Public Comments for 02/16/2023 General Laws
SB786 - Mold inspectors and mold remediators; licensure.
Dear Chairman Fowler and members of the subcommittee, My name is Kendra Seymour. I am writing to encourage you to support SB 786, a bill focused on protecting citizens of the Commonwealth from the dangers of mold. I have called Virginia my home for almost 20 years. In that time, I have owned two homes, one built in 1978 and the other home we built in 2018. Whether you live in an older home or brand new build, all homes will have water damage at some point. This water damage doesn’t have to be a sudden burst pipe or flood to cause financial and physical health problems. In fact, it is the slow pin hole leak, the improperly flashed window, inadequate drainage, uncontrolled humidity, etc., that can lead to the sneaky and serious health threat that is mold and other microbial growth. As a homeowner, I relied on the contractors and remediation professionals I hired to protect my home and the health of my family. Unfortunately, without proper training and guidance, the various professionals we hired over the course of my time as a homeowner provided insufficient, outdated, and in some cases unsafe advice that jeopardized the health of my family, particularly that of my young children. Living in our first home with hidden mold and water damage led to a cascade of medical problems that went improperly diagnosed for years. They suffered from eczema, allergies, headaches, stomachs aches, reflux, growth delays, and more. Our medicals bills mounted and our bank account drained having to remediate areas we thought we already addressed safely and correctly. My children’s health dramatically improved once we were able to get to the root cause and correctly and safely remove the hidden mold and water damage. My children paid the price due to the lack of proper education and oversight of the allergenic, toxigenic, and pathogenic substance that is mold and its chemical byproducts. The average person spends 90% of their time indoors breathing in air that is potentially bad for their health. The EPA estimates that nearly 50% of buildings have an ongoing water leak. Further, the EPA states that concentrations of some indoor air pollutants indoors is 4-5 times higher and in some cases up to 100 times higher than outdoor pollutants. Many of these pollutants come from mold, mold fragments, mycotoxins, and bacteria that thrive in our homes when moisture is present. In Virginia, those that inspect and remediate asbestos and lead-based paint are required to adhere to licensure requirements developed by the Virginia Board of Asbestos, Lead, and Home Inspectors. There is no such requirement for those assessing and remediating mold. This bill simply adds “Mold” to that Board and gives the Board discretion as to how they want to implement such licenses. Please protect the citizens of Virginia by ensuring that those performing mold-related work in their homes have the education and knowledge to perform the job properly. Please take this important step to better protecting the health of families in Virginia and the health of the men and women who work to inspect, test, and remediate our homes.
Proponent testimony for SB 786 attached.
SB839 - DHCD; powers and duties of Director, statewide housing needs assessment and plan, report.
SB885 - Alternative beer distribution program; Va. Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to study.
SB983 - Alcoholic beverage control; winery and farm winery licenses, requirements and privileges.
SB988 - Virginia Consumer Protection Act; exclusions, residential home sales between private parties.
SB1036 - Virginia Tourism Authority; repeals exemption from personnel and procurement procedures.
SB1082 - Veterans Services, Dept. of; hospitals that furnish comprehensive treatment program for veterans.
Eight states have already passed legislation to use Hyerbaric Oxygen Therapy for TBI/PTSD: OK, TX, IN, KY, AZ, FL, NC, and MD. Over 800,000 servie members are suffering from brain wounds that cannot and will not be treated by the VA. They continue to use drugs and talk therapy and other inadequate and even harmful interventions to tamp down symptoms. Why, in the name of all that is holy, would they be prescribing drugs THAT WARN OF SUICIDAL IDEATION when there have been over 100,000 suicides among active duty and veteran and National Guard and Reserve service members? Virginians owe it to their brain wounded veterans to make Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy available to the wounded. Coincidentally, treating and healing brain wounds will return money to the Treasury when the wounded can go back to work, pay taxes, and, importantly, heal their families. Pass SB 1082
Virginia is home to 670,000 veterans. A recent report discovered approximately 30,985 of those veterans are suffering from unresolved brain wounds. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Facts: - HBOT is common practice for 14 indications that are covered by FDA. Four of these pertain to wound healing and over 10 are covered by CMS and Tricare. HBOT chambers are an FDA-approved medical device. - 21,000 successes treating TBI attest to safety and efficacy - Receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy requires a physical examination and script from an MD. - All practitioners in a HBOT clinics and hospitals (i.e., physicians, nurses, and technicians) receive specialized, intensive training on hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocols. Economic Impact: - Medical treatment for a Virginian suffering from traumatic brain injury costs $67,000 to $2.6M for an average 40-year post-injury lifespan. The cost to provide a 1-time 2-month hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment protocol is $10,000-15,000. With that, we have a 95% successful rehabilitation rate among 6,000+ veterans that have received this life-changing treatment. - SB1082 will allow Virginia’s Veterans to get the effective, high-quality healthcare treatment they deserve by underwriting Hyperbaric Oxygenation and adding to the scientific record of safety and efficacy. It will be that rare return on investment that restores funds to the Commonwealth in avoided costs and increased revenue from newly-restored workers, now taxpayers. Reducing Gun Violence and Opioid Dependency & Preventing Domestic Abuse - Providing HBOT can eliminate suicidal ideation among Virginia veterans and stop veteran suicides. As the wounds in veterans’ brains heal, anger outbursts subside, emotional regulation is restored, and impulsivity is decreased. Depression, stress, and anxiety all have shown to decrease as well. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a safe, effective treatment that addresses the root causes of veterans’ suffering (instead of band aiding symptoms with opioid prescriptions). By healing veterans from the inside-out, we will reduce potential gun violence and domestic abuse, while mending and strengthening Virginian families and communities and improving the quality of life for all residents at the same time. Improve Streamlined Access to High Quality Healthcare: - Currently, there is no clear path for Virginia veterans to receive HBOT for treating traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. Veterans report to the VA for medical care, but VA physicians do not know about hyperbaric oxygen therapy nor do they know they can refer veterans to local, certified clinics that can help. SB1082 provides a clear pathway to treatment not only for veterans who are needlessly suffering, but also for VA physicians as well. - Our veteran community has learned about hyperbaric oxygen therapy from other Virginia veterans who have experienced success: https://bit.ly/fromourveterans . Treatment Efficacy: - To the best of our knowledge, over 9 years of treating veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, not one Virginia veteran has been lost to suicide. - As wounds in the brain heal from hyperbaric oxygen therapy, veterans have safely decreased the pharmaceutical medications they once relied on to band aid the symptoms of TBI. 95% of TBI-veterans safely discontinue 70% of pharmaceutical prescriptions following HBOT.
Not comfortable with this. I researched the FDA and the way this bill is proposing HBOT to be used for a purpose other than its intended one. We really need to stop this bill until we can figure something out.
SB1108 - Virginia Consumer Protection Act; prohibited practices, kratom products.
SB1114 - Housing and Community Development, Department of; powers and duties of the Director.
SB1305 - Farm buildings and structures; building code exemptions.
SB1341 - Unincorporated bodies, societies, groups, associations, or posts; appointment of trustees.
SB1384 - Housing authorities; common household pets, definitions.
SB1384 makes me question my support for Jennifer McClellan in next week’s special election for the VA’s 4th Congressional district, which is unfortunate as I was really excited about her candidacy. The last thing Virginia needs is another law that sides with dangerous dog breeds over public safety. Ms. Evangeline Brooks was mauled and killed in her own front yard by a neighbor’s pitbull only a few months ago in Richmond and with no criminal consequences for the dog’s owner. Because in Virginia, the first bite (or mauling) is free, even when it’s a statistically predictable event. Who does that serve? Not the public or our pets. Maybe instead of granting even more rights to dangerous breeds, you could pass some laws that hold owners accountable for their dog’s actions. If you’re truly interested in not punishing the responsible dog owners for the actions of the irresponsible (the reasoning typically touted with such pro-pitbull/anti-public safety legislation), then why not pass something that holds the irresponsible owners accountable? Certain breeds do not belong in neighborhoods, and they certainly don’t belong in under-insured public housing. Pitbulls don’t bite, they maul and if their victim survives, the medical costs are large, and recovery is difficult. Who will pay for those bills in the absence of a homeowners insurance policy? This bill needs to be tabled and actually thought thru in the interest of public safety.
This bill makes me question my support for Jennifer McClellan in next week’s special election for the VA’s 4th Congressional district, which is unfortunate as I was really excited about her candidacy. The last thing Virginia needs is another law that sides with dangerous dog breeds over public safety. Ms. Evangeline Brooks was mauled and killed in her own front yard by a neighbor’s pitbull only a few months ago in Richmond and with no criminal consequences for the dog’s owner. Because in Virginia, the first bite (or mauling) is free, even when it’s a statistically predictable event. Who does that serve? Not the public or our pets. Maybe instead of granting even more rights to dangerous breeds, you could pass some laws that hold owners accountable for their dog’s actions. If you’re truly interested in not punishing the responsible dog owners for the actions of the irresponsible (the reasoning typically touted with such pro-pitbull/anti-public safety legislation), then why not pass something that holds the irresponsible owners accountable? Certain breeds do not belong in neighborhoods, and they certainly don’t belong in under-insured public housing. Pitbulls don’t bite, they maul and if their victim survives, the medical costs are large, and recovery is difficult. Who will pay for those bills in the absence of a homeowners insurance policy? This bill needs to be tabled and actually thought thru in the interest of public safety.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund supports SB 1384. Please fund full support letter attached.
As a longtime dog owner, I recognize the benefits that a pet in the home can provide. It is not only a loving companion in good times and bad, but a source of good daily exercise, socialization and all around well being. After 54 years of marriage, we treasure those memories. The landscape of "normal " dog ownership and what is acceptable dog behavior has skewed dramatically into increasingly shocking statistics. Just over 700 Americans have been killed by dogs since 2005. In the last two years alone 38 were children, mauled to death in many instances by the "family pet." Such data contributed to the Defense Department's decision to ban certain dog breeds from military housing. The glaring problem with SB 1384 is just this: are all breeds acceptable just because one rents or lives in taxpayer supported housing? What about Cane Corso, the XL Bully, the Tosa Inu, the Presa Canario, and as always the wolf hybrid? Are they OK just because folks happen to be renting? As the bill is written, anything goes. There certainly are questions as to who will assume liability for deaths and injuries, as well as destruction of a landlord's property? And who will be responsible for attacks on the neighbors' smaller pets?