Baton Rouge, LA — The next time you drive your car, bake a cake, or buy a gun, be aware of new laws that took effect Thursday.
Nearly 250 of them took effect August 1 after making their way through the state legislature earlier this year.
Among the new laws are restrictions on using social media while driving, and a relaxation of regulations of home-based bakeries.
Parents who are worried about the health or safety of their newborn children now have more time to give them up under the safe haven law. Instead of 30 days, the child may now be up to 60 days old.
State officials say they do not expect a sudden flood of newborns given up by their parents.
"Most of those relinquishments occur, usually, (within) the very first few days of birth," said Trey Williams, with the Department of Children and Family Services.
Twenty-nine children have been given up through the safe have law since it was established in Louisiana in 2004. But the rate is increasing; 19 have been relinquished since 2009, including nine so far this year.
"Once the public was aware that the safe have law was there to help protect children," Williams pointed out, "people started utilizing it a little more."
Companies that mine salt domes face tougher regulations now, and they have to give better notice to anyone who lives nearby. This law is a result of the sinkhole caused by a failed Texas Brine cavern in Bayou Corne, but it came too late to help the people affected by that disaster.
Gun owners got several new protections, as well as the right to apply for lifetime concealed handgun permits.
"We put it online, actually, a week or so ago, and already have received some applications prior to the law being effective today," stated Cpt. Doug Cain of the Louisiana State Police.
The permits cost up to $500, depending on the age of the applicant. Cain said demand for concealed-carry permits has skyrocketed in recent months.
"Late last year, we had some incidents around the country; the Newtown shooting, of course," he noted. "Concealed handgun permits, we were getting about 800 a month; it shot up to over 3,000 a month."
To keep a lifetime concealed-carry permit, the holder have to go through a training course every five years, to prove s/he can still use a gun safely.
"We certainly don't want somebody to get a lifetime permit and be arrested seven years down the road," Cain added. "So we're going to continue to do our checks and balances on our end, to make sure the right people have a concealed handgun permit in Louisiana."
Currently, gun owners must either drop of their application or mail it to the State Police for processing. To help reduce a backlog that has reached four months long, it has added staff, and will soon allow applicants to submit their paperwork electronically.
"We're going to hit the button here in the next month, hopefully, on the online process so they can go into the computer and do all the process right there at their desk and submit it to us directly, so we're excited about that," Cain said.