Mississippi enacts new laws on teacher pay, criminal justice

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In this July 30, 2018 file photograph, a statue honoring the Confederate soldiers who fell at the battle of Corinth in 1862 stands outside a courthouse in the Corinth, Miss. Several new laws are taking effect Monday, July 1, 2019 in Mississippi, including House Bill 1581 that clarifies an existing law about guns in courthouses to say guns may be banned in courtrooms, jury rooms, witness rooms and judges’ chambers but may not be banned in hallways, courthouse grounds or other areas in or around a courthouse that are generally open to the public. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Several new laws are taking effect Monday in Mississippi, including one that gives a pay raise to teachers and two that are designed to ease burdens on people who face court fines or who are trying to find jobs after having a criminal conviction.

Here are some of the measures passed by the Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE — House Bill 1352 eases penalties on some Mississippians accused or convicted of crimes. It stops automatic suspension of driver’s licenses for nonpayment of fines or for simple drug possession. It also creates “intervention courts” to handle cases involving veterans, drugs and mental health issues.

JOB LICENSING — Senate Bill 2781 , named the “Fresh Start Act of 2019,” says a criminal conviction does not disqualify people from receiving a job license unless the conviction was directly related to the job for which the license is required. Groups that issue job licenses are banned from using phrases such as “moral turpitude.”

TEACHER PAY — Senate Bill 2770 authorizes a $1,500 pay raise for teachers.

PROPERTY OWNER LIABILITY — Senate Bill 2901 , called the “Landowners Protection Act,” says that anyone who owns, leases, operates, or maintains a commercial property in Mississippi will not be liable for any injury on the property caused by another person, unless the person in charge of the property did something that “impelled” the harmful action. Supporters say the new law will provide financial protection for property owners or managers, while critics say it could lead to negligence.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS — House Bill 571 prevents charges from being filed against trafficking victims who are younger than 18. The minor would be taken into protective custody and counseling would be provided. Foster parents would be trained to help trafficking victims.

MARRIAGE LICENSES — Senate Bill 2043 increases the cost of a marriage license from $20 to $35.

TERROR THREATS — Senate Bill 2141 creates a new felony of making a terrorist threat. It is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

GUNS IN COURTHOUSES — House Bill 1581 clarifies an existing law about guns in courthouses to say that guns may be banned in courtrooms, jury rooms, witness rooms and judges’ chambers but may not be banned in hallways, courthouse grounds or other areas in or around a courthouse that are generally open to the public.

CHURCH PROTECTION — House Bill 390 says retired law enforcement officers may work in security for churches or other houses of worship and may be immune from civil lawsuits in that role.

SCHOOL SAFETY — House Bill 1283 would require public schools to conduct active-shooter drills.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT — House Bill 1182 bans corporal punishment for any student who has a disability or a special-education plan.

COUNTY OFFICIALS’ PAY — Senate Bill 2827 creates a task force to study salaries of county officials and to make long-term recommendations. This part of the law takes effect July 1. Other parts of the same law will authorize pay raises for county supervisors, chancery clerks, circuit clerks, tax collectors, tax assessors and other county officials, beginning in January.

VEHICLE SALES TAX — Senate Bill 2229 says no sales tax is charged when a vehicle is sold from one sibling to another.

ISRAEL — House Bill 761 bans the state of Mississippi from investing in companies that boycott Israel.

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Law that is blocked:

ABORTION — Senate Bill 2116 would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is at about six weeks, before some women might know they are pregnant. A federal judge has temporarily blocked the law from taking effect July 1, although the state is appealing that decision.

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Law that has already taken effect:

MOVIE INCENTIVES — Senate Bill 2603 extends a program that allows Mississippi to offer rebates to motion picture production companies that work in the state. It became law when it was signed in April.

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