Police interactions, bullying at school and stronger booze; New VA laws start July 1

Hundreds of new laws take effect July 1, from hunting apparel to school bullying

By Erin Brookshier - Virginia Today Reporter

ROANOKE - Hundreds of new laws go into effect this weekend, covering everything from alcohol sales to hunting gear and even driver's education.

The General assembly has approved a total of more than 830 new laws in the last session, many of which go into place on July 1 when the state's new fiscal year begins.

One of the biggest laws will focus on teens and their interaction with law enforcement agents. The law, which started as House Bill 2290, requires each drivers education program taught in a public school to include a lesson on traffic stops. 

Students will learn what to do during traffic stops, how to appropriately interact with police officers and what they can expect if they're pulled over. While it may seem like common sense for some, Delegate Sam Rasoul says it's an important lesson that many people are never taught.

"During a traffic stop, the police officer may feel uncomfortable. The person being stopped may feel uncomfortable," said Rasoul. "So what is the best way to act during a traffic stop? We're making sure that your hands are visible, doing exactly what the officer says and just making sure there's a calmness about it."

When it comes to school bullying, state legislators are also getting involved. House Bill 1709 now requires parents of the student being bullied and the tudent doing the bullying to be notified about the incident within five days.

Rasoul says that's not a timeline for the investigation, schools can take much longer to sort out the incident and decide on punishments. The five day rule is just a way to make sure parents are aware of what's going on with their child at school.

"Even five days seems like a lot sometimes if a child has been bullied or is being bullied," he said. "So it's just making sure that parents are involved in the process and are notified o what's going on. We're just making sure all stakeholders are informed."

New laws also give local governments more authority to regulate shared home rental platforms, like Airbnb rentals. Senate Bill 1578 has home owners facing a penalty if they don't register or follow the required procedures to rent out their property.

A bill passed in both the house and senate will eventually change the way prescriptions are filled at local pharmacies. This one doesn't go into effect until July 1, 2020, but it is one to keep an eye on as legislators will be working on a plan of action over the next three years.

The law will require all prescriptions for medication containing an opiate to be submitted to pharmacies as an electronic prescription by doctors. Legislators hope this will cut down on the fraud that comes with prescription pads and paper refills. In turn, many hope it will also cut down on the growing opioid abuse and heroin problems in Virginia.

Starting July 1, hunters will now be allowed to wear blaze pink in addition to blaze orange hunting gear during hunting season. Hunters can also carry their license for beer, deer and turkey season as an electronic copy on their phone or tablet, instead of having to print it out.

ABC stores are also increasing the maximum alcohol limit from 101-proof to 151-proof. That means alcohol in the state of Virginia can now be more than 49-percent stronger.

Click here to see the full list of new laws going into effect.

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