Almost 900 new laws passed by the 2010 General Assembly will take effect Thursday.
Preoccupied with closing a $4 billion budget deficit, legislators avoided many of the hot-button issues that have dominated other sessions by killing or deferring action on bills.
But here's a look at some new laws that could affect Virginians' daily lives.
State workersWhat's new? New state employees hired on July 1, or after, must pay 5 percent of their salary into the Virginia Retirement System. Local governments and school divisions have the option of picking up some, or all, of the 5 percent member contribution. What's changing? Since 1983, the state has been paying the employees' contribution and the state's share of state workers' retirement.
Concealed weaponsWhat's new? Holders of concealed-handgun permits will be allowed to carry concealed guns into bars and restaurants, but they aren't supposed to drink. What's changing? Under current law, it is illegal to carry a concealed handgun into a restaurant or club where alcohol is consumed on the premises.
Speed limitsWhat's new? The Virginia Department of Transportation can raise the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph on interstates and other limited-access highways after conducting traffic engineering studies of the roads.
What's changing? Initially, the only interstate where the limit will rise to 70 mph is Interstate 295 from Petersburg nearly to Interstate 64 east of Richmond.
Seat beltsWhat's new? Sixteenand 17-year-olds riding in the back seat must buckle up and can be ticketed if a law-enforcement officer sees they are not wearing seat belts. What's changing? Currently, only passengers 15 and younger are required to wear seat belts in the back seat. What's new? Front-seat passengers ages 16 or 17 can be ticketed if seen not wearing seat belts. What's changing? Under current law, such passengers can get tickets only if an officer has pulled the car over for a different infraction.
'Move over' lawWhat's new? A motorist approaching a tow truck or highway-maintenance vehicle displaying flashing amber lights must change lanes. What's changing? Currently, the law applies only to motorists approaching emergency vehicles displaying red or blue flashing lights.
Underage drinkingWhat's new? A juvenile who commits a second offense of underage possession of alcohol can lose his driver's license for up to one year. What's changing? Currently, such a juvenile can lose his license for up to six months What's new? Courts will no longer be allowed to issue a restricted driver's license for school travel to a person under 18 who has been convicted of driving under the influence or refusing a breath test. What's changing? Courts currently have that discretion.
Health insuranceWhat's new? A new state law says Virginians cannot be required to purchase health insurance. What's changing? The new law is meant to protect Virginians against a mandate in the federal health-care law. Which law will prevail is the subject of a fight playing out in federal court.
Animal crueltyWhat's new? The penalty for a violation of the minimal standards of animal care becomes a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. What's changing? It had been a Class 4 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250. What's new? The penalty for abandoning an animal becomes a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. What's changing? It has been a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500. What's new? The penalty for animal cruelty remains a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months and a $2,500 fine, but there are new restrictions. What's changing? The penalty will require a mandatory minimum of five days in jail and a prohibition on the possession and ownership of companion animals.
AlcoholWhat's new? Wine and liquor-tasting events can be held at government Alcoholic Beverage Control Stores. What's changing? Such events have been allowed at restaurants and festivals, but not at ABC stores.
FlagsWhat's new? A unit owners' or property owner's association cannot bar a property owner from displaying the American flag. The association can establish "reasonable restrictions" on the size and placement of a flag.
What's changing? The law, inspired by the case of Van T. Barfoot, a Medal of Honor winner who lives in Henrico County, is meant to protect the rights of homeowners, while treating homeowners associations fairly.