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Hundreds of new laws take effect in Va., Md.

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Local,Joey Flechas

Starting Thursday, both Virginia and Maryland have new laws opening the flow of communication between local law enforcement and school personnel.

July 1 marks the date new state laws go into effect. Hundreds of new ones are kicking in for residents of Maryland and Virginia.

In Maryland's case, state officials are making an effort to curb gang activity. Courts will now be required to report certain juvenile offenses to school officials, such as cases involving second-degree assault, motor vehicle theft and intimidating a juror.

In Virginia, the school systems will be able to request similar information from the courts.

Also in Virginia, the state's "Move Over" law has been modified. Drivers are now required to move over a lane, if possible, or slow down when passing by any towing, repair and highway maintenance vehicles stopped on the side of the road and displaying amber-colored flashing lights.

"By including those vehicles within the statute, it will significantly improve the safety of those crews working alongside emergency and law enforcement vehicles," said Jeff Caldwell, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Virginia has also established an Internet Crimes Against Children Fund in an effort to provide state law enforcement and social services more money to investigate and prosecute Internet crimes against children. Funds will come from a new $10 fee on each felony or misdemeanor conviction.

And bar patrons in Virginia had better be on their best behavior. Persons with concealed weapons permits can now legally carry a handgun into a bar.

In Maryland, in an effort to help struggling homeowners keep their homes, a new law allows those facing foreclosure to request a mediation session with their lenders.

"We are empowering our fellow Marylanders, putting them on a more equal footing with mortgage companies that too often can't be bothered to pick up the phone before beginning a foreclosure proceeding against a Maryland family," Gov. Martin O'Malley said in May when signing the bill into law.

The law also requires lenders to consider loan modification before filing a foreclosure action and to pay a $300 fee for each filing.

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