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New Texas Laws You Should Know

Posted January 9, 2019 | Uncategorized

A fresh set of laws are set to come into the Texas legislature in 2019. From human trafficking protections to campaign finance regulations, these new laws intend to protect Texans’ safety and interests. Here are some of the most crucial laws you should be aware of as we move into the new year.

Stronger Protections Against Human Trafficking

According to House Bill 29, businesses that engage in sexual activities must post a notice in their bathrooms with human trafficking resources. The businesses must post these signs in each of their restrooms next to the sink area.

The notice must have contact information for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. In addition, the notices must be in English and Spanish. The attorney general has the power to require additional information to post on the signs as well. The measure is meant to decrease trafficking incidents and help survivors seek support in difficult situations.

In addition, HB 29 will increase penalties for certain prostitution offenses and prioritize hearings involving child sex trafficking. Under HB 29, the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force will remain as a crucial agency to combat the trafficking black market.

Greater Lobbyist Limits

Lobbyists will have less power under House Bill 505. Former elected officials or candidates for public office will have limited use of campaign funds if they become a registered lobbyist. In addition, lobbyists cannot make or authorize donations and contributions from the funds they received while in office.

There is a two-year period from the last date of a former official’s last term in which this law applies. After the two-year period expires, HB 505 no longer applies to the official.

Vehicle Ownership and Title Changes

If you are planning to sell or transfer ownership of your vehicle, you may be subject to new regulations under Senate Bill 2076. This bill will revise the process for a vehicle owner to obtain a certified copy of the vehicle title.  Beginning on January 1st, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will only issue you a copy of your car’s title if you are the vehicle’s first lienholder.

The DMV will not issue original copies of your vehicle’s title. If you are not the original lienholder, you will need to either be the lienholder’s verified agent or have proof from the lienholder. If you received a certified copy of the title in the past, it will become invalid when you receive the new copy.

Additional Courts Across Texas

Texas is experiencing a major population increase. Lawmakers anticipate that more people will lead to a greater burden on Texas courts. Under Senate Bill 1329, lawmakers will establish additional courts across the state. In addition, the bill will revise jurisdictions for certain judges and courts.

New Updates to High School Graduation Requirements

If you have a child graduating from high school after this school year, you will need to be aware of new educational requirements introduced by Senate Bill 463. Schools can no longer administer the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, also known as the TAKS test. Many schools stopped offering the assessment in 2007.

High school students must now take the End of Course exams that replaced the TAKS test. On September 1st, 2019, school districts and charter schools must integrate new provisions related to this testing. For example, schools must establish graduation committees for students who failed required End of Course exams.

Greater Campaign Finance Reporting

People running for public office must now report even more campaign finance activities. On January 8th, House Bill 501 will require candidates to report more of their finances with the Texas Ethics Commission, including certain business associations, along with written government contracts. Candidates can amend their financial statements under certain standards.

These upcoming laws will greatly impact the efficiency, safety, and integrity of Texas life. It is important for Texas residents to keep up to date with the new regulations and understand how they impact their lives.