Get familiar with new Virginia laws that go into effect July 1, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. – Hundreds of new laws take effect in Virginia on Saturday, July 1, ranging from hunting attire to birth control.

For example, the criminal procedure has changed regarding the suspension of a driver’s license if they were charged with marijuana possession. Previously, the person lost their license for six months. Now they can keep it.

Local governments now also have more authority to regulate shared economy home rental platforms, and home owners could face a penalty if they don’t register (if required to). Health insurance companies will be required to cover 12-month supplies of prescription birth control. And hunters can add blaze pink to their fashion lineup this deer hunting season.

Plus, beer delivery!

The General Assembly session concluded on Feb. 25, 2017, with a $107 billion biennium budget and 836 bills approved. New laws always start on July 1 in conjunction with the state’s new fiscal year.

The year’s session may have been less eventful compared to previous years, due to the fact that all 100 House of Delegates seats and three statewide offices are up for election in November 2017. There was a lot of bipartisan buckling down and passage of "kitchen sink" laws.

Read about all approved 836 bills, here. 

PHOTOGALLERY OF NEW LAWS

AGRICULTURE

Senate Bill (SB) 1195. Gives the Commissioner of  Agriculture and Consumer Services free access at reasonable hours to certain farms to inspect the farms and take samples.

ALCOHOL BEVERAGE AND CONTROL

Stronger boozeHouse Bill (HB) 1842. The law increases from 101 to 151 the proof of neutral grain spirits or alcohol that is without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color that may be sold at government stores. But this stronger booze law expires July 1, 2022.

Drink and shop? HB 1987/SB 1391. New license created that allows for, and defines, commercial lifestyle centers, where people can carry drinks around with them. It’s a strange name for the concept seen, say, in the French Quarter or downtown Charleston, S.C.

According to the GA, a “commercial lifestyle center” is a mixed-use commercial development that covers a minimum of 25 acres of land and has at least 100,000 square feet of retail space featuring national specialty chain stores, and a combination of dining, entertainment, office, residential or hotel establishments located in a physically integrated outdoor setting that is pedestrian friendly and that is governed by a commercial owners’ association.  So, think Short Pump Town Center or Stony Point Fashion Park. A representative with Short Pump said the mall sits on 147-acres, including surrounding parking/wooded areas.

BonusSB 1108. You can drink on a walking culinary tour now, because it's 2017.

Beer deliveryHB 1801 permits off-premise wine and beer licensees to deliver closed containers of alcoholic beverages to a customer’s vehicle when: 1) that vehicle is parked in a designated space and 2) the online order of that wine or beer was placed in advance of the delivery.

Read more about new Virginia ABC laws, here. 

CIVIL LAW:

DefamationHB 1941/ SB 1413. Immune to defamation regarding matters of public concern unless you did it knowing your statement was false.

CRIMINAL LAW:

Battery. HB 1921 Expands the penalty for battery against a health care provider who is engaged in the performance of his duties to apply in hospitals or in emergency rooms on the premises of any clinic or other facility rendering emergency care.

Peeping. HB 2350  The law punishes as a Class 1 misdemeanor the use of an electronic device to enter the property of another to secretly or furtively peep or spy or attempt to peep or spy into a dwelling or occupied building located on such property, unless such use occurs pursuant to a lawful criminal investigation. No auditory research experiments, okay.

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

Marijuana possession. HB 2051/SB 1091. Previously a person lost their driver’s license for six months when convicted of simple possession of marijuana. Now drivers can keep their license but will have to perform 50 hours of community service in addition to any other sentencing. The exception applies only to adults; juveniles will still be subject to license suspension. Read more, here. 

Abuse. HB 2064. Assault and battery against a family or household member; eligibility for first offender status.

Sexual assault victims. HB 2127. Rights of victims of sexual assault; physical evidence recovery kits. Police are required to inform victims of their rights regarding physical evidence recovery kits. Read more here.

DUI Consent. HB 2327. DUI; implied consent; refusal of blood or breath tests. There are no penalities for refusing to submit to a blood test to determine alcohol or drug content of a defendant’s blood. But, the penalty has increased if you refuse to submit to a breath test -- if you have had a prior offense of refusal for a breath test, within 10 years. And, if law enforcement submits a search warrant to test blood of a suspect DUI driver, than the bill provides that search warrant will be given priority over other matters.

Unpaid court fees. HB 2386/SB 854.  The grace period for unpaid court fines, costs, forfeitures , penalties has been increased. And a defendant who is unable to pay court-ordered fines, costs, forfeitures, and penalties can be given a deferred or installment payment agreement.

DOMESTIC ANIMALS

Dangerous dogs. HB 2381. Animal control officers now have more discretion to determine if the owner of a dog who bit or scratched another animal or human needs to appear in court. If a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner must obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate, priced at $150, in 30 days.

Lifetime license. SB 856. Cats and dogs; lifetime licenses. Authorizes the governing body of a county or city to provide for a lifetime dog or cat license. The bill also removes the minimum annual tax for a dog or cat, sets the maximum tax for a lifetime license at $50, and limits the fee for a duplicate dog or cat tag to $1.

EDUCATION

Firearms. HB 1392. School security officers can carry a firearm in performance of duties, with exceptions.

Bullying. HB 1709. School Board codes must require the principal to notify parents of any student involved in an alleged incident of bullying of the status of any investigation within five school days of the allegation of bullying.

Traffic stops. HB 2290. Driver education programs; instruction concerning traffic stops. Students will learn traffic stop procedures in driver’s ed. Bill requires the Board of Education to collaborate with the Department of State Police in implementing the changes to its driver education program.

ELECTIONS/VOTING

HB 1431. You can’t pay volunteers or employs based on the number of completed voter registrations they collect.

HB 1912. Persons granted a protective order can vote absentee.

ENVIRONMENT        

Poop overflow. HB 2383/SB 898. The owner of any combined sewer overflow that discharges into Chesapeake Bay Watershed will be identified by DEQ, who will determine what actions are needed to bring such an outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the Presumption Approach described in the CSO Control Policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The bill requires any owner of such an outfall to initiate construction activities by July 1, 2023, to bring it into compliance by July 1, 2025.

Coal pollution. SB 1398. Requires the owner or operator of a coal combustion residuals unit (CCR unit) to identify water pollution and address corrective measures to resolve it, evaluate the clean closure of the CCR unit by recycling the ash for use in cement or moving it to a landfill, and demonstrate the long-term safety of the CCR unit.

FIREARMS

Reveal to conceal. HB 2325. Application for permit of a concealed handgun permit now requires photo identification.

GENERAL LAWS

Assistance animals. HB 2006. Va. Fair Housing Law; responsibilities with respect to use of an assistance animal in a dwelling. The bill establishes a process through which a person with a disability may submit a request for a reasonable accommodation to maintain an assistance animal in a dwelling, including any supporting documentation verifying the disability and disability-related need for an accommodation.

Victims. HB 2217. Victims of sexual violence and human trafficking are eligible to apply for the address confidentiality program.

HEALTH/HEALTH PROFESSIONS

In Utero exposure to drugs. HB 1467. Neonatal abstinence syndrome now on a list of diseases required to be reported. NAS happens when a baby is exposed to drugs in the womb before birth.

Mental health services. HB 1549. Community services boards and behavioral health authorities have until 2019 to provide core services that include (i) same-day access to mental health screening services and (ii) outpatient primary care screening and monitoring services for physical health indicators and health risks and follow-up services for individuals identified as being in need of assistance with overcoming barriers to accessing primary health services.

Harm reduction. HB 2317. For the next three years, the Commissioner of Health can establish and operate harm reduction programs in at-risk communities that include the provision of sterile and disposal of used hypodermic needles and syringes. This is intended to reduce the spread of HIV, viral hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases in Virginia, to reduce the transmission of blood-borne diseases through needlestick injuries to law-enforcement and other emergency personnel, and to provide information to individuals who inject drugs regarding addiction recovery treatment services. Read more, here. 

HIGHER EDUCATION

Tuition hikes. SB 1376. Tuition or mandatory fees can’t be increased without first providing students and the public a projected range of the planned increase, an explanation of the need for the increase, and notice of the date and location of any vote on the increase at least 30 days prior to such vote.

HISTORICAL PRESERVATION

Historical cemeteries. HB 1547. Qualifying charitable organizations that preserve historical African American cemeteries established before 1900 will be funded.  The established formula is $5, or the average actual cost of routine maintenance, multiplied by the number of graves, monuments, and markers of African Americans who lived at any time between 1800 and 1900 and are interred in the cemetery. The bill lists two cemeteries, East End Cemetery in Henrico County and Evergreen Cemetery in the City of Richmond, that are to receive any funds appropriated for a total of 6,975 gravesites.

HUNTING

Blazin'. HB 1939. Hunters can wear blaze pink instead of blaze orange hunting apparel when required during firearms deer hunting season.

What paper? SB 968. You can carry an electronic hunting license now for bear, deer, or turkey.

INSURANCE

Packs of pills. HB 2267. Allows a woman access to a 12-month supply of hormonal contraceptives. Many insurance policies currently limit women to a 90-day supply of birth control pills.

REGULATION OF COMMERCE

Frauds. HB 1422. A supplier can’t engage in fraudulent or improper or dishonest conduct while engaged in a transaction that was initiated (i) during a declared state of emergency or (ii) to repair damage resulting from the event that prompted the declaration of a state of emergency, regardless of whether the supplier is a licensed contractor.

SHORT TERM RENTAL OF PROPERTY

Short-term rental. SB 1578. Permits a locality to adopt an ordinance requiring people who rent out their homes for less than 30 days to register or face a penalty not to exceed $500.

SOCIAL SERVICES

Child care background checks. HB 1568/SB 897. Requires most child care providers to undergo a fingerprint-based national criminal history background check. Read exceptions and details here.

Assisted living facilities. SB 1008 clarifies the crimes that constitute a barrier for individuals seeking employment in nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and other providers; and applicants for licensure, registration, or approval as assisted living facilities. The bill would also add certain offenses to the list of barrier crimes. View the list here .

TAXATION

First responder spouses. HB 1884. Authorizes localities to exempt the primary residence of the surviving spouse of a law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, and emergency medical services personnel who is killed in the line of duty.

Cigarette regulation. HB 1913/SB 1390. Purchase of cigarettes for resale; penalties. Creates a new requirement that purchasers of cigarettes for resale must apply for a special cigarette exemption certificate from the Department of Taxation in order to not be liable for the payment of sales tax at the time of purchase. The bill sets forth numerous requirements that a taxpayer must meet in order to qualify for a cigarette exemption certificate and establishes processes and procedures for the application, renewal, denial, and revocation of the certificates. The bill creates new record keeping requirements for the sale or distribution of any quantity of cigarettes in excess of 50 cartons, or with a value greater than $10,000 in any single sale.

TRAFFIC OFFENSES

Slow drivers. HB 2201. Sets the fine for failing to drive on the right side of highways or failing to observe traffic lanes at $100.

Suspended license. HB 2467. Driving on a suspended or revoked license; period of suspension. Suspensions can run concurrent now. For example, if a license was suspended for failure to pay court-ordered fines, and the driver is convicted of driving on a suspended license, then the two suspensions could run simultaneously.

UTILITIES

Water rates. HB 1492. Water utilities; retail rates of affiliated utilities, definitions, etc. State Corporation Commission shall ensure that equal fixed and volumetric rates are charged for each customer class of every water utility that is in the water utility network. In a proceeding implementing these provisions, the Commission is directed to order gradual adjustments to the water utility's rates over an appropriate period.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

Equipment compensation. SB 1201. Workers' compensation; suitably equipped automobile for incapacitated employee. Employer must provide funds for purchase of a suitably equipped automobile for an incapacitated employee if it is medically necessary and that modifications to the employee's automobile are not technically feasible or will cost more than the funds available for a replacement automobile. The total of the costs of the automobile and of any bedside lifts, adjustable beds, and modification of the employee's principal home are limited to $42,000. Read more, here.