‘Left-Lane Larrys,’ dog-fights targeted in new laws

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Drivers traveling through dry counties in Mississippi — on state or federal highways — will no longer be in danger of breaking the law.

Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 192 that would make it lawful to drive through dry counties hauling alcohol, as long as the alcohol is in unopened containers.

According to a Department of Revenue map from May 1, 2017, 31 of Mississippi’s 82 counties are dry. Of that number, seven of those are completely dry. In Jones County, all alcohol sales are legal in Laurel. Beer is available in Ellisville, but not liquor or wine. In Soso, one can buy liquor and wine but not beer. And in Sandersville, patrons can buy beer.

Clarke County voters in November voted to legalize alcohol sales. 

Sens. Juan Barnett and Chris McDaniel, as well as Reps. Gary Staples and Donnie Scoggin voted for the measure. Rep. Omeria Scott did not vote.

The alcohol bill was one of several new laws that took effect on Sunday.

• Senate Bill 2934 strengthens dog-fighting penalties statewide. The maximum penalty for fighting dogs increases to five years in prison on a first offense, up from three years. It also puts a 10-year maximum on subsequent offenses and increases the maximum fine to $10,000. McDaniel and Barnett, as well as Staples, Scott and Scoggin voted for the bill.

• House Bill 80 targets “Left-Lane Larrys” who drive in the left lane on highways. This measure will make it illegal to drive in the left lane when the driver of that vehicle is impeding traffic. The driver must immediately move to the right lane if another vehicle is overtaking it. McDaniel voted against the measure, while Barnett voted yes. In the House, Scoggin and Staples voted for it, while Scott did not vote.

• House Bill 668 removed penalties for “vagrants” and “tramps” in reference to homeless people. Barnett, McDaniel, Scoggin and Staples voted for it, while Scott did not vote.

• Senate Bill 2091 allows law enforcement K-9s injured in the line of duty to be transported to an animal hospital or veterinarian for care by emergency medical technicians as long as no human needs to be transported. The entire local delegation voted for the measure.

• Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will now be added to the list of disabilities and will be permitted to have service animals in public buildings. Barnett, McDaniel, Scoggin and Staples voted for it, while Scott did not vote.