New laws took effect in Virginia on Friday, including high-profile legislation like the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget, bills aimed at preventing animal cruelty, a bill requiring schools to notify parents about sexually explicit instructional material, and a bill requiring school principals to report misdemeanors to law enforcement.
Some other bills that have gotten less attention:
Delegates Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) and Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville) introduced House Bill (HB) 78, which requires online vendors with automatic renewals to provide “a conspicuous online option to cancel a recurring purchase.”
In January’s testimony to a House committee, Davis explained, “I know many of us have probably seen situations where you want to cancel service. You signed up online, you go to cancel, and you can’t find the unsubscribe. Then, when you do find that word ‘Unsubscribe,’ it says, ‘Call this number.’ Then you call the number and you follow it through an automated attendant and maybe sometimes you get someone and sometimes you don’t.”
Senate Bill (SB) 493, sponsored by State Senators Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax), and Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier) makes it illegal for adults to sext when the recipient has not consented, and the sender can be liable for damages or $500, whichever is greater. The legislation follows the example of a similar bill passed in Texas, and the dating app Bumble supported passage in Texas and Virginia, according to a release from McLellan.
“Today, Democrats and Republicans together took action to protect Virginians from receiving unwanted intimate photos,” McClellan said in the release. “Virginians deserve protection from indecent exposure, whether it’s online or offline. I appreciate the work of the bipartisan leaders behind this bill and the constituents who advocated for it. I look forward to Gov. Youngkin signing this bill to make Virginia safer and stop perpetrators who send unwanted lewd photos.”
Despite Republican control of the House and the governor’s pen, only one bill supported by pro-gun organization the Virginia Citizens Defense League made it through the General Assembly. State Senator Todd Pillion’s (R-Washington) SB 758 repeals a Virginia ban on possessing, selling, or giving a switchblade.
A new law limits the duration of executive orders issued under the governor’s emergency powers to just 45 days. State Senator David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke) introduced SB 4 at the end of 2021.
“During the last two years, we saw that there could be very serious issues, like a pandemic, that required significant attention. But they are not an emergency months after they had started, and the General Assembly could and should have considered those emergency actions,” Suetterlein told The Virginia Star in December.
He added, “Those executive actions have the force of law on citizens of Virginia, and Virginians have a right to have an impact on that law through their locally elected legislator.”
The General Assembly also passed a law requiring public and private higher-education institutions to provide anti-hazing training to student organization members. Boysko introduced SB 439, known as “Adam’s Law,” after Adam Oakes died in February 2021 in an incident at a Virginia Commonwealth University fraternity house.
The hazing training must include “extensive, current, and in-person education about hazing, the dangers of hazing, including alcohol intoxication, and hazing laws and institution policies and information explaining that the institution’s disciplinary process is not to be considered a substitute for the criminal legal process.”
A full list of new laws is available from the Division of Legislative Services.
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