What’s New in VA Law?

2017

On February 16, 2017 the Virginia Board of Medicine (“The Board”) adopted regulations entitled “Governing Opioid Prescribing for Pain and Prescribing of Buprenorphine.” The regulations were adopted under the Board’s emergency authority given that State Health Commissioner Marissa Levine declared on November 20, 2016 an opioid addiction crisis as a public health emergency. The regulations quickly advanced through the approval process by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget and were signed by the Governor on March 13, 2017. The regulations became effective March 15, 2017Read more.

New laws related to Game and Inland Fisheries, effective July 1, 2017: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/legislation/


2016

These new Virginia laws took effect July 1, 2016:

  1. The legislature passed bills to eliminate the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and replace it with an authority that will have a board of directors and a chief executive officer to be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. The law eliminating the agency takes effect in July 2018.
  2. A new law allows a mother to breastfeed in any place where she is lawfully present.
  3. McAuliffe signed three measures that emerged from his Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence. The measures require high school family life curricula to educate students on dating violence and other forms of sexual assault; train law enforcement on handling investigations involving sexual trauma; and tighten requirements for retaining physical evidence from sexual assault investigations. Physical evidence recovery kits from victims who initially elect not to report a sexual assault now will be stored for two years or longer.
  4. Lawmakers passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would grant the state board of education the authority to establish charter schools. Previously, only local school boards could establish charter schools. If the legislature approves the proposed constitutional amendment again in 2016, it will go on the state ballot in a 2016 referendum. If voters then passed it, it would become part of the state constitution in 2017.
  5. The new omnibus child day care law requires fingerprint-based background checks for licensed day care centers and family day homes. The law lowers to four from five the number of children unrelated to the provider who can be cared for in a family day home without a license. It requires employees and volunteers to notify the provider if they are convicted of certain crimes or are the subject of a founded complaint of child abuse or neglect. The provisions of the law that require licensing of family day homes providing care for five or more children will take effect on July 1, 2016. The provisions that require fingerprint-based national criminal history records checks take effect on July 1, 2017.
  6. A law signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe freezes base rates for political heavyweight Dominion Virginia Power until 2020 and stops the State Corporation Commission from conducting a comprehensive review of the company’s earnings until 2022.
  7. Bicycles, mopeds and other nonmotorized vehicles are now included in the list of vehicles for which a motorist can be cited for following too closely. Drivers passing a stationary mail vehicle that displays a flashing, blinking or alternating amber light must proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for the road conditions. When passing stationary trash collection vehicles on roads with fewer than four lanes the driver must decrease speed by 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit and pass at least 2 feet to the left of the vehicle.
  8. A new law bars the use of unmanned aircraft systems by law enforcement or regulatory agencies unless the agency has obtained a search warrant ahead of time. A search warrant is not required for certain uses, such as search and rescue operations and the use of such systems for private, commercial or recreational use.
  9. A new law seeks to protect a person who tries to help by reporting someone else’s overdose to authorities. The law establishes an affirmative defense to prosecution of an individual for simple possession of a controlled substance or marijuana, public intoxication or unlawful purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol if the person who makes the report stays at the scene, identifies himself and cooperates with law enforcement. Read more about the Good Samaritan law.
  10. A new law bars an employer from requiring a current or prospective employee to disclose the username and password of the person’s social media account. It also bars the employer from requiring a worker to add an employee, supervisor or administrator to his contact list.
  11. A new law requires state officials to make it possible for Virginians to get their income tax refunds paid by check and mailed to their address. The law applies to individual income tax returns relating to taxable year 2015 and taxable years thereafter.
  12. New laws governing ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft take effect. The services have been operating under interim rules that McAuliffe signed into law in February. The rules include background checks for drivers that would review felony histories and disqualify drivers who had a history of driving under the influence or other serious moving violations. Drivers must submit to zero-tolerance policies regarding the use of drugs or alcohol, and the companies agreed to hire only licensed drivers 21 and older. Drivers must maintain an additional $1 million of liability coverage from the moment a driver accepts a trip request until the passenger leaves the vehicle, and liability insurance for drivers who are logged on to the companies’ software but not providing services. Drivers for Uber and Lyft had until today to register personal vehicles with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to continue uninterrupted operation after the state’s new law takes effect.