OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - New Oklahoma laws taking effect on Thursday target illegal immigrants, set minimum sentences of sexual offenses against children and allow judges to carry guns into the courtroom.
Other new laws require establishment of a state Web site to allow citizens to track spending by government agencies, make it a felony to file a false AMBER report of a missing child and beef funding for the financially ailing teachers' retirement system.
They are among more than 100 measures that carry a Nov. 1 effective date that were passed during the 2007 legislative session.
The immigration bill, HB 1804, is garnering the most attention. Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, the bill's principal sponsor, says it will curb state benefits going to illegal immigrants, make it more difficult for them to get jobs and easier for police to turn them over to federal immigration authorities.
Church and charity groups have condemned the law, saying it is spreading fear among Hispanic communities, causing families to separate and crimes to go unreported.
They say thousands of Hispanics have fled the state, something Terrill said the law was meant to do. Some farmers and business groups oppose the law, saying they need immigrant workers.
Terrill calls it the toughest law among the states to fight illegal immigration. Gov. Brad Henry, among others, say it is a problem that the federal government must ultimately resolve.
Here is a synopsis of some of the bills taking effect on Thursday:
HB 1816 - Requires a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison for sexual crimes against children under 12. It is patterned after Jessica's Law, named for Florida girl raped and killed by a convicted sex offender in 2005.
SB 1092 - Increases employer contribution rates to the teachers' retirement system. Sponsors say it will infuse $36 million a year into the system, which will grow as salaries increase.
HB 1915 - Modifies state law permitting hunting and fishing to exclude land primarily devoted to farming, ranching or forestry.
SB 1 - Creates the “Taxpayer Transparency Act,” requiring the Office of State Finance to develop and operate a Web site to provide information on all state expenditures, incentive payments and tax credits.
SB 145 - Permits district judges to carry weapons in courthouses when acting in the course and scope of employment and expands time period for renewal requirements for a concealed handgun license.
SB 371 - changes the penalty for a purposefully filing a false missing child report which causes the activation of an AMBER alert from a misdemeanor to a felony, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year and a fine of $1,000.
SB 473 - prohibits smoking in public zoos.
SB 567 - gives victims of identity theft the right to file an incident report where they live, regardless of the jurisdiction of any investigation or prosecution of the crime.
SB 1049 - forces owners to turn over animals to humane organizations if the animals have been mistreated and sets up procedures for law officers to seize an animal that has been abandoned or neglected.
HB 1090 - increases from a misdemeanor to a felony the penalty for impersonating a peace officer. The maximum sentence would be a year in the county jail and a $100 fine.
HB 1225 - expands eligibility for the Insure Oklahoma program, designed to help small businesses provide health care coverage for their employees. Employees will qualify if they make up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level, up from 185 percent. Under the program, the state pays 60 percent of insurance costs, the employer pays 25 percent and the employee pays 15 percent.