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Thursday, July 12, 2012

STARTING TODAY IN KENTUCKY, NEW LAWS GO "HOG WILD"!

100-plus new laws take effect in Kentucky

Starting Thursday, it will be easier for Kentuckians to carry a concealed weapon but harder to stock up on allergy medicines that can be used to make methamphetamine.

Those are just two of the more than 100 new laws that go into effect Thursday, affecting everything from incentives for Louisville’s Ford auto plants to forbidding the release of wild pigs that could destroy crops.

Others crack down on thieves who try to sell stolen recyclable metals such as copper and require seat belts to be worn in 15-passenger vans — a response to a 2010 crash that killed 11 people.

The laws take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session, and that’s today.

The expansion of auto industry tax incentive is viewed as the sequel to the Kentucky Jobs Retention Act of 2007, which encouraged Ford Motor Co. to invest $1.2 billion in its two Louisville assembly plants and ensured the city would retain thousands of jobs even as the automaker was restructuring.

Gov. Steve Beshear has trumpeted the expansion of the incentives as a way to create more jobs in the state, which already is one of the top automobile-manufacturing states. with 68,000 related jobs.

“The auto industry is to Kentucky what a V-8 is to a truck,” he said. “It’s the power. It’s what makes us go.”

The new bill allows Toyota, General Motors and their associated parts manufacturers to recover 50 percent to 75 percent of their investment when they put $100 million in their Kentucky facilities. The companies also must have been working in the commonwealth for five years and have at least 1,000 employees.

House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, who sponsored the bill, said “it levels the playing field for everybody in the automotive industry.”

The new gun law, sponsored by state Rep. Will Coursey, D-Symsonia, allows people to carry a concealed weapon that they legally own on their property or their businesses without a concealed-carry permit.

“I just don’t feel that it’s necessary for one to be required to have a permit to carry a weapon on their own property,” he said. “It’s your property. If you can’t feel safe at home … then where else can you?”

Tony Wheatley, a Fisherville resident who teaches concealed-carry classes, said the law only makes sense. “If a person’s on the back part of your farm and you need a weapon, you should be able to carry one,” he said.

Chief Deputy John Cottrell of the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office said he doesn’t think the law will have too much effect on police matters because criminals might be armed anyway when officers go to properties to execute warrants or for other calls. “We always assume the worst anyway,” he said.

The crackdown on methamphetamine manufacturers, which was widely contested during the session, restricts the sale of cold and allergy medications, such as Claritin-D and Sudafed, that contain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine that can be used as active ingredients in making the illegal drug.

The law limits their purchase to two packages a month and requires pharmacies and other stores to enter customers’ identities into an electronic, multi-state tracking system when the medication is purchased.

Opponents have said the bill targets the wrong people and will prevent customers from getting the medication they need, but the law’s backers argue that it will curtail the production of meth. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, originally wanted medications containing pseudoephedrine to be available by prescription only.

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, has said he is convinced the bill will save lives.

The law requiring seat belts to be worn by passengers in 15-person vans was in response to a 2010 collision on Interstate 65 near Munfordville that killed a truck driver and 10 people from a Mennonite family on their way to a wedding in such a van. Several of the victims in the van were not wearing seat belts.

To curtail copper and other metal thefts, which have become an increasing problem, another law now blocks metal recycling centers from giving on-site cash payouts. Now after sellers prove ownership of the metal, they will receive a check in the mail. The law also calls for metal recyclers to receive crime reports of recent metal thefts in their area.

The crackdown on wild hogs is in response to the growing population of the animals — who present a threat to farmland and human health — in rural parts of the state. The law increases the penalties for those who release the animals into the wild to up to a year in jail.

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