RD86 - Annual Report of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (2010)
Created by the 1997 Session of the General Assembly by House Bill 2138, JCOTS is a permanent legislative commission charged to study all aspects of technology and science, to promote the development of technology and science in the Commonwealth through sound public policies, and to report its findings annually to the Governor and General Assembly.
JCOTS began its 2010 work by re-electing Delegate Joe T. May as chair, and Senator Mamie E. Locke as vice-chair. JCOTS' 2010 work plan created five advisory committees through which to conduct its interim studies: Electronic Privacy, Computer Crimes Definitions, Intellectual Property, Intelligent Transportation Systems, and Energy. Each advisory committee consisted of members of the legislature, state and local government representatives, private sector representatives, and other interested citizens. The Advisory Committees submitted their recommendations to JCOTS for consideration at the December 2010 meeting.
The Electronic Privacy Advisory Committee, chaired by Delegate Joe T. May, was assigned review of HB 670 (May) and SB 599 (Vogel), identical bills that would prohibit the installation of electronic tracking devices on motor vehicles without the owner's consent. The Committee was also tasked with surveying the state of the law of privacy in Virginia, as time permitted.
The Advisory Committee met three times during the Interim, spending each meeting reviewing and discussing the issues raised by HB 670/SB 599. The Advisory Committee developed legislation concerning the placement of electronic tracking devices on motor vehicles through "intentionally deceptive means" that was recommended to and adopted by JCOTS. Delegate May and Senator Vogel introduced this legislation in the 2011 Session of the General Assembly as HB 2032 and SB 1251, respectively.
Computer Crimes Definitions
The Computer Crimes Definitions Advisory Committee, chaired by Senator Janet D. Howell, was assigned review of HB 920 (Bell, R.B.). HB 920 would have amended the definition of "computer" in the Virginia Computer Crimes Act to include cellular telephones and other wireless telecommunications devices.
The Advisory Committee met twice during the Interim. The Advisory Committee learned that the intent of the bill was to ensure that harassing text messages could be prosecuted in a similar manner as harassing phone calls. After discussing the unintended consequences of amending the definition of "computer," and looking at other alternatives to accomplish the same goal, the Advisory Committee developed legislation that would amend existing § 18.2-427 related to harassing phone calls. The recommendation was adopted by JCOTS, and Delegate Bell introduced the legislation in the 2011 Session of the General Assembly as HB 2059.
The Intellectual Property Advisory Committee, chaired by Senator John C. Watkins, was assigned review of HB 716 (Peace) and SB 242 (Watkins) regarding ownership of intellectual property created by state employees. These bills were the continuation of work done over the past few years regarding open education and intellectual property issues. The Advisory Committee met twice, but did not make any legislative recommendations. Pursuant to legislation adopted by the 2009 Session of the General Assembly, the Secretary of Administration was tasked with developing guidelines concerning the ownership of intellectual property. Because these guidelines are not yet complete, the Advisory Committee deemed it premature to make further recommendations. Senator Watkins requested that JCOTS continue to monitor this issue during the 2011 Interim.
Intelligent Transportation Systems
The Intelligent Transportation Systems Advisory Committee, chaired by Delegate Tom D. Rust, was tasked with exploring the ways that intelligent transportation technologies can be used to improve transportation safety and efficiency in the Commonwealth. The Advisory Committee was only able to meet once during the Interim, and did not make any legislative recommendations. However, it was recommended that the Advisory Committee be continued in the 2011 Interim.
The Energy Advisory Committee, chaired by Delegate John A. Cosgrove, was tasked with studying clean and renewable energy sources. The Advisory Committee was only able to meet once during the Interim. Additional meetings were cancelled due to snow. The Advisory Committee did not make any legislative recommendation. However, it was recommended that the Advisory Committee be continued in the 2011 Interim.