RICHMOND, Va. – Governor Ralph Northam signed hundreds of bills into law and they will go into effect in July.
Not many controversial bills were signed this year but some of the new laws affect important parts of Virginian’s lives.
Click here to see the list of over 800 laws that will go into affect.
Here’s some that may affect your life or business:
Public schools; instructional time: Requires local school boards to provide (i) a minimum of 680 hours of instructional time to students in elementary school, except for students in half-day kindergarten, in the four academic disciplines of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science and (ii) a minimum of 375 hours of instructional time to students in half-day kindergarten in the four academic disciplines of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science. The bill authorizes local school boards to include and requires the Board of Education to accept, for elementary school, unstructured recreational time that is intended to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness in any calculation of total instructional time or teaching hours.
Local school boards; school meal policies: Requires each local school board to adopt policies that (i) prohibit school board employees from requiring a student who cannot pay for a meal at school or who owes a school meal debt to do chores or other work to pay for such meals or wear a wristband or hand stamp and (ii) require school board employees to direct any communication relating to a school meal debt to the student’s parent, which may be made by a letter addressed to the parent to be sent home with the student.
Limits on prescription of controlled substances containing opioids: Eliminates the surgical or invasive procedure treatment exception to the requirement that a prescriber request certain information from the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) when initiating a new course of treatment that includes prescribing opioids for a human patient to last more than seven days. Under current law, a prescriber is not required to request certain information from the PMP for opioid prescriptions of up to 14 days to a patient as part of treatment for a surgical or invasive procedure. The bill has an expiration date of July 1, 2022.
Electric vehicle charging stations; local and public operation: Authorizes any locality or public institution of higher education, or the Department of Conservation and Recreation, to locate and operate a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on property such entity owns or leases. The bill allows a locality to limit the use of a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on its property to employees of the locality and authorized visitors and to install signage that provides notice of such restriction. The bill exempts such a locality, public institution of higher education, or the Department of Conservation and Recreation from being considered a public utility solely because of the sale of electric vehicle charging service or the ownership or operation of an electric vehicle charging station and further exempts such service from constituting the retail sale of electricity.
Drones – Trespass; unmanned aircraft system; report; penalty: Provides that any person who knowingly and intentionally causes an unmanned aircraft system to enter the property of another and come within 50 feet of a dwelling house (i) to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person or (ii) after having been given notice to desist, for any other reason, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill also provides that any person who is required to register with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry who uses or operates an unmanned aircraft system to knowingly and intentionally (a) follow or contact another person without such person’s permission or (b) capture images of another person without such person’s permission when such images render the person recognizable is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Additionally, any respondent of a permanent protective order who uses or operates an unmanned aircraft system to knowingly and intentionally follow, contact, or capture images of any individual named in the protective order is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill also repeals the expiration of the prohibition on local regulation of privately owned, unmanned aircraft systems, clarifies the scope of such prohibition, and clarifies that such prohibition extends to all political subdivisions and not only to localities. The bill requires the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, in consultation with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, to submit a report to the Governor and General Assembly no later than November 1, 2019, on the impact of this act on unmanned aircraft research, innovation, and economic development in Virginia.
Feminine hygiene products; no cost to female prisoners or inmates: Directs the State Board of Corrections and the Director of the Department of Corrections to each adopt and implement a standard or procedure to ensure the provision of feminine hygiene products to female prisoners and inmates without charge.
Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation; Board for Barbers and Cosmetology; license requirements: Creates the occupational title of master barber and requires the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology to issue a license to practice as a master barber, defined in the bill, to any individual licensed as a barber prior to December 8, 2017, and to an applicant who has successfully (i) completed the educational requirements as required by the Board, (ii) completed the experience requirements as required by the Board, and (iii) passed the examination approved by the Board. The bill contains an emergency clause.
Industrial hemp research programs: Authorizes the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services to undertake research through the establishment of (i) a higher education industrial hemp research program, to be managed by institutions of higher education, and (ii) a Virginia industrial hemp research program. The bill classifies all participants in any research program as either growers or processors and replaces the current licensing requirement, which requires a police background check, with a registration requirement.