With the new year comes a handful of additions to Virginia state law.
When the General Assembly passes new laws, legislators try to make them all take effect at the beginning of the state's fiscal year in July. But for various reasons some measures are delayed and will take effect once the clock strikes midnight.
The most significant new law is designed to make sure you are notified in case your medical records fall into the wrong hands. It stems from an unsolved breach of Virginia's prescription drug database when a hacker accessed millions of patient records.
The state was slow to notify affected Virginians and lawmakers decided to fix that. Now, Virginia agencies must call, write or email you without "unreasonable delay" if someone improperly accesses the data they posses.
The new year also will bring a new fee for prepaid cell phone customers. Starting January 1, a 50 cent surcharge will be tacked onto the bill when you buy cell phones that use prepaid minutes. The fee will help pay for 911 services statewide. Regular cell phone customers already pay a similar charge.
Come January 1 Virginia law will require anti-freeze and engine coolant sold in the commonwealth to contain less than a specified amount of the deadly chemical ethylene glycol, and also contain a bitter flavoring to help prevent poisonings.
One additional law that will take effect at midnight Friday will be of interest to smokers who have orders shipped to them. Companies that mail tobacco products to any Virginian will have to file detailed reports with the state tax department.
Ordering tobacco products is especially common with cigar smokers.