The new year means a few new laws taking effect in Virginia, Maryland and the District.
Starting Saturday, student photo ID cards issued by Virginia private schools will be considered an acceptable form of identification for voters in the commonwealth.
Virginia voters have been required to present a photo ID at the polls since 2014. Previously, only a driver’s license, a U.S. passport or a photo ID issued by the federal or state government or a public school in Virginia was considered acceptable.
Also in 2016, the state Department of Motor Vehicles can ask drivers to add an emergency contact person to their records to help law enforcement in emergencies. License-holders will be able to update or delete the information electronically at any time.
In Fairfax County, a redefined noise ordinance will take effect Feb. 17. The ordinance regulates noise in the county by maximum decibel levels allowed, instead of depending on a county police officer’s subjective judgment.
It covers a variety of sounds, including lawn mowers, outdoor loudspeakers at high school football games, construction work and barking dogs. Depending on location and time of day, the ordinance generally regulates sounds that are above 55 decibels in residential areas and 75 decibels in industrial zones.
In Maryland, one provision affecting voter registration and two bills affecting insurance providers will take effect Friday.
The voter-registration provision, which comes from a 2013 bill, allows individuals to register to vote at early-voting centers during early-voting periods. In 2016, those periods run April 14-21 for the April 26 primary election, and Oct. 27-Nov. 3 for the Nov. 8 general election.
Among the insurance statutes, one requires health insurers to provide coverage for at least two brand-name and two generic abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drug products. Abuse-deterrent formulations are designed to produce unpleasant side effects when the opioids are overused.
The law will also bar insurers from requiring patients to use a traditional opioid before providing coverage for abuse-deterrent forms.
A separate law will require workers’ compensation insurers to notify clients sooner that they are canceling or refusing to renew a policy. Current guidelines call for 30 days’ notice, but the new law will mandate a 45-day heads-up, giving employers more time to find other policies.
Both of the insurance measures were passed during the 2015 session.
In Prince George’s County, it is now illegal to smoke electronic cigarettes in public buildings. Higher fines for littering will take effect Tuesday. Anyone caught throwing garbage on county land will be slapped with a $1,000 fine — double the previous penalty.
The anti-littering law also targets property owners who fail to remove accumulating refuse from their yards, which could saddle them with a hefty tax lien. Sponsor Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) said the law was part of a package of bills designed to enhance enforcement of property standards and push offenders to clean up.
Two other laws, which go into effect Jan. 11, will add any existing tax liens against a property to the following year’s tax bill and penalize anyone caught renting property without a license with higher fines of $1,000 per month.
In Montgomery County and the District, bans on plastic foam containers take effect Friday. Businesses that use the non-biodegradable foam will be penalized. A similar ban will take effect in Prince George’s on July 1.
In Montgomery, food trucks will be able to operate longer — from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. — starting Jan. 18.
In late February, two other laws will take effect in the county. One will increase the maximum fine to $1,000 for those caught selling tobacco to minors. The other will allow police to issue civil citations for solicitation of prostitution in cases where a criminal charge is not appropriate.
Arelis R. Hernández, Antonio Olivo and Patricia Sullivan contributed to this report.