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Summaries>2003>Trade and Commerce
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Trade and Commerce
Virginia Petroleum Products Franchise Act. Clarifies that the minimum distance of one and one-half miles between a refiner-operated service station and one operated by a franchised dealer is measured from the gas pump on the refiner's facility that is nearest a gas pump at the dealer's facility. The bill also changes the threshold for defining a "newly remodeled facility" to one that has a minimum cost of $560,000 until January 1, 2004, and thereafter a minimum cost of $560,000 plus an amount reflecting the annual rate of inflation based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. Finally, civil liability for violating the act is increased from liquidated damages of $2,500 to $10,000.
Patron - Albo
Extended Service Contract Act. Permits a third party extended service contract obligor to demonstrate proof of its financial security by showing that the obligor or its parent company has a net worth of at least $100 million.
Patron - Nixon
Enterprise zone designation period. Provides that if the designation of a state enterprise zone is scheduled to expire prior to the expiration date of a federal empowerment zone designation of the same area, the state designation expiration date shall be extended to conform to the expiration date of the federal designation. This bill is identical to Senate Bill 903.
Patron - Bloxom
Credit Services Businesses Act. Clarifies that the Virginia Credit Services Businesses Act does not apply to any person selling personal, family, or household goods to a consumer who, in connection with the seller's sale of its goods to the consumer, assists the consumer in obtaining a loan or extension of credit or extends credit to the consumer.
Patron - McQuigg
Virginia Racing Commission; acquisition of interest in licensee; new application required. Provides that if an applicant proposes to acquire actual control of a licensee such person shall submit such information as required by law and the Commission in its discretion. Such person may submit any other information to assure the Commission that the licensee, under the actual control of such person, the licensee will have the experience, expertise, financial responsibility, and commitment to be and remain in compliance with horse racing laws, the Commission's regulations and orders, and the conditions required by the Commission for the issuance and continued operation of the owner's and operator's license or both such licenses. The bill requires the Commission to approve any such application under certain circumstances.
Patron - Suit
Motor vehicle glass. Prohibits any person selling, installing or replacing motor vehicle glass from advertising, promising to provide, or offering any coupon, credit or rebate to pay all or part of an insurance deductible under a motor vehicle insurance policy unless the person charges no more than the prevailing market rate for such services.
Patron - Hargrove
Overhead High Voltage Line Safety Act. Increases the minimum clearance distance from an overhead high voltage line within which a person is prohibited from performing work from six feet to 10 feet. The owner or operator of overhead high voltage lines is exempted from liability for damages resulting from work within 10 feet of overhead high voltage lines, unless the required notice has been given and such owner or operator does not provide required temporary safety arrangements. A person who violates the minimum clearance requirements and whose activities damage utility facilities or cause other injury or damage is required to indemnify the line's owner or operator against all claims including service interruptions and costs incurred in defending any claims. Except for the indemnification obligations imposed on persons who violate the minimum clearance requirements, this measure does not affect the exclusive remedy provisions of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act. Other provisions clarify the required contents of a notice required when a person intends to work in closer proximity to a power line than the statutory minimum clearance distance. Exemptions are established for (i) certain covered equipment used in agricultural or silvicultural activities and (ii) owners or leaseholders of real estate devoted to agricultural or silvicultural activities beneath a high voltage line, unless otherwise required by state or federal law.
Patron - McDonnell
Unsolicited facsimile transmissions. Makes the unsolicited transmission of advertising materials by facsimile a prohibited practice under the Consumer Protection Act. The bill eliminates the requirement that the unsolicited facsimile be advertising goods or services for sale or lease. Enforcement provisions under the Consumer Protection Act (i) permit the Attorney General to issue civil investigative demands and assurances of voluntary compliance, (ii) create an individual action for damages, and (iii) permit aggrieved parties or the Attorney General to seek injunctive relief to prevent further violations.
Patron - Nutter
Virginia Racing Commission; Live Horseracing Compact. Amends the Live Horseracing Compact to authorize the compact committee, which consists of officials from all states that are a party to the compact, to determine which categories of certain participants in live racing with pari-mutuel wagering where authorized in two or more states should be licensed by the committee. The bill also authorizes the Virginia Racing Commission to designate a representative to serve in the event the Commission member appointed to serve on the compact committee is unable to serve. Under the rules of the current compact, another member of the commission must be designated.
Patron - Suit
Enterprise zone designation period. Provides that if the designation of a state enterprise zone is scheduled to expire prior to the expiration date of a federal empowerment zone designation of the same area, the state designation expiration date shall be extended to conform to the expiration date of the federal designation. This bill is identical to HB 1988.
Patron - Quayle
Virginia Health Spa Act. Makes several technical and clarifying amendments to the Virginia Health Spa Act. The buyer may cancel a contract if the health spa relocates and fails to provide comparable alternate facilities within five driving miles of the original location. Refunds shall be calculated by dividing the contract price by the term of the contract in days, multiplying that number by the number of days the contract was in effect, and subtracting that amount from the total price paid on the contract. A health spa contract is considered terminated automatically if the health spa permanently closes and does not provide a comparable alternate facility. Health spas are also required to notify the buyer, either in the contract or in a separate notice, that the Office of Consumer Affairs regulates health spas.
Patron - Byrne
Purchase of service handgun. Provides that local police departments and sheriffs may allow auxiliary law-enforcement officers with more than 20 years of service to purchase their service handgun for a sum equivalent to or less than its fair market value.
Patron - Rerras
Virginia Racing Commission; powers; local referenda; prohibitions; criminal penalties. Authorizes the Commission to regulate and establish fees for account wagering. The bill also (i) removes the 2005 sunset on the Commission's authority to alter the required number of live-racing days and (ii) allows towns to conduct referenda on the question of whether pari-mutuel wagering should be allowed.
Patron - Stolle
Telecommuting Enhancement Act. Establishes the Telecommuting Enhancement Act prohibiting establishment of different standards between or among telecommuting worksites and traditional central worksites. Under the Act, no state law or regulation or local ordinance shall be construed to discriminate or create such a different standard. In the addition, the bill amends the Virginia Public Procurement Act to prohibit discrimination against a bidder or offeror in the solicitation, evaluation or awarding of contracts because such bidder or offeror allows its employees to telecommute. The Act has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2004. The bill also establishes a joint task force to identify the barriers and impediments to telecommuting and recommend changes to existing law to increase the opportunity for telecommuting in the Commonwealth.
Patron - Lingamfelter
Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Requires transferors of certain used motor vehicles to disclose certain facts concerning the vehicle to the transferee.
Patron - Marshall, D.W.
Equal access to public accommodations. Prohibits any person who owns or operates a place of public accommodation from restricting an individual from access or admission to the place of public accommodation or otherwise preventing the individual from using the place of public accommodation solely because the individual wears clothing that displays the name of a social or fraternal organization or association. The bill defines "public accommodation" as a business or other entity that offers to the general public food, shelter, recreation, or amusement, or any other goods, services, privilege, facility, or accommodation. The bill also permits individuals to sue to enjoin violations, recover damages in the amount of $500 per violation, or up to $1,500 for willful violations, and recover attorney's fees and court costs.
Patron - Stump
Virginia Antitrust Act; manipulation of electricity prices. Makes it an unlawful violation of the Virginia Antitrust Act for the operator of an electric power generation facility who generates electricity for sale to manipulate electricity prices by withholding power that has been committed to satisfy reserve requirements from the relevant market.
Patron - Woodrum
Insurance; use of social security number. Prohibits an insurer from using an insured's social security number as the insured's account number with the insurer, and from including the insured's social security number on any written or electronic correspondence, if the consumer has requested in writing that the supplier use a different number.
Patron - Dudley
Personal Goods Sales Act. Requires any person offering to sell or donate personal goods on behalf of the owner of such goods to enter into a written agreement prior to the sale that includes an inventory of the items to be sold or donated, the estimated value of those goods, and the means of compensating the seller for conducting the sale. Within 10 days of completion of the sale, the seller must provide the owner with the proceeds from the sale, an inventory of all goods sold or donated, the purchase price received for goods sold, the name and address of each recipient of a donation, the total proceeds received in the sale, and the amount of compensation taken by the seller.
Patron - Watts
Telephone Privacy Protection Act; Do-Not-Call List. Prohibits telephone solicitors from making telephone solicitation calls to persons who are included on a Do-Not-Call List of persons who do not wish to receive telephone solicitations. The Office of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will contract with a nonprofit organization qualifying as a list administrator to maintain the Do-Not-Call List.
Patron - Plum
Virginia Travel Agency Act; penalty. Establishes a system of annual licensure for travel agencies that provide travel or accommodation services on a prearranged basis to individuals or groups. Travel agencies are required to obtain a bond or letter of credit in the amount of $50,000 securing the travel agency's liability to claimants. Travel agencies must also place all deposits paid in connection with travel services agreements in escrow, and obtain a fidelity bond for the escrowed deposits, in an amount equal to the greater of the amount of the deposits in escrow or $25,000. The Act also prohibits travel agents from making certain misrepresentations and requires disclosures. Travel agencies must refund to any person with whom it contracts for a trip, moneys lost by that person as a result of the breach of duty by the travel agent. Violations of the Act are subject to the enforcement provisions of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (§ 59.1-196 et seq.).
Patron - Miles
The Virginia Anti-Spamming Act. Prohibits sending unsolicited commercial electronic mail to persons if the sender uses a third party's domain name without permission; contains false or forged transmission information; contains false or misleading information in the subject line or if the person notifies the sender that he does not wish to receive commercial electronic mail from the sender. The bill requires the sender to identify the message as an advertisement or solicitation; provide notice of the right to decline to receive further unsolicited commercial electronic mail messages from the sender; provide information for sending requests to not receive further unsolicited commercial electronic mail messages from the sender. Individuals may recover damages of $500 per violation or up to $1,500 for willful violations, plus attorneys' fees and costs. The Attorney General, attorney for the Commonwealth or attorney for a locality may bring an action to enforce these provisions and collect civil penalties of $500 for each violation or, if a willful violation, $1,500 for each violation.
Patron - Morgan
Redesignation of enterprise zones. Removes the requirement limiting the redesignation of an enterprise zone as a joint enterprise zone only in counties with the county manager form of government thereby allowing such redesignations in any localities.
Patron - Nutter
Telephone Privacy Protection Act. Prohibits telephone solicitors from making telephone solicitations to persons who are included on a database of persons who do not wish to receive telephone solicitations. The Department of Information Technology will maintain the database and provide copies to telephone solicitors for a 10 dollar annual fee. Persons may be placed on the database upon written notice and payment of a 10 dollar registration fee and a five dollar annual renewal fee. Violations of the Telephone Privacy Protection Act are a prohibited practice under, and are subject to the enforcement provisions of, the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Telephone companies are required to notify customers about the database and their rights under the Act. The measure also prohibits telephone solicitors from using a predictive automated dialing system to make a telephone solicitation if a telephone call generated by such system does not immediately connect the person answering the telephone call with an individual who is the telephone solicitor or an employee or agent of the telephone solicitor.
Patron - Byrne
Commercial electronic mail; prohibitions; penalties. Prohibits sending commercial electronic mail to persons if the sender uses a third party's domain name or electronic mail address without permission, contains false, misleading or no information in the subject line or if the intended recipient has indicated that he does not wish to receive commercial electronic mail from the sender. The bill requires the sender to (i) identify the message as an advertisement or solicitation; (ii) provide notice of the right to decline to receive further commercial electronic mail messages from the sender; (iii) provide a valid, cost-free method of contacting the sender; and (iv) provide at a minimum a valid return electronic mail address and a valid postal address for receiving requests to not receive further commercial electronic mail messages from the sender. The bill provides immunity from liability for interactive computer service providers that in good faith block commercial electronic mail sent in violation of this chapter. The bill also provides relief to an injured recipient, third party whose domain name or electronic mail address was used without permission, and interactive service provider. The Attorney General, an attorney for the Commonwealth or an attorney for a locality may bring an action to enforce these provisions. This bill does not include provisions regarding falsifying transmission or routing information that are included in the Virginia Computer Crimes Act (§ 18.2-152.1 et seq.). The purpose of this bill is to give consumers more power to control commercial electronic mail messages, which constitute an overwhelming majority of unwanted mail messages known as spam. Violations of this statute are also violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Patron - Byrne
Unsolicited text message advertisements. Expands the Telephone Privacy Protection Act to prohibit, subject to certain exceptions, a person conducting business in the Commonwealth from transmitting or causing to be transmitted a text message advertisement to a cellular telephone, pager or other wireless device equipped with short message or a similar capability. "Text message advertisement" means any message transmitted to a telephone number assigned for cellular telephone, pager or other similar wireless service, the principal purpose of which is to advertise, promote, market or otherwise attempt to solicit interest in any property, goods, services or enterprise for sale, lease, license, gift offer or other disposition. "Text message advertisement" shall not include a text message that is transmitted (i) to a subscriber with the subsciber's prior express invitation or permission; (ii) at the direction of a person offering cellular telephone, pager or other similar wireless service if the subscriber is offered an option not to receive those text messages and the subscriber has not exercised such option; or (iii) by a person that has an existing relationship with the subscriber if that relationship has not been terminated by either party, the subscriber is offered an option not to receive text messages from that person prior to receiving any such messages, and the subscriber has not exercised such option.
Patron - Byrne
Roller Skating Safety Act. Establishes duties and responsibilities for the operators of roller skating rinks and skaters. The bill provides that any operator or skater who violates these duties and responsibilities shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500. The bill was prompted by the tragic death of five-year-old Clark Andrew Guye in a roller skating accident in Newport News, Virginia.
Patron - Williams
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