New Virginia State Laws
Effective July 1, 2021
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed into law scores of bills that include abolishing the death penalty, expanding access to healthcare and birth control, measures to promote equity, and providing access to early voting. Here are some of those bills.
- Absentee ballot witnesses – Removes the requirement for a witness signature on absentee ballots during a declared public health emergency and directs the Department of Elections to evaluate alternatives to witness signatures in verifying the integrity of absentee ballots
- Absentee ballot vendors – Allows general registrars to contract with third-party vendors to ensure timely printing and distribution of absentee
- Alcohol delivery – Codifies Northam’s Executive Directive 10 and allows delivery and takeout of alcoholic beverages until July 1, 2022
- Birth control – Virginians who rely on Medicaid can receive up to a 12-month prescription for birth control.
- Childcare – Expands eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy Program.
- Death Penalty: Abolishes the death penalty, including for those persons currently under a death sentence. The bill provides that no person may be sentenced to death or put to death on or after its effective date for any violation.
- Disposing of Litter Penalty - Increases the minimum fine for dumping or disposing of litter, trash, or other unsightly matter on public or private property from $250 to $500.
- Electric vehicle sales – Helps reduce air pollution by requiring car manufactures to sell a certain percentage of electric or hybrid-electric cars
- Electric vehicle policies – Directs the State Corporation Commission to report on policy proposals that will increase the use of electric vehicles
- Equity – Requires state agencies to establish and maintain comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plans and codifies the Northam Administration’s ONE Virginia Plan.
- Early voting – Localities are allowed to provide access to early voting on Sundays
- Health care access – The funding mechanism for local health departments is revised to increase support for public health, emergencies, and response efforts.
- Healthcare workers – Establishes programs to manage career fatigue and wellness among healthcare providers and medical students.
- Special Identification Cards — Authorizes the parent of any person under the age of 18 or the legal guardian of any person to apply for a special identification card on behalf of such person.
- LBGTQ – Establishes an LBGTQ+ Advisory Board to advise the governor on the economic, professional, cultural, educational, and governmental links between the commonwealth and the state’s LGBTQ+ community.
- Lee Highway – Authorizes Arlington County to rename Lee Highway, the county’s section of Route 29.
- Reduction of Speed Limits. Authorizes local governing bodies to reduce the speed limit to less than 25 miles per hour, but not less than 15 miles per hour, in a business district or residence district.
- Sale or Transfer of Firearms - Criminal background check increases from three business days to five business days which is the time provided for the Department of State Police to complete a background check .
- Statue removal – The Department of General Services is directed to remove the statue of Harry Byrd Sr. from Capitol Square in Richmond. Byrd, a former Virginia governor and longtime U.S. senator, segregationist resisted all attempts to segregate schools in Virginia.
- Traffic Violations—It will now be more difficult for authorities to pull over drivers for minor infractions, which have often been used as an excuse by police. Several minor infractions, while still illegal, can no longer be the primary reason police stop you while you’re driving. These include certain defective equipment, objects dangling from your rear view mirror, loud exhaust, tinted windows and smelling marijuana to name a few. These violations have long been used to stop people, disproportionately persons of color, for drug investigations. An expired inspection or registration sticker can still get you pulled over; however, it has to be at least four months late.
For a complete listing of new laws see this legislative website
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