Thursday, July 19, 2018

New Laws in 2018

July is the month that most of the new laws approved by the General Assembly & signed by the Governor officially become law. However, because many of us have probably been busy watching the World Cup, it’s possible that some of these changes went unnoticed. So let me highlight some of the successful legislation that we worked on in Richmond this past session.

Ever wanted to go to take your dog along to a winery but found that your destination didn’t allow it? Well worry not, your dog can now accompany you on those winery, distillery, or brewery events so long as you don’t take them into the areas used for the manufacturing of food products. No more last-minute searches for dog sitters!

Have you ever read the research on the benefits of using CBD oil and THC-A oil for treatment of certain conditions? Well since March 9, 2018 a practitioner can issue a prescription for the use of CBD oil and THC-A oil for the purposes of treating or alleviating symptoms of a specific diagnosed condition or disease.

Virginia is home to many military and state department families whose careers require them to live in and out of Virginia from time to time. Many spouses have earned professional teaching credentials in other states during their travels, but have difficulty getting their license in Virginia, so we made the process for licensing out-of-state teachers smoother by (i) permitting teachers with valid out-of-state license and full credentials to receive licensure by reciprocity and (ii) by permitting a local school board or division superintendent to waive certain licensure requirements for anyone who holds a provisional license and is employed by the local school board.

Have you been trying to or been thinking about installing solar panels on your property? Well now you can install these panels on your roof or building to serve all your electric or thermal needs. The installation must still comply with any height and setback requirements in the zoning district where the property is located.

Thinking about getting a new license plate? If you would like to show your support for gun violence prevention you can now get a special license plate bearing the legend STOP GUN VIOLENCE. Many of you know this was a bill I carried this year - we were finally able to get it passed because of my constituent, Carol Luten, and her unfailing commitment to getting all the required prepaid applications.

Do you own an all-terrain vehicle, moped, or off-road motorcycle? Then this law may apply to you. Starting October 1, 2018, these types of vehicles will be subject to the motor vehicle sales and use tax. But don’t worry - if the Virginia retail sales tax has already been paid on a vehicle, it is exempt from motor vehicle sales tax.

If there is ever an emergency when you need to contact 9-1-1 but can’t make a phone call, by July 1, 2020 each public safety answering point will be required to be able to receive and process calls for assistance sent via text message.

Driving can be dangerous, especially when there are individuals using their phones instead of giving their full attention to the road. To promote the safety of our workers on highway work zones, there is now a mandatory fine of $250 for those seen using their phones while driving in these areas.

Finally, we all know the difficulties in getting a higher education. With the law we just passed, the Virginia Community College System will be required to develop a 15-credit-hour Passport Program and a 30-credit-hour Uniform Certificate of General Studies Program that can be offered at each community college for which courses are transferable. Along with the previous change, the law also requires that each college or university develop a pathway map that clearly outlines the courses that a community college student is encouraged to take before transferring to a college or university. These changes will make it easier to pursue a higher education within the Commonwealth.

The Division Legislative Services (DLS) prepares a summary of these new laws called In Due Course. While I’ve only highlighted a few relevant pieces of legislation, the full summary from DLS can be found here.

If you have questions about this legislation or if you have ideas for something I can introduce during the next General Assembly Session, please contact my office at (571) 327-0053 or