A number of new laws will take effect in Virginia this weekend, including expanded school zones, a prohibition on sexual harassment non-disclosure agreements, and classification of fentanyl as a “weapon of terrorism.”
Most laws passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor each year go into effect on July 1, which marks the beginning of the new fiscal year.
This year, nearly 740 bills were signed into law. Some are more mundane, while others could significantly impact Fairfax County residents, like last year’s banning of ticket quotas and medical marijuana patients no longer needing to register with the state.
Here are nine noteworthy laws going into effect tomorrow (Saturday) in Virginia:
Prohibiting sexual harassment non-disclosure agreements
Introduced by local Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), HB 1895 — also known as the Silenced No More Act — prohibits any non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the “purpose or effect of concealing the details of a sexual harassment claim.” If any such agreement does exist, it’s now “void and unenforceable,” per the new law. It mirrors recently enacted laws in other states as well as federal protections.
Assaulting a public transportation operator now leads to additional jail time
As attacks on bus drivers increase, HB 2330 now makes assaulting public transportation operators a Class 1 misdemeanor. That means a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. The legislation, introduced by Del. Delores McQuinn of Richmond, also bans those convicted from using public transit systems.
However, critics say assailants often flee the scene prior to being arrested, suggesting the new law may not be particularly effective.
Fentanyl as “a weapon of terrorism”
Fentanyl overdoses have increasingly become a major concern, particularly among young adults, in Fairfax County and nationwide. To impose harsher penalties on the drug’s manufacturing and distribution, SB 1188 and identical bill HB 1682 reclassify fentanyl as a “weapon of terrorism,” making those acts Class 4 felonies that could carry up to 10 years of jail time.
The new law is similar to ones in other states, though critics say the law doesn’t take into account context or circumstances, and increasing penalties could make people less likely to call authorities when someone they are with overdoses.
Solicitation of a minor disqualifying for potential public school workers
Along with physical and sexual abuse, solicitation of a minor has been added as an offense that will bar someone from being employed or doing contract work for a public school, if convicted, under HB 1822.
The legislation is partially in response to last year’s conviction of a then-Fairfax County Public Schools counselor who solicited prostitution from a minor in Chesterfield. While the man was arrested in November and convicted in March, FCPS didn’t fire him until August. An investigation found Chesterfield officials didn’t notify FCPS until months after the incident. The Chesterfield Police Department claimed emails bounced back and went to spam. Read More
Local police are seeking the community’s help in identifying a man who has reportedly exposed himself to multiple women at a Reston hotel.
Most recently, Fairfax County police believe the man exposed himself outside a room in the Extended Stay at 12190 Sunset Hills Road on Friday (March 24). A woman was inside the room with her two children when she saw the man.
Two similar incidents happened in February at the same hotel, according to police.
“Detectives canvassed the area following the February incidents, but additional information was not developed,” the FCPD said.
The previous incidents happened on Feb. 18 and 19, according to police.
Police issued the following description of the the subject:
The suspect is described as a black man in his 20s, approximately 5’10, 185 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, black sweatshirt with black jeans and black Jordans with a blue accent stripe on the heels.
Anyone with information is urged to call the police department using the following methods:
Detectives would like to speak to anyone who may have information about this case or other similar cases. Those with information are asked to please call our Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web – Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App and follow the steps to “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.
(Updated at 9:25 a.m.) Fire and Rescue Rejects Agreement in Sexual Harassment Complaint — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that a former Fairfax County firefighter was sexually harassed by a captain in 2017 and demoted after she reported it. But the county fire department has refused an agreement requiring improved efforts to address sexual harassment, new training, and a $150,000 award to the woman, raising the possibility of a federal lawsuit. [The Washington Post]
Pedestrian Killed in Lorton Crash Identified — The Fairfax County Police Department says Keith Thomas, 24, was walking in the southbound lanes of Richmond Highway when he was hit by the driver of a 2005 GMC Sierra at 1:28 a.m. Friday (July 8) at the I-95 interchange. The driver called for help, but Thomas was struck by other vehicles and ultimately died at the scene. [FCPD]
McLean Man Sentenced for Covid Relief Fraud — “A McLean businessman who bilked nearly $1.6 million from federal coronavirus relief programs and spent much of the money on a mansion with its own movie theater and cigar room was sentenced Friday to two years and nine months in prison.” [The Washington Post]
West Springfield House Fire Reported Yesterday — “House fire on 7/10 in 8500 block of Grigsby Drive in West Springfield area. Heavy fire on arrival. No occupants were home at time of fire. Five occupants were displaced. There were no reported injuries. Fire is under investigation. Damages: $594,825.” [FCFRD/Twitter]
Burke & Herbert to Consolidate in Kingstowne — “The bank will remain headquartered at 100 S. Fairfax St. in Old Town Alexandria, but a ‘large portion’ of its local workforce, currently dispersed across the area, will shift to 5680 King Centre Drive in Kingstowne. Burke & Herbert paid $22 million for that 113,000-square-foot building July 1, according to Fairfax County records.” [Washington Business Journal]
Virginia Workers Leave Over Telework Policy — “More than 300 employees from five state agencies have resigned since Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Virginia’s new telework policy in early May, according to records obtained by 8News. This includes 183 Virginia Department of Transportation employees, 28 of whom cited ‘telework options’ as the reason for leaving.” [ABC8]
Vienna Band Director Steps Away — “A long commute to and from Anne Arundel County, Md., has prompted Cornelius Young to give up his post as music director for the Vienna Community Band, but he leaves with good memories of the group and the town. Young, who has been with the band since October 2014, decided to try for the job after not being selected to lead Annandale High School’s band.” [Sun Gazette]
Reston Student on Performing “Newsies” — “Reston Community Players’ new apprentice program is designed to help students ages 13 to 18 interested in theater gain pre-professional performance and technical experience. That’s exactly what Anna Schoenborn, a rising junior at South Lakes High School in Reston is gaining this summer with RCP’s production of ‘Newsies.'” [Patch]
It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 82 and low of 66. Sunrise at 5:54 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]