by Mike McHugh
There’s been a lot of moaning over the years about how the legislature in Baton Rouge never seems to get anything done. That may have been true in the past, but judging from the 551 new state laws that recently went into effect, it seems like they’ve redeemed themselves this year.
They even went so far as to designate the mayhaw as Louisiana’s official State Fruit Tree. I know you’re thinking same as me—it’s about time they got this done! Really now, how can Louisiana compete with other states like Florida without having an official fruit tree? Sure, mayhaws aren’t the glamour fruits that oranges are, but at least it’s something.
551 new statutes is a lot for any law-abiding citizen to digest, and the same goes for me. For this reason, I thought it a good idea to dedicate a column to highlighting some of the new laws so that you, my intelligent readers, don’t inadvertently run afoul of the law.
I’ll say right off that many of the laws make a lot of sense. Take, for instance, the new rule that allows teachers to accept gifts of token value from their students. I’m glad the lawmakers saw it fit to clear this up. Used to be, a teacher couldn’t accept an apple from a student without her fearing that she’d lose her job and end up selling them on the street corner. Now, teachers can cheerfully accept an apple, so long as it’s not a Mac.
If you’re a soccer dad, you should be warned that the act of slugging a referee at a youth sporting event will now get you mandatory jail time. Five days is the minimum sentence, ten if the replay confirms that the official got the call right.
There are also a few new laws regarding aircraft that are important to know. One is that it’s now illegal to aim a laser light at an aircraft. Another is that you aren’t allowed to fly a drone over an oil refinery. And if by sheer chance you were thinking about flying a drone over a refinery and then aiming a laser at it, I hope that you look good in orange. It’s all you’d likely be wearing for a long time.
They’ve also enacted strict penalties for texting while driving in a school zone. I know it can be tempting, given how long it takes to get through one in the morning. I could text a whole column to my editor in that amount of time, and that’s with spelling out all the words.
Perhaps the most talked-about item is the one that prohibits employers from forcing job applicants to let them peek at their Facebook accounts. I’m not so sure about this one. Unless you lack the couth to keep your timeline from reading like a tabloid, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Nobody’s going to turn you down for a job based on what you had for lunch, provided that it doesn’t look like something that came from The Quick and Easy Devil Worshipper’s Cookbook.
I sincerely hope that this brief summary will aid you in keeping out of trouble with the law. I wish I’d had the time to cover the remaining 540 and some odd laws, but school wasn’t yet back in session when I wrote this. And besides, even if it were, orange clashes with my eye color.