For a group that only meets for less than four months out of the year, the Texas Legislature keeps themselves busy. The most recent legislative session saw a high number of new laws passed. Some of these new laws will go into effect immediately, while others will become the law of the Lone Star State on September 1.
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The laws that will go into effect immediately include:
- Sexual assault victims on college campuses can submit their reports on the assault anonymously to their institution.
- Sexual assault witnesses who were involved in illegal activities at the time of the assault would be given amnesty.
- Regulations on ridesharing drivers that include submitting electronic receipts to passengers, a “zero-tolerance intoxication standard” and giving passengers “all necessary information before each ride.”
- Children of police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders who were injured or killed in the line of duty would receive free state-funded pre-kindergarten education.
- Elementary schools can no longer suspend students below third grade, either in-school or out-of-school, except in specific cases involving weapons, alcohol or drugs.
- Community colleges and job training schools offering commercial driver’s license courses must include training on how to recognize and stop human trafficking.
The laws that will go into effect on September 1 will include:
- Weapons with blades longer than 5.5 inches can now be carried in public, except at bars, churches, schools, sporting events, or other restricted locations.
- Handgun licensing fees have dropped from $140 to $40 for first-time applicants, and from $70 to $40 for renewals, making Texas the state with the lowest handgun licensing fees of any state.
- Lottery winners who win at least $1 million can request not to have their personal information disclosed to the media.
- Voters without a state-issued identification card can show some other documentation with their name and home address, such as a utility bill or bank statement, and if they sign a sworn statement attesting that they have a condition that prevents them from getting a valid photo ID.
- Voters will no longer be allowed to engage in “straight ticket” voting. Voters must now choose each individual candidate on the ballot, rather than voting strictly for a specific party.