New state laws in effect

More than 230 new Louisiana laws go into effect Monday, including those that put more responsibility on businesses to check the citizenship status of their workers.

If businesses want to steer clear of sanctions for hiring illegal immigrants, they must now check employees’ citizenship status with the federal E-verify system or demand other proof in case authorities come checking.

The 233 laws are among the 443 approved by the Louisiana Legislature during its 2011 regular session which ended June 23. Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed 18 bills. Five others are contingent on voters passing constitutional amendments this fall.

Others laws went into effect on the signature of the governor or have different effective dates — one as late as 2013.

Another new law allows more racetracks across the state, including Evangeline Downs, to accept bets over the phone and the Internet.

Also a new law allows vehicles to have split-screen televisions.

Another requires abortion clinics to post signs listing alternatives to ending a pregnancy.

One new law changes the date of Louisiana’s presidential preference primary next year from February to March.

Another new law is aimed at confronting the federal government over Louisiana’s share of offshore oil and gas revenues. How the law will be used by state officials is uncertain.

Few of the new laws going into effect Monday impact everyday lives, but some affect criminal wrongdoers.

“My sense is that the budget push got all the energy and attention,” said LSU political scientist Kirby Goidel, noting the efforts to balance a state budget that was short $1.6 billion in revenues.

“Outside of that, there was not a whole lot of substance,” Goidel said.

“When you have other things going on so big and draining, it’s definitely time for other things to get through the process whether they need to or not,” he said.

The 2011 tally is down from the last comparable “fiscal only” regular session. Every other year, legislators are legally limited in the numbers of bills they can file that focus on issues other than state finances. During the previous “fiscal only” session in 2009, legislators passed 536 bills that became new laws.

About 20 percent of the new laws going into effect Monday are purely local in nature.

Among them are those providing a funding source for Livingston Parish Courthouse construction, as well as authority for a Livingston drainage district to seek a half-cent sales tax.

In Ascension Parish, the Lamar Dixon Expo Center can now accept corporate sponsors.

Another new law is aimed at forcing Ascension property owners to pay for removal of wrecked motor vehicles, washing machines and other debris from their land. Ascension joined a list of parishes where tax liens on property can be imposed to recover cleanup costs.

Louisiana has a new gemstone.

Act 232 names the “cabochon cut gemstone, derived from the Crassostrea virginica mollusk” — oyster shells — as the official state gemstone. The old official gemstone — agate — is now the official state mineral.

The “Honor and Remember” flag becomes the new state symbol of military service.

Motorists can now pay a premium to select from new “prestige” vehicle license plates for “Louisiana Seafood” and “Imagine” among them.

A spate of new laws makes changes in state correction’s policies.

One gives certain elderly inmates a chance at parole. Others increase by $10 the monthly fee paid by those on supervised probation or parole, and require those convicted of certain crimes to pay $150 toward the cost of pre-sentence investigations.

Other new laws include those that:

•  Ban certain sex offenders from using or accessing social networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks.

e_SBlt  Prohibit any offender in custody of the state Corrections Department or any other person from establishing an account for the inmate on an Internet-based social-networking site.

e_SBlt  Allow local governments to adopt and enforce local codes of conduct or ethics ordinances.

e_SBlt  Require discussions concerning the award of public contracts to be held in an open meeting.

e_SBlt  Establish a comprehensive sports-injury management program for student-athletes.

e_SBlt  Adds the crime of possession with intent to distribute or dispense an imitation controlled dangerous substance.

e_SBlt  Allow sight-impaired truck drivers to handle in-state loads if they pass certain requirements.