Although state lawmakers devoted much of the 2016 Virginia General Assembly to hammering out the biennial budget, they did find time to pass some actual laws. Below are five that take effect beginning this month.
1. Beginning July 1, you’re required to look with reverence, not fright, upon the Eastern garter snake slithering through your grass. OK, maybe not, but legislators have named the reptile our official state snake, whatever that means.
2. Police can request real-time location data from cell phone providers without first seeking a warrant in certain emergency situations, namely those involving missing persons.
3. A new law makes it easier for localities to implement school bus camera programs by allowing police to mail infractions to drivers who blow by stopped buses. That means if you ignore a school bus stop sign and are captured on camera, you aren’t just a reckless jerk, but a reckless jerk soon to be slapped with a fine.
4. Small and startup craft breweries will enjoy the same tax exemptions as the big boy brewers do, thanks to a law Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into effect in hopes of encouraging new sudsy business ventures. Side note: Is T-Mac the most beer-happy governor we’ve ever had?
5. Cyclists rejoice! Opening a parked car’s door into the path of an oncoming cyclist is now punishable by a $50 fine. Bike advocacy groups have lobbied the legislature for several years to pass a bill forbidding the practice, known as dooring.