Hundreds of bills have already been introduced in the Virginia legislature that convenes Wednesday, and lawmakers will have until mid-March to sent them to newly elected Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for consideration.
The Republicans who maintain a razor-thin majority in both the state Senate and House of Delegates, say they’ll be focused on the state’s budget and “practical solutions” for every day problems. Democrats, who flipped 15 seats in the November election and arrive in Richmond in with new political muscle and near parity with the GOP, say their focus is on health care and economic issues, particularly expanding Medicaid to low-income residents.
Here’s a sampling of other bills that may not be the center of titanic power struggles, but are still buzzy. You can look up the full text by the bill number at this link.
Fireworks could be sold by licensed businesses. SB173 by Senate William M. Stanley Jr (R-Franklin)
And if a firework goes off in your hand, feel free to fire off all the four-letter words you like if the law banning public swearing is repealed. HB 31 by Del. Michael J. Webert (R-Fauquier)
Another antiquated law in the cross-hairs is the ban on sex outside of marriage. HB148 by Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria)
Animal dos and don’ts
Virginians could bring dogs and other companion animals to wineries that don’t serve food. HB286 by Del. John Bell (D-Loudoun)
Just don’t have the dog on your lap when you drive to the winery (or drive back if you drank a lot of wine, for that matter). SB97 from Sen. David Marsden (D-Fairfax)
And if Fido ends up going to the boarder while you booze, the employees must keep an eye on the dogs while they play with each other. HB79 by Del. David Yancey (R-Newport News)
No state funds may be spent on organizations that conducts research that causes “significant pain” to cats or dogs. SB 28 from Del. William M. Stanley Jr.
Thinking about the children
Children would be able to use sunscreen at school without a doctor’s note. HB330 from Del. David Yancey (R-Newport News)
But if that doesn’t pass, kids younger than fourth grade can’t be suspended or expelled for putting on sunscreen — or any non-criminal offense. HB296 from Del. Richard Bell (R-Staunton)
Principals couldn’t give student contact information to military recruiters without student permission. HB349 from Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax)
Similarly, colleges couldn’t give out student contact information to marketers and political groups. HB1 from Del. Tony Wilt (R-Harrisonburg)
Guns and hunting
Conceal carry permit applicants must complete their training in-person instead of using an online course. HB91 from Del. John Bell (D-Loudoun)
“Bump stocks,” the device used to accelerate gun fire in the Las Vegas massacre, would be banned. SB1 by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)
Hunting restrictions on Sunday could be relaxed: Raccoons may be hunted, and dogs could assist in deer and bear hunts. HB239 from Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Scott)
Elections and voting rights
Virginia would establish a pilot program for a “vote-by-mail” program, as is used in Colorado, Washington state and Oregon. HB230 by Del-elect. Debra Rodman (D-Henrico)
Virginians would be able to cast absentee ballots without providing a valid excuse. HB57 by Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria)
And presidential candidates must provide their tax returns in order to appear on the Virginia ballot, a proposal popping up around the country in response to President Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. SB65 by Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax)
Gender and sexual orientation
Tampons and pads would be exempt from the sales tax. HB24 from Del. Jennifer Boysko (D-Herndon) and HB152 from Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax).
Certain gender-specific crimes — including leaving a wife in a “bawdy place” and falsely defaming a woman’s “chastity” — would be expanded to include male victims. HB415 by Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church)
Female genital mutilation would become a felony, not a misdemeanor. HB95 from Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach)
Counselors and health professionals would be barred from “conversion therapy”, the practice of trying to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian youth. HB363 by Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington)
March would be “Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month.” HJ18 by Del-elect. Dawn Adams (D-Chesterfield)
Oct. 11 would be General Casimir Pulaski day, in honor of the Polish national who aided the Continental Army during the American Revolution. HJ 42 by Del. Nick Rush (R-Christiansburg)
Nov. 7 would be “Victims of Communism Memorial Day.” HJ30 by Del. Mark Cole (R-Stafford)
The Friday after Thanksgiving would be “I Am My Brother and Sister’s Keeper Day” in honor of helping others. HJ38 by Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond)