While a majority of the General Assembly deals with the big-ticket items like Medicaid expansion, two-year budgets, tax increases or decreases, and bolstering the business sector, there are some pieces of legislation that make it into the capitol that are a bit odd. Looking back at the 2018 General Assembly session, there were a few interesting bills that were submitted.
Dogs in wineries: Introduced by Delegate John Bell (D-Loudoun), House Bill 286 would allow patrons of Virginia wineries to bring their dog inside to join them on their drinking extravaganza. Passed by a wide margin in both chambers, the law will go into effect July 1 and allow dogs inside any licensed winery, farm winery, distillery, brewery, or farm brewery.
The law will also provide that dogs will be allowed inside designated areas that are not in areas where food production occurs, in accordance with current law.
Cursing: Nearly anyone who has traveled through Virginia Beach has seen the “no profanity” signs labeled with grawlixes surrounded with an interdictory circle, meaning there is no cursing in public allowed. Though, many may not know that cursing in public is a Class 4 misdemeanor throughout the Commonwealth, but the Virginia State Code does not specify what words are considered curse words.
House Bill 31, introduced by Delegate Michael Webert (R-Fauquier), was set to repeal the law which is now punishable with a fine of up to $250. The bill, however, died in committee.
Fornication: Yes, fornication. Currently, it is illegal in Virginia to have sex outside of marriage and is actually punishable by a $250 fine.
Delegate Mark Levine (D-Fairfax) forwarded House Bill 138, set to make it legal in the Virginia State Code for a person to have, “voluntary sexual intercourse by (sic) an unmarried person,” according to the bill. In a report from the Loudoun Times-Mirror, even though Levine called the Virginia code “outdated and silly,” the bill was left in the Courts of Justice Committee.
Raccoon hunting: For those who love treein’ trash pandas in the wee hours of the morning with an ol’ bluetick coonhound, rejoice in the southern tradition as the prohibition of hunting after 2:00 a.m. on Sunday morning has be thrown out…yee haw.
House Bill 239 introduced by Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) and the identical Senate Bill 375 introduced by Senator Ben Chafin (R-Lebanon) was signed by Governor Ralph Northam and will be in effect on July 1. Get your .223 ready.
State salamander: In an effort to shine light on a little known invertebrate in Virginia House Bill 459, introduced by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), will add the red salamander, scientifically known as Pseudotriton ruber, to Virginia’s list of official designations. The list of officials emblems and designations of the Commonwealth now includes 36 items that are instinctive to Virginia.
Boozy confections: Lawmakers signed off on creating a “confectionery license” that allows a person to sell tasty treats infused with alcohol, but no more than five percent by volume. Senator Barbara Favola’s (D-Fairfax) Senate Bill 61 and the identical House Bill 1602 from Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover) would also have the Board of Directors of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Authority promulgate regulations and will become effective July 1.