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Legal analyst breaks down some of the new laws in Virginia

Dozens of new laws are taking effect in Virginia as of July 1 and it has people wondering what comes next.

NORFOLK, Va. — New laws are bringing changes to Virginia, but one that is catching a lot of attention is the elimination of the state grocery tax.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed the bill into law, calling it a step in the right direction. Overall, eliminating the state tax cuts it down by 1.5%. That saves you $1.50 for every $100 you spend at the grocery store.

However, you'll have to wait until you see a difference since the elimination of the state grocery tax won't take effect until January 2023.

RELATED: Here are some new Virginia laws taking effect that you need to know about.

"The suspension of the tax allows the people of the Commonwealth to let their grocery budget go a little further," said legal analyst and Virginia Beach attorney, Ed Booth.

Booth said the new law doesn't put a big dent in your store receipt, but it is still a form of tax relief.

"If you go to a restaurant, those taxes are going to be higher," said Booth. "Personal property taxes are higher, but my take on it is every little bit helps."

The new law does not include the local government tax on groceries, which is a 1% tax on food and hygiene products.

Another law going into effect is allowing parents to learn more about what their children are reading in school.

The new legislation requires school board members to notify parents if books or other materials students are assigned have any sexually explicit content. School leaders must also provide an alternative option if parents object to the original content.

It's a well-known discussion within Hampton Roads school divisions. Booth said it gives a platform for parents to speak up.

"It seems to be you've got kind of a balancing of competing interests here," said Booth. "I think parents want to know what their children will be presented in schools." 

The state now requires the Virginia Board of Education to develop these policies by July 31, but local school boards don't have to adopt these policies until January 2023.

However, Booth said the new regulation gets complicated when deciding if a classroom material is inappropriate.

"That's the old challenge, right? Whenever you're talking about something that is sexually explicit, what is offensive and bothersome to one person may not be to another," Booth explained. "Getting into the actual day-to-day enactment and enforcement of this will become very difficult."

Before Youngkin signed this bill into law, other state lawmakers argued the measure would lead to unnecessary censorship in schools and could get important books removed from lessons.

Lastly, new restrictions are now placed on alcohol deliveries, otherwise known as "cocktails to go."

While third-party drivers can now deliver alcohol directly to you, there are a few restrictions that go along with the ride.

While Virginians can buy alcoholic drinks and get them delivered until 2024, drivers for services like Uber and DoorDash must obtain a third-party license to deliver alcohol. Those drivers also have to pass an annual safety course and comply with the regulations.

Booth said these new regulations are crucial as long as cocktails to go are legal.

"You've got to mark it as an alcoholic beverage, so the kid won't drink it for one thing, and the drink can't be any larger than 16 ounces, so good for business, good for safety," said Booth. "Regulations that will allow a common sense of delivery of alcohol."

Delivery drivers must also keep the drink containers closed at all times and ensure they are delivering to the correct customer who is also over the age of 21 by checking their IDs.

Lawmakers passed another bill, which now allows a person to bring three gallons of alcohol from another state. Originally, lawmakers set the limit to one gallon.

You can learn more about other laws taking effect in Virginia here.

   

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