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Recent Virginia Legislation

September 9, 2009
Below are some of the recent legislative issues in Virginia that RAMW has worked on, all of which have important implications for Northern Virginia restaurants.  As always, we strive to recognize all RAMW members' concerns regarding public policy, and strongly advocate for our members' interests to public employees and elected officials.


VA Smoking Ban

In February 2009, the Virginia General Assembly passed a statewide ban on smoking in all restaurants and bars in Virginia (HB 1703).  Smoking will still be allowed on certain outdoor patios and in separate ventilated rooms.  The bill went into effect on December 1, 2009. Despite our continued opposition to excessive government regulation of small businesses, RAMW supports a ban that at least creates a uniform standard across Virginia and addresses what had until now been an inconsistent patchwork of county legislation on smoking.    

News release:


VA Guns in Restaurants

March 2010 - Virginia's House of Delegates gave final passage to a Senate bill that opens bars to people licensed to carry handguns. The bill, SB334,sponsored by Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr., passed the House on by avote of 72 to 27. The Senate gave its approval 22 to 18 on Feb. 16, 2010.

Hanger's bill differed from a bill that passed only the House by adding criminal penalties for drinking alcohol in a bar while also carrying a handgun. Under the version that passed both chambers, drinking in a bar while carrying a weapon would be a misdemeanor.

2009 - Virginia General Assembly passed a bill that would threaten the safety of restaurant patrons, owners, and employees.  SB 1035 - Concealed handguns; prohibited in restaurants, etc when consuming alcohol would have allowed concealed weapons inside restaurants and clubs that serve alcohol.  While the bill required that the carriers of concealed weapons not consume alcohol, little confidence can be held for a measure that specifically applies to drinking establishments.  When alcohol and firearms are combined, it creates a potentially deadly situation.

News release:


VA Sangria Ban

Until 2008, Virginia had been operating under an archaic law that prohibited restaurants from serving sangria.  Several Northern Virginia restaurants were charged by ABC with violations in recent years, prompting state legislators to change the law.  In 2008, the General Assembly passed SB 584, making specific exceptions to the state ABC code that now allow restaurants with mixed beverage licenses to make sangria.

News release:



In recent  years, major transportation legislation has been passed the General Assembly and signed by the the Governor’s office, bringing billions of dollars in transportation funds to Northern Virginia for the next decade.

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