New Virginia laws target raccoons, protect car-wash fundraisers, mint new license plates

It’s now OK to hunt and kill raccoons after 2 a.m. on Sundays.

It’s not OK to use a drone to knowingly and intentionally enter someone else’s property and come within 50 feet of a dwelling to “coerce, intimidate, or harass” another person. You’ll be looking at a class 1 misdemeanor if you do.

You can now get a special license plate that says “Stop Gun Violence,” and there are new revenue-sharing plates for supporters of Virginia Future Farmers of America, The Alzheimer’s Association and Virginia’s electric cooperatives that say “Keeping the Lights On.”

Don’t use a handheld personal communications device for reading emails or texting while operating a motor vehicle in a highway work zone when workers are present or you could receive a mandatory fine of $250.

Certain restaurants and retail markets will now be exempt from the prohibition against purchasing or selling processed snakehead fish.

People who steal something valued at $500 or more will now be charged with grand larceny, the threshold having been raised from $200.

These are just a handful of the new laws passed by 2018 session of the Virginia General Assembly. Here are some others included by the staff of the Division of Legislative Services in a report called “In Due Course,” shared with us by Fauquier County Del. Michael Webert:

    Manufacturers or contract testing facilities are now required to use an alternative to animal testing when available. The requirement does not apply to a facility using an animal-test method for the purpose of medical research, drug research or research involving certain other products. Any person who violates the law may be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000.

    A convicted person’s sentence can now be reduced if they provide substantial assistance, in the furtherance of the investigation or prosecution of another person engaged in an act of violence or for offenses involving the manufacture or distribution of controlled substances or marijuana.

    The law excludes from the definition of “boarding establishment” any private residential dwelling that shelters, feeds, and waters fewer than five companion animals that are not owned by the proprietor.

    A licensed hunter is now allowed to use tracking dogs to find a wounded or dead bear, deer or turkey and it authorizes the hunter to have a weapon in his possession and to use it to humanely kill the tracked animal, including after legal shooting hours. Current law prohibits a hunter from having a weapon in his possession while tracking.

    Animal shelter officials are now required to ask and document whether, if known, a dog or cat being taken in has bitten a person or animal and the circumstances and date of such bite. The law also requires that bites be disclosed upon release of a dog or cat for adoption and in other circumstances. Violation of such requirements is a class 3 misdemeanor.

    The law revises the definition of “small employer” for purposes of health insurance to provide that it includes a self-employed person.

    Veterinarians who dispense controlled substances are now “required to report certain information about the animal and the owner of the animal to the Prescription Monitoring Program.”

    A new law establishes historical horse racing as a form of horse racing and we’ll be able to place bets on videotaped reruns of previous races.

    Hunters in an enclosed ground blind during any firearms deer season — except during the special muzzle-loading rifle season —  won’t have to wear specified protective clothing if they display attached to or immediately above the blind at least 100 square inches of solid blaze orange or solid blaze pink material visible from 360 degrees.

    Localities can no longer ban car-washing fundraisers that use biodegradable, phosphate-free, water-based cleaners. And those car-washing fundraisers will no longer need permits from the state.

    Hunters can also now use arrowguns to hunt deer and small game when hunter is licensed to hunt with bow and arrow. The law authorizes the use of an arrowgun, a pneumatic-powered air gun that fires an arrow, for hunting and allows certain disabled hunters to obtain an archery license for hunting with an arrowgun.

    Child restraint devices cannot face forward until the child reaches two years of age or until the child reaches the minimum weight limit for a forward-facing child restraint device as prescribed by the manufacturer of the device.

    The law now permits law-enforcement vehicles to be equipped with steady-burning blue or red lights in addition to being equipped with flashing, blinking, or alternating blue, blue and red, blue and white, or red, white, and blue combination warning lights of types approved by the superintendent of State Police.

    Beginning January 1, 2019, the law requires General Assembly members and their full-time legislative staff and full-time employees of each legislative branch agency to complete sexual harassment training once every two calendar years.

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