New Virginia laws on gambling, statues, guns
Several new laws took effect in Virginia on July 1st, spanning gun sales, marijuana possession, abortion rights, voting, confederate statues, and casino gambling.
The Restriction on Gun Possession
The new law states that civilians are not allowed to purchase more than one weapon per month. Persons under a restraining order will also cease to be allowed possession of firearms. The gun control legislation also calls for extensive background checks before the sale of a firearm. Lawmakers were in favor of almost all the gun control measures set down by the governor. The only exception was the ban on assault weapons, which did not gain the majority’s support.
The Broadening of Casino Gambling
Richmond, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Bristol, and Danville have been allowed to operate casinos, and voter’s referenda to gain the residents’ approval in those cities will be held during the November elections. The new law also legalizes online sports betting throughout the state. It does not address online casino gambling within the state and also prohibits betting on college games. Gaming activities will be under the control of the Virginia Lottery Board.
The new law permits a community to remove or relocate statues and other federal or state monuments on public property. While it was previously illegal to tamper with them, such acts no longer carry a penalty according to the law.
The Institution of a New Holiday
Election Day has become a national holiday, and Lee-Jackson day loses the title of a public holiday.
Relaxed Voting Requirements
Voters are no longer obligated to give a reason for voting absentee during elections. Voters will now be allowed to vote without necessarily presenting a photo ID. Any form of identification is sufficient – a valid driver’s license, a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, etc.
Decriminalizing Simple Possession of Marijuana
Being in possession of Marijuana under 1 ounce will no more be considered a criminal offense. Instead, it will only carry a $25 fine. This law is retrospective and annuls all previous convictions of simple possession of the drug.
The requirements for undergoing an abortion have become more lenient as women are no longer required to receive an ultrasound or prior counseling. The new law also removed the 24 hour waiting period for the procedure.
Criteria for Reckless Driving
To be charged for reckless driving, an individual would have to be going at 86 miles per hour and above. This is an increase from the previous limit of 81 miles per hour.
Driver’s License Suspensions
A license will not be suspended for the lack of payment of fines, drug offense, or shoplifting motor fuel.
Misdemeanors that take place within the school premises will not be subject to criminal or civil penalties and need not be brought to the notice of the police.
Parents should be informed of a lockdown drill 24 hours in advance. Guardians should also be informed if the school’s water supply is found to contain lead in high amounts. The new law also affects institutions of higher education. Student loan services have to be licensed by the State Corporation Commission and will be subject to stern regulations.
LGBTQ & Equality Rights
People are obligated to not discriminate based on gender & sexual identity. This law strengthens the existing one ruled by the US Supreme Court to protect the LGBTQ community. It is not only illegal to discriminate in the employment sector, but also public housing, lodging, and credits. Bills were also passed to prohibit racial discrimination based on hair type or texture in the same sectors. Conversion therapy aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation or identity is strictly banned.
Insurers can charge patients only up to a maximum of $50 monthly for insulin. Virginia is also subsidizing costs for residents. Rather than depending on the federal marketplace, there will be a health insurance exchange specifically for the states’ residents.
In-state Tuition for All Nationalities
Undocumented students living in the US who have completed at least two years of schooling in Virginia or have successfully completed a high school equivalency test will be eligible for in-state tuition in Virginia universities.
Story by Philip Vamius