Sending “revenge porn” can land you behind bars, new housing protections are being extended to domestic violence victims and enforcement of sea turtle protection laws is tightening as hundreds of new Louisiana laws take effect Saturday.
The provisions of more than 260 bills passed by state lawmakers earlier this year kick in Aug. 1. Many of the statute changes are modest adjustments to existing laws or govern arcane issues that will draw little public attention. Others are more sweeping in scope.
CRIME AND COURTS
Anyone who shares a nude or partially-nude cellphone picture or video without permission — often an attempt at public shaming called “revenge pornography” — will now face up to two years in jail and a fine reaching $10,000.
Laws already on the books made it a crime to send a nude image of someone under the age of 17. The new law criminalizing “nonconsensual disclosure of a private image” is aimed at protecting people who aren’t minors. Exceptions are included for police investigations and people who intentionally expose themselves in public.
In addition to creating new crimes, lawmakers also changed the terms used to describe some existing offenses.
Authorities have used “simple rape,” “forcible rape” and “aggravated rape” to describe the varying degrees of sexual assault charges. The new terms will be third-degree rape, second-degree rape and first-degree rape, after complaints that a term like “simple rape” was insulting to victims.
The laws also are changing for victims of domestic violence, to give them more freedom to break a lease to escape an abuser and to let landlords immediately evict those who are deemed abusers by the courts or a state welfare agency. In some narrow situations, landlords will be barred from evicting abuse victims.
SAFE HAVEN LAW
More information will be distributed to the public about Louisiana’s safe haven law that allows a parent to relinquish a baby up until they’re two months old.
The state social services department has to develop an annual and public information plan to increase awareness about the law. The new law spells out what the plan should contain and requires annual reporting to lawmakers about the effort.
Under the safe haven law, parents who are unable to care for a newborn can leave the child at any designated facility instead of abandoning the child in an unsafe environment. Louisiana’s designated facilities include any licensed hospital, public health unit, emergency medical service provider, medical clinic, fire or police station or pregnancy crisis center.
SHRIMP AND TURTLES
Shrimpers hope to boost their sales now that state wildlife officials will be able to enforce federal requirements for shrimp nets to include escape hatches for sea turtles. A 1987 enforcement ban is officially removed from the books Saturday.
All sea turtles found in U.S. waters are endangered or threatened. In the mid-1980s, when Louisiana’s law was passed, the federal rule requiring “turtle excluder devices” in shrimp trawls was new and contentious.
Supporters of removing the state enforcement ban said some big-box retailers boycotted Louisiana shrimp because they objected to the state restrictions and raised concerns about the state’s handling of protections for endangered sea turtles.
BOOSTED LITTER FINES
Littering fines are doubling, in a bid to help shrink Louisiana’s retirement debt.
Fines for simple littering will be $150 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses. Fines for intentional littering will grow to anywhere from $500 to $2,500. Fines for improperly disposing of larger litter, like furniture and appliances, could reach up to $10,000.
The new money is earmarked to pay down the debt of the retirement system of the law enforcement agency that issues the litter citation.
Louisiana Legislature: www.legis.la.gov