Alert: New Laws Effective

Alert: New Laws Effective

Beginning September 1, a number of new laws go into effect in the State of Texas that you should know. Here are a few of the major changes you need to be aware of:

Gun Laws

In the wake of the gun violence that is sweeping through our nation, the Texas legislature has passed several new laws that extend gun rights in places of worship, on school property, and in apartment complexes.

1. After a state or natural disaster is declared, Texans who legally own firearms can carry them in public even if they do not possess their License to Carry.

2. In places of worship, licensed handgun owners can legally carry unless the place of worship bans weapons orally or with written notice.

3. School districts can no longer ban firearms being stored in locked vehicles on school property.

4. Landlords can no longer ban renters from storing guns in their rental homes.

Porch Pirates

Texas passed new laws that have increased the punishment for porch pirates effective September 1, 2019:

The level of punishment increases with the number of people that porch pirates steal packages from:

  • Fewer than 10 people and it’s a state jail felony.
  • 20 to 50 people and it’s a second-degree felony.
  • More than 50 people and it’s a first-degree felony to steal packages off people’s porches.

These new laws come right before the holiday season and hopefully will give us some peace of mind as we have more packages delivered to our homes!

City Regulations

Texas is now preventing its cities from adopting ordinances that

  • Keep your kids from selling lemonade (or other non-alcoholic beverages) on private property or in public parks;
  • Restrict restaurants from allowing you to bring your dogs to their patio.

Self Defense

Texas has lifted the state ban on carrying certain self defense items. So, starting September 1 you will be able to carry: brass knuckles, kitty key chains, and clubs.

Alcohol

Texas will now let you leave breweries with craft beer. And, the TABC will qualify certain beer and wine retailers to deliver beer and wine to your home.

Telemarketers

Texas now bans ‘spoofing,’ so it is illegal for Telemarketers to call you from a number that looks familiar to you. For example, telemarketers that call you from a number that is one digit off from your own telephone number or any other number that is misleading. They have to call from a number that represents the origin of the telemarketing call.

Chick-Fil-A

Governor Abbott signed the Save Chick-Fil-A Bill in response to the San Antonio City Council blocking Chick-Fil-A from the San Antonio airport. The San Antonio City Council would not allow Chick-Fil-A to open a location in their airport because the restaurant reportedly donated to anti-LGBTQ issues. This bill means Chick-Fil-A is coming to the San Antonio airport, and may prevent other City Council from blocking other retailers and restaurants for similar reasons.

Smoking Age

The smoking age in Texas is now 21 years old. 18 year-olds will no longer be able to buy cigarettes or any other tobacco products, including vape liquid.

Traffic Fines

Traffic fines are being raised from $30 to $50. Fines for intoxicated drivers are also increasing:

  • $3,000 for the first conviction within 36 months;
  • $4,500 for a subsequent conviction within 36 months; or
  • $6,000 for a conviction if it was shown that the person’s alcohol concentration level was 0.16 or more.

Opioid Prescriptions

Doctors can no longer issue a prescription for more than a 10-day supply of opioids and they cannot provide for a refill of an opioid for the care of acute pain. This limitation on opioid prescription does not apply to patients being treated for cancer or chronic pain.

Postpartum Depression

A new law requires the Texas legislature to put together a five-year strategy to raise awareness of postpartum depression and to improve access to treatments and support services for postpartum depression.

Hunting and Fishing Licenses

You can now show proof of your hunting or fishing license from your phone by accessing the Parks and Wildlife Department’s website or showing a picture of your license.

Sexual Assault

The definition of sexual assault now includes healthcare providers that use “human reproductive material from a donor knowing that the other person had not expressly consented to the use of material from that donor.”

House Bill 8 established a timeline for processing the testing of sexual assault kits. The law also requires that kits be analyzed within 90 days of receiving them and that kits where there is a felony prosecution have to be preserved for at least 40 years.

Senate Bill 20 helps human trafficking survivors clear their criminal records by allowing them increased access to nondisclosure orders to keep their criminal records sealed. This bill also increases penalties for those involved in online human trafficking.

Senate Bill 71 creates a statewide telehealth center designed to give medical providers access to nurses who are trained with sexual assault examinations. The goal behind this bill is to give the medical providers the ability to consult with nurses who are experts in collecting evidence from survivors of sexual assault and preserving that evidence so it can be presented in court.

House Bill 1590 created the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Task Force in the Governor’s Office that will advise the state attorney general’s office on rules of evidence as they relate to sexual assault cases. The task force will also help the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement train the officers that handle sexual assault cases.

House Bill 2613 criminalizes the operation of stash houses that facilitate prostitution, human trafficking, and other like crimes. It also gives law enforcement to ability to use the contraband legally obtained from stash houses to benefit human trafficking survivors.

Car Title

The DMV can not longer give you the original title to your car—only a certified copy of your car title.

Waiving Deductibles

It has become common practice in Texas for contractors to waive deductibles even though waiving deductibles has been illegal in Texas since 1989. Because of this, consumers would commit insurance fraud when they submitted a request for reimbursement to insurance companies for the work these contractors completed but failed to tell that insurance company that they had not paid the deductible. Now, the law prohibits contractors from paying, waiving, absorbing, rebating, crediting, or otherwise declining to collect or chard a deductible. Also, their contracts must contain a disclosure that makes clear insurance deductible must be paid. And, insurance companies are allowed to request “reasonable proof” that the deductible has been paid before they reimburse the consumer.

UPPA Prohibition

Now, the unauthorized practice of public adjusting applies to all contractors and not just “roofing contractors.” The law previously only listed roofing contractors and the Legislature removed that limitation after several types of general contracts were found to engage in the unauthorized practice. 

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ATTORNEY LINDSEY TANNER is an estate planning, probate, and business lawyer with the Parvin Law Group in Dallas, Texas. Ms. Tanner can be reached at lindsey@parvinlaw.com.

Parvin Law Group, P.C. is a Concierge Law Firm in Dallas, Texas with attorneys practicing law in the fields of Estate Planning, Probate, and Business Law.