BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Beginning today, Louisiana becomes the first state in the country to enact a law that makes harming a law enforcement officer a hate crime.
Governor John Bel Edwards signed the Blue Lives Matter bill into law back in May before the police attacks in Baton Rouge and Dallas last month, that killed eight officers.
The new law is considered a tack-on charge. It makes first responders like police, firefighters, and emergency medical crews a protected class, and could result in an extra prison term of five years for anyone who is convicted under the new statute.
Edwards said it will protect the men and women who put their lives on the line every day. Seven law enforcement officers have been killed in Louisiana this year.
That's the second most in the nation.
Texas had the most with 14 officers killed this year.
Other bills that become law today include the so called "stripper bill" which raises the age of exotic dancers from 18 to 21. The law aims to prevent human trafficking by protecting teens. It created a stir in the legislature when some lawmakers claimed it was a government overreach.
Another new law aims to protect job applicants with criminal records.
The "Ban the Box" law eliminates questions for certain state workers such as whether you've ever been convicted of a felony. Potential government employers can still ask about criminal records during an interview.
And witnesses, crime victims and family members now have a choice to sit separate from defendants in Louisiana courtrooms.
The bill's author has said the new law will protect victims of domestic violence who often testify against their abusers.
In total, 400 new laws take effect Aug. 1.