Now it’s the law in Virginia…

“All laws enacted at a regular session, . . . excluding a general appropriation law, shall take effect on the first day of July following the adjournment of the session of the General Assembly at which it has been enacted.”

— Constitution of Virginia, Article IV, Section 13

Much of the legislation passed by the 2019 Session of the Virginia General Assembly will affect the daily lives of citizens of Rappahannock County, from motorists to babysitters. Legislation signed by the Governor that will go into effect this Monday, July 1, includes:


Industrial hemp: Conforms Virginia law to amend the definitions of cannabidiol oil, marijuana, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to exclude industrial hemp in the possession of a registered person, hemp products, or an oil containing no more than 0.3 percent THC. The bill authorizes that officials refrain from requiring destruction of industrial hemp until the THC level is greater than 0.6 percent.

Alcoholic Beverage Control

Happy hour advertising: Expands the ability of retail on-premises licensees to advertise happy hours by allowing them to advertise the prices of featured alcoholic beverages and to use creative marketing techniques, provided that such techniques do not tend to induce overconsumption or consumption by minors.

Criminal offenses

False caller: Makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor for any person who, with the intent to defraud, intimidate, or harass, causes a telephone to ring and engages in conduct that results in the display of false caller identification information on the called party’s telephone. The bill raises the penalty to a Class 2 misdemeanor for a second or subsequent conviction.

Dissemination/sale of images: Prohibits unlawful dissemination of certain images of another person, that “another person” includes a person whose image was used in creating, adapting, or modifying a video or still image with the intent to depict an actual person and who is recognizable as an actual person by the person’s face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic.

Criminal procedure

Safe overdose reporting: Eliminates the requirement to substantially cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation of any criminal offense reasonably related to an overdose in order to qualify for an affirmative defense from prosecution for the unlawful purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, intoxication in public, or possession of controlled paraphernalia.


School calendar: Requires each local school board to set the school calendar so that the first day students are required to attend school is no earlier than 14 days before Labor Day. Under current law, each local school board is required to set the school calendar so that the first day students are required to attend school is after Labor Day. The bill provides that where students are required to attend school before Labor Day that such school board shall close each school in the school division from the Friday immediately preceding Labor Day through Labor Day.

Possession/distribution of cannabidiol oil/THC-A oil: Provides no public school nurse shall be prosecuted for possession or distribution of cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil for storing, dispensing, or administering cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil to a student issued a valid written certification for its use. The bill provides no student be suspended or expelled granted they hold a valid written certification.

School counselors: Changes the name of guidance counselors to school counselors, and requires each school counselor in a public elementary or secondary school to spend at least 80 percent of his staff time during normal school hours in the direct counseling of individual students or groups of students.

Protective orders: Requires any school principal who receives notice that any court or magistrate has issued a protective order for the protection of a student to subsequently notify certain school personnel that such order has been issued. The bill also requires the Board of Education to establish guidelines and develop model policies to aid local school boards in the implementation of such notification.

School resource officer/administrator training: Every full-time or part-time law-enforcement officer employed as a school resource officer after July 1, 2020, will comply with compulsory minimum training standards for law-enforcement officers serving as school resource officers. The bill also requires that every public school employ at least one school administrator who has completed, either in-person or online, school safety training for public school personnel conducted by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety.

Freedom of Information Act

Virginia FOIA shield: Provides that any officer, employee, or member of a public body alleged to have willfully and knowingly violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act who acted in good faith reliance upon an advisory opinion issued by the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council may introduce such advisory opinion as evidence that the alleged violation was not made willfully and knowingly. This bill was recommended by the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council.


Health insurance: Requires any carrier issuing a health plan in the Commonwealth to count any payments made by another person on the enrollee’s behalf, as well as payments made by the enrollee, when calculating the enrollee’s overall contribution to any out-of-pocket maximum or any cost-sharing requirement under the carrier’s health plan.


Minimum wage: Eliminates the exemptions to Virginia’s minimum wage requirements for babysitters, among others, who work 10 hours or more per week.

Motor vehicles

Safety inspections: Increases the maximum charge for a state safety inspection for a motor vehicle from $16 to $20 and increases the amount transmitted to the Virginia State Police from 50 cents to 70 cents.

Real estate

Unlawful practice: Makes the unlawful and unlicensed practice of contracting, real estate brokering, or real estate sales, in connection with a consumer transaction, unlawful under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Social Services

Family First Prevention Services Act: Aligns the Code of Virginia with the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018.


Telephone solicitors: Provides that a telephone solicitor and the seller on whose behalf or for whose benefit a telephone solicitation call offering or advertising a seller’s property, goods, or services is made or initiated are jointly and severally liable for violations of the Virginia Telephone Privacy Protection Act.

Traffic offenses

Vehicle registration expiration: Authorizes courts to dismiss a summons issued for expiration of vehicle registration if the defendant provides to the court proof of compliance with the law on or before the court date.

Handicapped parking: Prohibits parking any vehicle in any striped access aisle adjacent to a parking space reserved for persons with disabilities.

Handheld devices: Prohibits any person from holding a handheld personal communications device in his hand while driving a motor vehicle in a highway work zone. The bill provides that a violation is punishable by a mandatory fine of $250.

— John McCaslin

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