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Large Slate Of Public Safety Laws Take Effect In Virginia

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Nearly two dozen new or altered public safety laws took effect in Virginia this week. Some may go unnoticed, but lawmakers hope their work does make life in the Commonwealth better for most residents.

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.

Del. 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," McClellan says. "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.

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