The following bills include legislation from this past session and other new laws going into effect on July 1st.
Spoofing Calls Penalty
HB 2170 False caller identification information; penalty. Makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor for any person who, with the intent to defraud, intimidate, or harass, causes a telephone to ring and engages in conduct that results in the display of false caller identification information on the called party’s telephone. The bill raises the penalty to a Class 2 misdemeanor for a second or subsequent conviction. The bill does not apply to the blocking of caller identification information, to law-enforcement agencies and officers, to intelligence or security agencies of the federal government and their employees, or to telecommunications, broadband, or Voice-over-Internet protocol service providers in certain circumstances.
No Tolls on Our Parkways
HB 2527 Tolling; Planning District 8. Prohibits the imposition and collection of tolls on any primary highway that is wholly located in Planning District 8 and that was previously classified as a secondary highway and is between 30 and 35 miles in length without prior approval by the General Assembly.
Protecting Our Firefighters
HB 1804 Workers’ compensation; presumption of compensability for certain diseases. Adds cancers of the colon, brain, or testes to the list of cancers that are presumed to be an occupational disease covered by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act when firefighters and certain employees develop the cancer. The measure will become effective if reenacted by the 2020 Session of the General Assembly. The measure also directs the 2020 Session of the General Assembly, in considering and enacting any legislation relating to workers’ compensation and the presumption of compensability for certain cancers, to consider any research, findings, and recommendations from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s review of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation program. The provisions of this bill do not become effective unless reenacted by the 2020 Session of the General Assembly. This bill is identical to SB 1030.
HB 2515 Health insurance; payments made on behalf of enrollee. Requires any carrier issuing a health plan in the Commonwealth to count any payments made by another person on the enrollee’s behalf, as well as payments made by the enrollee, when calculating the enrollee’s overall contribution to any out-of-pocket maximum or any cost-sharing requirement under the carrier’s health plan. This bill is identical to SB 1596.
Surprise Medical Billing
HB 2538 Balance billing; elective services. Requires a facility where a covered person receives scheduled elective services to post the required notice or inform the covered person of the required notice at the time of pre-admission or pre-registration. The bill also requires such a facility to inform the covered person or his legal representative of the names of all provider groups providing health care services at the facility, that consultation with the covered person’s managed care plan is recommended to determine if the provider groups providing health care services at the facility are in-network providers, and that the covered person may be financially responsible for health care services performed by a provider that is not an in-network provider, in addition to any cost-sharing requirements.
SB 1768 Use of handheld personal communications devices; highway work zones; penalty. Prohibits any person from holding a handheld personal communications device in his hand while driving a motor vehicle in a highway work zone, with certain exceptions. The bill provides that a violation is punishable by a mandatory fine of $250. Current law prohibits only the reading of an email or text message on the device and manually entering letters or text in the device as a means of communicating, with the same exceptions.
College Tuition Hearings
HB 2173 Public institutions of higher education; tuition and fee increases; public comment. Requires the governing board of each public institution of higher education, prior to a vote on an increase in undergraduate tuition or mandatory fees, to permit public comment on the proposed increase at a meeting of the governing board. The bill requires each such governing board to establish policies for such public comment, which may include reasonable time limitations. This bill is identical to SB 1118.lors
More Student Time for School Counselors
HB 1997 Public elementary and secondary school students; protective orders; notification. Requires any school principal who receives notice that a circuit court, general district court, juvenile and domestic relations court, or magistrate has issued a protective order for the protection of a child who is enrolled at a public elementary or secondary school where such principal is employed, or any other order prohibiting contact with such a child, including an order issued as a condition of pretrial or posttrial supervision, to subsequently notify certain school personnel that such order has been issued. The bill also requires the Board of Education to establish guidelines and develop model policies to aid school boards in the implementation of such notification.
Net Metering Initiatives
HB 2547 Electric utilities; net energy metering. Establishes requirements for net energy metering by electric cooperatives effective upon the earlier of July 1, 2019, or the effective date of implementing regulations by the State Corporation Commission. Instances where the new net energy metering program’s requirements differ from those of the existing program include (i) the cap on the capacity of generating facilities, which will initially be two percent of system peak for residential customers, two percent of system peak for not-for-profit and nonjurisdictional customers, and one percent of system peak for other nonresidential customers; (ii) authorizing an electric cooperative to raise these caps up to a cumulative total of seven percent of its system peak; (iii) legalizing third-party partial requirements power purchase agreements for those retail customers and nonjurisdictional customers of an electric cooperative that are exempt from federal income taxation; and (iv) establishing registration requirements for third-party partial requirements power purchase agreements, including a self-certification system under which a provider is required to affirm certain information to Commission staff, under penalty of revocation of its registration. The measure authorizes the board of directors of an electric cooperative to adjust its rates, terms, conditions, and rate schedules governing net energy metering and prohibits a cooperative after the date of such an adjustment from collecting stand-by charges. The measure authorizes an electric cooperative to adopt a new rate schedule or rider containing demand charges based upon a net energy metering customer’s noncoincident peak demand and provides for alternative caps on its net energy metering program. The measure authorizes a cooperative’s fixed monthly charge covering the fixed costs of owning and operating its electric distribution system as an alternative to volumetric charges associated with demand and to rebalance among any of the fixed monthly charge, distribution demand, and distribution energy charges. The measure authorizes an investor-owned utility participating in the pilot program for community solar development to move the Commission to make its pilot program permanent. The measure also requires Dominion Power to (a) convene a stakeholder process, using an independent facilitator, to make recommendations to the utility concerning issues related to the implementation of advanced metering technology and related investments in customer information systems; (b) submit to the Commission for approval retail rate schedules designed to offer time-varying pricing; and (c) submit to the Commission for approval an incentive program for the installation of solar equipment for customers served under time-varying retail rate schedules that have advanced-metering technology equipment.