RD21 - Annual Report of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science
The Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS), a permanent legislative agency created in 1997 by the General Assembly, is charged with studying all aspects of technology and science, to promote the development of technology and science in the Commonwealth through sound public policy, and to report its findings annually to the Governor and the General Assembly (see Chapter 11 of Title 30 of the Code of Virginia, § 30-85 et seq.).
During the 2006 Interim, JCOTS, under the leadership of Delegate Joe T. May, chairman, made a few changes to its structure. Instead of convening four to five advisory committees that each reviewed several topics, JCOTS convened 10 single-topic advisory committees. The goal of this change was to improve advisory committee attendance, and to foster more focused discussion on the assigned topic.
• Nanotechnology Advisory Committee:
Chaired by Delegate Bob Purkey, the main focus of the group was the development of a white paper outlining the background and importance of nanotechnology in the Commonwealth. The paper will be distributed to all of the members of the General Assembly. The Advisory Committee also recommended the establishment of a "Nanotechnology Day" at the General Assembly, which will take place on January 24 and coincide with other technology events at the Capitol. Finally, the Advisory Committee made recommendations related to the establishment of a nanotechnology users network and increased research and development issues. For a complete list of nanotechnology recommendations, please visit the JCOTS website at http://jcots.state.va.us.
• Modeling & Simulation Advisory Committee:
Chaired by Delegate John Cosgrove, this Advisory Committee focused on the developing M&S industry in the Hampton Roads area. At the recommendation of the Advisory Committee, JCOTS sent a letter to the Virginia Economic Development Council to encourage it to continue to work to attract M&S business to the Commonwealth, and to highlight the Commonwealth's new Intellectual Property laws (see HB 134/SB 259). The Hampton Roads area has established a M&S steering committee, and JCOTS will monitor the work of that group in future years.
Chaired by Delegate John Cosgrove, this Advisory Committee reviewed two bills referred by the 2006 Session of the General Assembly: HB 254, addressing spyware, and HB 1354, addressing unsolicited text messages (spam) on cell phones. Based on discussions of HB 254, the Advisory Committee developed and recommended HB 2353 for the 2007 Session of the General Assembly. While the Advisory Committee did not recommended cell phone spam legislation, it did work on the technical language of the bill to provide guidance to other legislative members interested in pursuing this topic.
• Traffic Safety and Technology:
Chaired by Senator John Watkins, this Advisory Committee developed two recommendations. The first, SB 871, recommends the reinstatement of a traffic signal enforcement program ("photo-red."). The recommendation builds on past efforts, but includes enhanced privacy components, as well as procedures to ensure that photo-red is only placed in dangerous intersections and is not used as a revenue generator. The Committee also developed child-restraint legislation (SB 1060), based on testimony and discussion about the risks that air-bag technologies pose to infants and small children.
• Use of Social Security Numbers:
Chaired by Delegate Joe T. May, this Advisory Committee was convened to discuss HB 1510 that was referred to JCOTS by the 2006 Session of the General Assembly. Delegate Plum, patron of the bill, ultimately withdrew the bill from consideration. The Advisory Committee did not make any formal recommendations, other than noting the need to continue to examine privacy issued raised by technology.
Chaired by Senator William Wampler and Delegate Ken Plum, the Telework Advisory Committee focused much of its discussion on issues related to broadband deployment, which is essential to allow for effective teleworking. Other topics, such as the need for a shift in management focus for an effective telework program, and economic development opportunities presented by telework, were discussed. The Advisory Committee did not make any formal recommendations, other than the need to continue to focus on telework and broadband issues in the Commonwealth.
• Electronic Medical Records:
Chaired by Delegate Sam Nixon, this Advisory Committee focused on the need for interoperability as the push to develop an electronic health record continues. The Advisory Committee recommended HB 2198, which would require a state agency that procures a system that relates to or utilizes electronic medical records to ensure that the system adheres to commonly accepted standards or is certified by a recognized certification body.
• State of E-Government:
Chaired by Delegate Tom Rust, the Advisory Committee discussed topics such as standardization of state websites, the need for increased focus on security, and the difference between privacy and security when addressing government data. The Advisory Committee developed a policy statement about privacy and security, available on the JCOTS website, and encouraged continued discussion of these topics.
• Electronic Balloting:
Chaired by Senator Janet Howell, this Advisory Committee was convened to discuss the pilot program proposed by HB 1243 for the use of a voter-verified paper record in electronic voting systems. HB 1243 was referred to JCOTS by the 2006 Session of the General Assembly for study. The Advisory Committee did not ultimately recommend the pilot program or the adoption of a voter-verified paper record, although the members of the Advisory Committee were divided over this issue. Those that did not favor the adoption of the paper record were concerned about the technology, and whether it would present a new host of problems and issues into the voting process. The Committee did develop and recommend SB 1226, which provides for increased security measures for electronic voting in the Commonwealth.
• Real ID Act:
Chaired by Delegate Kenneth Alexander, this Advisory Committee was convened to examine the technology implications of the Real ID Act. However, as the federal government has been much delayed in issuing regulations for the Real ID Act, the new requirements remain unknown and no substantive discussion about the technology could take place. Delegate Alexander urged the Department of Motor Vehicles to keep JCOTS and the General Assembly apprised of Real ID developments when regulations become available.
In 2006, JCOTS also launched a redesigned website. The redesign sought to provide a more user-friendly interface for members of the General Assembly, advisory committee participants, and interested members of the public with easier access to meeting materials, calendars, and other background materials.
A more detailed report of the 2006 work of JCOTS will be forthcoming.