New laws take effect Tuesday - - The News for South Mississippi

New laws take effect Tuesday

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Many of the bills that passed the 2014 session of the Mississippi Legislature will become law Tuesday. That includes the somewhat controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Governor Phil Bryant says mirrors the federal act of the same name.  

Supporters say it protects religious freedom from government intrusion, but it has many in Jackson's LGBT community worried.  

"What they tried to pass was heinous," said Jocelyn Prichitt. "It was very painful to our community, but I think what they ended up passing was a little less severe. They already discriminate against LGBT people every day."  

Pritchitt may not be well-known, but those who live in Jackson have probably seen her handiwork. She played a big role in getting those "If you're buying, I'm selling" stickers out to businesses across the Magnolia State and the nation.  

"I think they're moving forward without their politicians," said Prichitt. "We've been shocked and amazed at the reaction to the sticker campaign. That's because it's mainly small businesses rallying together."  

The Religious Freedom Act isn't the only bill with controversy. House Bill 585 promises sweeping changes to many parts of the state's criminal justice system, intended to streamline and make the whole process cheaper.  

Several members of metro-area law enforcement put their badge behind defeating the bill months ago, but it still went through, signed into law by the governor.  

Rankin and Madison County DA Michael Guest says he's worried about the implications of crimes made less serious in a heavily populated region already prone to theft and drug arrests.  

"We had people who were set for trial in June who failed to appear for trial because they wanted to wait until after July to enter their plea of guilty and be sentenced because they felt they would be able to take advantage of the new sentencing structure," Guest said.  

Other laws that take effect July 1 include teacher pay raises, the first for Mississippi teachers in seven years, and funding for a trooper school for the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

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