New State Laws Take Effect

BILOXI (WLOX) - It happens every year on the first of July - new laws passed by state lawmakers go into effect.

If your abandoned property is infested with drugs, a new law says your home could be seized.

"This gives the police department another avenue to eliminate the use and sale of drugs," said Jerry Creel, Biloxi's Community Development Director.

Creel says the law has actually been amended. The old law allowed municipalities to only seize and demolish.

"This amendment takes it one step further. What it does, it allows the city to conduct a public hearing on abandoned structures that have been used for the use or sale of drugs, and allows the city after a public hearing to actually seize that structure to sale, resale, transfer or use for municipal purposes," Creel said.

The death of a retired Jackson school teacher inspired lawmakers to pass tougher penalties on home invasion crimes. Jail time now ranges from ten to 25 years.

Citizens statewide will also have access to police records.

"It's for information to the public so the taxpayer knows what is going on in his government and in his community," said attorney Leonard Van Slyke.

While certain information can still be blacked out, things like who is charged, where the incident took place and property involved is now available to the public.

Other new laws that made the books include a statewide booster seat regulation and tougher rules for crematoriums.

An increase in car tags and fines will give money to the state's trauma care system.

State agencies will now face fines for not allowing the public into meetings.

Another new law says that superintendents can be fired if their school district under-performs two years in a row, and restaurants serving catfish must specify whether it comes from the U.S. or from a foreign country.