New Laws

New laws coming to the state soon

It’ll be harder to steal copper wire in Texas and sell it in the future and folks won’t be able to chain dogs outside without providing them plenty of food and water under new state laws that go into effect in January.

More than two dozen new state laws went into effect as Texans rang in the New Year with another half-dozen to go on the books on Jan. 18.

Those laws include a ban on transgender athletes competing on sports teams that reflect their gender identity and penalizes lodging establishments if they are found to have violated state laws regarding sex trafficking.

Other new laws:

• Requires landlords to disclose to potential renters if a property has ever flooded or is in a flood plain. Texas becomes only the second state in the nation with such a requirement, joining Georgia.

• Allow homeowners to take a homestead exemption in the same year they buy their home, instead of having to wait until the following year, potentially saving on property taxes.

• Require people accused in Texas of a violent crime to post a cash bond. Before, a judge could agree to release the accused on a personal bond that does not require a cash payment.

• Provide a slate of new benefits for Texas veterans and their families, including exempting new veteran-owned businesses from paying the franchise tax.

Laws that went into effect Jan. 1 include:

House Bill 25 — amends the Education Code to prohibit an interscholastic athletic team sponsored or authorized by a public school district or open‑enrollment charter school from allowing a student to compete in a district- or school‑sponsored interscholastic athletic competition designated for the biological sex opposite to the student’s biological sex.

Among other provisions, the bill sets out specifications regarding the documentation of a student’s biological sex and provides an exception to allow female students to compete in a competition that is designated for male students under certain circumstances.

House Bill 115 — Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of certain property owned by a charitable organization and used in providing housing and related services to certain homeless individuals.

HB 390 — amends the Business & Commerce Code to set out signage and annual employee training requirements relating to human trafficking awareness and prevention for operators of commercial lodging establishments.

The bill requires the attorney general to establish the requirements for an operator to comply with the required training, create and make available a template for the required signage, and designate a telephone number for reporting a suspected act of human trafficking or a violation of the bill’s provisions.

The bill prohibits an operator from disciplining, retaliating against, or otherwise discriminating against an employee who in good faith reports a suspected act of human trafficking to any appropriate authority.

HB 390 – deals with sex trafficking and authorizes a peace officer to enter the premises of a commercial lodging establishment during certain hours to ensure compliance with the bill’s provisions.

If the attorney general has reason to believe that an establishment’s operator has violated the bill’s provisions, the attorney general must provide notice of the violation to the operator

 The bill makes the establishment liable for a civil penalty if the operator fails to cure the violation before the 30th day after receiving such notice. The bill authorizes the attorney general to bring an action to recover the civil penalty or for injunctive relief. 

HB 738 — amends the Local Government Code to update the International Residential Code and International Building Code that the state adopts as a municipal residential building code and as a municipal commercial building code, respectively, to the versions of the codes as they existed on May 1, 2012.

HB 738 – prohibits, with certain exceptions, a municipality, county, or emergency services district from enacting an ordinance, bylaw, order, building code or rule requiring the installation of a fire protection sprinkler system in a new or existing one- or two-family dwelling, but authorizes those entities to adopt such a type of regulation allowing a contractor to offer, for a fee, the installation of such a system in a new one- or two-family dwelling.

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