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These new Virginia laws are now in effect

The Capitol is seen behind a sunrise
Shaban Athuman
/
VPM News
The Virginia State Capitol is seen on Thursday, April 25, 2024 in Richmond.

The commonwealth’s fiscal year runs from July 1–June 30.

With the fiscal year starting in Virginia, most of the new laws signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin from the winter’s General Assembly session are now in effect.

Virginia has officially become the first Southern state to ban child marriage. There are also protections for same-sex and interracial marriages in the Virginia Code making the unions legal, even if the U.S. Supreme Court rules otherwise.

The State Corporation Commission is also helping to expand solar access with public utilities across the commonwealth.

Virginia ABC

This bucket of legislation passed to help streamline rules and regulations set forth by the newly independent Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority on serving mixed alcoholic beverages at performing arts venues or sporting facilities.

Mixed drinks to-go are also permanently available at restaurants, bars and distilleries in the commonwealth.

Behavioral and mental health

As part of the governor’s “Right Help, Right Now” plan, many laws will help strengthen and enhance the commonwealth’s behavioral health services and workforce. VPM News’ Jahd Khalil took a look at many of the new laws bringing change to the home and community care system in the commonwealth.

Under “Irvo’s Law” — named for Irvo Otieno, a man killed in 2023 while under police custody — the Virginia Code has been amended to permit family members or legal guardians of someone undergoing a mental health crisis be present with the person for support and/or to help them make decisions, unless the person objects or a medical professional deems it a “medical, clinical, or safety risk to the patient or healthcare provider or interferes with patient care.”

Health

Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation will establish a two-year pilot program where all-terrain power wheelchairs can be found in state parks. The pilot program will help individuals who have limited mobility better access to Virginia’s state parks.

As VPM News previously reported, community health workers employed by the Virginia Department of Health will continue their front-line care work with two years’ of funding.

People who have an “eligible medical condition,” including inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome, people who have ostomies and pregnant people are allowed to have “immediate access to a toilet facility,” even when it’s not a public restroom.

A person who is in urgent need of a bathroom will have to provide the establishment with evidence of their medical condition — in the form of a statement signed onto a prescription by a medical professional or an identification card. The Virginia Department of Health has a resource to request a restroom access card on its website.

Guns

It is now illegal to own, sell or make auto sears, or devices designed to convert weapons to shoot more than one shot without manual reloading, effectively turning them into automatic weapons in Virginia.

“Lucia’s Law” is also now in effect. Named for a 13-year-old Henrico County resident named Lucia Bremer, who was shot and killed by a 14-year-old, makes it possible to criminally charge parents or guardians with felony child neglect if their child finds and possesses a firearm with the intent to harm themselves or others.

Animal-related laws

Any deer, turkeys, elk or bears that are found dead on the side of the road and presumed to have been killed in a vehicular accident can now be claimed by anybody, and whoever claims the roadkill has the ability to do whatever they wish with it, ranging from creating a trophy of it to eating it. It replaced a previous law that limited roadkill trophies to the motorist who collided with an even narrower species list.

It is now illegal for cats to be declawed, unless it’s necessary for a therapeutic request — and the procedure can only be performed by a licensed veterinary professional.

There is also now an official state pollinator: the European honey bee.

Meghin Moore is a VPM News editor. She's a Penn State graduate with a background in broadcast and digital journalism. Previously, she worked at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.
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