The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 2, 2013

New laws in effect around U.S; here's Oklahoma changes.

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Like most states across the country, Oklahoma's new fiscal year began July 1, which is also the same day that more than 70 laws passed by the Legislature earlier this year take effect.

Among the laws set to take effect this year around the U.S. are new abortion limits, gun laws and technology rules. And one state, Wyoming, will start setting up a lottery Monday, leaving only a handful of states without a jackpot drawing.

So as you get ready for Fourth of July cookouts and family gatherings, consider this roundup of recently passed Oklahoma legislation:

• INCOME TAXES: Oklahomans won't see an income tax cut until January 2015, when the top rate drops from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, but the bill that paves the way for the cut takes effect on July 1.

• CAPITOL REPAIRS: The same bill that cuts the income tax also diverts $120 million in income tax collections from the state's General Revenue fund over the next two fiscal years to pay for a major overhaul of the nearly 100-year-old state Capitol that houses the Oklahoma Legislature and several other state agencies. The building has been plagued for years with sewage and electrical problems, and access to the south side of the building has been blocked with bright yellow barricades to prevent pedestrians from walking beneath where pieces of the building's limestone facade have fallen.

• STATE INFRASTRUCTURE: A newly restructured Long-Range Capital Planning Commission is created under a bill that takes effect July 1 to oversee Capitol repairs and to develop an eight-year plan to address the needs of other state assets, including recommending certain state properties that should be liquidated.

• SCHOOL SAFETY: Among the other bills taking effect on July 1 are several school safety measures passed in the wake of last year's deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. One of the new laws establishes a school safety institute within the state's Homeland Security Office to provide training for schools and police. The others slightly modify existing laws that require schools to run intruder drills, report all firearms found on campus and share their emergency plans with local emergency responders.

• BEEKEEPERS: Beekeepers who produce less than 500 gallons of honey annually will be exempted from state inspections after July 1 if they meet certain requirements.

• STIFFER PENALTIES: Laying that trash on Oklahoma will cost you a little more after July 1. The penalty for littering will be doubled, from $200 to $400. Another new law creates the crime of knowingly cutting or damaging a fence used to contain animals, making it a misdemeanor for the first offense and a felony for the second offense with a penalty of up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine, or both.