20 New Texas Laws That Go in Effect September 1st
Come September 1st new laws signed during the 2019 Texas Legislature will go into effect. About 820 were signed and they range from huge to minimal. You may hear about some of them and some you don't really need to know about. But there are some of interest, and some that will impact. Here are some of the following you should know about, compiled from the Texas Tribune, KHOU, Spectrum News, KFOX and the Star-Telegram.
- New Smoking Age: This new law, Senate Bill 21, will raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.The only exception: Those actively serving in the military who show a military ID may still buy tobacco products.
- Cough Syrup: Children under 18 will no longer be able to buy cough syrups — ranging from DayQuill to Delsym — that contain the cough suppressant dextromethorphan, or DXM.
- Pain Relief: Those who have surgery or suffer injuries soon will find there’s a limit to how much pain relief medicine they can receive. Prescriptions for some controlled substances used to help with “acute pain” will be capped at 10 days with no refills. This would not apply to people who receive the medicine as part of cancer, hospice, end-of-life or palliative care.
- Sexting: If you’re going to text sexually explicit images to someone, make sure they want to receive those pictures. Otherwise, you will be committing a crime. Offenses will be Class C misdemeanors, which carry a maximum fine of $500.
- Free Speech on Campus: Senate Bill 18, filed in response to concerns that conservative voices were being stifled on campus, requires schools to allow people to engage in "expressive activities" in outdoor common spaces.
- Stopping Robo-Calls: Telemarketers will be banned from calling Texans using fake numbers that show up on the recipient's caller ID.
- Porch Pirates: Anyone who steals a package from a porch will face felony charges. The penalties and charges grow as the number of thefts increase. If someone steals from more than 50 people, they face a first-degree felony. Steal from 20 to 50 people and it’s a second-degree felony. And anyone who steals from less than 10 people faces a state felony. Fines can range from $4,000 to $10,000.
- Carrying guns into churches: Officials at places of religious worship in Texas may decide whether to allow handguns on their premises.
- Carrying Brass Knuckles/Security Key Chains: Add brass knuckles, tomahawks, night sticks, maces — and self-defense plastic key chains shaped like dogs or cats with pointy ears — to the list of weapons people legally may carry in most parts of the state. These items had been on the state’s list of banned weapons but no longer will be prohibited except in some areas, such as schools, nursing homes and jails.
- "No firearms” clauses for Rental Leases: Rental leases may no longer include “no firearms” clauses.
- Fishing and Hunting Licenses: Texans can now pull up their fishing/hunting license on their phone to show to game wardens.
- Right to Pump Breast Milk: Starting Sunday, Texas law will make clear that women can pump breast milk wherever they want. Previous law allowed breastfeeding anywhere, but didn't specify pumping.
- Driver Responsibility Program: Nearly 1 million Texans can get their driver’s licenses back after the driver responsibility program ends Sunday.
- The "Born Alive Act": This law requires doctors to treat a baby born alive in the rare instance of a failed abortion attempt.
- Defunding Abortion Providers: This measure will prohibit state and local governments from partnering with agencies that perform abortions, even if they contract for services not related to the procedure.
- Hazing: A law has been updated that will further crack down on hazing and coerced consumption of drugs or alcohol that leads to intoxication. Also, any person who voluntarily reports hazing will have immunity from liability in certain situations.
- Drivers With Communication Issues: Texas Senate Bill 976 allows people with autism, deafness and other "communication impediments" to register vehicles with the DMV. Now, if an officer pulls them over, they know more about what to expect.
And now, some of my favorites:
- Beer sales: Craft breweries may now sell up to a case of beer per customer every day. Another new law allows restaurants to apply for permits to let them deliver wine and beer.
- Lemonade Stands: Lemonade stands have been illegal in Texas for years because of old food establishment rules. State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, worked to change that, passing a measure to make these stands run by children legal.
- Dogs on patios: Many restaurants across the state already let customers bring their dogs with them to dine in outdoor areas. But some cities have put restrictions in place requiring those businesses to have inspections, apply for dog variances, pay fees and more. This law will allow restaurants to let customers with leashed dogs dine in outside areas under certain conditions.