HD105 - Report of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science

Executive Summary:
To continue the work begun by the Task Force on Science and Technology established under House Joint Resolution 390 (1993), the 1996 General Assembly adopted House Joint Resolution 195, which created a joint legislative subcommittee to study science and technology. The subcommittee reported to the Governor and the 1997 General Assembly in House Document No. 81 (1997). The creation of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science ("Commission") was included among the recommendations of the subcommittee. Created by the 1997 General Assembly through House Bill 2138, the Commission is a permanent legislative commission charged to study all aspects of technology and science and to promote the development of technology and science in the Commonwealth of Virginia through sound public policies. (See Chapter 11 (§ 30-85 et seq.) of Title 30 of the Code of Virginia.) The Commission consists of nine legislators (five delegates and four senators); submitted its first report to the Governor and the 1998 General Assembly in House Document No. 89 (1998); and maintains a website at http://jcots.state.va.us. (*1)

At its meeting on April 7, 1999, the Commission adopted its 1999-2000 work plan. (See Appendix 1.) The work plan identified five issues for study through the establishment and work of advisory committees, co-chaired by the Commission members: Education (Delegate Plum and Senator Howell, co-chairs); Economic Development (Delegate Bennett and Delegate Purkey, co-chairs); Electronic Government (Senator Ticer, chair); Law Enforcement (Senator Newman and Senator Schrock, co-chairs), and Selected Topics in Law and Technology (Delegate Diamonstein and Delegate May, co-chairs). Of these topics, the advisory committee on Selected Topics in Law and Technology exclusively focused on the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act.

During the period from November 1999 to January 2000, advisory committees met several times to study the topics assigned to them. During the Commission's meeting on January 7, 2000, advisory committees presented their final reports and recommendations, including legislative drafts that would implement these recommendations if enacted. During this meeting, Commission staff presented additional miscellaneous legislative proposals for the Commission to consider. These additional legislative proposals arose from testimonies and presentations made at past Commission meetings and from past Commission activities.

On January 12, 2000, the Commission met to consider the proposed legislation. All legislative proposals were approved by the Commission to be recommended to the Governor and the General Assembly and to have the legislative drafts be introduced by the Commission members. These recommendations are discussed in Part II of this report. All legislative proposals were approved by unanimous voice votes except for the legislative draft of the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UClTA). The legislative draft of the UClTA was approved on 7-to-2 vote with Delegate Bennett and Senator Newman voting against its introduction as a Commission recommended bill.

Thus, after the January 12, 2000, meeting, the Commission submitted the Interim Report and Legislative Recommendations of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (HD 82, 2000), and the Commission members introduced 15 bills and nine resolutions. The Interim Report contains legislative recommendations as well as the study reports in the following subjects: (i) Educational Technology (Advisory Committee One), (ii) Economic Development (Advisory Committee Two), (iii) Electronic Government (Advisory Committee Three), (iv) the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (Advisory Committee Five), and (v) miscellaneous legislation which arose from past Commission activities and presentations made to the Commission. Of the 15 Commission-recommended bills, seven bills were enacted into law, seven bills were continued to 2001 Session, and one bill failed. Of the nine Commission-recommended joint resolutions, six resolutions were agreed to by both houses, one resolution was incorporated into another resolution that was agreed to, a study resolution was passed by indefinitely but will be forwarded with a study request letter from the Speaker of the House, and one resolution failed. (See Part II)
(*1) The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or the web address of the Commission's website has been changed from its original address of http://legis.state.va.us/jcots/jcots.htm to http://jcots.state.va.us. This change was made to provide easier access to numerous materials available on the Commission's website.