New Month Brings New Laws

State lawmakers want to know how frequently high speed police chases occur. So for the next year, a commission will study that while over the same time it will be a crime for anyone to try to outrun police.

"Anytime they do that it causes a danger and a hazard to the community so we feel it's a good idea to have a law to make it illegal to flee the police," Biloxi Police Department Spokesperson Jackie Rhodes said.

The legislature is expected to reconsider the high speed chase law next year.

Lawmakers okayed the creation of drug courts to help first time offenders. Judges say their only crime is being addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Instead of going to jail, the defendant goes to court ordered rehab. Pike county started its own drug court in 1997.

Harrison county circuit judge steve simpson says they can work statewide.

"If we can identify those defendants who have those addiction problems, get 'em in-house treatment, outpatient counseling over an extended period of time and more intense supervision which the doc simply can't do at this time and court involvement we can turn those addictions around and take 'em outta the criminal justice system," Simpson said.

Lawmakers did not provide funding for the new drug courts,  Judge Simpson says there is federal money available and supervisors in Harrison, Hancock and Stone Counties have pitched in money to operate the courts

On the health front, in this age of bioterrorism, the legislature is ensuring first responders are vaccinated against infectious diseases. A new law requires health departments to set up statewide vaccination programs like one in march where Gulfport health workers got smallpox innoculations.

"Health care workers are the ones on the front line that would have to care for people and take care of them should a threat of smallpox be released and we do know in today's climate there is definitely that threat," Nurse Donna Sharp said.