RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed legislation that will soften the penalties for people caught stealing smaller-dollar items.

The Democratic governor announced Wednesday that he'd approved a bill that raises the state's felony theft threshold from $200 to $500.

Virginia has kept its felony bar at $200 since 1980 and is tied with New Jersey for the lowest in the country. Northam said raising the threshold was a legislative priority, but had previously pushed for it to be set at $1,000.

House Republicans had blocked efforts to raise the threshold by any amount in past years but agreed to a $500 limit in exchange for Northam's support of legislation overhauling the state's criminal restitution system.