BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s hazing penalties will toughen, the marriage waiting period will shorten and the types of records shielded from public view will grow, as more than 430 new laws take effect Wednesday.
Lawmakers passed the measures during the regular legislative session that ended in May, and they were signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards.
With the start of August, legislators are requiring schools to give parents information about flu causes, symptoms and vaccines. They’ve lifted the ban on switchblade knives. And they’ve prohibited tying up pets during a hurricane or a flood; violators will face fines.
Video poker facilities will face loosened restrictions. Prosecutors can charge people who misuse government benefits with a new crime of “government benefits fraud.” Companies selling DNA testing kits will have to tell Louisiana customers if their genetic material will be used for research or other purposes.
The death of 18-year-old LSU freshman Maxwell Gruver after a fraternity drinking ritual spurred lawmakers to rewrite laws against hazing.
The Max Gruver Act creates a felony hazing charge of up to five years in prison when a victim dies or is seriously injured. The law also increases the penalties for other types of hazing to a maximum of six months. Organizations that knowingly allow hazing face a fine of up to $10,000 and can be barred from operating.
As part of the anti-hazing effort, lawmakers exempted more records from public view.
Documents that identify anyone who reports a violation of a student code of conduct or safety policy on a college campus will be shielded from public records requests. Also exempted is personally identifiable information of witnesses to or victims of the violation.
Also getting new protections are records that show how individual jurors voted in criminal cases ending in split verdicts. A judge will be able to put polling slips under seal, requiring a court order to view them. The concealment provision may not get much use, however, if Louisiana voters decide in November to end use of non-unanimous juries to convict people of felony crimes.
Louisiana’s waiting period to get married is dropping from 72 hours to 24 hours from the issuance of the marriage license to the ceremony.
A judge, justice of the peace or retired justice of the peace can waive the waiting period. The wait also doesn’t apply to out-of-state residents who want to get married in New Orleans.
ADOPTION AND ABORTION
Louisiana’s public school teachers and certain other school employees will be allowed paid leaves of absence up to 30 days after adopting a child, one of several laws aimed at promoting adoption.
Another measure that takes effect Wednesday adds more information about adoption to a state-issued pamphlet that must be given to a woman before she can have an abortion, in hopes of encouraging her to instead give birth and place the baby for adoption.
Louisiana’s health department will be able to shutter an abortion clinic if the facility intentionally destroys or falsifies patient records.
OTHER NEW LAWS
Judges will have to postpone slander lawsuits filed against people who allege they’ve been sexually assaulted, an effort aimed at keeping perpetrators from using defamation lawsuits to prevent rape victims from advancing assault claims.
Short-term rental sites won’t be allowed to have cameras, unless notice is posted on the premises. Public schools will have to give parents and students information about the “health risks and harms associated with pornography.”
Louisiana’s regulations on concealed handguns in churches will no longer involve an eight-hour annual training mandate. Statewide building code requirements will loosen to give Louisiana’s fire marshal more leeway to consider “practical and unreasonable economic hardships.”