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Focus on Fairfax
July 1, 2019
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, I am pleased to share with you the product of our representative democracy!
Each year, our Division of Legislative Services publishes "In Due Course" - a selection of laws passed during the most recent General Assembly that are likely to affect the daily lives of Virginians. Most of these changes go into effect on July 1st. This year, three of my initiatives made the cut. These new laws address home-based daycare (HB1853), prescription drug disposal counseling (HB1743), and expanding the availability of electric vehicle charging stations (HB1934).
Below are just a few highlights of these new laws. Click here for the full list by subject area.
School Start Date (HB1652) - Gives local school boards the discretion to begin school up to 14 days before Labor Day. Previously, each school board was required to start after Labor Day unless granted a waiver for good cause by the Virginia Board of Education.
School Counselors (HB1729) - Requires school counselors to spend at least 80% of their time on direct counseling activities. The initiative is in response to counselors becoming unable to perform their core functions because of the assignment of non-counseling duties.
Tobacco Products (HB2748) - Raises the legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. Active-duty military personnel may still purchase these products at age 18 with proper ID.
Prescription Drugs (HB1743) - Allows a pharmacist to counsel a patient about the proper disposal of a new prescription. Nationally, accidental consumption of improperly stored medicine (often old prescriptions that should have been disposed of properly) results in ~60,000 emergency room visits per year by children under the age of six .
Happy Hour (HB2073) - Allows establishments serving alcohol to advertise the prices of their happy hour specials, which was previously illegal.
Virginia Lottery (HB1650) - Prohibits the Virginia Lottery from disclosing information about individual winners whose prize exceeds $10 million without the consent of the winner. Disclosure under previous law was mandatory. I hope that all of my constituents have the opportunity to exercise this new law!
Early Voting (HB2790) - Allows any registered voter to vote absentee in person without an excuse beginning on the second Saturday immediately preceding any election. The provision does not become effective until the November 3, 2020 general election.
Handheld Communication Devices in Work Zones (SB1768) - Prohibits any person from holding a handheld personal communications device while driving in a highway work zone, with certain exceptions. A violation is punishable by a mandatory fine of $250.  The General Assembly came close to passing legislation requiring hands-free for all personal communications devices.
Motorized Scooters (HB2752) - Authorizes localities to regulate the operation of companies providing motorized skateboards or scooters for hire. For anyone who has visited Alexandria, Arlington, or DC recently, these are coming our way!
Driver's License Suspensions (Budget) - Discontinues the practice of suspending driving privileges solely for non-payment of court fines and costs and provides a process for restoring currently suspended licenses. The reason for the change is that taking away a person's ability to drive often takes away their means of paying off the court cost. Courts still maintain other options for recovering fees.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (HB1934) - Adds Virginia Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicle properties to the list of state agencies authorized to install fee-based electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
Evictions (HB1898, HB2655) - Multiple new laws to help tenants avoid eviction, including additional opportunities to pay rent and penalties prior to an eviction. An Eviction Diversion Pilot Program is also established in an attempt to reduce evictions in localities with high eviction rates .
Companion Animals (SB1025) - Increases the requirements for providing adequate shelter during extreme weather conditions, including shade during excessive heat and windbreaks and bedding material during cold weather.
Fake Sexually Explicit Images (HB2678) - Makes it a crime to sell or share digitally-created fake images or videos that falsely portray another person engaging in sexually-explicit activities. These are known as "deepfakes."
Health Insurance Payments (HB2515) - Ensures that if a third-party pays for medical costs on behalf of an insured individual, then the payment is credited toward the insured individual's out-of-pocket maximum or any cost-sharing requirement.
Minimum Wage ( HB2473) Eliminates the exemptions to Virginia's minimum wage requirements for newsboys, shoe-shine boys, babysitters who work 10 hours or more per week, ushers, doormen, concession attendants, and cashiers in theaters.
Income Tax Standard Deduction (HB2529) - I ncreases Virginia's standard deduction to $4,500 for single individuals and $9,000 for married persons filing jointly for taxable years 2019 through 2025. Under current law, the standard deduction is $3,000 for single individuals and $6,000 for married couples filing jointly. The bill also provides for a refund, not to exceed a taxpayer's tax liability of up to $110 for individuals and $220 for married persons filing a joint return for taxable year 2018. The refund will be issued in October and will be available only for a taxpayer filing a final return by July 2019. The bill is in response to the impacts of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Next Tuesday I will be heading to Richmond for a special session called by the Governor to consider proposed gun safety legislation. I will send out details once the final legislation is drafted.
As always, it is an honor to represent you in the House of Delegates. I hope to see many of you at the City of Fairfax 4th of July Parade.  Have a safe and happy 4th of July! 


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David Bulova
Delegate, 37th Virginia House District
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