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More than 200 new laws taking effect, from texting ban to gun restrictions on mentally ill

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PIERRE, South Dakota — More than 200 new laws are taking effect in South Dakota this week, including requiring the recitation of the pledge of allegiance in schools — just in time for Independence Day. The new laws range from expanding open government provisions to blocking local governments from setting rules for specific dog breeds, such as banning pit bulls.

Here's a look at some of the new laws taking effect Tuesday, the start of a new fiscal year:

OPEN GOVERNMENT LAWS

The agency that governs high school sports and fine arts activities statewide will be subject to the state's open records law. The South Dakota High School Activities Association came under scrutiny this year after some schools objected to decisions by the group's directors on use of ticket revenue. Legislators agreed that it should be more transparent because it operates with authority and funding from the state's public schools.

Under the new law, the group also will have to report annually to a legislative committee. It is currently working on live streaming its board meetings.

Another new transparency law would require law enforcement agencies to publicly release information about calls for service. Under the law, police logs will become publicly accessible. The logs usually include information that reveals the date, time, general location and general subject of calls for service, but not names or specific addresses.

PROHIBITIONS

A new texting while driving ban has taken a few years to pass. It nearly failed in the 2014 Legislature as well, but lawmakers compromised in the eleventh hour of the session. The law makes texting behind the wheel a petty offense with a $100 penalty. Drivers can be ticketed for texting violations only if they are stopped for another traffic offense.

Legislators hope the ban will discourage most people from texting while they drive. The Department of Public Safety has been working on a related public information campaign since lawmakers approved the legislation.

The state's abortion laws have a new provision forbidding an abortion based on gender of the fetus, though law opponents said it was unnecessary because there were no such incidents.

Another ban will keep local governments from setting policies that affect any one specific breed of dog. Such policies often target pit bulls, according to law supporters, and infringe on owners' rights to keep the dog of their choosing. Communities can, however, continue to set policies that affect all breeds of dogs.

DOMESTIC ABUSE LAWS

Five out of six domestic violence laws proposed by a summer study committee will become law. One expands domestic abuse protections to people who are in a significant romantic relationship or are expecting a child together, whether or not they live together. Another law would delay the arrest of a domestic violence victim if the victim had a warrant out for another crime but is responsible for a child.

GUN REGULATIONS

Another new law seeks to help keep guns away from those who are mentally ill and deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Under the measure, people who are involuntarily committed to a mental health facility after a hearing with a county board would be added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which licensed firearms dealers check to determine whether a customer is eligible to buy a gun. People acquitted of crimes by reason of insanity or deemed too mentally incompetent to stand trial also would be added to the registry.


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