RICHMOND — New laws passed by the General Assembly — including voter-identification requirements and repeal of the one-handgun-a-month purchasing restriction — in what was seen as one of the most contentious sessions in years go into effect Sunday.
A bevy of controversial acts were approved by state lawmakers and signed by Gov.
The requirement that women undergo an abdominal ultrasound before getting an
In addition to having the ultrasound, women will be asked by their physicians if they want to see the results of the procedure. If a woman doesn't want to see the ultrasound she will be required to sign a statement to that effect, which will become a part of her medical records.
Debate over the new voter-identification requirements also sparked protests on the Capitol grounds, with opponents of the law saying it was a step backward for Virginia to the days when blacks were systematically barred from voting.
Under the new law voters must bring an acceptable form of ID to their polling place or they will be required to use a provisional ballot to cast their votes.
This does away with the old rule that allowed voters without identification to sign an affidavit affirming they are who they say they are and then cast a regular ballot.
The law does expand the list of acceptable identification documents to include a voter registration card, a student ID, a utility bill or a paycheck.
In a win for gun-rights activists, starting Sunday Virginians will be able to buy more than one handgun a month for the first time in 20 years.
Lawmakers decided to do away with the one-handgun-a-month purchasing restriction put in place in 1992 to try to stem the flow of illegal firearms out of Virginia at a time when the commonwealth had become known as the gun-running capital of the East Coast.
Proponents of the law said the prohibition was no longer necessary because stricter federal and state background checks made it much less likely that convicted felons and the mentally ill would be able to purchase handguns.
Another new law that sparked heated debate allows private and not-for-profit agencies that provide adoption and foster-care services for the state to use a "conscience clause" to deny placement of children based on the group's moral and religious tenets, such as opposition to homosexuality or single parenthood.
Penalties for driving under the influence get stiffer as anyone convicted of a first drunk-driving offense must have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicles. The interlock system analyzes the driver's breath and prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver's blood alcohol level is more than .02 percent. The legal limit for blood alcohol levels is .08 percent.
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Each of the state's public schools will now have a supply of "epipens," injectable
Starting Sunday disabled veterans will be able to get free lifetime hunting and fishing licenses under a law sponsored by local Del. David Yancey, R-Newport News.