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Texas

Here Are 20 New Laws That Take Effect Today

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Photo by KUT News
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Wow, this is a really long list of new laws that take effect today. Almost 700 of them! We scanned through and culled a few interesting ones for your perusal. 

We included, when available, links to the House Research Organization’s analysis of the bills. Those tend to be easier to understand than reading the actual law itself. Thanks HRO!

And now, in no particular order of relevance, here are 20 noteworthy new laws.

  1. Anyone who owns a watercraft – anything from a kayak to a yacht (but not a seaplane) – can now carry a gun on the vessel, as long as they are legally allowed to own that weapon.  (House Bill 25) (HRO Analysis)
  2. Colleges now have to provide students with an explanation of new textbooks, like how much they cost, and what's different from the previous edition. The goal is to help students save money. (House Bill 33) (HRO Analysis)
  3. It is now illegal to carry a glass container within state owned riverbeds. (House Bill 218) (HRO Analysis)
  4. Parental permission is now required before school districts can inflict corporal punishment on a student, and the person doing the paddling or spanking must be the same sex as the student. (House Bill 359) (HRO Analysis)
  5. Landowners can now rent spots in a helicopter for people to shoot feral hogs and coyotes from the sky. (HB 716) (HRO Analysis)
  6. School districts can’t use football helmets older than 16 years. Helmets older than ten years have to be reconditioned every two years. (House Bill 675) (HRO Analysis)
  7. A new “Don’t Mess with Texas Water” program is being established to prevent illegal dumping into state rivers and streams, and will include a toll free number for you to report anyone illegally polluting those bodies of water. (House Bill 451) (HRO Analysis)  
  8. New state buildings and those undergoing major renovations now have to be more environmentally friendly. For example, they have to reduce water use by 15 percent and be more energy efficient. (House Bill 51) (HRO Analysis)
  9. Stealing trees from someone else’s property is now a more serious crime, and in some extreme cases, could mean a life sentence. (House Bill 613) (HRO Analysis)
  10. Florists are no longer allowed to misrepresent the location of their business online. The goal is to stop large, national chains from pretending they are local florists. (House Bill 989) (HRO Analysis)
  11. Cockfighting was already illegal, but now it’s a crime to train cocks for cockfighting or attend cockfights.  (House Bill 1043) (HRO Analysis)
  12. It’s now illegal to buy, use, or install devices that jam police speed detectors. (House Bill 1116)
  13. Landlords need to install more smoke alarms in rental properties: at least one in each bedroom for apartments with three or more bedrooms, and at least one on each floor for multi-level units. (House Bill 1168) (HRO Analysis)
  14. Impersonating people online is now illegal if it’s done without the person’s consent and is intended to annoy or harass them. (House Bill 1666) (HRO Analysis)
  15. Capturing live reptiles and amphibians by the side of the road now requires a special stamp from the state. (House Bill 1788) (HRO Analysis)
  16. The Texas Department of Transportation must now offer “Choose Life” license plates. The money will be directed to pregnancy centers that discourage women from seeking abortions. (Senate Bill 257)
  17. Employers can’t prevent their employees from bringing a handgun to work, as long as they leave it in a locked car. (Senate Bill 321)
  18. Using fake military records to get a job, receive training, or access a range of services is now illegal. (Senate Bill 431)  
  19. Online dating services need to clearly state whether they conduct criminal background checks on members. (Senate Bill 488)
  20. A monument to the achievements of African-American Texans has to be built on the Capitol grounds. (Senate Bill 1928)

Read about the other 653 laws taking effect today on this state website. You should also check out the Texas Tribune’s in-depth look at 31 ways the 700 new laws will affect people’s lives.