Virginia Code Commission
July 24, 2000, Richmond
The Code Commission met to review and discuss issues pertaining to the Virginia Administrative Code and the Virginia Register of Regulations and to receive recommendations from staff on the organizational plans for the revision of Titles 3.1 and 56.
Contract renewal language for the publication of the Virginia Administrative Code was discussed. The present contract with West Group expires on December 31, 2000; however, in June, the commission voted to exercise its option to renew the contract for four more years. Discussions will continue with the publisher at the next meeting.
The commission decided to replace Volumes 13 and 15 of the Virginia Administrative Code in Spring 2001. Volume 13, consisting of Title 13 (Housing) and Title 14 (Insurance), will be split into two separate volumes. If left as one volume, West Group estimates that the replacement for Volume 13 would be about the same size as the existing main volume, with room in the supplement for only about 320 pages of text. Splitting Volume 13 into two volumes will leave ample room for supplements in each of the two new volumes.
Volume 15 (Title 18, Professional and Occupational Licensing) is the third largest main volume in the set after Volumes 13 and 17. Volume 15 is recommended for replacement because its supplement has become large and unwieldy.
Staff reported that the subscription fee of $100 for the Virginia Register has not increased since 1990. The cost of individual copies has remained at $4.00 since 1984, when the Register was created. Significant drops in subscriptions have occurred since the Virginia Administrative Code and Virginia Register were placed on the Internet in 1996 and 1998, respectively. The most significant drops were in 1998 and 2000, when the Register experienced a percentage decrease in revenues of 12.8 and 17.5, respectively. In comparison to a sampling of other states that publish either biweekly or semi-monthly Registers, Virginia has the fifth largest Register in pages per issue, but has the third lowest annual subscription rate. The commission approved staff's request to increase the cost of the annual subscription to the Register to $125 and of individual issues to $5.00.
Title 3.1 Revision
Staff presented an outline for proposed Title 3.2 that reflected staff recommendations to divide Title 3.2 into five subtitles: Subtitle I--General Provisions; Protection and Promotion of Agriculture; Subtitle II--Boards, Councils and Foundations; Subtitle III--Production and Sale of Agricultural Products; Subtitle IV--Food and Drink; Weights and Measures; and Subtitle V--Animal Laws. Though the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has responsibilities under consumer protection provisions of Title 59.1, there are no plans to move those provisions to Title 3.2. However, a cross-reference to Title 59.1 will be placed in the section describing the department's duties. The commission plans to begin its review of proposed Title 3.2 with Subtitle II to give interested groups ample time to review and comment.
Title 56 Revision
Initial meetings have been held with State Corporation Commission (SCC) staff for input on the proposed organization of Title 56.1 and the process for obtaining input from the applicable SCC divisions. The SCC will identify provisions believed to be obsolete, point out any discrepancies or conflicts between sections, and look at the general organization of the title. In addition to working with the SCC, staff has sent letters to various interest groups notifying them that the recodifying process is underway and asking for written comments. A first draft should be completed by December, and the exposure draft will be distributed at that time.
Proposed Title 56.1 would consist of three subtitles: Subtitle I--General Provisions Relating to Utility Service; Subtitle II--Provisions Relating to Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Water and Sewer Services; and Subtitle III--Railroads and Transportation Services. Staff suggested changing the title name to "Provision of Utility Services," which emphasizes that it is the provision of the services (gas, electric, rail, etc.) that is subject to regulation by the SCC.
After discussion of several policy issues, the commission decided to (i) move towards transferring the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995 to Title 33.1 since the act does not deal with public service companies subject to SCC regulation; (ii) set out the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Regulation Compact in full in the Code of Virginia; and (iii) move the SCC rate-setting provisions for branch pilots from Title 54.1 to proposed Title 56.1.