The past legislative session proved that state lawmakers have a lot of time on their hands. So much in fact, that some outlandish laws were passed and will be implemented starting Sept. 1 (tomorrow).
With the Republican super majority able to breeze legislation through the special session, more than 1,500 bills became law, some of which are being challenged by the Texas Supreme Court on constitutional grounds.
Since Texans have a lot of new rules to get acquainted with before they go into effect, Androvett Legal Media & Marketing compiled a list of what they found to be the most important in its Top 10 New Texas Laws.
Though the firm failed to include the radical abortion sonogram law that's run into trouble in the courts or the controversial congressional redistricting map (which passed during special session) the list does include a number of laws that lawyers and legislators call “small victories for Texans.”
1. Concussion in Sports
Teachers coined the slogan “Don’t Pass, Don’t Play,” but now, doctors will be saying the same thing, too.
Student-athletes who are injured and show signs of a concussion must be immediately removed from the game or practice. The athlete cannot return to play until after a doctor evaluation.
Though the University Interscholastic League already had similar rules in place, it is now a state-wide mandate.
2. Paddling Prevention
School districts that still use corporal punishment on children (uh, how is that still legal) may now be told “No More” by parents and legal guardians, who now have the right to forbid schools from striking their kids.
3. Funeral Protests
This ‘Three Hour Rule’ prohibits protestors from picketing a funeral three hours before it starts until three hours after it ends. Many law professors believe the ruling is unconstitutional because it denies freedom of speech. This one will likely be challenged in court.
4. Faster Highways
Elderly and slow drivers beware: Texas highways deemed suitable will now have a top speed limit of 85 mph, and truck drivers will no longer have a lower nighttime speed limit.
5. Rape Tests
Police investigators dealing with rape cases will have to work quicker than before now that a faster timetable for DNA testing has been implemented. The new law states that investigators must submit rape-kit evidence to lab review within 30 days of collection.
Labs must test the samples within three months, but lawyers say that with no additional funding and already understaffed teams, expediting the workload may be close to impossible.
Labs must then test the samples within three months, but lawyers say that with no additional funding and already understaffed teams, expediting the workload may be close to impossible.
6. AMBER Alert Expansion
An AMBER Alert will no longer be limited to locating just children, but also to help find developmentally disabled adults.
7. Driver’s Ed Screening
Driver's education instructors will now be required to pass a background check for felonies and sexual offenses before being allowed to teach the class.
8. Don’t Mess with H2O
In efforts of deterring illegal dumping, the state will post signs at highway water crossings that say “Don’t Mess With Texas Water.” Lawmakers hope that the toll-free hotline to report polluters will be a low-cost way to scare people away from illegal dumping.
9. Bar Violence
Bars with a history of violence and bar brawls can have their license refused or not renewed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
10. Pork Chopper
To eliminate unwanted animals from their property, Texas landowners may now shoot feral hogs and coyotes on their land from helicopters.