Louisiana residents, beginning at the stroke of midnight Sunday, became subject to 660 new laws ranging from a prohibition on texting (and “sexting”) while driving, smoking “incense” products that mimic the effects of marijuana, keeping our dogs on short chains and attending cockfights. Other laws increase penalties for infractions that were already on the books, including tagging historic buildings with graffiti. A bill by our own Rep. Rickey Hardy doubles the drug-free zone around schools to 2,000 feet.

Two laws designed to make abortions less likely, as we’ve previously reported, are on hold pending court challenges: One requires abortion patients to obtain an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy; the other bars physicians who perform abortions from participating in the state’s medical malpractice program.

Lawmakers also voted in the spring session to remove from the criminal and civil codes some measures deemed out-of-date by today’s standards. Among them, a law passed in 1961 during the depths of the Cold War requiring the state Department of Education to host seminars for select teachers and high-school upperclassmen delineating the “evils of socialism, and the basic philosophy of communism and the strategy and tactics used by communists in their efforts to achieve world domination.” You’d think with the apoplexy occasioned by the Obama presidency, that law would be more requisite than ever.

For an overview of the new laws now in effect, read an article published Sunday in The Advocate. And see Wednesday’s print issue of The Independent for more.

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