Thousands of Virginians will be able to get their driver’s licenses back, bars will be able to promote their happy hour specials and big-dollar lottery winners will be able to keep their identities secret under a host of new laws going into effect on July 1.
One of the biggest items that passed during the legislative session earlier this year was a measure that ends the suspension of driver’s licenses of people with unpaid court debt. The Department of Motor Vehicles said it sent 500,000 letters to Virginia residents with suspended licenses advising them how to get their licenses back starting July 1.
Brianna Morgan, a single mother from Petersburg who went years without a driver’s license and was only recently able to get hers restored, said thousands of Virginians will now be able to do basic things many people take for granted, like driving to the grocery store or to work.
“It’s going to be wonderful for all the people that were affected by it,” she said.
Here’s a look at some other notable new laws:
Restaurants and bars will now be able to advertise the price of their happy hour specials, which they couldn’t do previously. The law also allows them to use “creative marketing techniques” to advertise those specials as long as those efforts don’t promote “overconsumption” or entice minors to drink.
Tobacco-friendly Virginia, where the early economy was powered by the leafy plant and the industry continues to hold great sway, raise the age limit on buying tobacco products from 18 to 21. The law’s restrictions apply to cigarettes and liquid nicotine used in vaping devices and exempts active-duty military personnel. Virginia-based Altria, one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world, supported the proposal.
Tampons in prison
A new state law will require the Department of Corrections to come up with new policies that ensure that visitors to state prisons can wear tampons. Last year, the department suspended a briefly introduced policy that would have barred women who visit inmates at state prisons from wearing tampons. Department officials said they prevent contraband from being smuggled into prisons.
Mystery Lottery winners
Virginia Lottery winners whose haul is more than $10 million will be able to keep their identities hidden. A new law prohibits the state lottery from releasing a winner’s personal information to the public.
The price of getting a car’s yearly safety inspection done will go from $16 to $20.
A package of new laws will go into effect aimed at reducing evictions by giving tenants more time to pay rent and fees ahead of an eviction notice and limiting the number of legal actions a landlord may file. The new laws are the result of a push that began last year after a research group at Princeton University found that five cities in Virginia have some of the highest eviction rates in the country.
Jim Crow wages
Virginia’s Jim Crow-era exceptions to the state’s minimum-wage law are coming off the books. Lawmakers approved legislation that eliminates an exemption in state law that said certain jobs traditionally held by African Americans, including ushers and doormen, didn’t have to pay minimum wage.