Virginia Senate Republican Caucus

New Laws In Effect Today (and Phillips vs. Herring)

Thu, 2011-06-30 20:00 -- Mike
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Yesterday, July 1 - the start of a new fiscal year, and the day that most legislation adopted in Virginia went into effect. Here's a brief run-down of a few notable laws on the books as of yesterday, along with a few (specifically identified) that went into effect immediately upon passage a few months ago.

Jobs, the Economy, and Business

  • A partial unemployment benefits offset against Social Security retirement benefits when the unemployment trust fund stands below 50% solvency has been repealed, meaning that benefits will no longer be affected (SB 1113)
  • Employers with more than 50 employees entering into government contracts valued at $50,000 or more must enroll in E-Verify to screen out illegal immigrants (SB 1049)
  • The State Corporation Commission has been instructed to establish limits on the ability of utilities to cut of electricity for customers with serious medical issues (SB 1165)
  • A tax credit may now be claimed against some telework expenses (HB 2197)
  • Increased R&D tax credits are available for businesses and individuals (HB 1447)

Public Safety and Community Protection

  • Gambling casinos under the guise of "sweepstakes cafes" are required to change their business model or close their doors (SB 1195 - my bill)
  • Synthetic marijuana, "bath salts," and other new, synthetic drugs have been banned since March in legislation that went into effect immediately upon passage (SB 745)
  • Protective orders are now based on conduct, not the identity of the individuals involved, providing protection to people not previously covered (HB 2063)
  • Schools must check bus driver applicants against the sex offender registry to screen out offenders (HB 2026)

Education

  • The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act goes into effect, with funding that follows the student; a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) partnership; additional economic and innovation incentives; and the creation of a Higher Education Advisory Committee to help guide education policy and keep college affordable (SB 1459)
  • Virginia's schools get a final year's reprieve before new (currently unfunded) education mandates go into effect (SB 810 - my bill)
  • The one-year residency requirement for in-state tuition will now be waived for veterans, another way Virginia supports those who fight for our freedom (SB 824)

Health Care

  • A series of health insurance reforms go into effect, restricting the ability of insurers to impose limits on essential benefits or the rescind policies; mandating coverage of preventative services without out-of-pocket cost sharing; permitting covered persons to designate their primary care provider (in-network); prohibiting preexisting condition exclusions for enrollees under 19; banning insurers from imposing higher cost-sharing for emergency services that are out of network or requiring preauthorization for emergency services; and requiring employers to offer dependent coverage through age 26 (HB 1958)
  • Patients may now authorize their health care provider to share their health records electronically with other providers; this remains fully at the discretion of the patient (HB 2515)

Other Issues

  • A real property tax exemption for veterans with a 100% service-connected disability is in effect (SB 987)
  • Restaurants are now permitted to allow patrons to bring their own wine (typically subject to a "corkage fee"), though this is entirely at the discretion of the particular establishment (SB 1292
  • Motorists may soon obtain special "In God We Trust" and "Don't Tread on Me" license plates (SB 811 - my bill - and HB 1418)
  • In eminent domain takings, the condemnor must now provide a property appraisal, and if he condemned property is never utilized (for a legitimate public use), provisions are made for offering to sell the land back to the original owner (SB 1436
  • Voter registration forms will now be available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold (SB 1213)

 

These are just a few of the 890 bills signed into law this year. If you wish to learn more about new laws now in effect, you may wish to consult {this guide} provided by the Virginia Department of Legislative Services, and of course my office always stands ready to answer any questions you may have.

Legislation is not made in a vacuum. It is a collaborative process, and as a legislator, I rely on input from constituents and friends across the Commonwealth. As always, I encourage your questions, comments, and concerns, as well as your thoughts on what issues the General Assembly should address next year.

Race in Focus: Patricia Phillips vs. Mark Herring

And you thought the cost of living in Northern Virginia was expensive enough already.

Democrats on the Metro Washington Airport Authority disagree, and want to impose a costly forced unionization plan on the Dulles metrorail expansion, with most of the cost overruns coming out of the pockets of local taxpayers. Even the Washington Post has editorialized against the move, which makes a mockery of Virginia's right to work laws - but Virginia's labor unions don't have a better friend that Senator Mark Herring (D-Leesburg).

Senator Herring has voted with the AFL-CIO 100% of the time since he's been in office. Over those same years, Dick Saslaw can't say that. Janet Howell can't say that. But Mark Herring can.

 

That's not the only way Mark Herring is working to drive up costs. He has consistently voted to raise taxes, though this should hardly come as a surprise, since Herring's policies on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors saw a 53% tax increase during his four years in office.

 

Virginia can't afford Mark Herring, but fortunately, there's an alternative. Patricia Phillips is a true conservative, someone who stands up for limited government and fiscal responsibility, someone with a serious plan to reduce road congestion in Northern Virginia without raising taxes - someone who will put the needs of Virginians above the demands of the liberal lobby.

 

Defeating an incumbent isn't easy. McDonnell won the new 33rd Senate District with 55% of the vote, though, so it's a seat worth contesting, and Patricia would make a great Senator. 

 

I'm doing everything I can to help candidates like Patricia, but doing so takes money. Will you help mework toward a conservative Republican majority in the Senate of Virginia?