Hunting law, tax rates go into effect

Published 10:58 am Wednesday, July 2, 2014

FRANKLIN—Hunting in Virginia — particularly Southampton County — became less restricted on Tuesday. That’s when a ban on Sunday hunting was officially declared null thanks to the General Assembly and Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Landowners can now grant people the right to hunt on their property on Sundays in the proper seasons. However, hunting cannot be done within 200 yards of a place of worship, nor can dogs be used to hunt bears or deer on that day. Many people opposed the previous law based on religious grounds, including some members of the Board of Supervisors. The majority had signed a resolution that opposed the proposal made in Richmond this past winter.

Related to that is another law that forbids creating new fox pens. These are places where dogs can hunt the animals. However, the same rule enables existing fox pens to stay in operation until July 1, 2054.

July 1, which is the first day of the new fiscal year, is also when several other new laws went into effect.

For example, the following real estate tax rate increases went into effect:

The Southampton BOS approved a 2-cent increase, with the money to be devoted to fire and emergency services. That brought the rate to .77 cents per $100, which is still the lowest in Western Tidewater. Isle of Wight County will be .85 cents per $100; Franklin at .96 cents per $100 and Suffolk at $1.03 per $100.

A law that requires moped owners to title and register their vehicles also went into effect. The law came about from a work group established in 2012 to study non-conventional vehicles, said Sunni Brown, a DMV spokeswoman.

“What the study found is the lack of any identifying information on a moped made them virtually impossible to recover after a theft,” Brown said.

The lack of identification on the vehicle or the driver also complicated the process of investigating fatal wrecks involving mopeds, Brown said. One law enforcement officer cited in the study reported he was unable to identify the driver or notify a next of kin for several days following a fatal crash, she said.

In 2013, there were more than 600 crashes in Virginia involving mopeds. Nearly 20 percent involved alcohol, and 10 percent were speed-related. Twelve of them were fatal.

Brown said more than 2,500 people have already titled and registered their mopeds. One license plate for the rear of the vehicle will be issued.

A portion of the law that went into effect last year requires moped drivers and passengers to wear a helmet, carry some form of government-issued photo identification and wear safety glasses or goggles if the moped lacks a windshield.

For more information on the new moped regulations, visit

A final law affecting motorists is that vehicles now must give a three-foot clearance to bicyclists. The former law required two feet of clearance.

“This extra foot of clearance makes streets much safer for cyclists,” said Champe Burnley, president of the Virginia Bicycling Federation, in a press release. “We hope that drivers will use extra care when they pass a rider and avoid potential crashes.”

Last year, eight people died and more than 600 were injured in crashes involving bicycles in Virginia.

Also in the public-safety realm, DMV will require the installation of an ignition interlock device for anyone convicted of a first-offense driving under the influence of alcohol charge.

When it comes to time vote, voters must show a photo identification. These may include a driver’s license, a passport, student ID or employee ID.

Virginia public schools have until Oct. 1, 2016, before an A-F grading system is established. The ruling defers the Virginia Board of Education’s judgment of how well a school is doing based on criteria that can include accreditation and assessments.

Related to education, students in grades 3 to 8 won’t be tested quite so heavily in Standards of Learning exams. However, the emphasis on tests will be on math and reading.

Tracy Agnew of The Suffolk News-Herald contributed to this story.