Happy Independence Day weekend! I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention that June 30 is the 403rd anniversary of the first meeting of the Virginia House of Delegates (then the House of Burgesses) and that on June 29, 1776 the first Constitution of Virginia was ratified. And, on June 25, 1788, Virginia became the 10th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. This is a historic time of year!
As we prepare to celebrate our freedom, I am also happy to share the fruits of our representative democracy here in Virginia. Each year, the General Assembly debates and votes on literally thousands of bills. This year, 807 of those bills were signed into law. The Division of Legislative Services publishes "In Due Course," which provides a summary of legislation passed that is likely to impact the daily lives of Virginians.
This year, I am pleased that three of my bills made the cut!
HB426 extends cocktails to go through July 2024 and creates a new license for third parties to deliver alcoholic beverages from restaurants to consumers. While many people have enjoyed cocktails to go during the pandemic, we also found enforcement issues when it comes to deliveries by third parties. The bill strives to ensure that people can continue to enjoy cocktails to go while keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors. HB1309 creates the Resilient Virginia Revolving Fund, which will provide low-interest loans and grants for projects designed to make Virginia more resilient against climate change. Virginia’s coastal areas are among the most vulnerable in the nation to sea level rise and coastal flooding. HB429 modernizes and streamlines Virginia’s procurement process for architectural and engineering services. This is actually a great bill, and I am proud of it, but have no idea how it got on the list of legislation likely to affect people’s daily lives! Finally, I was pleased to serve as chief co-patron of HB632, which reinstates the ability of local police to ticket drivers for operating a vehicle with an excessively loud exhaust system (AKA, “macho mufflers).
Below is a selection of some of the other bills that go into effect today. I hope you will take the time to look through the full In Due Course. Also available is the 2022 Session Summary, which provides a complete list of bills introduced by subject area and whether they passed, failed, or were carried over.
SB493 – “Cyber Flashers.” Makes it illegal for someone to knowingly send intimate images to another adult online without that person’s consent. The fine is the greater of $500 or actual damages, plus reasonable attorney fees.
HB358 – Veteran-Owned Businesses. Directs the Secretary of Veterans and Defense affairs to examine waiving fees associated with permits to establish a veteran-owned small business.
HB497 – Elder Abuse. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for an agent under a power of attorney to knowingly or intentionally engage in financial exploitation of an incapacitated adult who is the principal of that agent.
HB750 – Law Enforcement Quotas. Prohibits any law enforcement agency from establishing formal or informal quotas that require an officer to make a specific number of arrests or issue a specific number of tickets within a designated period of time.
HB1140 – Voter Registration Cancellation. Requires general registrars to provide notice of the cancellation of a voter’s registration to the address listed in the voter’s registration and by email, if the email was provided on the application form.
HB158 – Governor’s Emergency Powers. Limits the duration of executive orders issued by the Governor pursuant to emergency powers to no more than 45 days from issuance unless the General Assembly takes subsequent action. Under the previous law, executive orders could remain in effect until June 30 after the next regular session of the General Assembly (which could be longer than a year depending on when the order is issued).
HB758 – Switchblades. Eliminates the prohibition on selling or possessing a switchblade.
HB763 – Charitable Gaming. Tightens rules that provide an exemption for charitable organizations to engage in electronic gambling. While most charitable organizations play by the rules, some unscrupulous groups were using a loophole in the law to set up electronic gambling operations in the bar area of restaurants.
SB96 – “Virginia is for Bettors.” Prohibits gaming businesses from using the term “Virginia is for Bettors” in their advertising. I’m not a big fan of gambling, but I also love free speech and voted no on this one…
HB481 – Hospital Price Transparency. Requires every hospital to make information about standard charges for items and services to be provided on the hospital’s website by July 1, 2023.
HB525 – Anti-Hazing. Mandates stronger anti-hazing education at institutions of higher learning and provides a safe harbor from discipline from drug or alcohol violations for good faith reports of hazing.
HB1203 – Veteran Suicide Prevention. Establishes the position of Suicide Prevention Coordinator in the Department of Veterans Services to support and coordinate effective mental health care services for military service members and veterans.
SB741 – Facial Recognition Technology. Authorizes public law enforcement agencies to use facial recognition technology for certain uses, including criminal investigations. This was one of the most complicated bills of the session, which attempts to balance the benefits of this technology for solving crimes/helping victims with the fact that the technology is imperfect and can be abused.
SB345 – Blood Type on Drivers License. Requires DMV to establish a way for an applicant to voluntarily indicate their blood type on a license or card for the purpose of alerting emergency medical services.
SB8 – Hunting on Sundays. Permits hunting on Sundays on public or private land so long as it takes place more than 200 yards from a place of worship. Up until now, Sunday hunting was only allowed on private land.
HB4 – School Incident Reports. Requires that school principals report to law enforcement certain acts that may constitute a misdemeanor. Under current law, principals are only required to make such reports for acts that may constitute a felony offense. This was another hotly debated bill, not because serious misdemeanors shouldn’t be reported, but because some misdemeanors can be very broad. Assault, for example, can be any threat that puts the victim in reasonable apprehension of offensive touching, harm, or danger. The question wasn’t about whether those situations should be dealt with, but whether they should always be reported to the police. Hopefully we struck the right balance with the final legislation.
SB656 – Sexually Explicit Content in Instructional Material. Requires school boards to adopt policies that notify parents of any instructional material that include sexually explicit content. For any such material, the parent must be permitted to review the material and be provide a non-explicit alternative at the parent’s request.
HB50 – Infant Safe Haven Hotline. Requires establishment of a toll-free, 24-hour hotline with information about Virginia’s safe-haven laws for the relinquishment of an infant.
HB450 – Electric Vehicle Parking. Prohibits a person from parking a vehicle not capable of receiving an electric charge in a spot clearly marked as reserved for charging electric vehicles. A violation is subject to a $25 civil penalty.
SB777 – Banning the “Carolina Squat.” Provides that no vehicle may be modified to cause the height of the front bumper to be four or more inches greater than the rear bumper. The practice, known as the “Carolina Squat,” makes it very difficult to see immediately in front of the vehicle. Why people… why??
HB319 – Virginia Literacy Act. Increases access to literacy specialists in school and requires school boards to establish division-wide literacy plans and offer literacy intervention services for struggling students.
SB362 – Bicycles Two Abreast. Prohibits bicyclists riding two abreast from impeding the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and requires moving to a single-file formation as quickly as practicable when being overtaken from the rear by a faster moving vehicle.
There is a lot more in the online version! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have thoughts or questions. It is an honor to represent you. Have a safe and happy 4th of July!