Below are several laws that take affect in Mississippi today:
OPEN MEETINGS — Senate Bill 2289 says individual officials could face fines of $500 to $1,000 for improperly closing meetings that should be open to the public. Until now, taxpayers have been footing the bill for the fines. The new law says that starting July 1, a person could be charged $100 per incident for improperly denying someone access to public records. The old law set a $100 fine, but didn’t specify that it’s for each incident.
BUDGET SUNSHINE — Senate Bill 2554 requires the Department of Finance and Administration to post state agencies’ budget information on websites that are open for public viewing. It requires the state College Board and the state Board for Community and Junior Colleges to post their budget information online by July 1, 2012.
NATHAN’S LAW — Senate Bill 2472 requires motorists to stay at least 10 feet from a stopped school bus. Violators could be fined up to $750 for a first offense. On a second offense, violators face a fine and up to a year in prison. The bill — written in response to the death of a Jones County child, Nathan Key — also would prohibit school bus drivers from using cell phones while transporting children, except in cases of emergency.
EMERGENCY OBSTRUCTION — Senate Bill 2426 sets up to six months’ jail time and a fine of up to $1,000 for intentionally blocking another person from receiving emergency assistance.
TIMBER HAULERS — Senate Bill 2192 requires people hauling timber at night to install a flashing or rotating light as close as practical to the end of the load. The light is required when the load extends at least four feet beyond the rear of the vehicle.
ATV SAFETY — Senate Bill 2196 requires anyone driving an all-terrain vehicle on public property to have a driver’s license or to complete a safety course. It also requires a helmet for anyone younger than 16 who’s driving or riding on an ATV on public property. The fine for violating either requirement is $25 to $50.
ABUSE OF THE VULNERABLE — House Bill 562 sets felony penalties for the third offense within five years of abusing a vulnerable person. Punishment would be one to five years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $5,000.
FETICIDE — House Bill 2615 clarifies the state law related to injury or death of a fetus. Under the new law, a serious but nonfatal physical injury would be a felony. The bill says a minor injury to a fetus would be a misdemeanor. It says the law would not apply to any “legal medical procedure,” including abortions.
MEMORIAL STADIUM-JSU — House Bill 1158 transfers ownership of Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium from the state Department of Finance and Administration to Jackson State University.
HOMESCHOOLED STUDENTS — House Bill 636 says homeschooled students who are transferring into public schools may be tested to ensure they’re enrolled at the proper grade level.
Mississippi's statute dealing with religious freedom and same-sex marriage was struck down as unconstitutional at 11:30 last night.