- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A new law in Mississippi requires everyone in a car, truck or SUV to buckle up. And, it will have the practical effect of banning people from riding in the beds of pickup trucks.

Starting Saturday, Mississippi is joining the majority of states that require seat belt use for all people in a vehicle, front seat and back. Violation carries a $25 fine, under the law that started as Senate Bill 2724 .

Previous Mississippi law required seat belts for people in the front seat, and children younger than 7 in the back.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain said Friday that Highway Patrol officers will start writing tickets to people who ride in the cargo area of trucks without wearing a factory-installed seat belt. Although the law does not specifically mention the beds of pickup trucks, it does say “every passenger” must wear a seat belt that was installed when the vehicle was made.

Saturday is the beginning of the new state budget year, fiscal 2018. The $6 billion budget is nearly 6 percent lower than the original budget for fiscal 2017. Revenue fell short of expectations in FY17, and Republican Gov. Phil Bryant was forced to cut spending multiple times. In the new year, some agencies are trimming services and laying off employees.

Dozens of new laws are taking effect Saturday. Among them:

BLUE LIVES

People who commit crimes in Mississippi against law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency workers will face doubled penalties under House Bill 645 . The law expands the state hate crimes law, which already enhances penalties for crimes committed because of a victim’s race, religion, national origin or gender.

DIVORCE

A person will have grounds for divorce after being the victim of a single act of domestic violence, under Senate Bill 2680 . It allows just one witness to establish abuse, and also allows for emotional and financial abuse to count as grounds for divorce. The broadly written bill also clarifies state law to show that abused and neglected children can be placed with other relatives.

SCHOOL BULLYING

Each school district will be required to set policies to try to prevent bullying and suicide, under House Bill 263 .

BEER

The state will allow small breweries to sell limited quantities of beer directly to customers on site. House Bill 1322 allows brewers to sell an amount equal to two cases of beer to a customer each day.

MOVE OVER

Drivers could face a fine for failing to move over in traffic to make space for rural mail carriers, under Senate Bill 2305 .

OPIOIDS

Pharmacists with specific training can distribute certain drugs, without a prescription, to head off an overdose of pain medications, under House Bill 996 , the Emergency Response and Overdose Prevention Act.”

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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