Slew of New State Laws Take Effect Friday

As of July 1, Virginians have to be at least 16 to get married and anyone subject to a permanent protective order will have 24 hours to give up their guns.

Those are just two of dozens of Virginia laws that go into effect later this week, as the state begins a new fiscal year.

Here’s a snapshot of legislation that was passed in the General Assembly this spring and signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D):

Marriage: Senate Bill 415, introduced by Sen. Jill Vogel (R-27) and House Bill 703 put new age minimums on marriage. Now, 18-year-olds can still marry on their own, but a judge will have to sign off on marriages involving 16- or 17-year-olds and take into consideration that the union is in the best interest of the minor. Vogel advocated the change after learning that children as young as 13 have been married in Virginia.

Guns: A lot of legislation related to guns came through the General Assembly this year. Some of that was prompted by a threat from Attorney General Mark Herring, before the session started, to end concealed carry reciprocity agreements with other states. That set the stage for a compromise. Republicans won support for two bills, HB 1163 and SB 610, that allow Virginians with permits to conceal carry in nearly all other states. Virginia will also recognize permits from those states through reciprocity agreements. In exchange, Democrats, including McAuliffe, won support for HB 1391 and SB 715, which will require anyone subject to a permanent protective order to give up their guns within 24 hours. They can turn them into law enforcement or turn them over to a friend or family member. If they’re found with a gun, they can face up to five years in prison. Also, a State Police representative will now attend every gun show in Virginia to perform voluntary background checks, a new law stemming from HB 1386 and SB 715. While licensed gun dealers are required to perform such a check, private citizens are not.

Proffers: The General Assembly hit Loudoun hard this year with a bill that will limit agreements the county government makes with developers to keep up with the impacts of growth. SB 549, penned by the Homebuilders Association of Virginia and introduced by delegates. Mark D. Obenshain (R-26) and Richard L. Saslaw (D-35), was passed by state legislators and signed by the governor over the objections of localities across the state. Loudoun supervisors say it would put the kibosh on creative deals like having Brambleton developers build a library in exchange for higher housing density. The county continues to discover ramifications of the bill, and several legislators have said they plan to continue working to weaken the bill’s impact next year.

Executions: The state can now purchase lethal injection drugs without revealing the companies involved, under HB 815. These drugs are hard to come by because pharmaceutical companies have faced protests for providing them.

Smoking: A new law contained in HB 1348 says any person who smokes in a vehicle with a child younger than 8 can face a traffic ticket and civil penalty of $100.

Bicycles: Drivers who don’t check before opening their car doors on the street can now face a $50 fine. The law, SB 117, is meant to protect cyclists.

Education: Two bills sponsored by Del. Thomas A. “Tag” Greason (R-32), of Ashburn, to modify the Standards of Learning were successful. One, HB 831, requires that SOL exams include computer science and computational thinking, including computer coding. A law introduced in the Senate, SB 211, will require at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day, on average, for elementary school children. Schools have until 2018 to comply.

Stalking: Several new laws crack down on stalking. HB 752 and SB 339 make it easier to prove in court. It says that if a person on whom the stalker is focused doesn’t want to be contacted, then attempting to contact that person is evidence of an intent to cause fear of death or assault. HB 610 makes stalking a class 6 felony for those already under a protective order, and HB 886 increases the penalty for a second stalking offense.

Tolls: HB 1069, a bill meant to be more lenient on Virginia drivers, increases the period before private highway tolling companies can increase violation fees and decreases civil penalties on unpaid tolls. It caps penalties for a first violation at $2,200.

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