RD132 - Annual Report of the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (2017)

    Executive Summary:

    The Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS), a permanent legislative study commission created in 1997, continued its work during the 2017 interim to "study all aspects of technology and science and to endeavor to stimulate, encourage, promote, and assist in the development of technology and science in the Commonwealth and sound public policies related thereto" (§ 30-85 of the Code of Virginia).

    JCOTS considered a variety of issues during the 2017 interim, as described below:

    Aerospace and aviation: House Joint Resolution 97 and Senate Joint Resolution 97, both adopted by the 2016 Session of the General Assembly, directed JCOTS to undertake an in-depth and multi-faceted study of the aerospace and aviation industry in the Commonwealth. JCOTS continued the work begun in 2016 with a working group focused on the educational resources available to students wishing to study aviation and aerospace topics and ultimately enter the workforces of those industries.

    The work group convened representatives from various educational organizations that provide opportunities to K-12, post-high school, and college-age students. After a meeting in which JCOTS members were briefed on the growing shortage of aviation and aerospace workers, the working group continued to meet to devise a number of recommendations that were ultimately given to the full committee at the December meeting. These recommendations included (1) creating an online information portal for aerospace education and workforce development programs and events; (2) expanding recognized, statewide, best practice, free-to-participant programs at the Virginia Space Grant Consortium; (3) removing hindrances to teacher certification to teach aerospace and aviation courses in order to assure educational and vocational resources are available; and (4) reviewing and recommending updates to SOLs to prevent barring classroom introduction of aviation, aerospace, and other STEM-related curricula.

    Cell phones: House bill 2459 (Marshall, R. G.) was referred to JCOTS for further study by the House Committee for Courts of Justice. The bill would have prevented any minor from buying a wifi-capable device that can be used for taking pictures at any retail establishment without parental approval. A working group was convened to attempt to fix problems with the language of the bill. Ultimately, the working group found that because of the extremely wide variety of such devices, there was no way to limit the scope of the bill to only the intended parties without creating undue burdens on businesses and minors. The working group did not make any formal recommendations to the full committee.

    Online authentication of official documents: During the December 2017 full commission meeting, Delegate Glenn Davis introduced Chris Jackson of Paradigm, Inc., a company that validates official documents with tamper-proof pdfs. The technology allows employers, school officials, and other interested parties to use the official website of the document issuer to validate a document using a unique code assigned to it. As a result of this work, Delegate Davis introduced HB 589, which authorizes a public institution of higher education or private institution of higher education to provide any diploma or other proof of education to requesting individuals or entities using the method that it deems most appropriate, in either electronic or paper form. HB 589 was not an official recommendation of JCOTS.

    In addition to this work, JCOTS received updates on the Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Businesses Act, the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company, which does work in Virginia Beach training military pilots, and the newly completed transatlantic cable network that connects Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain.

    Additional, detailed information about the work of JCOTS and its advisory committees, along with copies of meeting materials and proposed legislation, is available on the JCOTS website at http://dls.virginia.gov/commission/jcots.htm. No further 2017 report is forthcoming.