General Assembly Has Full Slate of Bills To Consider This Session

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By Linda Cicoira
Recently proposed bills set to go before Virginia’s General Assembly later this month range from designating the oyster as the state’s first food and doubling the minimum wage by 2021.
The wage proposal aims to increase the federally mandated $7.25 an hour to $10 effective July 1, 2019, to $13 an hour July 1, 2020, and to $15 on July 1, 2021, “Unless a higher minimum wage is required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.”
Del. Rob Bloxom has proposed 12 bills. The website, vpap.org, did not show any new bills for Sen. Lynwood Lewis.
Bloxom’s proposals include ones for remote sales and use tax collection; parking of certain vehicles in Cape Charles; a transient occupancy tax in state parks; assignment eligibility for riparian planting ground; removing the requirement that a salvage vehicle be a late model; maximum charges for vehicle inspections; and a bill pertaining to driver privilege cards.
The vehicle inspection bill would increase the fee from $12 to $15 for a motorcycle inspection and from $16 to $25 for a standard vehicle.
Other proposed bills include ones that:
• Allow retail on-premises alcohol licensees to advertise happy hours including prices of featured beverages and creative marketing techniques, provided that such techniques do not tend to induce overconsumption or consumption by minors.
• Prohibit a health insurance carrier from imposing co-payment or a fee for contraceptive benefits.
• Clarify that a service member stationed outside of Virginia, who is a state resident, may apply for a resident concealed handgun permit.
• Require health clubs to have a working automated external defibrillator.
• Require the State Corporation Commission to make available for public inspection records and reports regarding commission investigations of deaths or injuries caused by an incident involving a natural gas utility.
• Require employees of a bank, trust company, savings institution, industrial loan association, consumer fi-nance company, credit union, investment company, investment advisor, securities firm, accounting firm, or insurance company to report suspicions of financial exploitation of a customer.
• Exempt vehicles used for private security by a licensed security canine handler from limitations on window tinting.
• Add cancers of the colon, brain, or testes to the list presumed to be an occupational disease covered by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act for firefighters and certain employees.
• Require all campaign finance reports to itemize each contributor and information regardless of the amount of the contribution.
• Put a mandatory 30-day minimum jail term on those convicted of threatening to bomb, burn, destroy, or damage a private or public elementary or secondary school or who makes a false statement about the existence of such a threat.
• Permit any school board to finance capital projects with unexpended funds appropriated to it by the lo-cal governing body.
• Entitle those qualified to vote to register and cast a ballot in person at locations approved by the electoral board, on the day of the election.
• Provide that juveniles determined by the court to be a threat to the security or safety of other juveniles detained in a juvenile facility be transferred to or confined to a jail or other facility for adult detention. The bill removes the existing provision that such adult-detention facilities must be approved by the State Board of Corrections for the detention of juveniles.
• Eliminate interest for fines or costs imposed in a criminal case or traffic infraction beginning July 1.
• Require the DMV, upon request, to indicate on an applicant’s special identification card that he or she is blind or vision impaired.
• Provide presidential and vice-presidential candidates receiving the most votes receive two electoral votes and the candidates who receive the highest number of votes cast in each congressional district receive one electoral vote. Currently, those who receive the highest number of votes cast statewide receive all the state’s electoral votes.
• Request the health department increase awareness of shingles and shingles prevention.
• Allow localities to prohibit the posses-sion or carrying of firearms, ammunition, or other components during a permitted event or an event that would otherwise require a permit.
• Provide tenants reasonable attorney fees when an action brought by a landlord to enforce the terms of a rent-al agreement is dismissed or judgment is entered in tenants’ favor.
• Expand the benefits of Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program to the spouse or child of any veteran who served in the Armed Forces of the United States, Reserves of the Armed Forces of the United States, or the Virginia National Guard with at least a 90 percent permanent, service-related disability.
• Increase from a Class 6 to a Class 4 felony the punishment for those convicted of driving a watercraft or motorboat while intoxicated in a manner so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life, unintentionally causing the serious bodily injury of another person resulting in permanent and significant physical impairment. This bill would create a Class 6 felony for such driving that unintentionally causes serious bodily injury of another person.
• Require local building departments to provide an applicant with a written explanation detailing why an application was denied.
• Authorize state agencies to operate a retail fee-based electric vehicle charging station on property the agency controls.
• Establish a process for jail administrators to petition the court for a prisoner to get medical or mental health treatment when the prisoner is incapable of giving consent.
• Authorize counties to impose a local cigarette tax, provided it uses the revenue for construction or improvement of local elementary or secondary schools. Currently, only Arlington and Fairfax counties can impose a local cigarette tax.
• Require the board of education to collaborate with various stakeholders to annually update its guidelines on informing and educating coaches, student athletes, and student athletes’ parents or guardians of the nature and risk of concussions, criteria for removal from and return to play, risks of not reporting the injury and continuing to play, and the effects of concussions on student athletes’ academic performance. Local school divisions would be required to annually update their policies and procedures regarding the identification and handling of suspected concussions in student athletes.
• Require VDOT to collect and retain audio and video collected by traffic cameras for at least 14 days.
• Include within the definition of “hate crime” a criminal act committed against a person because of sexual orientation or gender identification and requires the reporting of the commission of such crime to the state police.
• Direct the chief medical examiner to establish a collection and testing process for the blood of a person from whom a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services provider has been directly exposed to HIV or Hepatitis B or C viruses and make sure all agencies are aware of the process.
• Require employers to provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her nursing child for a year after the child’s birth. An employer is also required to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location close to the work area, other than a toilet stall, where such an employee can have privacy.
• Designate “Virginia, the Home of My Heart” by Susan Greenbaum as the official state folk song.
as the official state folk song.
• Direct the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Education to update the “Window into a Green Virginia” curriculum to include a unit on the benefits of recycling and reuse.
• Require localities with populations exceeding 25,000 and school divisions with more than 5,000 students to post quarterly on a local government web-site a register of all funds expended, showing vendor name, date of payment, amount, and a description of the type of expense, including credit card purchases with the same information.
• Prohibit, beginning Jan. 1, 2020, installation or use of any residential automatic pesticide misting system designed to be installed on the grounds or the exterior of a residential dwelling and to automatically spray a pesticide solution at timed intervals.