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As Virginia General Assembly Kicks Off 2019 Session, Here Are Some Bills That Caught My Eye


Since my last update (12/13/18) on bills introduced for the 2019 Virginia legislative session, there’s been a slew of new legislation filed. with the 2019 “short session” of the Virginia General Assembly starting today, here are a few (from the Virginia Legislative Information System) that caught my eye. This is not a comprehensive list, of course, and if you know of other great bills, let me know so I can add them to this list!

  • HB 1713 (Del. Karrie Delaney): “Prohibits an employer from discharging, disciplining, threatening, discriminating against, penalizing, or taking other retaliatory action against an employee regarding the employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location, or privileges of employment because the employee (i) reports a violation or suspected violation of any federal or state law or regulation to a supervisor or to any governmental body or law-enforcement official; (ii) is requested by a governmental body or law-enforcement official to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry; (iii) refuses to engage in a criminal act that would subject the employee to criminal liability; (iv) refuses an employer’s order to perform an action that the employee believes, which belief has an objective basis in fact, violates any federal or state law or regulation and the employee informs the employer that the order is being refused for that reason; or (v) provides information to or testifies before any governmental body or law-enforcement official conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into any alleged violation by the employer of federal or state law or regulation. “
  • SB 1084 (Sen. Dave Marsden): “Provides that a person may be held civilly liable for injury to the person or property of another or for wrongful death resulting from the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime if it can be shown by clear and convincing evidence that the firearm came into the possession of the person who committed the crime because of the failure of the civil defendant to reasonably secure the firearm from theft or unauthorized possession. The bill provides that a civil defendant exercising the ordinary standard of care for securing firearms will not be held civilly liable.”
  • SB 1096 (Sen. Janet Howell): “Provides that any person who leaves a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a manner as to endanger the life or limb of any person under the age of 18 is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Current law provides that any person who recklessly leaves a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a manner as to endanger the life or limb of any child under the age of 14 is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.”
  • HB 1763 (Del. Rip Sullivan): “Creates a procedure by which any attorney for the Commonwealth or any law-enforcement officer may apply to a general district court, circuit court, or juvenile and domestic relations district court judge or magistrate for an emergency substantial risk order to prohibit a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to himself or others from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm.”
  • SB 1111 (Sen. Dave Marsden): “Requires each electric utility to provide eligible customers with a rate abatement that ensures that residential, commercial, and industrial customers are not subjected to higher rates per unit of consumption due to decreased consumption resulting from the customer’s implementation of not less than $10,000 in investments in energy efficiency. “
  • (SB 1116 (Sen. Chap Petersen): “Imposes a five-cent per bag tax on plastic bags provided to customers by certain retailers in localities located wholly within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and directs revenues to be used to support the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan. The bill also allows every retailer that collects the tax to retain one cent of the five-cent tax.”
  • SJ 270 (Sen. Dick Saslaw): “Ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that was proposed by Congress in 1972. The joint resolution advocates the position that the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment remains viable and may be ratified notwithstanding the expiration of the 10-year ratification period set out in the resolving clause, as amended, in the proposal adopted by Congress.”
  • HB 1794 (Del. Schuyler Van Valkenburg): “Allows any registered voter to vote early in any election in which he is qualified to vote without providing a reason or making prior application for an absentee ballot. The bill requires that early voting be available beginning the fifteenth day prior to any general election, the seventh day prior to any special election held on a date other than the date of a general election, and the seventh day prior to any primary election and ending at 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday immediately preceding the election. The bill further requires early voting to be available during regular business hours each weekday during the applicable period, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on each Saturday during the applicable period, and from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on each Sunday during the applicable period. The bill removes the current provisions for voting absentee in person but retains those provisions for voting an absentee ballot by mail, including the application requirement and the list of statutory reasons that allow a registered voter to vote absentee by mail.”
  • HB 1806 (Del. Lee Carter): “Repeals the provisions of the Code of Virginia that, among other things, prohibit any agreement or combination between an employer and a labor union or labor organization whereby (i) nonmembers of the union or organization are denied the right to work for the employer, (ii) membership to the union or organization is made a condition of employment or continuation of employment by such employer, or (iii) the union or organization acquires an employment monopoly in any such enterprise. The measure also authorizes a collective bargaining agreement to provide for an agency shop or a union shop.”
  • HB 1809 (Del. Wendy Gooditis): “Requires the State Corporation Commission to conduct annual proceedings to determine if Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power are making satisfactory efforts to meet objectives established in the 2018 Grid Transformation and Security Act with respect to solar-powered and wind-powered electric generation facilities and to energy efficiency programs.”
  • SB 1132 (Sen. Mamie Locke): “Requires health benefit plans to cover the costs of specified health care services, drugs, devices, products, and procedures related to reproductive health, including (i) contraception and women’s preventive health services identified by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the women’s preventive services initiative as of January 1, 2017; (ii) screening to determine whether counseling and testing related to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations is indicated and testing and genetic counseling related to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations if indicated; (iii) abortion to the extent permitted by applicable law; and (d) voluntary sterilization. “
  • SB 1137 (Sen. Barbara Favola): “Provides that a defendant in a capital case who had a severe mental illness, as defined in the bill, at the time of the offense is not eligible for the death penalty.”
  • HB 1829 (Del. Marcus Simon): “Authorizes the governing body of a county or city to establish by ordinance a system of public campaign financing for elected local offices.”
  • HB 1850 (Del. Marcus Simon): “Increases the minimum wage from its current federally mandated level of $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour effective July 1, 2019, to $10 per hour effective January 1, 2020, to $11 per hour effective January 1, 2021, to $13 per hour effective January 1, 2022, and to $15 per hour effective January 1, 2023, unless a higher minimum wage is required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).”
  • SB 1163 (Sen. Dick Saslaw): “Prohibits the manufacture, importation, sale or offer to sell, possession, transfer, or transportation of a trigger activator, which includes a trigger crank or bump-fire device, that is designed to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but does not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun. “
  • SB 1164 (Sen. Dick Saslaw): “Requires a background check for any firearm transfer and requires the Department of State Police to establish a process for transferors of firearms to obtain such a check from licensed firearms dealers”
  • HB 1859 (Del. Delores McQuinn): “Provides that no employer shall discharge any employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including lactation”
  • HB 1863 (Del. Debra Rodman): “Repeals the statutory requirements that a physician obtain a pregnant woman’s informed written consent and perform fetal transabdominal ultrasound imaging before performing an abortion.”
  • HB 1864 (Del. Debra Rodman): “Prohibits a health carrier from denying or limiting coverage or imposing additional cost sharing or other limitations or restrictions on coverage, under a health benefit plan for health care services that are ordinarily or exclusively available to covered individuals of one sex, to a transgender individual on the basis of the fact that the individual’s sex assigned at birth, gender identity, or gender otherwise recorded is different from the one to which such health services are ordinarily or exclusively available. “
  • HB 2329 (Del. Mark Keam): “Promotes the establishment of distributed renewable solar and other renewable energy. The measure (i) removes the one percent cap on the total amount of renewable energy that can be net metered in a utility’s service territory, (ii) authorizes third-party power purchase agreements for all customer classes throughout the Commonwealth, (iii) allows local governments and certain other public bodies to install solar or wind facilities of up to five megawatts on government-owned property and use the electricity for government-owned buildings, (iv) allows all net metering customers to attribute output from a single solar array to multiple meters, (v) allows the owner of a multi-family residential building or the common areas of a condominium to install a renewable energy generation facility and sell the electricity to tenants or condominium unit owners, (vi) removes the restriction on customers installing a net-metered generation facility larger than that required to meet their previous 12 months’ demand, (vii) raises the cap for net-metered nonresidential generation facilities from one megawatt to two megawatts, and (viii) removes the ability of utilities to assess standby charges. The measure also amends the Commonwealth Energy Policy to include provisions supporting distributed generation of renewable energy.”
  • HB 1882 (Del. Mark Keam): “Declares eligible for in-state tuition any individual who (i) graduated from a public or private high school or program of home instruction in the Commonwealth or passed a high school equivalency examination approved by the Board of Education; (ii) registers as an entering student or is enrolled in a public institution of higher education; (iii) has submitted evidence that he or, in the case of a dependent student, at least one parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis has filed, unless exempted by state law, Virginia income tax returns for at least one year prior to the date of registration or enrollment; and (iv) provides an affidavit to the public institution of higher education in which he has registered as an entering student or is enrolled stating that he has filed an application to become a permanent resident of the United States and is actively pursuing such permanent residency or will do so as soon as he becomes eligible for such permanent residency.”
  • HB 2331 (Del. Mark Keam): “Directs the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (the Department) to create a Wildlife Corridor Action Plan (the Plan) that assesses the connections between core habitat areas, lists potential projects to improve such connections, and provides an action plan for the completion of such projects. The bill requires the Department to submit the Plan, following review, to the Governor and General Assembly by July 1, 2020, and to update the action plan portion of the Plan every five years thereafter.”
  • HB 2330 (Del. Mark Keam): “Establishes the Environmental Justice Advisory Council (the Council), consisting of 19 members, to advise the Governor on environmental justice in the Commonwealth through equitable development, implementation, evaluation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, policies, and practices. The bill requires all state agencies to examine any new regulation or policy involving state action or funds in relation to its impact on environmental justice prior to adopting such regulation or policy and requires the Council to coordinate and lead efforts to achieve the Commonwealth’s environmental justice goals.”
  • HB 1874 (Del. Margaret Ransone): “Raises from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony the penalty for a person who shoots and kills a dog owned by another when such dog is not injuring or threatening any person or companion animal and holds the shooter liable to the owner for the value of the dog and any veterinarian bills incurred as a result of the shooting.”
  • SB 1198 (Sen. Rosalyn Dance): “Provides that any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot in person in any election in which he is qualified to vote without providing a reason for being unable to vote in person on election day. The bill retains the statutory list of reasons allowing a voter to cast an absentee ballot by mail.”
  • HB 1975 (Del. Sam Rasoul): “Directs the Department of Medical Assistance Services to develop and implement a plan to provide choice and education to eligible prospective PACE clients. The plan will ensure that eligible clients receive adequate information regarding the PACE program option at every point of contact with the Department and its contractors.”
  • SB 1210 (Sen. Louise Lucas): “Provides that a person is guilty of unlawful paramilitary activity if such person assembles with another person with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading, or marching with any firearm or explosive or incendiary device or any components or combination thereof. Such unlawful paramilitary activity is punishable as a Class 5 felony.”
  • HB 1906 (Del. Kaye Kory): “Prohibits, beginning January 1, 2020, the installation or use of any residential automatic pesticide misting system, defined in the bill as a device that is designed to be installed on the grounds or the exterior of a residential dwelling and to automatically spray a pesticide solution at timed intervals.”
  • SJ 274 (Senators Emmett Hanger and Mamie Locke): “Constitutional amendment (first resolution); apportionment; criteria for legislative and congressional districts; Virginia Citizens Redistricting Commission.”
  • SJ 306 (Senator George Barker): “Establishes the Virginia Redistricting Commission, a 16-member Commission tasked with establishing districts for the United States House of Representatives and for the Senate and the House of Delegates of the General Assembly. The Commission consists of eight legislative members and eight citizen members. “
  • HB 1958 (Del. David Toscano): “Prohibits political action committees established and administered by one or more investor-owned electric utilities from making any single contribution, or any combination of contributions, that exceed $500 to any single campaign committee in any one election cycle and requires such political action committees to report any contribution made to a campaign committee by the end of the day following the day the contribution is made. Campaign committees are prohibited from knowingly soliciting or accepting contributions in excess of that limit from such political action committees and are also required to report any contribution knowingly received from such political action committees, regardless of the amount of the contribution or when the contribution is made, by the end of the day following the day of the receipt of the contribution. The bill prohibits investor-owned electric utilities that have not established and are not acting as a political action committee in accordance with law from making any contributions to campaign committees.”
  • HB 1959 (Del. David Toscano): “Allows for any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot in person beginning on the twenty-first day prior to any election in which he is qualified to vote without providing a reason or making prior application for an absentee ballot. The bill makes absentee voting in person available beginning on the forty-fifth day prior to the election and ending at 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday immediately preceding the election. The bill retains the current provisions for voting an absentee ballot by mail or in person prior to the twenty-first day before the election, including the application requirement and the list of statutory reasons for absentee voting.”
  • HB 1956 (Del. David Toscano): “Authorizes any locality by ordinance to prohibit the possession or carrying of firearms, ammunition, or components or any combination thereof in a public space during a permitted event or an event that would otherwise require a permit.”
  • HB 1977 (Del. Rip Sullivan): “Adds to the list of acceptable forms of voter identification a valid student photo identification card issued by any institution of higher education located in any other state or territory of the United States. Current law allows students from any institution of higher education located in the Commonwealth to use their student photo identification cards for purposes of voting.”
  • HB 2085 (Del. Vivian Watts): “Raises the existing regional transportation fee, a grantor’s tax, from $0.15 per $100 to $0.20 per $100 for localities in the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority that are also members of the Northern Virginia Transportation District. The bill requires half of the revenues to be deposited in the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Fund and half to be deposited in the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Capital Fund. The rate of tax in the other localities will remain at $0.15 per $100, with one-third of the revenues to be retained by the locality to be used for transportation purposes and the other two-thirds to be deposited in the Northern Virginia Transportation District Fund. The bill also raises the existing transient occupancy tax in the localities located in the Northern Virginia Transportation District from $2 to $3, with all of the revenues from the tax being used to support WMATA.”
  • HB 2086 (Del. Vivian Watts): “Advances conformity of the Commonwealth’s tax code with the federal tax code to December 31, 2018. However, for taxable years 2018 through 2025, the bill deconforms from the provisions of Public Law 115-97, known as the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” that would suspend the overall limitation on itemized deductions.”
  • HJ 640 (Del. Betsy Carr): “Authorizes the General Assembly to provide by law for the restoration of civil rights for persons convicted of felonies. The present Constitution provides for restoration of rights by the Governor. The amendment retains the right of the Governor to restore civil rights and adds an alternative for restoration of rights pursuant to law.”
  • HB 2095 (Del. Elizabeth Guzman): “Authorizes a locality to prohibit by ordinance the purchase, sale, or provision, whether free or for a cost, of certain single use products that are not recyclable or compostable and for which there is a suitable and cost-effective compostable or recyclable alternative product available, with certain exceptions. The bill also authorizes any county or city to impose a five-cent per bag tax on disposable plastic bags provided to customers by certain retailers, with certain bags being exempt from the tax. The bill directs revenue from the local tax to be used by the county or city imposing the tax for litter control and stormwater management. The bill allows every retailer that collects the tax to retain one cent of the five-cent tax if the tax is paid in a timely manner.”
  • HB 2092 (Del. Elizabeth Guzman): “Campaign finance; direct contributions from corporations and business entities prohibited; limitations on use of certain funds by political action committees”
  • SB 1276 (Sen. Adam Ebbin, Sen. Bill Stanley): “Makes any violation relating to cruelty to an animal a Class 6 felony when such violation is carried out with the intent to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass, or terrorize a family or household member.”
  • HB 2501 (Del. Sam Rasoul): “Directs the Division of Energy of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, as part of the 10-year Virginia Energy Plan required by current law, to inventory greenhouse gas emissions and provide information on (a) total emissions attributable to state government operations, (b) emissions by type of greenhouse gas according to the economic sector to which such emissions are attributable, and (c) the identity and output of each of the 10 largest sources of emissions of each type of greenhouse gas.”
  • HB 2500 (Del. Rip Sullivan): “Replaces the existing voluntary renewable energy portfolio standard program with a mandatory renewable portfolio standard program that requires each investor-owned electric utility to generate or purchase, from facilities in the Commonwealth, increasing percentages of electric power that is generated from qualifying renewable sources. The required percentages start at a minimum of 20 percent of the total electric energy sold in 2020. The required percentages increase in steps until 2027; in that year and thereafter, at least 80 percent of the total electric energy sold is required to be generated from qualifying renewable sources. A utility that fails to comply with an RPS standard established for a year is required to pay a compliance fee of 10 cents for each kilowatt-hour by which it failed to meet the standard.”
  • HB 2504 (Del. Kathleen Murphy): “Provides that it is a Class 6 felony for a person who is subject to a permanent protective order (i.e., a protective order with a maximum duration of two years) for subjecting another person to an act of violence, force, or threat to possess a firearm while the order is in effect. This penalty is equivalent to the existing penalty for possession of a firearm by a person subject to a permanent protective order for family abuse. The bill also provides that such person may continue to possess and transport a firearm for 24 hours after being served with the order for the purposes of selling or transferring the firearm to another person. The bill requires that any person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm because he is subject to a permanent protective order certify in writing to the clerk of the court that issued the order within 48 hours after being served with the order that any firearm in his possession has been sold or transferred. The bill provides that failure to file such certification is a Class 1 misdemeanor.”
  • HB 2112 (Del. Chris Hurst): ” Curtails the ability of a natural gas company to enter upon real property for the purpose of conducting surveys and other tests for its proposed line or the location of facilities by requiring that entry for the selection of a route or facility location be for public use.”
  • HB 2388 (Del. Alfonso Lopez): ” Declares eligible for in-state tuition any individual who meets certain eligibility criteria and who has filed an application for permanent residency or asylum or is under the age of 27 and is the child of an individual who has filed an application for asylum. The bill provides that any such individual shall remain eligible for in-state tuition for as long as he maintains continuous enrollment in the public institution of higher education and such application has not been denied. The bill also prohibits any student who became eligible for in-state tuition as a result of his lawful presence in the United States pursuant to approval under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or any other federal deferred action program from being deemed ineligible for in-state tuition by virtue of the elimination or modification of any such program.”
  • HB 2390 (Del. Alfonso Lopez): “Provides for the automatic electronic transmission by the Department of Motor Vehicles to the Department of Elections of certain information for any person coming into an office of the Department of Motor Vehicles or accessing its website in order to (i) apply for, replace, or renew a driver’s license, (ii) apply for, replace, or renew a special identification card, or (iii) change an address on an existing driver’s license or special identification card if the Department of Motor Vehicles records indicate that he (a) is a United States citizen, (b) is 17 years of age or older, and (c) at the time of the transaction does not decline to have his information transmitted to the Department of Elections for voter registration purposes.”
  • HB2392 (Del. Alfonso Lopez): “Inquiry and report of immigration status; persons charged with or convicted of certain crimes; certain victims or witnesses of crimes.”
  • HB 2422 (Del. Mark Levine): “Enters Virginia into an interstate compact known as the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote. Article II of the United States Constitution gives the states exclusive and plenary authority to decide the manner of awarding their electoral votes. Under the compact, Virginia agrees to award its electoral votes to the presidential ticket that receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact goes into effect when states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes have joined the compact. A state may withdraw from the compact; however, a withdrawal occurring within six months of the end of a President’s term shall not become effective until a President or Vice President has qualified to serve the next term.”
  • HJ 672 (Del. Mark Levine): “Permits a Governor elected in 2021 and thereafter to succeed himself in office. The amendment allows two four-year terms (either in succession or not in succession) but prohibits election to a third term. Service for more than two years of a partial term counts as service for one term.”

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