Today’s the day, when several bills passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice take effect. You may be surprised by what’s changed. So here’s a quick guide to some new rules that are now the law (or soon will be) in West Virginia.
1. Prepare to pay more at the gas pump.
West Virginia is one of seven states (including California, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Tennessee, and South Carolina) where gasoline now costs more. State officials say the average increase here will be about 3.5 cents per gallon. Justice championed the increase as a way to create jobs, support highway financing and begin construction plans.
2. Car ownership costs increase too
The same bill that hiked the gas tax also increased a variety of state Department of Motor Vehicle fees, including those on state inspection stickers and registration. Now a state inspection sticker will cost $10 instead of $5, while the registration fee for regular Class A plates will increase from the current $30 to $51.50.
3. Medical marijuana on its way to implementation
West Virginia is the 29th state to allow the use of medical marijuana and the new law’s effective date is July 5. It will allow patients with specific ailments to use cannabis, including those with a terminal illness or who have seizures, cancer, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and AIDS. Advisory board members were named this week to help work out rules for the state roll-out which is expected to happen in 2019.
4. Remembering Emmaleigh so others children won’t be abused
Emmaleigh’s Law honors a 10-month-old girl by the same name who died last year after being struck and sexually assaulted. A man who was living at the family home was charged with the child’s death. The new law is effective July 6 and doubles the penalties for a person convicted of the death of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian from the current 10-40 years up to 20-80 years.
5. Sunday hunting provision set to launch
Beginning July 6, Sunday hunting will be open in all counties on private land but hunters must have written from the landowner. Counties had previously made this decision, and had been allowed in 33 of the state’s 55 counties.
6. Firearms now allowed in recreation areas
Effective July 7, it will be legal to carry a firearm into any state, county or municipal park or other recreation areas. Legislators approved the measure which prohibits county parks from banning guns.
7. Another gun bill becomes law, this one reverses policy for school property
People with a concealed firearm permit will be able take their weapon onto school property while dropping off or picking up students and as long as it does not leave the motor vehicle. It was previously a felony to have a gun anywhere on school property. Effective date is July 7.
8. Revenge porn by any other name is now illegal
Some call it revenge porn, others refer to it as inappropriately sharing sexually explicit images. Regardless of the name, this type of action will be banned in the state thanks to legislation that takes effect July 7. It will be a misdemeanor to intentionally display publicly, distribute or threaten to disclose sexually explicit or intimate images of someone else without their consent. A first offense is subject to a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 and up to a year in jail.
9. Nonviolent felons to get second chance
That’s because the Second Chance for Employment Act becomes law July 7, and it is intended to help non-violent offenders clear their record after finishing their sentence. For example, a recovering addict might have felonies expunged from his record as a way to help move forward in life and more easily get a job.
10. Helping rural communities get internet service is focus
A bill designed to encourage broadband access through a variety of options, including allowing up to 20 families and/or businesses to form non-profit cooperatives to build their own broadband systems will become effective July 7. West Virginia ranks 48th nationally in terms of broadband availability.
11. Kindergarten start date age changes
Legislators approved a measure which makes the compulsory age for children entering school older by two months. Starting in the 2019-20 school year, children who turn six prior to July 1 will be compulsory school age. Students who turn six between July 1 and September 1 will not be of compulsory age as they are now. Effective date is July 4.
12. Indoor tanning regulations change
A law prohibiting the use of a tanning device by anyone under the age of 18 will be prohibited effective July 7.