ROANOKE, Va. – July 1 is a big day for two reasons in Virginia.
First, it’s when the state moves into Phase 3 of reopening.
Second, the focus of this article, it’s when laws passed and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam during this legislative session go into effect.
While there are too many to provide a comprehensive breakdown, you can find that here, here are 11 big ones.
Red flag law
Senate Bill 240 and House Bill 674 will establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order, creating a legal way for law enforcement to temporarily separate someone from his or her firearms when they represent a danger to themselves or others. This is more commonly known as a red flag law. When being discussed this became quite a controversial topic, with more than 100 cities and counties across the state declaring themselves as Second Amendment sanctuaries.
Senate Bill 69 and House Bill 812 reinstate Virginia’s previous law, which only allowed individuals to buy one handgun per month. The previous law was on the books for decades before being repealed in 2012.
Background checks on all gun sales
Senate Bill 70 and House Bill 2 will require background checks to be performed during all firearm sales in Virginia. The idea behind this legislation is to close what some call the gun show loophole, which allowed people to purchase firearms during gun shows from an unlicensed seller without a background check.
Northam signed two identical bills: Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 972, which decriminalize simple marijuana possession and provide a civil penalty of no more than $25. Prior to this law, someone with a half ounce of marijuana or less would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. With the newly-signed bill, the threshold for a Class 1 misdemeanor is now one ounce or less.
Local governments gain ability to remove war memorials
Senate Bill 183 and House Bill 1537, overturn the state’s law regarding the removal of Confederate war memorials. Prior to this, it was unlawful to disturb or interfere with such monuments or memorials. Now local governments may remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover any monument or memorial for war veterans on the locality’s public property. Monuments cannot just be removed with a simple vote as there are processes and procedures in place for making such decisions.
Lee-Jackson Day out, Election Day in
You no longer need a photo ID to vote
Northam signed House Bill 19, which removes the need for voters to show a form of photo identification in order to be allowed to vote. What will you need? Nothing, technically. Someone voting without photo ID will be required to sign a statement that the person is the named registered voter he or she claims to be in order to be permitted to cast a ballot.
Some of Virginia’s abortion restrictions are no more
Senate Bill 733 removes what Gov. Northam refered to as “medically-unnecessary” restrictions on women’s health care.
- Any person jointly licensed by the Board of Medicine and Nursing as a nurse practitioner acting within such person’s scope of practice can now perform a first trimester abortion
- Gone are all of the procedures and processes, including the performance of an ultrasound, required to effect a pregnant woman’s informed written consent to the performance of an abortion.
- Gone is the language classifying facilities that perform five or more first trimester abortions per month as hospitals for the purpose of complying with regulations establishing minimum standards for hospitals.
- The bill does not change the requirement that a pregnant woman’s informed written consent first be obtained.
New protections for LGBTQ people
Senate Bill 868 prohibits discrimination in housing, public or private employment, public spaces and credit transactions on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Insulin Price Cap (eventually)
Those living with diabetes will be able to pay less for needed insulin. House Bill 66, limits the insurance copay for insulin at $50 for a 30-day supply. This goes into effect on January 1, 2021.
Virginia’s minimum wage will become $15 (eventually)
Currently, Virginia’s minimum wage is $7.25. However, effective May 1, 2021, it will jump up to $9.50 an hour. So no, this doesn’t take effect July 1, but it was a part of this legislative session, so we wanted to include it on the list. Then in 2022, 2023, 2025, the wage increases until January 1, 2026, when it reaches $15 an hour.