Opinion — New bills signed into law

Published 3:07 pm Friday, April 15, 2022

Governor Glenn Youngkin has already signed over 700 bills into law from the 2022 General Assembly Session. This week I am highlighting several of those bills.

AGRICULTURE

HB 1224, sponsored by Delegate David Bulova, reduces regulatory burdens on best management practices (BMPs) for our farmers. HB 463 and SB 141, sponsored by Delegate Terry Austin and Senator John Edwards, removes the fee for state boat ramps. HB 189 and SB 509, sponsored by Delegate Michael Webert and Senator Richard Stuart, provides the right to propagate shellfish by whatever legal means necessary.

MILITARY AND VETERANS

HB 17 and SB 618, sponsored by Delegate Buddy Fowler and Senator Richard Stuart, clarifies that members of military color guards, honor guards and veterans service organizations are exempt from the crime of unlawful paramilitary activity when the member is participating in training and education exercises, funerals, parades or other public ceremonies. HB 540, sponsored by Delegate Danica Roem, extends driver’s licenses to accommodate for military deployments. HB 120, sponsored by Delegate Scott Wyatt, reduces the fees for a lifetime hunting and fishing licenses for disabled veterans.

PUBLIC SAFETY

HB 748 and SB 150, sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell and Senator John Edwards, modernizes the DNA data bank sample tracking system. HB 907 and SB 526, sponsored by Delegate Emily Brewer and Senator Louise Lucas, streamlines the permitting of battery-charged fence security systems. HB 283 and SB 467, sponsored by Delegate Emily Brewer and Senator Jill Vogel, establishing training standards for law enforcement to recognize, prevent and report human trafficking. HB 756 and SB 614, sponsored by Delegate Les Adams and Senator Bill Stanley, provides Commonwealth’s Attorneys with more information to protect communities from violent criminals. HB 342, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon, removes obsolete language related to teletype systems no longer used by Virginia State Police.

EDUCATION

HB 741, sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell, requires local schools to create a detailed and accurate floor plan for school safety audits. HB 246 and SB 596, sponsored by Delegate Terry Kilgore and Senator Todd Pillion, allows for excused absences for students participating in 4-H education programs. HB 1146, sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell, authorizes governmental entities such as community colleges to train and test for commercial driver’s licenses. HB 418, sponsored by Delegate Karrie Delaney, streamlines the At-Risk Add-On program established by Section 22.1-199.1 of the Code of Virginia to remove a program which evidence shows does not addresses key deficits of struggling young readers.

HEALTH

HB 598, sponsored by Delegate Cliff Hayes, streamlines certification for surgical technologists. HB 1345, sponsored by myself, adds Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters to the membership of the Virginia Transplant Council. HB 555, sponsored by Delegate Cliff Hayes, allows health care providers to notify patients electronically of the transfer of patient records. HB 738 and SB 691, sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell and Senator Monty Mason, requires a court order of an evaluation of a defendant’s competency to stand trial to be provided to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. SB103, sponsored by Senator Lionell Spruill, Sr., supports economic development by updating provisions of the Shipping and Logistics Headquarters Grant Program that was originally established in 2021.

Governor Youngkin has also signed the Virginia realtors health insurance legislation into law. The new law, which will go into effect on July 1, is the first step in a process of negotiating plans with potential insurance providers.

House Democrats realized Friday that they’re on the losing side of the tax relief argument and rolled out their own plan to help Virginians. Their idea is to give car owners a $50 gift card for gas, up to $100 per household.

Rather than just lower the price for everyone, it brings money into Richmond, then sends it back to drivers in the form of debit cards. Businesses, especially small businesses, will be left out in the cold. Farmers who buy on-road fuel for tractors and other equipment get nothing.

How long will it take Richmond to figure out who gets these cards, how much, and then ship them out? What about car owners in jail? Car owners who live out of state but have cars registered in Virginia? What about families with college students at home who drive? There are many households that have more than two cars.

We know suspending the gas tax works. It worked in Georgia, it worked in Maryland and it worked in Connecticut. If tax suspension is such a bad idea, why have places like Connecticut and New York gotten on board? The simple way to do this is just to suspend the gas tax like Democratic-run states are doing.

Del. C. Matthew Fariss represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.