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New Laws crack down on drugs, sex trafficking, solicting minors, e-Cigs to Minors and more

July 5, 2014

In Virginia, starting today, (July 1) synthetic drugs will be considered Schedule I substances for purposes of manufacture and distribution, though penalties remain the same for simple possession. Although often called "synthetic marijuana," these cannabimimetic agents are actually much more dangerous. My SB 594 will crack down on those responsible for manufacturing and selling these drugs, and will allow law enforcement to keep pace with criminals who have managed, until now, to stay one step ahead by making minor tweaks to the chemical formula.

We're also taking a harder line against human trafficking starting today. My SB 454 makes prostitution with a minor a Class 4 felony and adds those who solicit a minor to the sex offender registry, and my SB 654 requires the adoption of a model policy for criminal investigations into human trafficking offenses.

Here are some other laws now in effect:

  • First-Time Home Buyer Savings Accounts (HB 331). Establishes tax-preferred accounts to allow Virginians to save up for the down payment and closing costs on their first home.
  • Hunting on Sundays (SB 154). Although I continue to have reservations about this policy, the General Assembly has lifted restrictions on hunting on Sundays.
  • Mental Health Reform (SB 260). Perhaps the defining bill of the past session, this legislation authorizes the creation of additional beds at hospitals across the Commonwealth and establishes procedures to ensure that patients subject to an emergency custody order are never released early due to a lack of space or resources.
  • Farm Sales (SB 51). The General Assembly clarified the rights of farmers to sell agricultural and related products on their farms, ensuring that localities don't make overzealous use of zoning and land use restrictions to prohibit farm sales.
  • Ban on e-Cigarette Sales to Minors (SB 96). As of today, it is now illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.
  • Patent Trolls Crackdown (SB 150). There are now more remedies and protections for businesses that are served with frivolous patent infringement actions, helping to ensure that honest businessmen and women aren't tied up by "patent trolls."
  • SOL Rollback (SB 306). This one won't really have any impact until the start of the new school year, but the General Assembly chose to eliminate science and history SOLs in the earlier grades, a change I opposed.

  • Revenge Porn Ban (HB 326). Makes it a crime to disseminate salacious images of another with the intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate them, taking aim at a terrible practice known as "revenge porn."

This is just a small sample of the legislation enacted by the General Assembly. Credit Mark Obenshein for update.

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