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 impact of several new laws. You can read the entire list here.
My HB477, New Veterans Care Center
During session, the General Assembly authorized funding for two new veterans care centers in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. These new facilities will free up space in existing facilities in Richmond and Roanoke and provide for better care of Virginia’s veterans.
My HB448, Jobs to Chesterfield County
The General Assembly passed legislation that helps Shandong Tranlin Paper Co. create 2,000 new jobs in Chesterfield County. Tranlin purchases crop waste from farmers and, using an environmentally sustainable process, recycles it into paper products and organic fertilizer.
My HB834, Improved Economic Development
A major cornerstone of the House job growth agenda was my HB834 that establishes the Growth & Opportunity Board, the centerpiece of “GOVirginia”. This business driven initiative facilitates greater collaboration between the business community, higher education and local governments. By aligning the needs of the three segments, we will encourage the creation of good paying jobs in high demand fields as identified by each specific region, and make economic development dollars go further.
There will be two constitutional amendments on the ballot this November.
The first will enshrine our right to work status in Virginia’s 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 member killed in the line of duty.
I encourage you to vote “Yes” on both of these amendments in November.
Safe Families & Safe Communities
The General Assembly 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.
The General Assembly passed legislation requiring state and local governments to buy U.S. or Virginia flags produced in the United States with only materials from the United States.
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.
In closing, you can contact me at my district office by email at email@example.com, by phone at 804-526-5135, by US mail at PO Box 1205, Colonial Heights, VA 23834, or by stopping by my Colonial Heights office at 250B East Ellerslie Avenue. I appreciate your views on legislation that will help me do a better job for the people I represent.
Please visit my Facebook page and my Twitter page. These pages, along with my website, have information/links to the 2016 General Assembly Session to include my 44 pieces of legislation, visitors’ photos, my legislative survey, videos of floor remarks, and related topics.