The 2016 General Assembly adjourned in early March. Throughout the 60-day session, we considered thousands of bills. Most of the bills that ultimately passed and were signed by the Governor will go into effect on July 1.
Every year, the General Assembly publishes a comprehensive list of bills that are likely to affect your everyday life. Below, I have highlighted the major accomplishments. You can read the entire list here http://dls.virginia.gov/pubs/idc/idc16.pdf
There will be two constitutional amendments on the ballot this November. The first will enshrine our right to work status in Virginia constitution, which will make Virginia a stronger state for business by guaranteeing that no employee can be fired just because he or she refuses to join a union. The second constitutional amendment will give localities the option to provide a property tax exemption to the surviving spouse of a law enforcement, firefighter, or emergency service personnel killed in the line of duty. I encourage you to vote "Yes" on both of these amendments in November.
Safe Families & Safe Communities
We passed a number of laws aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence by increasing penalties for repeat offenders. It will now be a Class 6 felony to stalk someone under a protective order or commit an assault and battery against someone under a protective order. We also passed legislation making it a felony to violate a protective order with a firearm. These laws will help make our families and communities safer.
Starting July 1, Virginia will expand its concealed carry reciprocity. Virginia will now have reciprocity with every state that has a concealed carry statute. Virginia will recognize the permits from all fifty states, and the State Police is required to enter agreements ensuring Virginia's permit is recognized in other states. This legislation was part of a compromise with Governor McAuliffe to reverse Attorney General Mark Herring's unilateral move last year to end concealed carry reciprocity. This major, bipartisan compromise secures the rights of law-abiding citizens.
After July 1, it will be illegal to smoke in cars with a child under the age of eight present. Violators will be subject to a $100 fine.
Physical Activity Requirement
The General Assembly passed legislation this year requiring 20 minutes of physical activity per day, or an average of 100 minutes per week, for students in Kindergarten through fifth grade.
High School Graduation Requirements
Starting July 1, Virginia will begin to overhaul its high school graduation requirements. The goal is to simplify the bureaucratic processes for parents and students while maintaining high standards that ensure our students can succeed in the workforce or college. The new requirements apply to students who enroll in high school as (a) a freshman after July 1, 2018; (b) a sophomore after July 1, 2019; (c) a junior after July 1, 2020; or (d) a senior after July 1, 2021.
I was proud to patron a bill that provides that whenever a state or local public body or school division purchases a flag of the United States or a flag of the Commonwealth for public use, such flag must be made in the United States from articles, materials, or supplies that are grown, produced, and manufactured in the United States, if available. This bill was passed by both the House and the Senate unanimously. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2017.
Transparency in Healthcare Costs
Starting July 1, every hospital will be required to provide to patients upon request the cost of any elective procedure, test or service that they will be required to cover.
Student Privacy on Social Media
We passed legislation that prohibits colleges and universities from requiring a student to disclose the username or password to any of his or her personal social media accounts.
Quote of the Day:
"The Patriot's blood is the seed of freedom's tree. " Thomas Campbell