Celebrating Our Nation of Laws on Independence Day
Happy Independence Day! As we endure this summer heat, I’d like to take the opportunity to make you aware of some important updates in our state and region.
As always on July 1st, a host of new laws went into effect in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I shared “In Due Course,” a summary of new laws published by our Division of Legislative Services, on social media Monday. I am often able to share news more quickly on my social media pages. I encourage you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to ensure you receive updates quickly and efficiently.
“In Due Course” details several new laws, including:
- Rear-facing child car seats HB708. Prohibits child restraint devices from being forward-facing until the child is at least two years of age or reaches the minimum weight limit as determined by the manufacturer. This law goes into effect July 1, 2019.
- Locally, if you would like to ensure that your child restraint device is properly and safely installed, Albemarle Fire & Rescue takes appointments to provide education and inspection of devices. You can reach them via phone at 434-531-6614 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms HB609/SB391. Requires landlords to install smoke alarms and annually certify that the alarms are in good working order. Also requires landlords to install carbon monoxide alarms if requested by the tenant. Prohibits tenants from removing or tampering with such alarms.
- Dogs in wineries HB286. Provides that dogs may be allowed in any area that is not used to manufacture food at licensed wineries, breweries, or distilleries.
- You can take Fido with you while visiting our incredible local breweries and wineries this summer!
- DNA analysis upon conviction of certain misdemeanors HB1249/SB565. Adds misdemeanor violations of assault and battery and trespass to the list of offenses for which an adult convicted of such offense must have a sample of blood, saliva, or tissue taken for DNA analysis.
- Public elementary schools and unstructured recreational (recess) time HB1419/SB273. Authorizes local school boards to provide, in elementary schools, a certain amount of unstructured recreational time. This will help to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness for students.
- If you’d like to determine how much time elementary school students get for recess and/or to request that recess time be increased in your area, contact your local school board.
- Use of handheld personal communications devices; highway work zones HB1525. Imposes a mandatory $250 fine for using a handheld personal communications device for texting or reading email in a highway work zone.As a reminder, it is illegal to text/email and drive anywhere in Virginia (more information here).
There are several other pieces of legislation not included in the “In Due Course” publication that I’d like to highlight for you.
- We have welcomed the Red Salamander as our Official State Salamander (HB459). The Red Salamander was selected for its vibrant, beautiful coloration, its widespread distribution across the Commonwealth, and its ability to raise awareness about conservation efforts. Virginia is only the 14th state to have an official state salamander.
- We passed an exciting new budget that will help improve our economy and education system while investing in our state employees and behavioral health services.
- Medicaid expansion will cover 400,000 more Virginians across the Commonwealth. To learn more about eligibility, covered services, and how to apply, check out Virginia’s Medicaid Expansion information website.
- Non-confidential court records will now be available to the public upon request and provided no later than 30 days after the request, as covered under HB780/SB564.
- The Virginia Beer Museum can now sell beer to museum goers thanks to SB769, which added a special “museum license” to current ABC law.
Welcoming Our Newest Americans
As we celebrate our nation’s founding with fireworks, barbecues, and time with family and friends on Independence Day, this year we are exceptionally aware that thousands of immigrants are working their way diligently through the citizenship process, and many more would seek safety and refuge in our nation under law. As we do each year, my family is celebrating new citizens at the annual Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello, where people from more than 30 other countries will take their oath and become Americans today. Join us there beginning at 9 am, or watch online (archived at the livestream link).
Visits in Charlottesville
We are a “citizen legislature.” That means members of the General Assembly spend most of the year in our home districts. I am back in Charlottesville and available to meet with you. Please call my Charlottesville office at (434) 220-1660 to schedule an appointment or to speak by phone. And feel free to pass this email along to a friend or neighbor and encourage them to sign up for these updates. This is a great way for citizens to learn more about state and local issues.