General Assembly Update (7/1/11)
Today marks the effective date on hundreds of new laws passed by the 2011 General Assembly. I am proud to have passed several bills this year that will promote solar energy generation, make mortgage refinance easier, and streamline adoptee’s access to birth records, among others.
- Persons in dating relationships are now eligible to obtain protective orders. In the past, abused spouses or those in a familial relationship with an abuser were eligible but those in dating relationships that did not live with their abuser or have a child with him or her were not. My bill on this subject, HB 2422 was incorporated into the final legislation (HB 2063).
- Localities can now permit school systems to install video cameras on school buses to detect vehicles that illegally pass stopped buses that may be picking up or dropping off children (HB1911).
- Victims of sexual abuse now have 20 years–up from two years–to file lawsuits against their alleged attackers. As a member of the Courts of Justice Committee, I heard hours of testimony on this bill which, while not perfect, provides more time for victims to come to terms with their traumatic experience and initiate civil court proceedings (HB1476).
- Motorcyclists, mo-ped operators and bicyclists can now proceed through steady red lights after two light cycles or two minutes if their vehicle doesn’t trigger a light change as long as they exercise due care (HB1981).
- Restaurants licensed by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board can permit customers to bring in and consume their own wine and can charge a corkage fee (SB1292).
- Individuals who have cast absentee ballots but who die before Election Day will now have their ballots counted (HB1568).
- State workers will receive a 5 percent pay raise in exchange for being required to pay 5 percent of their salary toward the Virginia Retirement System, which was recently found to have a $17 billion “unfunded liability.” (Read more about that issue here)
- Producers selling agricultural produce or eggs in farmers markets and roadside stands will be exempt from the sales and use tax if the seller’s annual income from sales does not exceed $1000.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the General Assembly, and I hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July Weekend.