Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope that you will be able to attend my Town Hall meeting this Saturday, January 29th from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. in the City of Fairfax Council Chamber. Senator Petersen and I will give a short presentation on the major issues in Richmond and then look forward to lots of good discussion. Also, it is not too late to participate in my 2011 Constituent Survey.
The second full week of the General Assembly is traditionally the busiest - and this year is no exception. With almost 1,400 bills introduced in the House alone, the day is filled with almost non-stop committee meetings. Each of us is also busy presenting our own legislative initiatives. On Thursday alone I had six bills before various committees and subcommittees. So far the score is three bills passed through the full House, three bills passed through committees, four bills killed in committee, and six bills still up for debate.
In addition to the bills that I am carrying this year, I have been involved in a number of other measures. Here are just a few notes and highlights from this week:
Data Breach Notification for Medical Records - HB 2315, which passed the House on Friday, requires private entities (in addition to government agencies) to provide notice of a data breach involving medical information. Protecting our families from identity theft has long been a passion of mine. In 2008, I co-patroned successful legislation to require government agencies and businesses to notify an individual in the case of a data breach involving personal identifying information. However, that measure did not apply to medical records. This bill ensures that a patient is adequately notified if his or her medical information is compromised.
Fertilizer Regulation and Water Quality - As you may be aware, the U.S. EPA is requiring Virginia to implement a tough new plan to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay. This plan will include stringent requirements for new development and will require areas like ours to actually go back and retrofit existing development with water quality controls. A main culprit of pollution in the Bay is improperly applied urban lawn fertilizer. Fortunately, it is a source that can be controlled with some common-sense management techniques, including not applying fertilizer when the ground is frozen, reducing or eliminating phosphorus in fertilizer, and requiring large users of fertilizer (including golf courses) to develop fertilizer management plans. Right now, the details are being worked out by a coalition involving the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Home Builders Association of Virginia, Farm Bureau, and Commercial Real Estate Development Association. The final bill, HB 1831, will likely come to the House floor next week.
Protecting Families from Retained Asset Accounts - Over the summer, an article was forwarded to me by a constituent entitled "A Soldier Dies, an Insurer Profits." At issue is a practice called a retained asset account, where an insurance company will offer the beneficiary of a life insurance policy the option of a "check book" rather than a lump-sum payout. The rub is that the money goes into the company's general corporate account where it earns interest for the company, and not the beneficiary. Even more disturbing is that the funds are not insured by the FDIC. While this practice has mostly affected grieving military spouses and their families, it can happen to anyone. HB 1458, of which I am a co-patron, requires the written consent of a beneficiary before using a retained asset account as a mode of settlement and ensures that the risks of such accounts are provided in an explicit and upfront manner. I am pleased that this measure passed the House on Friday.
Hope to see you this Saturday! Stay tuned for more updates next week.