Dec 31, 2013 7:35 PM by Akeam Ashford

Laws Taking Effect The First of The Year

Not everyone sticks to their New Year's resolution, but everyone in the state will be required to follow new laws in 2014.

Fifteen new state laws take effect at midnight. Those laws make minor changes in several areas including construction, medicaid, criminal cases, and early childhood education.

All were passed by legislators during the 2013 regular session, including one by state Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro. He authored House Bill 681, which expands an income tax credit for the cost of buying alternative fuel vehicles.

"We already had a tax credit that encouraged people to buy more alternative fuel vehicles, but the problem was the definition wasn't very specific on what was an alternative fuel," Ortego said.

Under the law, alternative fuels include any non-ethanol based biofuel, electricity and natural gas.

As the No. 1 producer of natural gas in the country, Ortego says this bill will encourage people to buy vehicles that use Louisiana fuel.

"It means jobs. It's very important to people around here. It's a local fuel, and it is also better on people's pocket books when they drive the vehicles because the gas gallon equivalent is a lot less than gasoline right now," Ortego said.

In May, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-St. Martinville, introduced another bill that allows citizens to put the phrase "I'm A Cajun" on sate issued I.D. cards.

Those with the "I'm A Cajun" ID will pay a $5 annual fee. The money will fund French scholarships given out by CODOFIL.

The I.D's can go along with the new Cajun license plates, also available in the new year.

The other 13 laws that go into effect Wednesday are:

Then there are more substantive changes, as in the following:

1. Act No. 55 (SB 201)--( by Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, which allows citizens to begin including the phrase "I'm a Cajun" on their driver's license and identification cards for a $5 annual fee. The funds will be used for the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana's scholarships for its "la Foundation Louisiane for the Escadrille Louisiane" scholarship program.

2. Act No. 427 (HB 681)--( by Rep. Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro, changes the definition of "alternative fuel" to natural gas, liquified petroleum gas, any non-ethonal based advanced biofuel or electricity under certain circumstances. That definition will be used in conjunction with the current law, which authorizes an income tax credit for the cost of certain equipment necessary to convert a motor vehicle to operate on an "alternative fuel." Electricity will be considered an alternative fuel only if the vehicle has four wheels, is manufactured for use on public roads and can maintain a speed of 55 mph.

3. Act No. 63 (SB162)--( by Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, allows levee districts to continue handling certain work in-house, but creates an annual spending limit of $1 million.

4. Act. No. 81 (HB218)--( by Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, exempts occupants of "autocycles" -- a motorcycle with a roll cage, rollbar and safety belts -- from wearing helmets. It also exempts operators from obtaining a special endorsement on their driver's licenses.

5. Act No. 250 (HB371)--( makes changes to how motions by the state and defendants in criminal cases must be made in regards to evidence.

6. Act No. 93 (SB144)--( provides for automatic renewals of sales tax exemption certificates for certain sales.

7. Act No. 173 (SB86)--( creates new rules for the Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners and provides the maximum amount of each fee the board may collect, and rules for fees, registration and background checks.

8. Act No. 179 (SB222) ( makes minor changes to the licensing of child-placing agencies, community homes, child day care centers, group homes and maternity homes.

9. Act. No. 235 (HB50)--( phases in a schedule of assessments to firefighter salaries in the city of New Orleans to be used for a pension and relief fund.

10. Act. No. 312 (HB393)--( requires all managed care organizations participating in the La. Medicaid program accept, facisimile and electronic prior authorization forms.

11. Act. No. 349 (SB101)--( requires every company with outstanding life insurance contracts, accident and health insurance contracts, or deposit-type contracts to annually submit the opinion of the appointed actuary as to whether the reserves are computed appropriately.

12. Act. No. 358 (SB185)--( requires managed care organizations requiring a health care provider to be credentialed, recredentialed, or approved prior to rendering health care services to a medicaid patient within 90 days from the date receiving the information.

13. Act. No. 390 (HB580)--( requires the La State Uniform Construction Code Council (LSUCCC) to review, evaluate,a nd update the state uniform construction code no late than five years form the the date of publication of the appropriate code.

14. Act. No. 403 (HB717)--( requires each district clerk of court to report to the La. Supreme Court the records of mentally ill persons coming before a court for reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. requires reporting to a federal database the names of offenders involving firearms in court cases who plead based on an insanity defense or lack of mental capacity. The national database is used to gather information on those people who are ineligible to purchase a firearm because they are either felons or because of mental illness.

15. Act. No. 404 (SB1350--( In the same area of law is SB 135 by Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, which requires increased reporting standards to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. This legislation will help keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill while maintaining confidentiality of individuals' mental health records. Increased reporting standards will include individuals who are ineligible to purchase firearms based on their involuntary commitment to an inpatient mental facility, found not guilty by reason of insanity, found not competent to stand trial or convicted of a violent crime. This legislation also establishes a mechanism by which an individual whose mental illness diagnosis has been reversed may regain their right to possess a firearm through a petition to the court.




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