New laws coming July 1st

 

Dear Friend,

I am taking a short break from my regular coronavirus email updates to provide you with some timely information regarding new laws and taxes that take effect on July 1st. Our state constitution requires these new laws to become effective on July 1st unless otherwise directed in the bill text.

Democrats used their new found majority to pass a series of tax hikes and bad business bills. These new laws will have a negative impact on families across the state.

I have not covered every new bill here, but rather a few of the highlights. In addition to this email, you can read the 2020 edition of “In Due Course” from the Division of Legislative Services that also details new laws. You can learn who voted for and against each bill by visiting https://lis.virginia.gov.


New Taxes

The General Assembly passed a wide range of tax increases this year. Most of them have a delayed effective date and will not begin on July 1st. Some of the new taxes were originally planned with a delayed effective date while others were pushed back as a result of COVID-19. For now, we’ll see the following:

  • HB 785 authorizes localities to double the tax on cigarette/tobacco products
  • HB 534 implements a plastic bag tax of 5 cents per bag

HB 1414 originally would have hiked the gas tax by 5 cents on July 1st, but has been delayed until 2021. HB 785 will also grant different localities to increase meals tax, admissions tax, and lodging tax. It also allows counties to increase the meals tax without a voter referendum.

I’ll keep you updated throughout the fall and next spring as these new taxes take effect.


New Laws

With the ongoing discussion surrounding Confederate statues and monuments, HB 1537 will allow local governments to remove or alter any war memorials beginning July 1st. The new law sets out a path for removal that includes a public hearing and a requirement that the statue be offered to a museum or other similar entity. The bill allows for the option of a referendum by the voters, but does not mandate it.

The General Assembly passed a number of Governor Northam’s gun control bills during session. HB 421 will give individual localities the authority to adopt gun regulations. This will result in a patchwork of ever-changing gun laws across the state that will make it more difficult for responsible gun owners to keep track of.

HB 19 will repeal Virginia’s current photo ID law that requires a voter present a photo ID when voting. In a time when it’s important for Americans from all walks of life to have faith in our electoral system, this new law will inevitably raise questions about the security of our elections. HB 201 will allow same-day voter registration, adding an additional task for our election staff on an already busy day.

During the Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton days, Democrats argued that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” But based on Governor Northam’s infanticide comments and HB 980, we know that “safe, legal, and rare” has been pushed aside. HB 980 expands the list of who can perform an abortion to include nurse practitioners.

Not every bill passed by the General Assembly is bad. There are still a number of bipartisan areas in which members of both parties can and do agree on.

I supported HB 1513 to provide health insurance credits for retired public school employees. This bill will, depending upon the length of service of the retiree, provide credits to assist with healthcare benefits.

The General Assembly also adopted my HB 307 that increases the crime solver reward cap from $1,000 to $5,000. This new law will help obtain useful tips regarding crimes that will help detectives solve violent crimes in our communities. I was glad to work with our local Chesterfield/Colonial Heights Crime Solvers group on this bill.

We also passed HB 928 sponsored by Delegate Carrie Coyner. The bill establishes a recovery school pilot program in Chesterfield County to ensure that students struggling with drug addiction can receive necessary treatment while staying up to date with their studies.


As always, it is an honor to represent you and your family in the House of Delegates. If you have any questions about these bills or any other bills considered during the regular session, let me know. You can access the bill text and vote tallies by visiting https://lis.virginia.gov.

Sincerely,

Kirk Cox