Senator Ralph Smith Sums Up New Virginia Laws

The General Assembly considered 1,987 bills in addition to hundreds of resolutions during the 2012 session. Ultimately 846 of these bills were signed into law by Governor Bob McDonnell after they passed the House of Delegates and the Senate.

Most of these new laws will go into effect this Sunday, July 1. Below are brief summaries of some of the new laws. The items below are included for informational purposes and are not all necessarily proposals that I supported.

Business and Taxes

The Governor’s reorganization of the executive branch of state government deregulated hair braiders, hair braiding schools, mold remediators, and mold inspectors.

Installers of conventional septic tank installers with eight years of experience are exempt from the licensure exam.

Roanoke County may impose a 7 percent transient occupancy tax in addition to the 5 percent sales tax. The current transient occupancy tax rate is 5 percent. The new revenue shall be used by the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau to market the region as a tourist destination.

Crime

The ban on synthetic marijuana and “bath salts” has been expanded to include newly developed chemical compounds and a more generic chemical description of synthetic marijuana so that new chemical compounds will be considered synthetic marijuana without the precise chemical compound having to be added to the Code.

Adults convicted of sex crimes against children under 13 years old will face a mandatory life sentence.

Individuals convicted of a DUI will be required to use an ignition interlock after the first offense, as a condition of a restricted license.

Individuals required to register on the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry shall not be permitted to operate a charter bus used to transport children to and from day care and certain children’s activities.

The time limit for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect by mandated reporters has been reduced from 72 hours to as soon as possible but not longer than 24 hours after having reason to suspect a reportable offense of child abuse or neglect.

The punishment for strangulation will be elevated to a class six felony.

Education

The date for teacher contract renewals will shift from April 15 to June 15.

Corporations that offer scholarships to low-income families for kindergarten through 12th grade students attending private schools will be eligible for tax credits.

The Board of Education has been directed to modify the credits necessary for a student to earn a standard or an advanced studies diploma. The advanced studies diploma shall be the recommended diploma for students pursuing baccalaureate study. The standard diploma shall include a concentration in career and technical education and a requirement to earn a career and technical education credential.

The Board of Education is required to develop licensure criteria for teachers who teach only online courses.

Health

As a component of the existing “Informed Consent Law,” women seeking an abortion shall undergo a transabdominal ultrasound imaging and be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image.

Health insurers that provide cancer chemotherapy are required to provide coverage for a prescribed, orally administered anti-cancer medication.

Firearms

The prohibition on purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period has been repealed.

Government

The mandate that local governments create urban development areas has been repealed.

The Governor’s reorganization of executive branch of state government combined, consolidated, and streamlined over 50 government boards and agencies.

State agencies, local governments, the Virginia National Guard, and of their employees are prohibited from assisting the U.S. military in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of a U.S. citizen in violation of the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation.

Voters will be required to show identification before casting a regular ballot. Acceptable forms of identification include: a Virginia voter registration card, a social security card, a valid Virginia’s driver’s license, any identification card issued by a Virginia locality, an agency of the Commonwealth, or the United States government, any valid student identification card issued by any institution of higher education located in Virginia, any valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of the employer’s business, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or a paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter.

Transportation

Two-thirds of all budget surpluses shall be dedicated to transportation funding.

Two-wheeled motorcycles may now drive two abreast in a single lane.

The establishment of “motorcycle only” police check-points are prohibited.

Veterans

Veterans who are permanently disabled due to a service-connected disability will be allowed to obtain a combined hunting and freshwater fishing lifetime license for free.

Wrongful Death

There is now a legal cause of action for the death of a unborn child caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of any person, ship, vessel, or corporation.