By Jo-Carolyn Goode
September 3, 2021 (Houston Style Magazine) — September 1st marks a new day in the state capitol with the passage of new state laws approved at the 87th Texas Legislature. State legislators have been busy orchestrating changes to such issues as gun control, abortion, medical marijuana, buying sex, alcohol, vaccinations, and a myriad of other subjects with the new bills.
There are 666 new state laws but not all went into effect on Sept. 1. Some were enacted before Sept. 1 and others won’t go into effect until early next year.
Below are a few that raised our eyebrows and may do the same for you.
HB1927-Relating to provisions governing the carrying of a firearm by a person who is 21 years of age or older and not otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing the firearm and to other provisions related to the carrying, possessing, transporting, or storing of a firearm or other weapon; creating criminal offenses.
Younger Texans to Carry Guns- Now one can do more things when they turn 21. House Bill 1927 grants citizens 21 years and older the permission to carry a gun without training or a license if they can legally do so.
SB8-Relating to abortion, including abortions after detection of an unborn child’s heartbeat; authorizing a private civil right of action.
The Heartbeat Bill – Abortions as early as six weeks in pregnancy are prohibited under SB8. Medical professionals may also be sued by private individuals if found to have done an abortion once a heartbeat has been detected for the baby.
HB9-Relating to the criminal punishment and conditions of community supervision for the offense of obstructing a highway or other passageway; increasing a criminal penalty.
Emergency Blocking Protection-This bill will have you rethink where you park. Any vehicle owner caught blocking a hospital entry point or an emergency vehicle with its lights and sirens on with their vehicle will be charged with a felony.
HB1518-Relating to the hours for selling alcoholic beverages in certain establishments.
Alcohol on Sundays – The sale of beer and wine on Sunday expands to two hours earlier. Sales can start at 10 am instead of noon.
HB1925-Relating to prohibitions on camping in a public place and to a political subdivision’s designation of property for camping by homeless individuals; creating a criminal offense.
No Vacancy Here-The Homeless population could be fined up to $500 if found living in places undesignated for public dwelling. The crime is considered a misdemeanor.
HB929-Relating to law enforcement policies and procedures regarding body worn cameras.
Botham Jean Law – Police must keep body cameras on for the entirety of all active investigations.
HB1535-Relating to the medical use of low-THC cannabis by patients with certain medical conditions and the establishment of compassionate-use institutional review boards to evaluate and approve proposed research programs to study the medical use of low-THC cannabis in the treatment of certain patients.
More to Get Medical Marijuana – More people may not get medical marijuana under the Texas Compassionate Use Program. Cancer patients and those with post-traumatic stress disorders are among those who may have access to law-THC cannabis for medical purposes only.
SB3-Relating to preparing for, preventing, and responding to weather emergencies and power outages; increasing the amount of administrative and civil penalties.
Protecting Texans From a Big Freeze-This bill attempts to keep Texans warm by requiring power companies to upgrade their equipment and facilities so Texans aren’t left out in the cold. Companies who do not comply could be hit with a daily million dollar fine. Texans will also get an alert when companies’ supply exceeds the demand.
HB3979-Relating to the social studies curriculum in public schools.
Systemic Racism Teaching Banned- Teachers will no longer be allowed to teach students about America’s dark history in “so-called critical race theory” classes covering subjects of slavery, racism, and other topics of current events that make children feel uncomfortable about their race.
SB4-Relating to provisions in agreements between governmental entities and professional sports teams requiring the United States national anthem to be played at team events.
National Anthem Requirement – Professional sports teams that receive state funding must now play the Star Spangled Banner at all games.
HB1540- Relating to regulation of certain facilities and establishments with respect to, civil remedies for certain criminal activities affecting, and certain criminal offenses involving health, safety, and welfare; creating a criminal offense; increasing criminal penalties.
Prostitution as a Felony-Texas leads the way by becoming the first state to designate the solicitation of prostitution as a felony crime. Persons who prey on homeless or foster children at treatment centers will be included as a human trafficking crime.
HB1024-Relating to the pickup and delivery of alcoholic beverages from certain premises for off-premises consumption.
Alcohol-To-Go-As a result of the pandemic, many restaurants started to include beer and wine with pickup and delivery orders to help with income. Well now that will be legal beyond the pandemic.
HB2315-Relating to the forfeiture of contraband relating to the criminal offense of racing on a highway.
Street Racing Bill-Vehicles maybe seized for drivers who are repeat offenders of speed racing, driving under the influence, and/or a death occurs as a result of their driving.
SB69-Relating to the use of force by peace officers.
Police Chokeholds Banned-Police use of chokeholds or any unnecessary force is banned unless to stop injury to an officer or bystander.
HB 1382 – Relating to the availability of certain information regarding early voting.
Election Ballot Tracking- The Texas Secretary of State will operate a system to track mail-in ballots and applications for mail-in ballots.
HB19-Relating to civil liability of a commercial motor vehicle owner or operator, including the effect that changes to that liability have on commercial automobile insurance.
Commercial Vehicles Drivers Liability-Drivers involved in cases concerning commercial vehicles that result in injury or death will be found liable in court before the case can go to their employer.
SB224-Relating to simplified certification and recertification requirements for certain persons under the supplemental nutrition assistance program.
SNAP Access Opened-The usual barriers of enrollment interviews and a long application process are gone for those seeking access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
HB103-Relating to establishment of the Texas Active Shooter Alert System.
Active Shooter Alert-Texans near a scene of an active shooter will receive notifications on their phone from the Texas Active Shooter Alert System.
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