New Laws for Virginia: Delegate Peace Provides Insight into Laws Effective July 1, 2007

Del. Christopher K. Peace (R-Mechanicsville) provides a brief summary of key legislation passed by the 2007 General Assembly that is of interest to the citizens of Virginia and is likely to have an impact on their daily lives. The legislation has been signed by the Governor and most went into effect on July 1, 2007. The Comprehensive Transportation Funding and Reform Act of 2007, approved by the House and Senate addresses this core service. This bill increases the funding for roads, railways, and public transit, and also includes some of the most significant reforms to update the Commonwealth's approach to land use and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the manner in which transportation services are delivered.

Additionally, the House and Senate approved legislation negating the effects of the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London, which increased the taking powers of government through eminent domain. "Our legislation to restrict the rights of governments under eminent domain increases the protection for every property owner," noted Peace. "Since the Kelo decision, Americans have had to look to state government to protect their property rights. We have answered that call, strengthening the rights of Virginians."

Regulation of electric utility service was assertively addressed during the 2007 session. "Balancing the protection of the consumer and the need for increased energy generation in Virginia is vital," stated Peace. The measure which passed advances the scheduled expiration date of the capped utility rate period from December 31, 2010, to December 31, 2008. The measure effectively ends the deregulation of investor-owned electric utilities and the ability of most consumers to shop for electric utility service.

Legislation to protect our children from sexually violent predators was another high priority for House Republicans. One such successful measure requires a sex offender to include in the registration any e-mail address and instant messaging screen name that he uses or will use. A sex offender must register any changes in email addresses, instant message, or other identity information within thirty minutes of changing the information.

Effective October 1, 2008, is a health related measure which requires females to receive three doses of properly spaced human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine beginning on or after the child's eleventh birthday. Since HPV cannot innocently be "caught" in a classroom unlike measles or mumps, Peace offered a floor amendment that allows parents or guardians to elect for their daughter not to receive this vaccine. The amendment preserves parental choice in the health decisions of their children.

Peace supported numerous tax exemption measures during the 2007 session. First, a sales tax exemption for purchases of certain Energy Star qualified products with a sales price of $2,500 or less made during a four-day period each year in October. Second, an exemption from the retail sales and use tax beginning July 1,2007, for multi-fuel heating stoves used by the individual purchaser for heating his residence. Lastly, a sales and use tax exemption, beginning in 2008, for certain hurricane preparedness equipment purchased during a seven-day period each year beginning on May 25. Each of these sales and use tax holidays will sunset on July 1, 2012