Next door in Maryland, there is change, too. It’s now easier to bring your own wine to restaurants. Golfers in Howard County can start drinking earlier in the morning. And the town of Damascus will get to vote on whether it wants to stay dry.
Meanwhile, Prince George’s County is joining the ranks of school districts with year-round schools. Buses in three Southern Maryland counties will stay in the fleet longer, and state education officials will develop “heat acclimation” guidelines for student athletes.
Far more noticeable to most Marylanders will be a new batch of tax increases. Higher income taxes for six-figure earners. A doubled “flush tax.” And higher taxes on little cigars and chewing tobacco.
Today, with the start of the new fiscal year, nearly 1,000 new laws take effect in both states.
766 measures in Virginia
In Virginia, 766 of the 849 laws that came out of the General Assembly session are now officially on the books. They run the gamut from hot-button legislation that grabbed headlines to obscure, workaday measures that might be felt only in the tiniest corners of the state.
“I think when you look at the entire body of work that the General Assembly approved and the governor signed, rather than focus on the very few social bills that went through, I think we did a lot of good work for the people of Virginia this session,” Sen. William M. Stanley (R-Franklin) said.
Among the little-noticed but potentially consequential laws is one allowing microbrewers to sell beer for on-site consumption. Until now, breweries not attached to restaurants could provide free tastings as part of tours and sell beer to go. But they could not sell to customers who wanted to hang out at the brewery over some suds.
At Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, the law will have an immediate effect as the owners seek to turn the site into a “community meeting place,” said Eric McKay, one of the owners. Starting next week, the brewery will have expanded hours and more seating, as well as food trucks and live music to keep customers fed and entertained.
On July 4, to celebrate “new liberties granted to Virginia breweries,” Hardywood Park will release its Session Beer, a low-alcohol brew meant to encourage people to stick around and have more than one.
“It’s in the tanks right now,” McKay said.
Virginia beekeepers will also be in for a boost thanks to a law providing $200 grants for every new hive. Meant to help address the mysterious colony collapse disorder striking bees around the world, the legislation inspired delegates to buzz audibly whenever it came up in the chamber.