New Virginia, Maryland and DC laws now in effect

The start of July brings with it a new set of laws that are taking effect in Virginia, Maryland and D.C.


Having a loud car exhaust system is again cause for being pulled over in Virginia — it’s again a primary offense.

Another new law toughens the penalty for stealing catalytic converters. The emission control devices have become popular targets for thieves as prices for the precious metals they contain have skyrocketed. The legislation makes tampering with or stealing a catalytic converter a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. It was previously a misdemeanor.

Police and sheriff’s departments, meanwhile, are banned from establishing quotas that require an officer to make a specific number of arrests or issue a specific number of summonses in a period of time.

School principals must report certain offenses that would constitute a misdemeanor to law enforcement. Principals were previously only required to report likely felonies.

Possessing a switchblade knife becomes legal, though they still can’t be concealed.

Gaming businesses are banned from using the phrase “Virginia is for Bettors,” a play on the “Virginia is for Lovers” tourism slogan.

Hunting is allowed on Sundays on public or private land, as long as it takes place more than 200 yards from a place of worship.

Other measures included lifting a sweeping ban on facial recognition technology and adding a new criminal penalty for marijuana possession.

Under Virginia’s constitution, legislation passed at the regular session of the General Assembly and signed into law takes effect on the first day of July.


Items including baby bottles, baby wipes, blood pressure monitors, diapers, oral hygiene products, respirators and thermometers, are now exempt from the state’s sale and use tax.

The Elijah Gorham Act requires all public middle and high schools to have venue-specific emergency action plans and coordination of care for other emergent injuries.

Nurse practitioners, midwives, and other non-physician medical professionals are now allowed to perform abortions in Maryland under The Abortion Care Access Act. It includes $3.5 million annually to train medical professionals in safely performing abortions. In addition, the act requires most health insurance plans to cover abortions at no cost to patients.


The District’s minimum wage is now $16.10 per hour, up from $15.20 an hour, for all workers — regardless of the size of the employer. The base minimum wage for tipped employees rose 30 cents to $5.35 per hour.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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