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The Law of the Land: New Laws Take Effect Today, Including “Religious Freedom”. “Katie’s Law”

JACKSON, Miss.–If you or someone in your family has ever been the victim of a violent crime, you may be able to take some comfort in that Mississippi is enacting new ways to put violent offenders away longer and catch them easier. Criminal justice reforms are just some of the new laws passed in the 2014 legislative session that take effect today.

“Katie’s Law” requires certain violent felony offenders to give the state government a DNA sample to see if their DNA matches any that police are looking at in open cases. This could potentially be a tool to put repeat offenders away for longer.

“Just as important, throughout the nation, has been some 200 wrongful convictions, so DNA matching helped to set those individuals free,” said Bryant, explaining another facet of the law.

Also taking effect today are what state lawmakers describe as “sweeping criminal justice reforms”. Some of the laws in the “Right on Crime” set of bills would give judges more freedom to put non-violent offenders under house arrest or in drug courts.

That part drew criticism from some law enforcement groups, who believe it will make their jobs harder.

Another law in that group would also make it tougher for more violent criminals to get out before their full sentence is served. That set of laws was expected to help avoid $266 million in expected expenses over the next ten years for corrections.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll get a $1,500 raise next school year, and a $1,000 raise the year after that, under the teacher pay raise passed this year, and all high school juniors will be able to take the ACT, with $1.3 million in funding for that.

There is a new law that would give tax credits to companies who decide to move their headquarters to Mississippi.

There’s also a new bill that would give more protections to gun owners, including preventing the government from taking your guns in a time of natural disaster or crisis. There’s also a new tax-free holiday for guns and ammo.

The “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”, which mirrors a federal law signed by Pres. Clinton, also takes effect today. This is text from the bill, which some have interpreted to be discriminatory, or possibly discriminatory toward gays:

AN ACT TO ENACT THE MISSISSIPPI RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RESTORATION ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT STATE ACTION SHALL NOT SUBSTANTIALLY BURDEN A PERSON’S RIGHT TO THE EXERCISE OF RELIGION; TO PRESCRIBE THE CONTENTS OF THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI; TO PROVIDE THAT STATE AGENCIES SHALL CONTINUE TO — USE STATIONERY AND OTHER SUPPLIES HAVING THE GREAT SEAL AS IT EXISTED AS OF JULY 1, 2014, UNTIL SUPPLIES OF SUCH ITEMS ARE DEPLETED; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

Another bill bans some abortions after 20 weeks.

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