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Official Opinions


January 2011 Opinions
Please click on Opinion number to view entire opinion.

Official opinions will be posted as they are issued, generally within 24 to 48 hours. Please check this page at regular intervals to determine whether additional opinions have been issued.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Official opinions represent the attorney general’s analysis of current law based on his thorough research of existing statutes, the Virginia and United States constitutions, and relevant court decisions.  Official opinions do not create new law, nor do they change existing law.  Creating and amending laws are the responsibility of the General Assembly, not the attorney general.  

Official opinions are legal advice, not personal opinions, and do not reflect the attorney general’s personal views about what the law should be.  Such advice is provided to ensure clients/the requester are in compliance with the law.  While the opinions may be given deference by the courts, they are not binding on the courts.

The official opinions issued by the attorney general are part of the duties of the office (see Code § 2.2-505).  A person authorized by statute, such as the governor, a member of the General Assembly, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency, can ask the attorney general for an official opinion on the law. Members of the general public are not authorized to ask for opinions.


Requestor Summary
10-121 The Honorable David W. Marsden
Member, Senate of Virginia
A local school board cannot impose a mandatory fee on students taking advanced placement courses for the required taking of the Advanced Placement Examination.

The Honorable John M. O’Bannon, M.D.
Member, House of Delegates


Certain proposed budget amendments, while noble in purpose and salutary in effect, are precluded by operation of Article IV, § 16 of  the Constitution of Virginia.
11-001 The Honorable Bill Janis
Member, House of Delegates
Because the federal regulations repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell have not been issued, the questions cannot be answered. Regardless of what form those regulations take, the Constitution expressly reserves to the States the power to appoint officers to the state militias, and that includes the modern National Guard. The power to determine which state Guard officers are eligible for service in the overlapping National Guard of the United States, however, rests with Congress. Moreover, Congress, through its spending power, can condition the use of federal funds on the States' acceptance of DADT. Should the General Assembly wish to avoid the conditions attached to these funds, it can raise, equip and fund an independent Virginia militia entirely from state revenues.
10-111 The Honorable James M. LeMunyon
Member, House of Delegates

Senate Bill 34 does not exclude franchises from its terms, but the application of its test would exclude typical franchises from its scope.


The Honorable Kathy J. Byron
Member, House of Delegates

Summary:  If properly written, adopted and enforced, and authorized as to purpose and not in conflict with an association's declarations, bylaws or rules and regulations, a homeowners' association may covenant to limit the number of housing units within the association that may be offered for rent by the owner to tenants.

11-005 The Honorable Barry D. Knight
Member, House of Delegates
Section 29.1-738 prohibits the reckless use of paddleboards.
10-122 The Honorable T. Scott Garrett,
Member, House of Delegates

A school board can consolidate certain functions with a city or a county, but in doing so the school board may not abrogate its duties or compromise its independence with respect to its core responsibilities. Sufficient information, however, is lacking to determine whether the plan at issue would impermissibly result in the abrogation of the school board's duties and authority. Finally, outsourcing certain functions is permissible so long as school boards and localities comply with statutory and constitutional restrictions.

10-116 The Honorable Charniele L. Herring,
Member, House of Delegates

Summary:  An emancipated minor may file petitions for protective orders pursuant to the applicable statutes, and a minor may seek an emergency protective order in certain situations, but a minor who has not been emancipated, however mature that individual may be, can seek a protective order only through a next friend.  Law enforcement officers may file petitions for emergency protective orders on behalf of minors who are victims of family abuse or stalking, sexual assault or other acts of criminal violence.

10-043 The Honorable J. Chapman Peterson
Member, Senate of Virginia
The Virginia Department of Health has not exceeded the authority granted it by the Virginia Private Well Construction Act either in requiring a private well construction permit pursuant to § 32.1-176.4 and 12 VA. ADMIN. CODE § 5-630-220 for the installation of a closed-loop direct geothermal heat pump system or in drafting regulations defining "well" and "water well." Additionally, the local health departments are within their authority to require a Water Well Classification license, pursuant to §§ 32.l-176.4(C) and 54.1-1100 et seq., for the construction of wells for use in a closed loop geothermal heat pump system.