New laws have been enacted in Texas as of January 1st, 2015.
The New Year brings with it new legislative changes in Texas—and the rest of the country. In fact, quite a number of new laws have passed with very few Texans even realizing it. While many of these new laws can be considered mundane, others are impactful and are set to change the landscape in areas such as road safety, judicial oversight, and more. Today, we’ll take a look at some of these new laws, as well as touch on what they mean for citizens of the Lone Star State and the country at large.
House Bill 62
HB 62 prohibits judges in Texas from holding financial stakes in correctional, institutional or rehabilitation facilities. This is seen as a move to eliminate any perceived bias or vested interests in cases that have to do with individuals being sent to the above facilities after sentencing. You may be reminded of the “kids for cash” scandal involving two Pennsylvania judges a few years back. This new law seeks to prevent this type of judicial abuse.
House Bill 3838
HB 3838 (also known as “Malorie’s Law”) now requires that motorcycles designed to carry more than one passenger be fitted with foot rests and handholds for passengers (which are already standard on many motorcycles). This law was named after Texas A&M student Malorie Bullock, who lost her life back in 2009. She was killed in a motorcycle accident while riding as a passenger—despite the fact that she was wearing a helmet. The law also requires that all motorcycle passengers must be at least five years old (except when riding in a sidecar).
Senate Bill 492
SB 492 sets new licensing requirements and safety standards for prescribed pediatric extended-care centers to let Medicaid-eligible children receive medical care up until age 20. Despite the fact that this law took effect in 2013, portions dealing with general enforcement and administrative penalties just went into effect on January 1st, 2015. Starting now, one needs a license to own or operate such a center, and must obtain a license for each separately owned facility.
Senate Bill 426
SB 426 takes effect on January 15th, 2015, and amends a law on home visits to allow specialists to provide vital services such as parenting classes to at risk-families in their homes.
House Bill 500
HB 500 seeks to change the way franchise tax law is computed, excluding historic structures from paying taxes as well as providing them with tax credits.
Here’s a rundown of some of the more-interesting laws that were (or are soon set to be) enacted in other parts of the country in 2015:
- Taking photographs with wildcats such as tigers and leopards is now illegal in New York, given the danger individuals who post take these photos expose themselves to. Yes, apparently “tiger selfies” were an issue in NY.
- Recreational marijuana has been legalized in Alaska (set to go into effect February 24th), Washington D.C. (currently in legal limbo), and Oregon (set to go into effect July 1st).
- Twenty states have passed laws increasing minimum wage (Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Nebraska, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and South Dakota’s minimum wage laws go into effect on January 1st, 2015).
- A new New York law has now made tattooing or piercing animals a criminal offense.
- In California, a new law will now make it possible for illegal immigrants to apply for driving licenses.
- California will officially put into effect a state-wide plastic bag ban starting July 2015. You may also be aware that Dallas’s plastic bag ban just went into effect on January 1st.
- A number of cities in states such as Texas, Ohio, Georgia and California have now banned fracking.
These laws are just a fraction of the hundreds of laws that are set to come into effect as the New Year progresses. For more information on the new laws in Texas, visit the Legislative Reference Library of Texas.