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Focus on Fairfax Newsletter of Delegate David Bulova
March 2008

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It is great to be back in Fairfax! After finally adopting a new budget, the General Assembly adjourned last Thursday evening around 11:15 p.m. Some very tough decisions were made, but on the whole the budget does a relatively good job of protecting core services such as funding for public education while making progress in long neglected areas such as mental health services.

And then, in a scene that could have been right out of the movie "Groundhog Day," we immediately went into Special Session. The ceremonial mace came back in the room and we all took our seats again. Despite progress on the budget, the General Assembly left several major issues on the table -- not the least of which is how to deal with transportation in the wake of the Supreme Court decision invalidating the fees and taxes imposed by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. In addition, the General Assembly needs to act on a proposed higher education construction bond package and appointments to over 30 judgeships. On April 23rd we will re-assemble in Richmond to take up these important issues.

In this issue of "Focus of Fairfax," I wanted to highlight a significant legislative accomplishment that didn't get much publicity -- protecting individuals from identity theft. Identity theft can devastate a person's credit history and can take many painful years to resolve. I am proud to say that the General Assembly took two important steps to better protect consumers.

Data Breach Notification: Many of you will recall several incidents at the federal level where computers with sensitive personal information were lost or stolen. After those incidents, I wrote to our Secretary of Technology, Aneesh Chopra, asking what policies Virginia had in place to alert people if their information was ever stolen. To my surprise, there was no State-wide policy. In response, I worked with Secretary Chopra's office to introduce a bill in 2007 to require Virginia to notify anyone affected by a breach of government data. The legislation was tabled with a promise that the Joint Commission on Technology and Science was looking at legislation that would include both the public and private sectors.

Being a skeptic, I re-introduced the legislation this year (HB390). I was delighted, however, that not only did other legislators introduce bills identical to mine, but that legislation was indeed introduced that applies to both government and businesses. My bill was rolled into this larger bill (HB1469), which has now been signed by the Governor.

Freezing Access to Credit Reports: Credit reports, which are loaded with sensitive personal information, can be a nice convenience until the information is appropriated by the wrong person. By enabling a person to place a "freeze" on access to this information, it is possible to prevent someone else from applying for credit in their name. The freeze lasts until it is "thawed" by the consumer.

Virginia was a little behind the curve on this one, with over 30 other states already having adopted credit freeze legislation. Part of the consternation by the business community was that it takes several days to thaw a security freeze (meaning some potentially awkward moments if you are in the process of trying to open a credit card or finance an automobile and forgot to unfreeze your credit report). This year, partly due to public pressure and partly due to new technology that makes the thawing process quicker, Virginia finally adopted this very important consumer protection tool. Note that a fee of up to $10 may be charged for establishing a freeze (which is probably worth the investment), except that identity theft victims are not required to pay.

While I am pleased with these two advances in protecting our citizens from identity theft, much work remains to be done. Sensitive personal information can still be obtained all too easily, including from publicly available land records and divorce proceedings. A few years ago, the General Assembly passed a law requiring that sensitive information be redacted (blacked out) before July 2010. However, this was predicated on the availability of State funding, at a cost of about $8 million. To-date, the funding has not materialized -- leaving a major hole in our efforts to protect people from identity theft. Securing funding for this effort will be a priority of mine for the future.

For more information on how to help prevent identity theft, or what to do if you are the victim of identity theft, visit Virginia's Office of the Attorney General at

Now that I have returned from Session, I look forward to attending community association meetings and other public forums. Please feel free to call if you would like me to join your next event to discuss this year's legislative issues.


David Bulova

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Delegate David Bulova

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Fairfax, VA 22031
(703) 310-6752
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Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 698-1037
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