Virginia Code Effective Dates of Acts

Constitutional Provisions

Const. Art. 4, § 13 provides:

“§ 13. Effective date of laws

“All laws enacted at a regular session, including laws which are enacted by reason of actions taken during the reconvened session following a regular session, but excluding a general appropriation law, shall take effect on the first day of July following the adjournment of the session of the General Assembly at which it has been enacted;  and all laws enacted at a special session, including laws which are enacted by reason of actions taken during the reconvened session following a special session but excluding a general appropriation law, shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month following the month of adjournment of the special session;  unless in the case of an emergency (which emergency shall be expressed in the body of the bill) the General Assembly shall specify an earlier date by a vote of four-fifths of the members voting in each house, the name of each member voting and how he voted to be recorded in the journal, or unless a subsequent date is specified in the body of the bill or by general law.“

Const. Art. 5, § 6 provides:

“§ 6. Presentation of bills; powers of Governor; vetoes and amendments

“(a) Every bill which passes the Senate and House of Delegates, before it becomes law, shall be presented to the Governor.

“(b) During a regular or special session, the Governor shall have seven days in which to act on the bill after it is presented to him and to exercise one of the three options set out below.  If the Governor does not act on the bill, it shall become law without his signature.

“(i)  The Governor may sign the bill if he approves it, and the bill shall become law.

“(ii) The Governor may veto the bill if he objects to it by returning the bill with his objections to the house in which the bill originated.  The house shall enter the objections in its journal and reconsider the bill.  The house may override the veto by a two-thirds vote of the members present, which two-thirds shall include a majority of the members elected to that house.  If the house of origin overrides the Governor's veto, it shall send the bill and Governor's objections to the other house where the bill shall be reconsidered.  The second house may override the Governor's veto by a two-thirds vote of the members present, which two-thirds shall include a majority of the members elected to that house.  If both houses override the Governor's veto, the bill shall become law without his signature.  If either house fails to override the Governor's veto, the veto shall stand and the bill shall not become law.

“(iii) The Governor may recommend one or more specific and severable amendments to a bill by returning it with his recommendation to the house in which it originated.  The house shall enter the Governor's recommendation in its journal and reconsider the bill.  If both houses agree to the Governor's entire recommendation, the bill, as amended, shall become law.  Each house may agree to the Governor's amendments by a majority vote of the members present.  If both houses agree to the bill in the form originally sent to the Governor by a two-thirds vote of all members present in each house, which two-thirds shall include a majority of the members elected to that house, the original bill shall become law.  If the Governor sends down specific and severable amendments then each house may determine, in accordance with its own procedures, whether to act on the Governor's amendments en bloc or individually, or any combination thereof.  If the house of origin agrees to one or more of the Governor's amendments, it shall send the bill and the entire recommendation to the other house.  The second house may also agree to one or more of the governor's amendments.  If either house fails to agree to the Governor's entire recommendation or fails to agree to at least one of the Governor's amendments agreed to by the other house, the bill, as originally presented to the Governor, shall be returned to the Governor.  If both houses agree to one or more amendments but not to the entire recommendation of the Governor, the bill shall be reenrolled with the Governor's amendments agreed to by both houses and shall be returned to the Governor.  If the Governor fails to send down specific and severable amendments as determined by the majority vote of the members present in either house, then the bill shall be before that house, in the form originally sent to the Governor and may be acted upon in accordance with Article IV, Section 11 of this Constitution and returned to the Governor. The Governor shall either sign or veto a bill returned as provided in this subsection or, if there are fewer than seven days remaining in the session, as provided in subsection (c).

“(c) When there are fewer than seven days remaining in the regular or special session from the date a bill is presented to the Governor and the General Assembly adjourns to a reconvened session, the Governor shall have thirty days from the date of adjournment of the regular or special session in which to act on the bills presented to him and to exercise one of the three options set out below.  If the Governor does not act on any bill, it shall become law without his signature.

“(i) The Governor may sign the bill if he approves it, and the bill shall become law.

“(ii) The Governor may veto the bill if he objects to it by returning the bill with his objections to the house in which the bill originated.  The same procedures for overriding his veto are applicable as stated in subsection (b)for bills vetoed during the session.

“(iii) The Governor may recommend one or more specific and severable amendments to a bill by returning it with his recommendation to the house in which it originated.  The same procedures for considering his recommendation are applicable as stated in subsection (b)(iii) for bills returned with his recommendation.  The Governor shall either sign or veto a bill returned to him from a reconvened session.  If the Governor vetoes the bill, the veto shall stand and the bill shall not become law.  If the Governor does not act on the bill within thirty days after the adjournment of the reconvened session, the bill shall become law without his signature.

“(d) The Governor shall have the power to veto any particular item or items of an appropriation bill, but the veto shall not affect the item or items to which he does not object.  The item or items objected to shall not take effect except in the manner provided in this section for a bill vetoed by the Governor.

“(e) In all cases set forth above, the names of the members voting for and against the bill, the amendment or amendments to the bill, or the item or items of an appropriation bill shall be entered on the journal of each house.”

Const. Art. 2, § 6 provides:

“§ 6. Apportionment

“Members of the House of Representatives of the United States and members of the Senate and of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly shall be elected from electoral districts established by the General Assembly.  Every electoral district shall be composed of contiguous and compact territory and shall be so constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district. The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts in accordance with this section in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter.

“Any such decennial reapportionment law shall take effect immediately and not be subject to the limitations contained in Article IV, Section 13, of this Constitution .

“The districts delineated in the decennial reapportionment law shall be implemented for the November general election for the United States House of Representatives, Senate, or House of Delegates, respectively, that is held immediately prior to the expiration of the term being served in the year that the reapportionment law is required to be enacted.  A member in office at the time that a decennial redistricting law is enacted shall complete his term of office and shall continue to represent the district from which he was elected for the duration of such term of office so long as he does not move his residence from the district from which he was elected.  Any vacancy occurring during such term shall be filled from the same district that elected the member whose vacancy is being filled.”

For constitutional provision relating to the procedure and effective dates for amendments to the Constitution of Virginia [1971], see Const. Art. 12, § 1 .

Statutory Provisions

Va. Code Ann. § 1-214 provides:

§ 1-214 . Effective dates

“A. All laws enacted at a regular session of the General Assembly, including laws which are enacted by reason of actions taken during the reconvened session following a regular session, but excluding general appropriation acts, decennial reapportionment acts, and emergency acts, shall take effect on the first day of July following the adjournment of the regular session at which they were enacted, unless a subsequent date is specified.

“B. All laws enacted at a special session of the General Assembly, including laws which are enacted by reason of actions taken during the reconvened session following a special session, but excluding general appropriations acts, decennial reapportionment acts, and emergency acts, shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month following the month of adjournment of the special session at which they were enacted, unless a subsequent date is specified.

“C. A general appropriation act shall take effect from its passage, unless another effective date is specified in the act.

“D. An emergency act shall take effect from its passage, or on a subsequent date if specified in the act, provided that the emergency shall be expressed in the body of the act and that the emergency shall be approved by a four-fifths vote of the members voting in each house of the General Assembly.  The name of each member voting and how he voted shall be recorded in the journal.

“E. A decennial reapportionment act to reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts shall take effect immediately.”

Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-101.1 provides:

§ 24.2-101.1 . Implementation of certain laws;  special elections

“All laws enacted at a regular session of the General Assembly shall take effect as provided in § 1-214 except that the implementation of any change to this title shall not become effective for a special election held at a time other than a general election if the writ for the special election was issued prior to the effective date of the law.”

Construction of Provisions

The very purpose of this postponement of the operation of statutes was so that “people might be informed of their contents before they became effective.”   City of Roanoke v. Elliott, 123 Va. 393, 401, 96 S.E. 819, 822 (1918) .  See also, Amherst County Bd. of Supervisors v. Brockman, 224 Va. 391, 395, 297 S.E.2d 805, 807-808 (1982) .

Effective dates of statutes are generally delayed by the Virginia Constitution “to allow litigants a reasonable time to acquaint themselves with provisions of statutes enacted at a given session in order that they may do whatever is necessary to protect their interests.”   Phipps, Adm'r. v. Sutherland, 201 Va. 448, 454, 111 S.E.2d 422, 426-27 (1959) (discussing earlier version of current constitutional provision).

For additional annotations relating to the effective dates of enactments of the legislature, including those involving implied approvals and vetoes by the Governor, see the Notes of Decisions following Va. Const. Art. 4, § 13 ;   Art. 5, § 6 ;   Art. 2, § 6 ;   Art. 12, § 1 and Va. Code Ann. §§ 1-214 and 24.2-101.1 .


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