Friday, June 21, 2024

Hundreds of new Texas laws go into effect Friday

More than 770 new laws passed by the Texas Legislature this year will go into effect Friday, impacting everything from health care and education to public safety.

New school safety requirements: House Bill 3 requires an armed officer at every school campus in Texas and mental health training for school staff that interact with children. The armed person can be either a peace officer, a school resource officer, a school marshal or a school district employee, according to the law. School districts that can’t meet this requirement can claim a “good cause exception” but must find an alternative plan. The law, passed in the first legislative session after the school shooting in Uvalde, also gives the Texas Education Agency more authority over school districts to establish robust active-shooter protocols.

Redefining fentanyl deaths: House Bill 6 classifies overdoses from fentanyl as “poisonings,” which means any Texan who provides someone with a fatal overdose of the opioid could face a murder charge.

Addressing the power grid: House Bill 1500 changes aspects of how electricity can be bought and sold on the state’s main power grid, with an aim toward getting more on-demand power such as natural gas-fueled power plants built.

Regulating sexually explicit performances: Senate Bill 12 restricts certain drag shows and other performances from being shown in front of children. The law criminalizes businesses that host sexually explicit shows and performers who wear certain prosthetics and dance suggestively in the presence of minors. This new law faces a legal challenge from advocates who argue that such performances are protected by the First Amendment

Targeting “rogue” district attorneys: House Bill 17 allows the courts to remove district attorneys for official misconduct if they choose not to pursue certain types of crimes. The Republican priority legislation was pushed as a way to rein in progressive prosecutors who had spoken out against pursuing abortion-related or election crimes.

New registration fee for electric vehicles: Senate Bill 505 adds a $200 annual fee for electric vehicle registration renewals and a $400 fee at the time of new electric vehicle purchases for the initial two-year registration period, in addition to the standard vehicle registration fees and any tax due for the vehicle. The fee will not apply to hybrid vehicles.

Legal ramifications for vaping in schools: House Bill 114 requires schools to place a student caught with a vape into a disciplinary alternative education program, which would be a step above detention and a step below suspension.

Parts of this story originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/08/31/new-texas-laws-september-2023/

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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