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

Get familiar with new Virginia laws that go into effect July 1
Posted at 4:13 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 16:29:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. – Starting Friday, as people pack up and head off for their long July 4th weekends, hundreds of new laws take effect in Virginia.

For example, it will be illegal to smoke in the car with anyone under age 8, the garter snake slithers into official state snake status, and anyone with a protective order against them has to ditch their firearms.

New laws always start on July 1 in conjunction with the state’s new fiscal year; the 2017 budget is almost $52 billion.

Hundreds of laws were passed (you can see them ALL here) and some will greatly impact people’s lives.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, working with the House Republican majority, signed a protective order bill designed to curb gun violence. Under House Bill 1391 and Senate Bill 715, which are identical, anyone served with a permanent protective order must relinquish their firearms within 24 hours.

In a state known for its tobacco production, over the years the General Assembly has passed more laws to regulate the industry.  HB 1348 makes it illegal to smoke in a vehicle with a child under the age of eight.

Other laws to know about -- residents who feed deer can be fined $50, according to HB 584, and corkage fees now extend to beer and cider in participating restaurants (others listed below).

And thanks to Delegate  Brenda Pogge, patron of HB 335, the garter snake becomes Virginia’s official state snake. The Commonwealth also has an official rock, Nelsonite, thanks to Creigh Deeds, the patron of SB 352.

The summaries of the bellows bills came from a publication called “In Due Course,” which is prepared by General Assembly staff.


New Virginia laws

18 to marry: A new minimum age to marry was established in HB 703/SB 415, doing away with previous exceptions that allowed juveniles to marry at age 16 with consent of a parent.

Booze:  Virginia ABC retail stores may open an hour earlier on Sundays (noon) and may also be open on New Year’s Day. Beer and cider can now be corked at a restaurant in the way wine can be, following the same laws. For the complete list of ABC laws, click here.

Cannabidoil and THC-A oil: A pharmaceutical processor, after obtaining a permit can manufacture and provide cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil for the treatment of intractable epilepsy, per SB 701. Only doctors who specialize in the treatment of epilepsy can write the prescription.

Domestic Animals: Any dog that injures or kills only poultry must be microchipped and either secured or transferred to another owner whom the court deems appropriate. Previously, such a dog was killed or removed to another state.

Dooring: The law, SB 117, requires drivers to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side adjacent to moving traffic. This includes watching for bicyclists passing. A violation constitutes a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $50.

DMV:  Senate Bill states that learner’s permit holders may not have more than one passenger under age 21, with the exception of household or family members. The passenger restriction was previously placed on passengers under 18.

Education:  Students in grades k-5 will be required to complete at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day or an average of 100 minutes per week, per HB 357/SB 211. This requirement won’t be implemented until the 2018-2019 school year. All students in grades six through 12 will still be required to meet a goal of at least 150 minutes per week on average.

High school graduation requirements will be changed, per SB 336/HB 895. The State Board of Education will present these for the 2018/2019 year.

Smoking:  HB 1348 makes it illegal to smoke in a vehicle with a child under the age of eight.

Social media in education: The law prohibits a public or private institution of higher education from requiring a student to disclose the username or password to any of such student’s personal social media accounts, as defined in the law. The law further provides that such a prohibition shall not prevent a campus police officer appointed by a public or private institution of higher education from performing his official duties, per SB 438.

Execution:  With HB 815, the Director of the Department of Corrections is authorized to seek new ways to get the drugs necessary for execution by lethal injection, and negotiations can be kept confidential and exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Often the companies or pharmacies that provide the necessary drugs are protested.

Firearms: As part of the compromise with McAuliffe, Republicans were able to pass HB 1163/SB 610, which allows state residents with permits to conceal carry in most other states, and in exchange, Virginia recognizes the conceal carry permits from those states.

Background checks -- firearms: HB 1386/SB 715 establishes that State Police be made available to perform background checks for non-dealer sales at firearms shows if requested by a party involved in a transaction.

Background checks – social services:  Assisted living facilities, adult day care centers, licensed and registered child welfare agencies, and family day homes approved by family day systems cannot employ individuals who have been convicted of specific offenses that are barriers to employment.

Fantasy Sports: The law requires operators of fantasy contests to register annually and pay a licensing fee, per HB 775 and SB 646.

Flags: HB1299/SB 229 goes into effect July 1, 2017 and requires any state or local public body, or school division, to purchase U.S. or Commonwealth flags that were manufactured in the U.S. – if available.

Health:  The hospital must supply a patient, who requests three days in advance, with an estimate of the payment amount for which the participant will be responsible for such elective procedure, test, or service, per HB 905.

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, per HB 699/SB 691.

Home Inspection:  Home inspectors must be licensed by the Virginia Board for Asbestos, Lead, and Home Inspectors (the Board). Currently, home inspectors must be certified. HB 741 and SB 453 require that home inspectors be licensed by July 2017.

Hunting: A licensed hunter or trapper can manufacture and sell products made from wildlife that he has legally harvested, as long as it isn’t detrimental to public health or wildlife management.

*Wild birds and animals, except deer, bear, elk, and turkey, can be hunted with a slingshot unless shooting is expressly prohibited, per HB 1142.

*HB 1329 imposes a penalty on hunters who releases dogs onto someone's land without permission.

License plates:  One special plate has been issued, for supporters of the safety of runners bearing the legend MEG’S MILES.

Service dogs:  Per SB 363, any person who knowingly and willfully fits a dog with a harness, collar, vest, sign, or identification in order to represent that the dog is a service dog or hearing dog to fraudulently gain public access for such dog in a public place is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Stalking: It is a now a felony to stalk a party protected by a protective order or to commit an assault and battery upon a party protected by a protective order if such assault and battery results in bodily injury. Previously, the Class 6 felony is only applicable if the person commits an assault and battery that results in serious bodily injury to the protected party.

*Repeat stalking offenses committed within five years of a prior stalking conviction are now punishable as a Class 6 felony. Under previous law, a second offense of stalking only qualified for the Class 6 penalty if the convicted person had also been convicted of offenses involving assaults or bodily woundings, or of violating a protective order.

Taxation of nonprofits: The law provides exemptions from the sales and use tax and local license taxes for certain nonprofit veterans organizations, except in recreational or insurance cases – per HB 63.

Telemedicine pilot program: per SB 369, 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.

Tolls: E-ZPass holders can provide email/phone number to be contacted over a toll violation. The time period has been expanded before a toll violation fee can be increased. The price of a toll violation in a high-occupancy toll lane has been made equal to regular toll violations. And if a violation is paid within 14 days, a discount can be offered.


The following constitutional amendments will be considered by statewide voter referendum at the November 2016 general election.

HJ 2/SJ 70. Constitutional amendment (second resolution); right to work. The amendment to Article I of the Constitution of Virginia prohibits any agreement or combination between any employer and any labor union or labor organization whereby persons not members of such union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, or whereby such membership is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or whereby any such union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any enterprise.

HJ 123. Constitutional amendment (second resolution); real property tax exemption. The amendment to Article X of the Constitution of Virginia allows the General Assembly to provide an option to the localities to exempt from taxation the real property that is the primary residence of the surviving spouse of any law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel killed in the line of duty. Such tax exemption may not be claimed by a surviving spouse who has remarried.