Nearly two dozen new or "tweaked" public safety laws are now in effect as of Monday. Many, such as a two-year moratorium on the use of drones in the Commonwealth, may go unnoticed. In Part 4 of our series, lawmakers say that if they improve the quality of life for just one person, they’re well worth the debate, financial commitment, and paper they're printed on.
The laws include tougher penalties against Internet identity thieves and those who prey on the elderly and mentally incapacitated. There are 19 added felonies to the gang predicate criminal statute, and 25 more felonies to the list of those deemed violent for purposes of sentencing. And new law enforcement tools exist for multiple cases of abusive stalking. Delegate Jennifer McClellan says it took eight years and several tragedies-beginning with the death of De'Nora Hill-before lawmakers could reach a consensus:
"After that we lost Yeardley Love, and then last year, Tiffany Green. And Tiffany's mother, Sheila, called my office and said, "What do we need to do to get this bill passed?"'
First responders can now cross barriers or buffers to enter High-Occupancy Toll lanes without being cited. And for certain crimes where mandatory minimum sentences are imposed, the time served will run consecutively-not concurrently.