New laws on taxes, police accountability, voting measures taking effect in Virginia and Maryland


New laws in Virginia and Maryland are kicking in to impact taxes, voting laws and police accountability.

Virginia motorists are now paying more at the pump. Democrats opposed Gov. Glenn Youngkin‘s plan to temporarily suspend the state’s 26.2 cents per gallon gas tax and starting Friday, Virginia’s gas tax will rise 3 cents per gallon.

A higher state gas tax also took effect Friday in Maryland, adding 7 cents per gallon as a result of a 2013 law that triggers automatic increases based on inflation.

Marland’s gasoline tax went from 36 cents per gallon to 43 cents per gallon.

On Mr. Youngkin‘s signature issue of education, Virginia will now require principals to report certain alleged misdemeanors taking place in schools to law enforcement.

Schools must now also notify parents of any assignments involving sexually explicit material, and give them the option to opt out their children from that assignment.

A new election law will also prompt registrars to remove deceased Virginians from the voter rolls weekly, rather than monthly. Absentee ballots must also now be reported by precinct.

Virginians have to wait until January for the state grocery tax to be eliminated, which was a top campaign promise from Mr. Youngkin. Beginning in January, Virginians won’t have to pay the state’s 1.5% grocery tax, but depending on where they live, they may still have to cough up localities’ 1% tax.

Despite some of his initiatives not going as far as promised, Mr. Youngkin touted the new laws as a victory for his administration.

“Every day we have worked hard to build a more prosperous Virginia, with greater opportunity for future generations,” Mr. Youngkin said. “Together, we enacted historic tax cuts and made record investments in education and public safety.”

In addition to the governor’s campaign priorities, Virginians will also now be allowed to transport three gallons of personal use alcohol across state lines, instead of one and face fewer barriers to accessing medical marijuana.

In a historic move, Virginians will also now be allowed to hunt on public lands on Sundays.

In Maryland, residents can expect to see tax relief on medical products, with the sales tax nixed on items such as toothbrushes, baby bottles and diabetic supplies.

The state also made extensive changes to police accountability, repealing Maryland’s law that allowed police officers accused of misconduct to only be investigated by other law enforcement officials.

Police conduct will now be allowed to be reviewed by civilians and will face new rules on when they can use force.

In Maryland schools, students may no longer be punished with seclusion as a form of behavioral intervention, stemming from a 2020 investigation that found students with disabilities in the state were improperly secluded and restrained.

Student-athletes will also have more freedom in expressing their religion or culture, having the chance to modify their sports uniforms to fit their needs.

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