Public entities; rights of persons with disabilities. (HB214)

Introduced By

Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Public entities; rights of persons with disabilities. Adds public entities, including schools, to the list of public places in which persons with disabilities are entitled to the same full and free rights as other persons. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


12/27/2007Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/08 084557468
12/27/2007Referred to Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions
01/10/2008Impact statement from DPB (HB214)
01/10/2008Reported from Health, Welfare and Institutions (22-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/11/2008Read first time
01/14/2008Read second time and engrossed
01/15/2008Read third time and passed House BLOCK VOTE (98-Y 0-N)
01/15/2008VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (98-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/16/2008Communicated to Senate
01/16/2008Constitutional reading dispensed
01/16/2008Referred to Committee on Education and Health
02/14/2008Rereferred from Education and Health (15-Y 0-N)
02/14/2008Rereferred to Rehabilitation and Social Services
02/22/2008Reported from Rehabilitation and Social Services (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/25/2008Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N)
02/26/2008Read third time
02/26/2008Passed Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2008Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB214ER)
02/28/2008Impact statement from DPB (HB214ER)
02/28/2008Signed by Speaker
03/02/2008Signed by President
03/07/2008G Approved by Governor-Chapter 431 (effective 7/1/08)
03/14/2008G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0431)


Alison Hymes writes:

Yah House! Go Senate! :)

Mark writes:

Mr. Cole would have done well to ask more questions of eudcators before buying into a issue that is more often than not stated in half-truth! An disabled individual (student!!!!!) that is in public school ALWAYS has a paraprofessional or adult with them while in school...there is no reason that a service animal is needed to supplement adult human capabilities to pick up items for a disabled student.

IF the individual was capable of completing all tasks of navigating and communicating throughout the school day without a para or adult, a service animal MAY be an acceptable accomodation. The only purpose ANY animal serves accompanying an individual who REQUIRES a paraprofessional or adult in order to attend school is as a COMFORT ANIMAL which is NOT a Service Animal.

Get ready for the tort if public education isn't suffering from a drain on financial resources as it is.

Alison Hymes writes:

"comfort" animals are legally service animals actually. And not all children with a disability have a paraprofessional with them and they may wish and their families may wish for them to develop more independent skills by relying on a service animal rather than having to ask someone to help them.

Whether a service animal is an "acceptable" accomodation is not up to people who don't have disabililties.

Abby K9 writes:

I agree with Alison that it is not up to people without disabilities to decide whether a service dog should be acceptable or not.

However, I have to disagree with her statement that comfort animals are legally considered to be service animals. That is incorrect.

In order for a dog to be considered a service dog and being allowed public access, several requirements must be met:

First, the dog has to be with the disabled person with whom it is partnered. (Though the new law now allows trainers and the SDIT they are training the same public access rights.)

Second, the dog has to be trained to do specific tasks for its handler to mitigate its handler's disability.

Comfort animals are not in the category of service dogs, just like therapy dogs are not in the category of service dogs. While both may be highly trained, certified, and carry liability insurance, there is a huge difference in the dog's presence being "comforting" and the dog actually having been trained to do specific tasks for their handlers. Just being there is NOT a task.

Tasks are things such as picking something up, fetching medication from a purse, calling 911 using a special touch-button phone, alerting the handler to an oncoming seizure, etc. etc.

The only time comfort animals have ever been considered service animals is under the fair housing act, following a lawsuit. In that particular case, the dog's owner had a doctor's note stating that the dog was beneficial to the person and the court ruled that the apartment complex had to allow the dog based on the doctor's recommendation.

Comfort animals and therapy dogs do NOT have public access rights to schools, public transportation, stores, or any other place where dogs are not ordinarily allowed. That is, unless their handler is fraudulently passing them off as service dogs by, for example, telling ignorant store personnel that they are service dogs and therefore must be permitted. (Which is both lying AND illegal.)

Alison Hymes writes:

Hmm, we may have a problem with my use of terms, I'm not sure though. Animals that accompany people with psychiatric diagnoses but do not perform physical tasks do have access as service animals in the state of Virginia. I don't know about other states. I don't have one myself, but I know someone who does who has been represented by a lawyer and won the right more than once to have her service dog accompany her into a public place. So perhaps I should not have used the word comfort instead of service, but dogs that accompany but do not perform other tasks are service animals in this state.