As Texas continues to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, Friday is the day that over 650 new laws are set to go into effect across the entire state. One of those is House Bill 62, a ban on texting while driving.
This ban creates a misdemeanor offense for drivers who are found to be using a mobile device to either read, write, or send text messages while driving, unless their vehicle is at a complete stop. Those who violate this law for the first time could face a fine of up to $99, while repeat offenders could face a fine of up to $200.
Another new law slated to go into effect is House Bill 1774, which enables the reduction of penalties that insurance companies could face for late payments in the event that a policyholder files a lawsuit. This is a law that has since drawn a great deal of concern and criticism among those citizens who have become victims of Hurricane Harvey. This law, while designed to reduce the amount of frivolous lawsuits filed, penalties would drop from 18% and cap at 20%.
Despite these laws going into effect, there are two high-profile ones that will not due to federal injunctions being placed against them. The first is Senate Bill 4, which outlaws sanctuary cities, or governments that opt not to enforce federal immigration laws. This law would forbid local police chiefs, jail administrators, and sheriffs from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status during either a detention or an arrest, and it also requires jail officials to honor any and all Immigration and Customs Enforcement official requests to hold an inmate for them in the event that they need to be deported. The portion of this bill that required jail administrators to honor all detainers was stopped by a district judge; however, the portion allowing police officers to question immigration status was allowed to stand, but it was stressed that they are limited in what they are allowed to do with that information.
Senate Bill 8 has also been temporarily halted, which would have banned perhaps the most common procedure for second-trimester abortions. This means that doctors in Texas are legally permitted to continue using the dilation and evacuation procedure, which has been deemed by many medical professionals to be the safest in terms of abortion. This may continue until the court makes a more permanent decision.
Here are a few other laws that are set to go into effect Friday:
- Senate Bill 693, which mandates that school buses must have shoulder-to-lap seat belts for all riders.
- House Bill 1729, which states that residents will have the option to donate $1 or more to fund testing of thousands of backlogged rape kits whenever they obtain or renew their driver’s license.
- Senate Bill 16, which drops the fee to obtain a handgun license to $40 from $140.
- House Bill 3921, which allows financial institutions to legally stop any and all transactions that they suspect may defraud disabled or elderly clients.
- House Bill 1935, which legalizes carrying more types of knives in public.
- Senate Bill 179, also known as David’s Law, which helps school officials continue to fight cyberbullying.
- Senate Bill 725, which allows school employees to provide leftover food to students who are hungry.
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