Because the Texas Legislature meets every two years for 140 calendar days, the 86th Legislature session voted and passed 820 house/senate bills that went into effect Sunday. Below are a few of them, but to learn more about all the laws, visit online at the Legislative Reference Library.
● Raised Smoking Age: After cases of lung disease and deaths caused by vaping, health officials are trying to prevent teenage tobacco use and limit health-care costs through the SB 21. Last Sunday, this law raised the age to buy tobacco products such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 in Texas. Any violation is punishable as a class C misdemeanor with a fine up to $500. The only exception to this law is those currently serving the military or if born on or before August 31, 2001.
● Guns Stored in Vehicles: H B 1143 prohibits Texas school districts or charter schools from banning licensed gun owners from storing guns and ammunition in their vehicles as long as it is not in plain sight.
● Driver Responsibility Program: With the HB 2048, about 1 million Texans can get their driver’s licenses back because the bill ended the driver responsibility program. This program was to encourage people to drive better but instead was difficult for people with traffic violations to pay their fines and keep their licenses resulting, for some, in a loss of their jobs and homes. To make up for lost revenue, state traffic fines, motor vehicle insurance fines and some traffic offenses will increase including intoxicated driving.
● Sexting: If sending electronic images that present anyone in sexual conduct, with nudity or sexually explicit images, the recipient must have expressed consent or request. Otherwise, it is considered a crime and under the HB 2789, is a Class C misdemeanor, which has a maximum fine of $500.
● Free Speech on Campus: Because of the first amendment of the Constitution and concerns that conservative voices are being silenced, SB 18 requires public higher-education institutions to allow people to be involved with expressive conduct or speeches in common outdoor spaces.
● Education: HB 3 provides more money for Texas classrooms, increases teacher compensation and funding for low-income students, creates a new Dyslexia allotment, encourages teacher training in autism, reduces recapture and cuts local property taxes.
● Suspended Students: HB 3012 requires districts to provide suspended students access to all core coursework and provide at least one option without needing internet access.
● School Information: SB 994 requires temporary custodians, former or current employees who have created or received public information, to surrender any information about school business, even if on a personal device, within ten days if requested by a public information officer.
● Selling Beverages: HB 234 allows children under the age of 18 to sell non-alcoholic drinks such as lemonade on private property.
● Cough Syrup: HB 1518 raised the age limit to 18 to buy dextromethorphan, a common cough syrup, to prevent teenagers from getting high.
● Self Defense: HB 446 allows Texans to carry brass knuckles, night sticks, maces, and self-defense plastic key chains (usually in the shape of animals) except in some areas, such as schools, nursing homes and jails.
https://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/texas/article234392752.html https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/HB3_2-Pager.pdf https://lrl.texas.gov/sessions/effDates/billsEffective86.cfm#September19 https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=86R&Bill=HB1143 https://hro.house.texas.gov/ https://legiscan.com/TX/text/SB18/id/2027681/Texas-2019-SB18-Enrolled.html