Changing laws in Virginia take effect Tuesday
|By Bill Sizemore, The Virginian-Pilot|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Those are just some of the ways, large and small, that life will change for Virginians on Tuesday as a result of laws passed by the 2014
Most of the recent headlines out of
The budget impasse was driven by a deep partisan divide over whether to expand
However that battle turns out, a slew of other measures on which McAuliffe and the Assembly reached consensus will kick in Tuesday. Here's a look.
Standards of Learning
After years of mandating high-stakes standardized tests for public school students, lawmakers decided this year the testing load had become too onerous. They reduced the number of Standards of Learning tests required for elementary and middle school students to 17 from 22.
Owners of hybrid gasoline/electric cars screamed bloody murder after the 2013 Assembly levied a
Lawmakers heard the outcry and repealed the tax. Drivers who already have paid it for registration years beginning on or after
After several years of unsuccessful efforts, the Assembly finally scrapped a 1930 law that banned hunting on Sundays. It was one of the few remnants of a once-robust network of "blue laws" prohibiting commerce and other activities on the Christian Sabbath.
Still prohibited: hunting within 200 yards of a house of worship and hunting deer with dogs on Sundays.
Prodded by a gifts-and-loans scandal that has former Gov.
Under current law, officials can take unlimited gifts as long as they disclose them, and gifts to their family members need not be disclosed.
Starting Tuesday, gifts from any one lobbyist or government contractor will be capped at
Critics, including McAuliffe, say the changes in the law don't go nearly far enough. For example, the gift cap doesn't apply to so-called "intangible" gifts such as meals, trips and sports outings.
Voicing his displeasure, the governor vetoed funding for a new ethics advisory commission created in conjunction with the changes, promising to propose tougher ethics rules next year. A Republican-led effort to override his veto was unsuccessful.
Spurred by a lawmaker's family tragedy, the Assembly adopted a package of changes to
The new law extends the maximum length of an emergency custody order from six to 12 hours and requires state hospitals to take patients after eight hours if another bed isn't found. It also creates a real-time registry of psychiatric beds and increases from 48 to 72 hours the time someone who is civilly committed can be involuntarily held under a temporary detention order.
Motorists who pay tolls with a Virginia E-ZPass transponder no longer will be charged a monthly "account maintenance" fee.
The charges have been a thorn in the side of
Regional transportation commission
A new regional entity, the
The commission, which has bonding and tolling authority, is composed of the mayors and county board chairs of the 14 localities in
Bicycle passing clearance
The minimum legal clearance between a passing vehicle and a bicycle will increase from 2 to 3 feet -- an effort to give cyclists an extra margin of safety.
The wider clearance also applies when passing an electric assistive mobility device, moped or animal-drawn vehicle.
Electronic cigarettes, which deliver nicotine in vapor form, will join the list of tobacco products that can't be sold to or purchased or possessed by a minor.
Those who injure or maim others with stray bullets will be subject to a stiffer penalty.
Handling a firearm in a manner that shows a reckless disregard for human life and causes serious bodily injury, resulting in permanent and significant physical impairment, will be punishable by one to five years in prison.
Jobless benefits for military spouses
A military spouse who voluntarily gives up a job to follow a service member transferred to another location will qualify for unemployment benefits.
As of now, the new law doesn't apply to same-sex spouses. That could change if a pending legal challenge to
Perhaps the most unusual law going on the books Tuesday is the one requiring all new textbooks approved for use in
The measure arose from a grassroots lobbying effort by Korean-Americans for whom the Sea of
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