DRUGS: Bankers, jewelers, real estate dealers and others who handle large amounts of cash must begin reporting transactions of $10,000 or more to the state, and face criminal penalties if they knowingly accept the proceeds of drug sales. It also becomes harder today for major drug dealers to get out on bond and becomes illegal for minors to purchase cigarette rolling papers, which are sometimes used to smoke marijuana.
FLAG BURNING: Desecrating the U.S. or Maryland flags is a crime if it is done with the intent to incite a public disturbance. The new law was written to cure perceived constitutional problems with the state's existing provision against destroying the flag.
HATE CRIMES: The penalty for religious or ethnic crimes that result in a death is increased from a maximum of 10 years in prison to 20 years.
AIDS INSURANCE: The state will begin paying the private insurance premiums of as many as 150 AIDS patients who have lost job-related insurance because they are unable to work.
RIGHT TO DIE: A new law clarifies the power of a judge to allow withdrawal of medical treatment from a person on the order of a guardian or family member who has been given the authority to make that decision. Existing law was ambiguous, leading at least one judge in the state to refuse to allow the end of life-sustaining care for an elderly woman in Baltimore.
SMOKING: Virginia, where tobacco is the leading agricultural crop, passed one of the South's most restrictive smoking laws, banning smoking in such places as cashier lines and hospital emergency rooms, and mandating no-smoking areas in schools, health facilities and restaurants with 50 seats or more. Most Northern Virginia localities already have enacted more restrictive smoking ordinances, which will remain intact.
KINDERGARTEN: 4-year-olds who don't turn 5 by Sept. 30 won't be able to enroll in kindergarten. The previous cutoff was Dec. 1, but legislators said the new law was needed because overzealous parents have been enrolling children before they are ready.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Local police agencies must show reporters and other members of the public criminal incident reports. Previously, agencies were required to disclose crime reports only after they made an arrest. The new law will force greater disclosure of crime waves, such as rapes or break-ins, that are plaguing particular neighborhoods even if no arrest has been made.
CARS: The maximum charge for car inspections has risen from $6 to $10. The annual car registration fee goes from $25 to $26.
CREDIT CARD FRAUD: Merchants will no longer be able to write down credit card numbers on checks, a practice that can lead to fraudulent charges.
GROUP HOMES: Group homes for up to eight mentally disabled people can now be placed in neighborhoods without prior zoning approval from the local government.
VOTER REGISTRATION: Virginians can now register in any locality, a change that supporters hope will make it more convenient to register and enlarge the voting rolls. Residents must still cast their votes in the locality in which they reside.
CRIME and PUNISHMENT: Maximum fines for misdemeanors rises from $1,000 to $2,500. All criminal and traffic fines will be increased by $2 to finance a new drug enforcement fund run by Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.