Virginia Updates Newsletter for July 4, 2022

Happy 4th of July, Virginia! We hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their long holiday weekend 🎆 🥳

Today we’re sharing your latest VA Updates Newsletter with loads of information on the latest laws that went into place on July 1. We break down some of them in today’s post and highlight more in our blog.


We also share news on the VEC Overpayments that were made and what to do if you were overpaid. We also breakdown some of Virginia's trending headlines and round out the post with COVID-19 Data.


📰 Here’s this week's newsletter - we have news on;

▪️ New Laws in Virginia

▪️ VEC Overpayments

▪️ Virginia Headlines

▪️ COVID-19 Data

▪️ Vaccine Data



🏛 New Laws in Virginia


Several new laws took effect in Virginia on July 1, including a ban on police ticket quotas, changes for medical marijuana licenses, misdemeanor reporting requirements for school principals and more.


Lawmakers in the General Assembly introduced and approved measures during the 2022 session. Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed, amended and vetoed the measures once they reached his desk.


Here's a look at some of them:


Alcohol and Marijuana


HB 426: Creates a third-party delivery license that authorizes the licensee to deliver alcoholic beverages purchased by consumers from other retail licensees.


HB 455: Authorizes the Board of Directors of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (the Board) to issue a mixed beverage casino license. The bill provides for the sale and service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption in areas designated by the Board during all hours of operation of the mixed beverage casino licensee and authorizes the licensee to provide gifts of alcoholic beverages to patrons and establish loyalty or reward credit programs under certain conditions.


HB 20: Allocates from the General Fund an amount equal to 20% of the 20% tax levied on the sale of Virginia-distilled spirits to the Virginia Spirits Promotion Fund.


SB 325: This law increases the amount of alcoholic beverages that a person may transport into the commonwealth from one gallon to three gallons.


SB 527: This bill removes the sunset clause from the authorization for the sale of neutral grain spirits or alcohol up to a proof limit of 151 in ABC stores.


THC Copycat Edibles Ban: A provision in the new state budget bans the sale of THC products in packaging designed to resemble protected trademarks, as well as seemingly child-friendly products shaped like people, animals, vehicles or fruit.


Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana: Through the budget, lawmakers also created a new criminal misdemeanor for possessing more than 4 ounces (113 grams) but not more than 1 pound (454 grams) of marijuana in public. Possession of more than an ounce but less than a pound was previously punishable as a civil violation with a $25 fine.


HB 933 and SB 671: Eliminates the requirement that patients register with the Board of Pharmacy after receiving their written certification from a registered practitioner.


Animals and Hunting


SB 87: Prohibits sale of dogs or cats for experimental purposes


SB 88: Requires any person or entity that breeds dogs or cats for sale or transfer to an animal testing facility to keep records of each animal for five years from the date of the acquisition, transfer, or disposition and to quarterly submit a summary of the records to the State Veterinarian.


SB 90: Requires a breeder of dogs and cats for sale or transfer to an animal testing facility that no longer has a need for a dog or cat in its possession to offer the animal for adoption prior to euthanizing it.


SB 8: Permits hunting on Sunday on public or private land, so long as it takes place more than 200 yards from a place of worship.


HB 1273: Requires that any dog engaged in lawful hunting wear a substantial collar with a tag attached that identifies the name of the owner or custodian of the dog and a current phone number.


SB 249: Any person who knowingly is any type of sexual abuse of an animal, as outlined in the bill, will be guilty of a Class 6 felony.


Criminal Justice


SB 741: Authorizes local law-enforcement agencies, campus police departments and State Police to use facial recognition technology for certain authorized uses as defined in the bill.


HB 632: Officers can stop vehicles with loud exhaust systems again. This was previously banned in an effort by the Northam administration to reduce racial disparities.


HB 170: Directs the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security to convene a work group to study inmate work release programs.


HB 397: Modifies the formula for compensating wrongfully incarcerated persons to equal $55,000 per year of incarceration, adjusted for inflation, changes the amount of compensation that may be paid out as a lump sum to equal 25% of the total award with the remainder to be paid out as an annuity with a term of 10 years.


HB 738: Provides that whenever a court orders an evaluation of a defendant's competency to stand trial, the clerk of the court shall provide a copy of the order to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.


HB 258: Directs the Department of Criminal Justice Services, under the direction of the Criminal Justice Services Board, to develop an online course to train hotel proprietors and their employees, as defined in the bill, to recognize and report instances of suspected human trafficking. The bill provides that such online course shall be provided at no cost to the hotel proprietors and their employees.


SB 658: The law-enforcement agency that receives a physical evidence recovery kit shall store such kit for a period of 10 years or until 10 years after the victim reaches the age of majority if the victim was a minor at the time of collection, whichever is longer. There are more guidelines for evidence recovery kits outlined in the bill.


SB 493: Provides that any person 18 years of age or older who knowingly transmits an intimate image, as defined in the bill, by computer or other electronic means to the computer or electronic communication device of another person 18 years of age or older when such other person has not consented to the use of his computer or electronic communication device for the receipt of such material or has expressly forbidden the receipt of such material shall be considered a trespass and shall be liable to the recipient of the intimate image for actual damages or $500, whichever is greater, in addition to reasonable attorney fees and costs.


HB 750: Prohibits police departments and sheriff's offices from utilizing ticket quotas.


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Education


HB 4: Requires school principals to report to law enforcement certain enumerated acts that may constitute a misdemeanor offense, and report to the parents of any minor student who is the specific object of such act that the incident has been reported to law enforcement. Previously, principals were only required to make such reports for such acts that may constitute a felony offense.


HB 525 (Adam’s Law): Establishes mandates at nonprofit private institutions of higher education and public institutions of higher education relating to hazing and defines different types of organizations at such institutions to which the mandates apply. The bill requires each such institution to provide to each current member, new member, and potential new member of each student organization with new members hazing prevention training that includes 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 and provides that if a student organization with new members has an advisor, such advisor shall receive such hazing prevention training.


HB 829: Permits school boards to fulfill the staffing ratio requirements for school counselors under specific circumstances listed in the bill.


HB 1129: Requires each local school board to require its schools to collaborate with the chief law-enforcement officer of the locality when conducting required school safety audits.


SB 223: Establishes several parameters for the compensation and representation of a student-athlete related to the use of such student's name, image, or likeness.


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion


HB 140: Changes the date of establishment that qualifies historical African American cemeteries for appropriated funds to care for such cemeteries from prior to January 1, 1900, to prior to January 1, 1948, and provides that the total number of graves in a qualifying cemetery shall be the number of markers of African Americans who were interred in such cemetery prior to January 1, 1948.


HB 727: Expands the definition of a qualified organization that may receive funds for maintenance of a historical African American cemetery to include any locality whose purpose for applying for funding from the Department of Historic Resources is to maintain a neglected historical African American cemetery, or a portion thereof, that is located within its jurisdictional bounds.


HB 141: Establishes the Virginia Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Historic Preservation Fund for the purpose of awarding grants to eligible state-recognized and federally recognized Indian tribes, private nonprofit organizations, and localities for the eligible costs of acquiring land or permanent protective interest.


SB 151: Extends the expiration of the Commission to Study Slavery and Subsequent De Jure and De Facto Racial and Economic Discrimination Against African Americans from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2024. The bill also provides for the non-legislative citizen members of the Commission to continue to serve for the duration of the extension.


Veterans


HB 40: Authorizes a disabled veteran special license plate issued to a disabled veteran to be transferred, upon their death, to their un-remarried surviving spouse.


HB 120: Authorizes resident veterans who have a service-connected disability of at least 30% to receive from the Department of Wildlife Resources a lifetime license to hunt and freshwater fish at no cost or a reduced cost depending on the veteran's disability rating.


HB 358: Directs the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, in conjunction with the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, to examine the waiving of fees associated with permits necessary to establish a small business for veteran-owned small businesses.

Miscellaneous


More


HB 270: Requires the Virginia Employment Commission to calculate and report the (i) average unemployment insurance benefit levels, (ii) average income replacement of unemployment insurance benefits, and (iii) recipiency rate for unemployment insurance benefits in the Commonwealth as part of the Commission's annual balance sheet


HB 1060: Expands the definition of "critically missing adult" to include any missing adult, including an adult who has a developmental disability, intellectual disability, or mental illness, 18 years of age or older for the purpose of receipt of critically missing adult reports by a police or sheriff's department and the Virginia Critically Missing Adult Alert Program administered by the Department of State Police and removes from the Program the eligibility requirement that the adult is believed to have been abducted.


HB 1191 (Marcus alert system): Extends the date by which localities shall establish voluntary databases to be made available to the 9-1-1 alert system and the Marcus alert system to provide relevant mental health information and emergency contact information for appropriate response to an emergency or crisis from July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2023.


SB 96: Prohibits gaming businesses, as defined in the bill, from using the phrase "Virginia is for Bettors" in an advertisement in association with their products or services. A violation is subject to a civil penalty of up to $50,000.


HB 740: This new law makes it a Class 6 felony for a person to willfully break, injure, tamper with, or remove any part or parts of any vehicle, aircraft, boat, or vessel to remove a catalytic converter or the parts thereof.


SB 3: The bill requires general registrars to report to the Department of Elections the number and results of absentee ballots cast by voters assigned to each precinct in the registrar's locality. The Department is directed by the bill to establish standards for ascertaining and reporting such information.


HB 481: Requires every hospital to make information about standard charges for items and services provided by the hospital available on the hospital's website by July 1, 2023.


HB 234: Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to study the current oversight and regulation of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other congregate living settings to improve efficiency and effectiveness of regulation and oversight, provide better transparency for members of the public navigating the process of receiving services from such facilities, and better protect the health and safety of the public and to report their findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Chairmen of the Senate Committees on Education and Health and Finance and Appropriations and the House Committees on Appropriations and Health, Welfare and Institutions by October 1, 2022.


SB 451: Gets rid of the state grocery tax.


Sources: lis.virginia.gov & wtvr.com



💰 VEC Overpayment


The Virginia Employment Commission began collecting overpayments it accidentally made during the pandemic starting on July 1, even if the overpayment wasn’t the recipient’s fault.


VEC accidentally overpaid $859 million to Virginians across the state since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Thousands of people received notices saying they’ve been overpaid unemployment benefits, some owing hundreds to thousands of dollars.


If you can’t afford to repay the VEC, you can apply for a waiver so you won’t owe back the money. Your waiver application will automatically be granted if the overpayments fell between March 2020 through June 2021. If the payments occurred after that, officials say you should still apply since you can still qualify for forgiveness.


The VEC says it can legally take the money from you by holding your tax return or garnishing your paycheck. However, it’s most likely a VEC agent will contact you to set up a payment plan.


The VEC continues to work on fixing a slew of major issues that have slowed or deprived Virginians of benefits since the start of the pandemic, including not enough staff and glitches in a new computer system- all contributing to problems like the overpayments. However, the VEC has made progress by hiring more staff and largely reducing the backlog of cases.


The agency said Friday that it will send affected customers an “overpayment billing statement” that would include instructions on how to make payments.


Customers who have questions about their billing statements should contact the VEC’s Benefit Payment Unit at 804-786-8593.


Sources: nbc12.com & richmond.com


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📰 Virginia Headlines


NBC 12 News - Officials warn drivers about increased dangers during 4th of July weekend. Officials are encouraging people not to drink and drive and to be mindful of drunk drivers on the roadway on the 4th of July.


Last year, Virginia State Police reported 12 traffic fatalities on Virginia roadways during the 4th of July weekend. A total of 61 people were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


According to AAA, 1.3 million Virginians are anticipated to be on the roadways this weekend for holiday travel.



WTOP News - 3 Va. universities to provide 24/7 mental health care for students. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, three-quarters of students have reported struggles with anxiety and depression, and more than 50% have reported their mental health as “fair” or “poor,” according to a recent Inside Higher Ed survey.


Now, three Virginia universities are partnering with a telehealth company to make sure students have all the mental health support they need to navigate college life and succeed in their studies and in their lives away from school.


Starting in the fall 2022 school year, students at Virginia Tech, James Madison University and

Virginia Commonwealth University will have access to 24/7 virtual care options from licensed mental health providers and counselors through TimelyMD. It’ll be like a virtual extension of already-existing campus counseling centers.



WSHV News - Red Cross of Virginia asking for more donors during summer months. Around the July 4th holiday, the Virginia Red Cross said they see a drop in blood, platelet, and plasma donations.


Jonathan McNamara, Communications Director with the Virginia Red Cross said so far this summer, they have seen a 20% reduction in blood drive turnouts across the state.


With donations going down and hurricane season upon us, the Red Cross is asking people to donate again.


So, if a hurricane were to hit, they would be ahead of the game and not scrambling once disaster strikes. “Scheduling an appointment at one of our community drives in the Harrisonburg area is one of the best ways you can support the American Red Cross,” McNamara said.


“Encourage your family members, coworkers, your friends to donate blood, then sharing what blood donation means to you on every one of your social media channels.”


If you can’t or don’t wish to donate, the Red Cross is always in need of volunteers as well.



COVID-19 & Vaccine Data


COVID-19 In Virginia:


The Virginia Department of Health reported Monday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 1,879,306. The 1,879,306 consists of 1,341,773 confirmed and 537,533 probable cases. There are 20,654 COVID-19 deaths, and Virginia’s 7-day positivity rate is now at 21.2%.


Vaccine Summary: As of Monday, July 4

  • Total Doses Administered: 15,933,281

  • People Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 7,032,782 or 81.9%

  • % of Adults (18+) Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 92.5%

  • People Fully Vaccinated: 6,292,978 or 73.3%

  • % of Adults (18+) Fully Vaccinated: 82.9%

  • People Vaccinated with Booster / Third dose: 3,158,834


For more information on Virginia's vaccination efforts, please visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA


 

Thank you for joining us this week!

Be sure to catch back up with us next week for another VA Updates Newsletter.


- María Reynoso, Editor-in-Chief