Your turn — Gas tax increase among new laws effective July 1

Published 12:33 pm Friday, July 8, 2022

Virginia drivers will be paying more at the pump, as the gas tax rose on Friday to keep pace with inflation.

A project of House Democrats, House Bill 1414 in 2020 not only raised the gas tax 10 cents per gallon over two years, but it also indexed the tax to ensure that it rises every July. This year, that hike will be 7%, at a time when gas prices are at near record levels.

Continuing from last week’s newsletter, I have included several other new laws that became effective in the Commonwealth as of July 1. I will continue to update new laws over the next few weeks.

• Safe Haven Protections for Newborns Delivered to Hospitals (SB63): Provides an affirmative defense in certain criminal prosecutions and civil proceedings regarding child abuse or neglect to a parent who safely delivers his child within the first 30 days of the child’s life to a newborn safety device located at a hospital that provides 24-hour emergency services or at an attended emergency medical services agency that employs emergency medical services personnel.

• Criminal Penalty for Misuse of Power of Attorney (SB124): Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for an agent under a power of attorney to financial exploit an incapacitated adult who is the client of that agent.

• Removing Northam’s Red Tape on Restaurants (SB146): Provides that regulations adopted by the State Board of Health shall not include the proposal requiring an establishment that sells only prepared food to have a certified food protection manager on site during all hours of operation.

• Invalidating Surrogacy Contracts that Require Abortion (SB163): Provides that any provision of a surrogacy contract requiring the surrogate mother to receive an abortion or “selective reduction” is against the public policy of the Commonwealth and is void and unenforceable.

• Bicyclists in Traffic (SB362): Prohibits persons riding bicycles, electric personal assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, or motorized skateboards or scooters two abreast from impeding the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and requires such individuals to move into a single-file formation as quickly as is practicable when being overtaken from the rear by a faster-moving vehicle.

• Board Certified Optometrists May Perform Laser Surgery (SB375): Allows an optometrist who has received a certification to perform laser surgery from the Board of Optometry to perform certain types of laser surgery of the eye and directs the board to issue a certification to perform laser surgery to any optometrist who submits evidence satisfactory that he is certified to do so.

• Ensuring Parental Notification of Any Explicit Instructional Material (SB656): Virginia schools have to alert parents if books or other materials their children are assigned have sexually explicit content and provide an alternative option if they want one by 2023. The measure signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin requires the Virginia Board of Education to develop policies by July 31 that will ensure “parental notification of any instructional material that includes sexually explicit content.”

• Allowing Police Use of Facial Recognition (SB741): Authorizes local law-enforcement agencies, campus police departments and state police to use facial recognition technology.

• Police ticket quotas (HB750/SB327): Prohibits any agency of the Commonwealth from establishing a formal or informal quota that requires a law-enforcement officer to make a specific number of arrests or issue a specific number of summonses within a designated period of time. The bill also provides that the number of arrests made, or summonses issued by a law-enforcement officer cannot not be used as the sole criterion for evaluating the law-enforcement officer’s job performance.

• Legalization of Switchblades (SB758): Eliminates the prohibition for selling, bartering, giving, furnishing, or possessing a switchblade. Virginia’s longtime ban on switchblades will end in July, but people won’t be able to conceal the knives from view.

• Virginia Literacy Act (HB319/Lucas SB616): Makes several changes relating to early student literacy. The provisions of the bill become effective beginning with the 2024–2025 school year.

• Gambling Education (HB1108): Requires instruction concerning gambling and the addictive potential thereof to be provided by public schools as prescribed by the board of education.

• Counting Early Votes by Precinct (SB3): Early votes will now be counted by the voter’s local precinct instead of in large, murky central absentee pools for an entire county or city. This bill also passed the Senate in 2020 and 2021, but House Democrats refused to allow its consideration when they were in the majority.

• Weekly Lists of Decedents to Department of Elections (SB211): Requires the State Registrar of Vital Records to transmit to the Department of Elections a weekly list of decedents from the previous week.

DEL. C. MATTHEW FARISS represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.