Hundreds of new Virginia laws will go into effect on July, 1 that passed during the 2016 legislative session. This week, I want to highlight a few of them for readers while the topic is timely. The format of this week’s column will be a little different.
High School Redesign: The Board of Education, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, will develop and implement a Profile of a Virginia Graduate that identifies the knowledge and skills that students should attain during high school to be successful contributors to the Commonwealth’s economy, emphasizing critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication and good citizenship. Beginning with the 2018 freshman class, students will have options for different pathways to graduation to better prepare them for the new economy.
The first two years of high school will emphasize core skillsets, and students will have multiple paths toward college and careers that include internships, externships and credentialing.
Protecting Physical Education: Children in Virginia’s elementary schools must have at least 20 minutes of physical activity during the school day.
Tolling Overhaul: Gives drivers who use HOTLanes and EZ-pass toll roads more notice for unpaid tolls and lowers penalties for unpaid tolls. The new law also allows reciprocity with other states to allow tolls to be collected for travelers who reside out-of-state.
Smoking in a Vehicle with a Child: This new measure makes it a secondary offense to drive with a child under the age of eight years old in the car and smoking, subject to a civil penalty of $100.
Dooring: Requires drivers to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side adjacent to moving traffic. Failure to do so will result in a traffic violation and up to a $50 fine.
JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Financial Exploitation of Adults: The law provides that upon receipt of a report or during an adult protective services investigation of suspected financial exploitation of an adult who is 60 years old or older or incapacitated in which financial losses to such adult resulting from the exploitation are suspected to be greater than $50,000, the local department of social services or adult protective services hotline shall immediately refer the matter to the local law-enforcement agency for investigation.
Structured Settlement Protection Act: The General Assembly passed a law to protect victims of predatory settlement purchasers. The bill will require the purchaser and the payee appear in circuit court where the payee lives. This change will help ensure the predatory companies that purchase structured settlements cannot take advantage of the payee, and the payee understands exactly what deal they’re entertaining.
Dating Violence Education: High school students in Virginia will learn to identify dating violence in relationships. The goal is to reduce domestic violence once those students become adults.
Cannabidiol Production: The General Assembly passed a new law to help epilepsy patients obtain cannabidiol oils to help with treatment. Previously, the oils could be possessed in Virginia, but not produced or purchased. Allowing the oils to be produced in the Commonwealth will increase their availability.
ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
Electrical Line Siting: Virginia will now require the State Corporation Commission to hold a public hearing when choosing where to put new high-voltage electrical lines. This measure will protect neighborhoods from unsightly and dangerous electrical lines.
If you’re interested in discussing legislative ideas for next year, please contact my office at DelPKrizek@house.virginia.gov.