This year, 2,606 bills were introduced in the General Assembly. Of those, 837 passed both the House and the Senate and were ultimately signed by the Governor. Most of these went into effect on July 1st. Below, you will find a selection of some of the new laws passed this year. You can also click here for a more comprehensive overview of legislation, including bills that did not pass .
The Virginia Constitution requires the General Assembly to balance the budget each year. After major cuts last year, we were able to re-invest in core services and put money back into our revenue stabilization funds. Budget highlights include:
- Nearly $1 billion in planned deposits to the Rainy Day Fund and the new Revenue Reserve Fund.
- $189 million in new resources for behavioral health and developmental services.
- More than $530 million for K-12 education, and $131 million for a 3% pay raise for state-supported teachers and support staff, effective July 1, 2019.
- $87 million for a 2% pay raise for state and state-supported local employees.
- Increase to $64 million the investment in the GO Virginia regional economic development initiativeand invest $25 million in a new Northern Virginia-based cyber hub connecting universities and businesses.
- $20 million to help urban areas clean up polluted stormwater and restore the Chesapeake Bay.
Medicaid Expansion. Increases health care access for up to 400,000 working Virginians by expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. To be covered, able-bodied working-age adults must be employed or participate in job training programs. Click here for additional information about Medicaid expansion.
CBD and THC-A Oil (HB1251). Provides that a physician may issue a written certification for the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil or THC-A oil for the treatment of any diagnosed condition as determined by the physician. CBD and THC-A are non-psychoactive components of marijuana.
Nurse Practitioners (HB793). Authorizes more autonomy for nurse practitioners by eliminating the requirement for a practice agreement with a physician. The nurse practitioner must have at least five years of full-time clinical experience and meet additional requirements.
Student Recess (HB1419). Authorizes local school boards to provide additional unstructured recreational time intended to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness for students.
Student Discipline (HB1600). Makes several changes to the student discipline process with the goal of reducing the number of long-term suspensions and expulsions. The Department of Education is directed to develop a state-wide standard for when longer suspensions are warranted.
Scholastic Records (SB512). Prohibits the custodian of a scholastic record from releasing the address, phone number, or email address of a student without first obtaining written consent.
Teacher Licensure (HB1125). Makes several changes to streamline the teacher licensure process, with a focus on individuals who are interested in teaching after serving in other professions. Teacher vacancies have increased by 40% in the last decade.
BUSINESS AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
Career Readiness (HB632). Requires the Virginia Board of Education to develop curricula in career investigation, with a focus on career-readiness and technical and trade education.
Regulatory Reform (HB883). Directs the Department of Planning and Budget to engage in a three-year pilot program aimed at reducing by 25% the regulatory burden imposed by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
Texting and Driving (HB1525). Imposes a mandatory fine of $250 for using a handheld personal communications device while operating a motor vehicle in a highway work zone when workers are present.
DNA Analysis (HB1249). Adds misdemeanor violations for assault and battery and repeat intentional trespass to the list of offenses for which an adult convicted of such offense must have a sample of blood, saliva, or tissue taken for DNA analysis. This allows investigators to cross-check against other crimes.
Grand Larceny Threshold (HB1550). Raises the amount of cash or goods stolen from $200 to $500 before an individual can be charged with felony grand larceny. Virginia's felony threshold has not been raised since 1980 and is tied for the lowest in the nation.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms (HB609). Requires landlords to install smoke alarms and annually certify them. The bill also requires the installation of carbon monoxide alarms upon request.
Rear-Facing Child Car Seats (HB708). Prohibits child restraint devices from being forward-facing until the child reaches two years old or the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child seat in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2019.
Fraud and Exploitation (HB304). Adds the offenses of obtaining money by false pretense and financial exploitation of mentally incapacitated persons to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Security Freezes (HB1027). Reduces from $10 to $5 the maximum amount that a credit reporting agency may charge to place, remove, or lift a security freeze on a consumer's credit report.
Metro Funding (HB1539). Dedicates $154 million annually to fulfill Virginia's share of the $500 million in capital upgrades that the system needs. The funding is contingent on Maryland and D.C. paying their fair share. The bill also gets the ball rolling on much needed reforms to Metro's operating structure.
Veteran Indicator (HB737). Allows veterans to obtain driver's licenses and identification cards that include an indicator signifying that the holder is a veteran.
Animal Research (HB1087). Requires a manufacturer or contract testing facility to use an alternative to animal testing when available.
Dogs in Wineries (HB286). Allows dogs within a designated area inside or on the premises of a licensed winery, except in areas used for the manufacture of food products.
Snakehead Fish (HB1404). Allows certain restaurants to sell snakehead fish. Snakeheads are an invasive fish and are now beyond eradication. The next best thing is to eat as many as possible!
Car-Washing Fundraisers (HB1241). Prohibits any locality from banning car-washing fundraisers - provided that only biodegradable, phosphate-free, water-based cleaners are used.
You can see how I voted on these and all other bills introduced during the 2018 session by clicking here.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or want to discuss a specific issue.