Bill Drop Friday: Spanking, hair discrimination and a place for mental health breaks in school

The Capitol at dusk. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Bill filing season is officially upon us.

With thousands of bills expected to be drafted for the 2020 legislative session, not every idea can get its own headline. But we’ll use this space to highlight some of the more interesting or unexpected proposals that show up in the General Assembly’s online system each week.

In no particular order, here’s what stood out to us in the first batch:

Bag taxes

SB11: Local disposable paper and plastic bag tax. Authorizes any locality to impose a tax of five cents per bag on disposable paper bags or disposable plastic bags provided to consumers by certain retailers, with certain bags being exempt from the tax. The bill allows every retailer that collects the tax to retain one cent of the five-cent tax. | Patron: Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria | READ MORE

Racial ID on marriage records

SB62: Marriage records; divorce and annulment reports; identification of race. Eliminates the requirement that the race of married parties be included in marriage records, divorce reports, and annulment reports filed with the State Registrar. The bill also removes the requirement that the State Registrar include race data in the compilation and posting of marriage, divorce, and annulment data. | Patron: Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke | READ MORE

Mental health break spaces in public schools

HB40: Board of Education; mental health break spaces; regulations. Requires the Board of Education to amend its regulations to require that each public school create and maintain a mental health break space within the public school building. The bill requires the Board of Education to collaborate with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services in the creation of regulations for the mental health break spaces. | Patron: Del. Ibraheem Samirah, D-Fairfax | READ MORE

Spanking with objects

SB32: Corporal punishment of a child with an object; penalty. Provides that any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child under 18 years of age who uses an inanimate object to subject a child to corporal punishment, as defined in the bill, is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. The bill also provides that a defendant not previously convicted of corporal punishment of a child with an object may have his charge deferred to enter a treatment program. The charge may be dismissed upon successful completion of the treatment program.| Patron: Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax | READ MORE

Hair-based racial discrimination

SB50: Virginia Human Rights Act; racial discrimination; hair. Provides that the terms “because of race” and “on the basis of race,” and terms of similar import, when used in reference to discrimination in the Code of Virginia and acts of the General Assembly, include traits historically associated with race, including hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists. | Patron: Sen. Lionell Spruill Sr., D-Chesapeake | READ MORE

Parenting and CBD oil

SB61: Custody and visitation arrangements; foster care; adoption; use of cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil. Provides that the use of cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil by a parent in a custody or visitation case shall not serve as the sole basis for the denial or restriction of custody or visitation, if such parent has a written certification by a practitioner attesting to the benefit of such use. The bill further provides that such use by a foster parent shall not be the sole reason a child is removed from a foster parent and that such use by a prospective foster parent shall not be the sole reason to deny such prospective foster parent eligibility to become a foster parent. The bill also provides that such use by a petitioner for adoption shall not be the sole reason for the denial of a final order of adoption by a circuit court. | Patron: Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax | READ MORE

Spot some legislation you think we should see? Email us! [email protected]