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Here are some of the new laws that go into effect in Virginia today

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Posted at 9:10 AM, Jul 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-01 10:15:49-04

Richmond, Va. – Several new laws go into effect July 1st in Virginia.

Here is a rundown of some of the more notable pieces of legislation passed during the 2015 Session of the General Assembly:

Agriculture:

HB 1277/SB 955. Industrial hemp production and manufacturing. The law allows the cultivation of industrial hemp by licensed growers as part of a university-managed research program. The law defines industrial hemp as the plant Cannabis sativa with a concentration of THC no greater than that allowed by federal law, excludes industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Drug Control Act, and bars the prosecution of a licensed grower under drug laws for the possession of industrial hemp as part of the research program. The bill directs the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to adopt relevant regulations and establish an industrial hemp research program to be managed by public institutions of higher education.

Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)

HB 1776/SB 1032. Alcoholic beverage control. The law eliminates the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board and replaces it with the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority

HB 1908/SB 1034. Alcoholic beverage control; powdered or crystalline alcohol; penalty. The law, which became effective on April 15, 2015, adds powdered or crystalline alcohol to the definition of alcoholic beverages, prohibits containers sold in or shipped into the Commonwealth from including powdered or crystalline alcohol, and creates a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone who purchases, possesses, offers for sale or use, sells, or uses a powdered or crystalline alcohol product.

Boating

HB 1298. Noncommercial vessels; reasonable suspicion. The law requires law-enforcement officers to have reasonable suspicion that a violation of law or regulation exists before stopping, boarding, or inspecting a noncommercial vessel on the navigable waters of the Commonwealth. The law allows conservation police officers and Virginia Marine Police officers to (i) stop, board, and inspect in order to inspect hunting, fishing, or trapping licenses or creel and bag limits and (ii) conduct lawful boating safety checkpoints in accordance with established policies of the two agencies.

Breastfeeding

HB 1499/SB 1427. Right to breastfeed in public places. The law provides that a mother may breastfeed in any place where the mother is lawfully present. Current law allows breastfeeding on any property owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth.

Campus Safety

HB 1785. Campus police departments; sexual assault reporting. The law requires that mutual aid agreements between a campus police force and a law-enforcement agency require either the campus police force or the agency with which it has established a mutual aid agreement to notify the local attorney for the Commonwealth within 48 hours of beginning any investigation involving felony criminal sexual assault occurring on campus property or other property related to the institution of higher education. The law also requires institutions of higher education that have security departments instead of campus police forces to enter into a memorandum of understanding with a law-enforcement agency that requires similar notification to the local attorney for the Commonwealth.

HB 1930/SB 712. Institutions of higher education; reporting acts of sexual violence. The law requires any responsible employee of a public or private nonprofit institution of higher education who in the course of his employment obtains information that an act of sexual violence has been committed against a student or on campus property or other property related to the institution to report such information to the Title IX coordinator for the institution as soon as practicable, who must in turn report such information to a review committee that is required to meet within 72 hours of the receipt of such information. If the review committee determines that disclosure of the information regarding the alleged act of sexual violence is necessary to protect the health and safety of the victim or other individuals, the information, including personally identifiable information, must be reported to the law-enforcement agency responsible for investigating the alleged act. In addition, the law requires the governing board of each public or private nonprofit institution of higher education to (i) establish a written memorandum of understanding with a local sexual assault crisis center or other victim support service and (ii) adopt policies to provide victims with information on contacting such center or service. The law requires each public or private nonprofit institution of higher education to annually certify to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia that it has reviewed its sexual violence policy and requires the Department of Criminal Justice Services to monitor and report on the impact of the legislation on the workload of local victim witness programs.

SB 1193. Academic transcripts; suspension, permanent dismissal, or withdrawal from institution. The law requires the registrar of certain public and private institutions of higher education, or the other employee, office, or department of the institution that is responsible for maintaining student academic records, to include a prominent notation on the transcript of each student who has been suspended for, has been permanently dismissed for, or withdraws from the institution while under investigation for an offense involving sexual violence, defined as physical sexual acts committed against a person’s will or against a person incapable of giving consent, under the institution’s code, rules, or set of standards governing student conduct. Any notation due to a student’s suspension must be removed if the student completed the term and conditions of the suspension and has been determined by the institution to be in good standing.

Child Support

HB 1602. Proration of child support. The law clarifies that the Department of Social Services, in allocating child support payments received pursuant to one or more judicial or administrative orders, shall prorate payments on the basis of amounts due for current support and, upon satisfaction of all amounts due for current support, prorate the remainder on the basis of amounts due for accrued arrearages. The law directs the Department to allocate payments received pursuant to federal tax refund offset pursuant to subsection h of 45 C.F.R. § 303.72.

Marijuana

HB 1445/SB 1235. Possession or distribution of marijuana for medical purposes; epilepsy. The law, which became effective on February 26, 2015, provides an affirmative defense in a prosecution for the possession of marijuana if the marijuana is in the form of cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil possessed pursuant to a valid written certification issued by a practitioner of medicine or osteopathy licensed by the Board of Medicine for purposes of treating or alleviating a patient’s symptoms of intractable epilepsy. The law provides that a practitioner shall not be prosecuted for distribution of marijuana under these circumstances.

Pet Sales

SB 1001. Sale and procurement of certain pets. The law prohibits the sale or display of a dog or cat on or in a roadside, parking lot, flea market, or similar place, with certain exceptions. The law limits the sources of pet shop dogs to humane societies, public or private animal shelters, and those that meet certain qualifications, establishes a recordkeeping requirement for pet shops selling dogs, and applies the existing misdemeanor penalty for a violation of the law to each dog sold or offered for sale.

Social Media

HB 2081. Employers; disclosure of social media account information. The law prohibits an employer from requiring a current or prospective employee to disclose the username and password to his social media account. The law also prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to add an employee, a supervisor, or an administrator to the list of contacts associated with the employee’s social media account.

State Song

HB 1472/SB 1362. State song. The law designates “Our Great Virginia,” lyrics by Mike Greenly and arranged by Jim Papoulis, as the official traditional state song and “Sweet Virginia Breeze,” by Robbin Thompson and Steve Bassett, as the official popular state song

Taxes

HB 1286/SB 701. Individual income tax refunds; payment. The law requires the Tax Commissioner and State Comptroller to implement procedures to allow an individual to elect to have his income tax refund paid by check mailed to his address. The law applies to individual income tax returns relating to taxable year 2015 and taxable years thereafter.

HB 1721. Real property tax exemption; surviving spouses of members of armed forces killed in action. The law exempts from taxation the dwelling of the principal residence of a surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces of the United States killed in action. If the value of the dwelling is in excess of the average assessed value of dwellings in the locality situated on property zoned as single family residential, then the portion of the value in excess of such average assessed value shall be subject to taxation. Pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 6-A of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia, which was adopted by the voters in 2014, the General Assembly previously enacted legislation exempting from taxation the principal residence of such surviving spouse only if the assessed value of the residence was not in excess of the averaged assessed value. The law exempts the portion of the residence below the average assessed value, regardless of the full assessed value of the dwelling.

Traffic

HB 1342/SB 1220. Following too closely. The law includes non-motor vehicles (bicycles, electric assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, and mopeds) among vehicles that the driver of any motor vehicle shall not follow more closely than is reasonable.

SB 781. Passing with a double yellow line. The law allows drivers to cross double yellow lines or a solid yellow line immediately adjacent to a broken yellow line in order to pass a pedestrian or a device moved by human power, if such movement can be made safely.

Click here to see a more complete list of this year’s new laws from the Virginia Division of Legislative Services