia Department of Education to develop a plan to address consolidation. Therefore, the issue of consolidation is still alive. The language may still be modified before the budget is finalized.  Chief Patron: Landes.  Item 138#4h.  Page 124, after line 58, insert: "S.  Pursuant to the House Bill 2553, the board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall take necessary step to develop plans by July 1. 2003.  The Director, Department of Planning and Budget is to authorized their 2003 fiscal impact statement on Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind to the Appropriation Committee and the General Assembly.

Costs to run both schools:

Item 138#4h Total Cost Cost per Student
Virginia School for the Deaf & Blind at Staunton
    with 149 positions $7,018,952 $45,875.00
Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind & the Multi-Disabled at Hampton
    with 130 positions $7,036,999 $68,320.37

Comment:  The VAD Board is in favor of HB 2553 and Item 138#4h amendment.


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:  The VAD Board strongly supports this bill.  This has taken us by surprise that the General Assembly in its last day of the session passed the State Budget involving a budget item 138#10c for the consolidation of the Virginia Schools for the Deaf, Blind & Multi-Disabilities at Hampton and the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind at Staunton.  VAD has fought for the consolidation of both schools for nearly 30 years.


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 ďan 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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For Your Information  

Cuts to VDDHH Outreach Services

 The following VDDHH outreach contracts were cut:

It is discouraging to see these fine programs lost and the expertise of the people who made them exemplary no longer available.  There is hope that strong advocacy by deaf and hard of hearing people and their families, and an improved state budget picture, will help restore funding when the new budget goes into effect in July 2003.  The Virginia General Assembly will convene next week to begin its deliberations on the budget.  Contact your legislator to voice your opinion about these and other funding cuts.

Cheryl Heppner,
NVRC Executive Director

Consolidation of VDDHH with Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Department of Rehabilitation Services not realized.

 Consolidation of VDDHH Not Supported in Governor Warner's Budget 

Governor Mark Warner delivered his budget message in Richmond.  He chose not to follow the recommendation of the Wilder Commission by moving forward with plans for consolidation of the Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Department of Rehabilitation Services. In a letter from Jane H. Woods, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, she said that Governor Warner was considering further consolidation of disability service agencies into a single agency.  She noted that these agencies have already realized significant savings by consolidating administrative services such as personnel, accounting, payroll and information technology.


Governorís Proposed Amendments to the 2002-2004 State Budget:

Heath and Human Resources

-         Continue Relay Center in Norton. Language is added authorizing the continued operation of the relay center in Norton.

-         Budget Reduction. Reduces $ 183,628 general fund in FY 2003 and $ 263,194 general fund in FY 2004 to reflect Chapter 899 actions within the central accounts and the Governorís October reductions.

 Public Education

Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Staunton

Governorís October Reductions:  Reduces funding by $ 242,949 GF the first year and $ 248,832 GF the second year and a total of 3.0 FTE in the biennium.  The school will eliminate one faculty position, one support maintenance position, and several wage positions to achieve the savings.  In addition, travel and other non-personal service costs will be reduced, and the agency will increase revenue by $ 53,000 NGF the first year and $ 18,000 NGF the second year by increasing enrollment and renting unused space to a college.

Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind and Multi-Disabled at Hampton

Governorís October Reductions.  Reduces funding by $ 400,438 GF the first year and $ 399,884 GF the second year and a total of 1.0 FTE in the biennium.  The school will provide therapy services, transportation, electrical and plumbing, and grounds maintenance using full-time staff instead of through contractual and wage employees.  The school will also reduce monthly telephone charges.

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General Assembly Session Statistics

 as of February 1, 2003


Bills and Resolutions introduced:




Approved by Governor

Vetoed by Governor














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Legislative Legend





House Bill 

Senate Bill

House Resolution

Senate Resolution

House Joint Resolution

Senate Joint Resolution



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Thanks to
Leslie Hutchinson Prince, Cheryl Heppner, and Gordon Landes for
some up-to-date reporting on some bills, resolutions, and budget amendments.

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