General Assembly Changes Touch On Driving, Hunting, Firearms, Agriculture and More
Many Virginia drivers hit the road for the holiday weekend, but they might not have known that as of July 1 smoking in a car with passengers younger than 8 carries a civil penalty of up to $100. Drivers also must be more cautious when opening their doors adjacent to moving traffic or face a $50 fine.
New state laws that take effect July 1 apply to alcohol sales, teen drivers, traffic infractions, firearms, flags, home inspections and much more. Below are some examples:
- Dogs: Any dog that injures or kills poultry must be microchipped and either secured or transferred to another owner approved by the court. Previously, these dogs were euthanized or removed to another state (HB 1231).
- Hemp: A person with a license to manufacture industrial hemp products can engage in scientific, agricultural or other research involving the applications of industrial hemp without prosecution (HB 699 and SB 691).
- Exercise: Students in grades K-5 will be required to complete at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day or an average of 100 minutes per week (HB 357 and SB 211). Existing law requires students in grades 6-12 to participate in physical activity at least 150 minutes per week.
- Social Media and education: Higher education institutions, public or private, are now prohibited from requiring a student to give their username or password to any personal social media accounts. The law goes on to say that such a prohibition should not prevent a campus police officer from performing their official duties (SB 438).
- SOL Testing: Requires the Standards of Learning and program of instruction for students K-12 now include computer science and computational thinking, including computer coding (HB 831).
- Out-of-State Concealed Carry Permits: As part of a compromise with Gov. McAuliffe, Republicans passed a law that allows state residents with permits to conceal carry in other states. In exchange, Virginia recognizes the concealed handgun permits from those other states as well (HB 1163/SB 610).
- Possession Restrictions for Certain Protective Orders: Anyone served with a permanent protective order must hand over all firearms within 24-hours (HB 1391 and SB 715). In addition, HB 1087/SB 323 makes it a Class 6 felony to violate a protective order while armed.
- State Police to Perform Non-Dealer Background Checks: State police must be available to perform background checks for non-dealer sales at firearm shows if requested by any party involved in the sale (HB 1386 and SB 715).
- Cannabidiol and THC-A oil: A pharmaceutical processor can obtain a permit to manufacture and provide cannabidiol oil and THC-A for the treatment of intractable epilepsy (SB 701).
- Medical Bills: The hospital must supply a patient, who requests 3 days in advance, with an estimate of the payment amount they will owe for an elective procedure, test or service (HB 905).
- Telemedicine Pilot Program: A pilot program to help expand health care access to rural areas will be created by the University of Virginia and the Virginia Telehealth Network (SB 369).
- Right to Sell Harvested Goods: A licensed hunter or trapper can make and sell products from wildlife they have legally harvested, as long as it isn’t detrimental to public health or wildlife management.
- Use of Slingshots: Hunting with a slingshot is legal now, except for hunting deer, bear, elk and turkey—as long as it’s not expressly prohibited by local rules (HB 1142).
- Dooring: Drivers are required to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side of moving traffic. This includes waiting for bicyclists passing by. Violations lead to a traffic infraction and a fine of up to $50 (SB 117).
- Smoking with Children: It is illegal to smoke in a vehicle with a child under the age of 8 years old (HB 1348).
- Student Drivers: A series of changes impact those under 18 who hold a learners permit, including a restriction against having more than one passenger under the age of 21, previously 19, in the car. members. In addition, the law removes an exception to the rule that applied if a parent was present (SB 555).
- 18 to Marry: A new minimum age to marry was established as 18-years-old. The law gets rid of previous exceptions that allowed teens to marry at age 16 with the consent of a parent (HB 703 and SB 415).
- Booze: Part of the budget bill allows Virginia ABC retail stores to open at noon on Sundays and New Year’s Day, an hour earlier than previously allowed (HB 29 and HB 30).
- Execution: The Director of the Department of Corrections is authorized to enter into contracts with pharmacies or other suppliers to obtain the drugs necessary for execution by lethal injection. In addition, the identities of such suppliers can be kept confidential and are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act “unless good cause is shown” (HB 815).
- Fantasy Sports: The operators of fantasy contests are required to register each year and pay a licensing fee (HB 775 and SB 646).
- Flags:The law requires any state or local public body or school division to buy U.S. or Commonwealth Flags that were manufactured in the U.S., if available (HB 1299 and SB 229).
- Home Inspection: Home inspectors must be licensed by the Virginia Board for Abestos, Lead and Home Inspectors. They have until July 2017 to get licensed (HB 741 and SB 453).
- Service Dogs: Any person who knowingly fits a dog with a harness, collar, vest or sign to represent the dog as a service or hearing dog when it is not, will be guilty of a Class 4 Misdemeanor (SB 363).
- Stalking—Repeat Offenders: Repeat stalking offenses committed within five years of a prior stalking conviction are punishable as a Class 6 felony if the person committing the crime has previously been convicted of assault, bodily wounding or violating a protective order (HB 886).