New Laws effective July 1, 2014: Report from Delegate Marcus Simon

 email-header(1)Fought the Law (And the Law Won)

~ The Bobby Fuller Four

Dear Friend,

For many January 1 is the time to usher out the old and ring in the new.  In Virginia we go through a similar process with our laws at the mid-point of the year. Under the Virginia Constitution legislation enacted at a regular session of the General Assembly takes effect on the first day of July following the session.
During the 2014 Session the General Assembly created some new crimes and established new policies in response to advances in technology and the impact it is having on how we live our lives.  We also repealed some laws that were deemed no longer relevant in twenty-first century Virginia, and some more recent laws that were probably a bad idea to begin with.

Revenge Pornography. legislation I introduced early this session that becomes law July 1st  makes it a crime to maliciously disseminate any video or still image created by any means whatsoever that depicts another person who is partially or totally nude. Typically these images are created and exchanged willingly during the course of an intimate relationship, but are later posted on-line or disseminated amongst a closed community by a jilted partner after the relationship comes to an end.  When such dissemination is done with an intent to intimidate, coerce or harm the person depicted, it is sometimes described as Revenge Porn. That activity will now be illegal in Virginia.


Sale of E-Cigarettes to Minors. The General Assembly added nicotine vapor products and alternative nicotine products to the list of tobacco products that cannot be sold to or purchased or possessed by a minor. E-cigarettes had been growing in popularity among younger and younger Virginians and are perceived as being harmless, although evidence is growing that they  present many of the same health hazards as tobacco cigarettes.


Reckless handling of firearms (Brendon’s Law). Named for  seven-year-old Brendon Mackey, a Richmond area boy who was killed after being struck in the head by a stray bullet believed to have been fired in celebration of the 4th of July, a new law provides that any person who recklessly handles a firearm and through such reckless handling causes the serious bodily injury of another person is guilty of a Class 6 felony.


We also repealed or modified some long-time Virginia laws that no longer made sense in modern day Virginia. Beginning this summer, Virginia will loosen its long time ban on Sunday Hunting in the Commonwealth.  It is now legal to hunt waterfowl on Sundays, and with the permission of a landowner to hunt or kill any wild bird or wild animal on private property on Sundays.


The $64 annual license tax levied on hybrid electric motor vehicles was also repealed this session. A person who prepaid the tax for a hybrid electric motor vehicle for any registration year beginning on or after July 1, 2014, may apply for a refund from the Department of Motor Vehicles for the amount of the tax paid.


Standards of Learning (SOL) reform. In response to an outcry from parents and students across the Commonwealth that too much classroom time was being used to The General Assembly reduced the number and type of Standards of Learning assessments in grades three through eight and requires the Secretary of Education to establish the Standards of Learning Innovation Committee to periodically review the Standards of Learning and assessments.


Elementary and secondary school students; expulsion.  Recognizing that the so-caller zero-tolerance policies of the past haven’t been effective, and in some cases have had tragic unintended consequences, students who have committed certain weapons or drugs offenses are no longer required to be expelled regardless of the facts of the particular situation.


Student-athletes; concussion policies. Any youth sports program utilizing public school property to will now be required to establish policies and procedures regarding the identification and handling of suspected concussions in student-athletes, consistent with either the local school division’s policies and procedures or the Board of Education’s Guidelines for Policies on Concussions in Student-Athletes, or follow the local school division’s policies and procedures regarding the identification and handling of suspected concussions in student-athletes.


The Fraud and Abuse Whistle Blower Protection Act that currently apply to state government employees will be expanded to apply to all Virginia citizens who will now be eligible for an award from the Fraud and Abuse Whistle Blower Reward Fund.


Every hospital in the Commonwealth with a newborn nursery will now be required to perform a critical congenital heart defect screening test on every newborn in its care prior to discharging the infant.


The General Assembly established first-time home buyer savings accounts which may be used solely for the down payment and closing costs incurred for the purchase of a home by a first-time home buyer. Any income earned on a first-time home buyer savings account may be deducted for Virginia income tax purposes.


Community associations may no longer prohibit a property owner from installing a solar energy collection device on the owner’s property unless the community association’s recorded declaration establishes such a prohibition. Typically recorded declarations can only be changed my a super-majority of all landowners.

Yours in service

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