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House Passes Comstock’s Privacy Bills

Bills provide for secret ballot protection and employees’ emails and phone conversations.

The Virginia House of Delegates last week passed two privacy bills submitted by state Del. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean.

The bills are House Bill 1385, the Secret Ballot Protection Act, and House Bill 1931, KEEP Secure Act: Keep Employees Emails and Phones Secure Act. Both bills will now be sent to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk.

Comstock released the following statement on the passage of both bills:

“The passage of these bills is a victory for workers’ rights and for protecting employees in the workplace.

"The Secret Ballot Protection Act strengthens workers' rights and freedoms and puts us on the side of Virginia workers and their right to a secret ballot. Former Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern called efforts to eliminate the secret ballot ‘a disturbing and undemocratic overreach.’ Without secret ballots, workers could be subject to intimidation, harassment and potential threats to vote in a certain way.

“The KEEP Secure Act is designed to keep employees’ emails, cell phones and phone information out of the hands of third parties unless there is a legal obligation to provide the information. It protects the privacy of employees and provides employers with protections against demands from third parties trying to get information beyond what is legally required in workplace elections.

“I'm pleased that we were able to pass these bills that will enshrine worker's rights, protect the secret ballot, and protect our pro-business climate and workplaces here in Virginia.”

HB 1385 passed by a vote of 69-30 in the House and 20-19 in the Senate. HB 1931 passed by a vote of 67-32 in the House and 21-19 in the Senate.

Virginia Diamond February 25, 2013 at 07:08 PM
These bills were not requested by Virginia companies, but derive from model legislation of the right wing organization, ALEC, which also sponsored the "stand your ground" legislation. We have many practical issues to address here in Virginia, and I don't think it's helpful for Delegate Comstock to insert her ideological agenda into our legislative affairs.
Dave Webster February 25, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Does Virginia Diamond object to any legislation designed to protect the privacy rights of employees unless said legislation is requested by Virginia companies? Unless Virginia Diamond is reading Barbara Comstock's emails, how does he/she know that Ms. Comstock never received any requests from Virginia companies regarding these bills? Virginia Diamond's argument is known as an ad hominem argument. Rather than address the content of the bills, Virginia Diamond chooses to cast aspersions upon Ms. Comstock's character by accusing her of inserting "her ideological agenda into our legislative affairs."
PJ Buckley February 25, 2013 at 11:57 PM
Big shock from the left....I wonder from what section of Big Labor VA Diamond panders....
Virginia Diamond February 26, 2013 at 02:49 PM
At the legislative hearing, a senator asked Delegate Comstock what individual or company requested these bills, and she said none. In terms of substance, these bills are attempts to nullify the National Labor Relations Act. Since the NLRB is a federal law, these state measures are preempted. I do not think that inserting model bills from ALEC is a good way to govern our state, and I do respectfully disagree with Delegate Comstock's ideological approach to governing. It is polarizing and divisive.
Dave Webster February 26, 2013 at 03:33 PM
I would like to see the exact question and answer from that hearing because the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors supported these bills. The VA-ABC is a statewide, pro-business association representing construction and construction-related firms, with offices in Dulles, Richmond, and Hampton Roads. Incidentally, a Delegate is not limited to introducing bills requested by others. You say these bills are pre-empted by the National Labor Relations Act. That's pure speculation and probably reflects your personal wishes more than any legal realities. You state that Delegate Comstock has an ideological approach to governing. Therefore, she is polarizing and divisive. This is a tautology.
Freddie February 26, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Virginia Diamond: You're not addressing the merits of the bills. You're just using ad hominem attacks on people.
mary comerford February 27, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Comstock is building a conservative base to run for Congress. Her right-wing Cuccinelli brand of politics is out of step with Northern Virginia. Check out her pro-gun, anti-women voting record -- now she is going after unions.
mary comerford March 03, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Del. Comstock's criticized in Washington Post editorial today for transportation vote: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/legislators-who-seem-to-like-being-stuck-in-traffic/2013/03/02/4e90ecd6-81f2-11e2-b99e-6baf4ebe42df_story.html

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