RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Longer recess for students, legalized slots-like betting machines, and looser regulations on bringing dogs to wineries are a few of the new Virginia laws going into effect Sunday.
The biggest item to come out of the General Assembly this year was a bipartisan agreement to expand Medicaid eligibility to about 400,000 low-income adults. That agreement is part of a state budget that takes effect July 1, but state officials said they don’t expect to begin enrolling newly eligible adults into the publicly funded healthcare program until next year.
Lawmakers were also busy passing hundreds of other laws, most of which go into effect on July 1. Here’s some notable ones:
DOGS at WINERIES:
The new law allows dogs within designated areas inside or on the premises of wineries, distilleries and breweries, except for areas where food is made.
A new law makes it easier for school boards to lengthen “unstructured recreational time” in public schools.
A new law will make it a crime to use a drone to “coerce, intimidate or harass” another person.
Virginia passed a law that will soften the penalties for people caught stealing smaller-dollar items, raising the felony threshold from $200 to $500. Virginia has kept its felony bar at $200 since 1980 and was tied with New Jersey for the lowest in the country.
A new law gives most nurse practitioners broader autonomy to practice without a physician’s oversight.
VETERINARIANS AND THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC:
A new law requires veterinarians who dispense controlled substances to submit information about the animal and its owner to the state’s prescription monitoring program.
MORE GAMBLING AT HORSE TRACKS:
Lawmakers passed a law to allow slots-like betting machines to revive the shuttered Colonial Downs horse-racing track outside Richmond. Supporters say the law will help revive the state’s equine industry while opponents say the law could eventually lead to full-fledged casinos in the state.
A new law repeals the prohibition on hunting or killing raccoons after 2 a.m. on Sundays.
TEXTING WHILE DRIVING:
Virginia drivers who are caught texting or reading emails while driving through a work zone when workers are present will be subjected to a mandatory $250 fine.
FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION:
A new law increases the state penalty for female genital mutilation from a misdemeanor to a felony. Parents who consent to the practice, which is common in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, can also be punished.
Virginians convicted of certain misdemeanor violations, including trespassing and assault, will be required to provide a blood, saliva or tissue sample for DNA analysis.