Beginning July 1st, a number of new laws pertaining to Virginia’s education, economic, public and school safety, and transportation systems have taken effect.
To provide greater recognition and reward to Virginia’s dedicated teachers, state funding has been allocated for a two-percent teacher pay raise (HB 1500). In order to be certain that Virginia is only hiring the best educators for our children, a new evaluation system will be implemented to improve the hiring process for new teachers and to clarify the contract status of existing teachers (HB 2151). A simple “A” through “F” grading scale will replace the old-fashioned and complicated system of rating Virginia schools. This will make it much easier for parents to understand how their child’s school is performing and encourage schools to strive for the best (HB1999).
The new transportation plan will generate over $1.4 billion per year in new revenue to improve Virginia’s roads, highways, bridges, and transit system. Not only will the plan help to significantly reduce traffic in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads area, it will also create over 13,000 new Virginia jobs (HB2313). For a full explanation go to my archives at http://delegatedavealbo.wordpress.com/ and see the blog titled: “Governor McDonnell Signs Transportation Funding Bill”.
Jobs & Economic Development
Entrepreneurs are now able to complete all of their business startup paperwork online through Virginia’s Business OneStop Portal. The bill also provides for the Commission and the Business Permitting Center to report on progress and any barriers to completion biannually to the Governor and the chairmen of the Senate Finance, along with other state officials. (HB1760) Furthermore, homeowner’s associations can no longer prohibit residents from operating home-based businesses. However, an association has the ability to establish reasonable restrictions as to the time, place, and manner of the operation of a home-based business and the size, placement, duration, and manner of the placement or display of any signs on the owner’s lot related to such business. (HB2200) These laws will help stimulate further business growth and protect home-based business owners.
Businesses that donate new equipment and machinery to Virginia’s community colleges and vocational schools will be eligible for up to $5,000 in grant funding (the grant would equal 20 percent of the price paid by the business for the machinery/equipment with a limit of $5,000 in funding). The school or training program must certify that the equipment was needed. This law encourages collaboration and partnership between businesses and higher-education institutions in Virginia. (HB1767)
School divisions will be eligible to apply for grants of up to $100,000 in order to purchase school safety and security equipment, including items like automatic locks, buzz-in systems and new cameras. (HB 2343) They will also now be required to conduct two lockdown drills per year. Each school will be required to have a threat-assessment team to monitor threats to students and the school. Also, every school division is now required to conduct emergency training programs, so our teachers and faculty can be prepared for emergency situations. (HBs 2344, 2345, 2346)
Colleges and universities may now coordinate with local community services board, behavioral health authorities, local hospitals and other local mental health facilities in order to expand the scope of services available to students. (HB 1609)
As our senior population is growing, identity theft and online fraud are increasing as well. It is now a criminal offence to knowingly deceive the elderly or incapacitated with the result of the transfer of money or personal items. (HB 1682) It is also a criminal offense for individuals to covertly or deceptively place an electronic tracking device in order to track another person’s movements, except parents tracking children, guardians tracking senile, and law enforcement. (HB1981)
Public safety officers who are injured during the course of duty because of weather conditions will now be eligible for worker’s compensation. This measure will support the men and women who serve our communities, often during dangerous storms. (HB1347)
Truck stops are now be required to post human trafficking hotlines. Human trafficking is a major problem that affects millions of people. This measure will encourage people to speak up when they know a victim of human trafficking. (HB 2061) Protecting the rights and safety of law-abiding Virginians is paramount to a safe and prosperous society. To ensure the most foul and violent criminals do not jeopardize our well being, mandatory minimum sentences for particularly heinous sex crimes and other violent offenses must now be served consecutively. (HB2269)
Texting is now classified as a “traffic infraction” and is grounds for being stopped. For a first offense, the fine is $125, and $250 for every offense thereafter. Additionally, if you are ticketed for reckless driving while texting, there is an enhanced fine. (HB1907)