New Laws Go Into Effect

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New laws approved by the General Assembly during the 2003 session will go into effect on Tuesday.

According to the Kentucky Constitution, bills that don't contain emergency clauses or state another target date go into effect 90 days after a legislative session ends. The General Assembly wrapped up the 2003 session on March 25.

Starting Tuesday, people convicted of torturing dogs or cats will face stiffer penalties, more farmers markets may start featuring processed foods and public officials may think twice before stealing government funds.

Here's a brief look at a few laws hitting the books:

ANIMAL TORTURE: Penalties will be stiffened for those who intentionally torture cats or dogs. Repeat offenses will now be classified as Class D felonies. (SB 94)

THEFT OF PUBLIC FUNDS: Public officials who steal government funds will also face tougher sentences, up to Class B felonies depending on the amount of money take. (SB 94)

PRESCRIPTIONS: Pharmacists will be able to fill out-of-state prescriptions, provided they are written by a doctor whose license has not been revoked. (HB 459)

MISSING CHILDREN: A new system will be set up to allow police and schools to work more closely together to find missing children. The system will "flag" the school records of missing children so that police can be notified if another school requests the records. (SB 156)

COURT COSTS: The cost of filing a civil action in state courts will increase to $20 in circuit court and $10 in district court, with the funds going to the legal fees of the poor. (HB 163)

EMERGENCY SERVICES: Police and fire dispatchers will be required to undergo more training to be able to respond to emergencies better. (HB 406)

SCHOOL HOLIDAYS: All public high schools will observe Veterans Day with at least one class period devoted to observing the day. (HB 303)

ROADSIDE EATS: Home-processed foods such as jams, jellies and pies may be sold at roadside stands, under certain conditions. (HB 391)

HOME LOANS: Requirements on mortgage lenders will be tightened, such that the consequences of not paying on time will be made more clear to borrowers and the refinancing of no-interest or low-interest government-backed loans will be barred. (HB 287)