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New Health & Human Resources and Technology Measures Take Effect Thursday

Press Release

Location: Richmond, VA

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell today highlighted several pieces of Health and Human Resources and Technology legislation that will take effect on July 1st. This includes legislation dramatically expanding telemedicine coverage for Virginians, as well as the Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act which sets as the policy of the Commonwealth that no individual, with several specific exceptions, can be required to purchase health insurance coverage. In addition, the Governor highlighted bills that expand the use of technology for economic development and integrating technology in education. In March, Governor McDonnell worked in a bipartisan fashion to develop comprehensive legislation to restructure and provide more transparency and accountability within the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA). This successful legislation gave the Governor's Office, through the Secretary of Technology, direct management control of VITA; the emergency legislation took effect on March 11th.

Speaking about the health and human services bills that will become law on Thursday, Governor McDonnell said, "Expanded telemedicine coverage for Virginians will make certain that health insurers will cover and reimburse patients for healthcare services provided through telemedicine. In these tough economic times, utilizing technology like telemedicine to properly diagnose and treat patients, regardless of location, will not only save dollars, it will also save lives."

Governor McDonnell continued, "Virginians deserve high quality healthcare at a low, affordable cost. The Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act ensures Virginias autonomy for its citizens to make the best decisions when it comes to their healthcare insurance. Working together, like we did to pass the Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act, we can find fiscally responsible ways to reform healthcare in a way that won't unsustainably grow the national debt."

Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Hazel remarked, "The Governor understands the need for personalized healthcare options and preventative wellness, as well as using technology to further the level of care patients receive. Working together with members of the General Assembly, we can find bipartisan solutions to protect jobs as well as access to quality healthcare at a price that Virginians can afford."

Senator Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk), chief sponsor of SB 652, made the following comments, "I am very pleased that this bill is becoming law, and would like to thank the Governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly for their support. Informing young athletes, as well as their parents and coaches, about the dangers of head injuries, and ensuring that these children are allowed to recover after sustaining concussions is critical to their cognitive development and long term brain health."

Speaking about further integrating technology in economic development and education opportunities, Governor McDonnell noted, "Virginia continues to be at the cutting edge in the utilization of new and exciting technological offerings and its application within state government. These new laws will expand citizen participation and expertise on the Aerospace Advisory Council and will strengthen the development of innovative strategies to promote the development and growth of the emerging aerospace sector in the Commonwealth. In addition, Virginia now has legislation that will foster greater use of technology in our classrooms by allowing the purchase of electronic-textbooks so that children will have the opportunity to learn with the latest technology while saving their parents money. Our ongoing commitment to leveraging technology is instrumental to maintaining and growing Virginia's competitive edge in the global economy."

Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton noted, "The Governor and I remain committed to expanding Wallops Island to be the largest commercial spaceport in the country. In doing so, we'll be able to raise new revenue, increase tourism to Virginia, create new high-quality, high-paying jobs, and attract more space exploration research and development."

Senator John Watkins (R-Powhatan), made the following comments about legislation he sponsored, "The Open Education Curriculum Board will allow the state to maximize the tremendous instructional talent that exists within the Commonwealth. Teachers, students, and parents, who have the ability to put together software programs and SOLS in digitized forms, will be able to do so in conjunction with today's technology for more efficient and effective teaching and instruction in classrooms and K-12 education programs."

Health & Human Resources bills taking effect on July 1st:

HB 10 (Marshall)/ SB 283 (Quayle)/ SB 311 (Martin)/ SB 417 (Vogel)- Individual health insurance coverage; requirement to obtain

* Provides that a resident of the Commonwealth shall not be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage except as required by a court or the Department of Social Services where the individual is named a party in a judicial or administrative proceeding.
* This applies regardless of whether the person has or is eligible for health insurance coverage under any policy or program provided by or through his employer or a plan sponsored by the Commonwealth or the federal government

(*Note, all 4 bills are identical)

SB 652 (Northam) -- Public schools; policies in concussions

* Requires the Board of Education to develop and distribute to local school divisions by July 1, 2011, guidelines for policies dealing with concussions in student-athletes and requires each local school division to develop policies and procedures regarding the identification and handling of suspected concussions in student-athletes.

SB 675 (Wampler) -- Health insurance; mandated coverage for telemedicine services.

* Requires health insurers, health care subscription plans, and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for the cost of such health care services provided through telemedicine services.

HB 411 (Oder)-Shaken baby syndrome; distribution of information

* Requires the Department of Social Services to make information about shaken baby syndrome, its effects, and resources for help and support for caretakers available in a printable format, and information about how to acquire such information in an audiovisual format, available on a website maintained by the Department, and to inform every child welfare program licensed by the Department about the available information.
* This bill also provides that information and training about shaken baby syndrome shall be made available to foster and adoptive parents, and staff of child day programs and children's residential facilities.

SB 410 (Vogel)/ HB 514 (Rust) -- Long-term services; SHHR to develop blueprint for livable communities for people with disabilities

* Provides for the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to coordinate the development of a blueprint for livable communities and long-term services and supports for older Virginians and people with disabilities.
* In addition, the bill amends provisions relating to the development by the Department for the Aging of a four-year plan for aging services.

SB 731 (Reynolds)/ HB 1304 (Nutter) -- Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority; created

* Creates the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority to take over the duties of the Statewide Area Health Education Centers Program. The mission of the Authority is to facilitate the development of a statewide health professions pipeline that identifies, educates, recruits, and retains a diverse, appropriately geographically distributed and culturally competent quality workforce.

HB 1099 (Sickles) -- Autism Spectrum Disorders; expand employment programs for individuals therewith

* Requires the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, in coordination with the Department of Rehabilitative Services and local community services boards and behavioral health authorities, to establish specific goals for programs to assist individuals with autism spectrum disorders to obtain and sustain employment.

Technology bills taking effect on July 1st:

HB388 (Janis) -- Register Act; final regulations must be accompanied by statement in original or electric form

* Provides that final regulations filed with the Virginia Registrar must be accompanied by a statement or certification, either in original or electronic form, that the regulations are full, true, and correctly dated. Currently, such regulations must be accompanied by a signed statement or certification

HB518 (Rust) - Freedom of Information Act; public body shall remain responsible for retrieving public records, etc.

* Provides that in the event a public body transferred possession of public records for storage, maintenance or archiving, the public body initiating the transfer shall remain the custodian of the records for the purpose of responding to FOIA requests.
* The bill also adds a definition of "criminal investigative file" and clarifies what records are exempt from FOIA as so defined. The bill provides that undercover operations and protective detail records as well as records of background and internal affairs investigations held by any state or local law-enforcement agencies are exempt from the mandatory disclosure provisions of FOIA.

SB23 (Locke)/ HB676 (May) - Aerospace Advisory Council

* Removes the sunset on the Aerospace Advisory Council and adds five non- legislative citizen members to the Council. In addition to advising the Governor, the Council shall advise the Joint Commission on Technology and Science, and the Secretaries of Technology, Commerce and Trade, and Education, on policy and funding priorities with respect to aerospace development, workforce training, and educational programs and curriculum.
* Staffing for the Council is provided by the Department of Aviation, with the Division of Legislative Services providing additional staff support to legislative members serving on the Council. Non-legislative citizen members serve without compensation

HB677 (May) - Specialized Biotechnology Research Performance Grant Program; established

* Establishes the Specialized Biotechnology Research Performance Grant Program for nonprofit entities engaged in research, development, and production related to molecular diagnostics and drug development that enter into a performance-based memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth prior to June 30, 2010.
* Grants would be paid to an eligible entity based in Fairfax County that commits in the memorandum of understanding and fulfills its obligation to (i) make a new capital investment of at least $200 million, (ii) create at least 415 new full-time jobs, and (iii) meet any other criteria set forth in the memorandum of understanding. Grants from the program to a qualified entity shall not exceed $22 million in the aggregate

HB678 (May) - Innovation & Entrepreneurship Investment Authority & Commonwealth Research & Commercialization Fund

* Updates obsolete references to the predecessors of the IEIA and the CRCF

HB709 (Peace) - Electronic textbooks; allows for purchase of printed textbooks, etc., for public schools

* Requires contracts and purchase orders with publishers of textbooks approved by the Board of Education for use in grades 6 - 12 to allow for the purchase of printed textbooks, printed textbooks with electronic files, or electronic textbooks separate and apart from printed versions of the same textbook.
* In addition, allows each school board to purchase an assortment of textbooks in any of the three forms listed above

SB189 (Northam)/ HB21 (Kilgore) - Space flight liability and immunity; repeals sunset provision

* Repeals the July 1, 2013, expiration date on the act establishing space flight liability and immunity

SB241 (Watkins) - Open Education Curriculum Board; established

* The purpose of the Board is to designate qualifying entities as Open Education Consortiums and set the standards for submission of education materials and subsequent licensing of educational curriculum developed by the Consortiums.
* Materials submitted to a Consortium may be edited in any manner and released under a Creative Commons license or licensed for use as a commercial product, subject to restrictions developed by the Board.
* Consortiums may offer incentives to encourage individuals to submit educational materials to the Consortium

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