Notable Laws Effective September 1st
Friday, September 1, 2023, 744 new laws went into effect that were passed by the Texas Legislature during the 2023 session. The new laws range from creating a new advisory council on Artificial Intelligence to allowing the US motto “In God We Trust” to be displayed in public school classrooms to jail time for temporary license plate tampering. Below is a short list of a few highlighted law changes that have occurred.
House Bills (HB) And Senate Bills (SB) Effective 9/1/23Discrimination:
HB 567 bans race-based hair discrimination in education among other areas. The bills extended protections to styles like locs and braids.
HB 914 makes temporary license plates a “government document” and tampering with a government document is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4000 fine.
SB 224 enhances criminal penalties for offenses involving the theft of a catalytic converter. Under the law, a person could be charged with a first-degree felony if the amount of the loss is $300,000 or more.
SB 1001 gives guidelines on how EV charging stations will be registered and inspected by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
SB 1551 requires drivers who are pulled over by police for an alleged law violation to give their driver’s license as well as their name, address, and birthdate when asked by police. If they refuse, they face a charge of failure to identify while driving, which is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine. However, if the driver gives a false or fictitious name, they face a Class B misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail and a maximum $2000 fine.
Health & Public Safety:
HB 3908, also known as Tucker’s Law, requires school districts to provide instruction related to fentanyl abuse prevention and drug poisoning awareness to students in grades 6-12. It also requires Governor Abbott to designate Fentanyl Poisoning Awareness Week in public schools.
HB 12 expands Medicaid coverage for women following their pregnancies. Under the bill, Medicaid will be provided up to 12 months after a woman gives birth and up to six months after a woman experiences a miscarriage. Before the bill's passage, postpartum Medicaid lasted two months.
HB 420 regulates the provision of alcohol to minors. If you provide alcohol to a minor and the youth consumes the alcohol and causes another person to suffer serious bodily injury or death, the person who provided the alcohol will face a state jail felony, punishable by six months to 2 years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.
HB 3553 & HB 3554 enhance the penalty of human trafficking from a second-degree felony to a first-degree for the offense of trafficking of a person on the premises of or within 1000 feet of a public, private, or independent institution of higher education and certain shelters or facilities, a community center offering youth services, or a child-care facility. This offense is punishable by 25 years to life in prison.
HB 6 creates the criminal offense of murder for supplying fentanyl that results in a death; enhances the criminal penalties for the manufacturing or delivery of fentanyl; and requires deaths caused by fentanyl to be designated as fentanyl toxicity or fentanyl poisoning on a death certificate.
HB 1277 allows pedestrians to walk in the road facing oncoming traffic if a sidewalk is obstructed or unsafe.
HB 1442 creates new charges and enforcement for street takeovers for street races. Additionally it grants authority for seizing the car and any contraband in the car.
HB 1885 allows TxDOT engineers to temporarily change the speed limit on a portion of a road or highway when road conditions require. The change must be posted on signs to notify drivers and cannot reduce by more than 10 MPH the regular spe3ed limit.
SB 629 places opioid antagonists, like Narcan, at campuses that serve students in grades 6-12. Under the law, each school district must adopt and implement a policy regarding opioid antagonists at the campuses. Districts may adopt and implement similar policies for students below the sixth grade.
SB 664 establishes marketing and labeling requirements for food companies that provide imitation meat products.
SB 867 allows the distribution of opioid antagonists, like Narcan, at Texas colleges and universities.
HB 1605 empowers parents with access to the classroom learning materials their teacher uses. The bill is intended to give parents a view into their student’s life.
HB 900 brings changes to the inventory of school libraries. Books will be assigned a rating: sexually explicit or sexually relevant. Sexually explicit books will be removed from libraries while sexually relevant books will require parental approval before a student can check them out.
HB 2012 allows for the national motto of the United States, “In God We Trust,” to be placed in public schools and institutions of higher education classrooms.
HB 3991 designates the first Friday in April as Texas Fruit and Vegetable Day in public schools. The bill aims to promote awareness of the various health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
SB 25 helps nursing students and faculty amid a shortage of nurses. It allows for the creation of scholarships, grants and loan repayment programs.
SB 838 requires school districts to provide each classroom with some type of panic alert button in case of an emergency. The technology must allow for immediate contact with school emergency services and law enforcement agencies. The districts will have to pay for the technology through their school safety budget.
Science & Technology:
HB 2060 creates the Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council to study and monitor the use of AI systems by certain state agencies in Texas. The seven-member council will be responsible for monitoring AI systems that are developed, employed or obtained by executive and judicial branch state agencies.
HB 611 criminalizes doxing, the involuntary exposure of one’s personal information online, by creating the criminal offense of “unlawful disclosure of residence address or telephone number.” It’s a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail and a maximum $2000 fine, to post an individual’s address or number on a publicly accessible website with the intent to cause harm or a threat of harm to the individual or a member of the individual’s family or household. The punishment can be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor if the offense results in bodily injury of that individual or their family member.
HB 3075 makes it a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine, to fly a drone less than 400 feet over a correctional or detention facility; make contact with a correctional facility or detention facility; or come close enough to cause a disturbance. The offense is elevated to a state jail felony if the defendant used the drone to drop contraband.
SB 1361 creates a new offense, making it illegal to knowingly produce or distribute a “deep fake” video that appears to depict a person, without their consent, with their intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct. Producing or distributing deep fake pornography is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine.
HB 3660 makes trap-neuter-release programs for feral cats legally protected in Texas. Trap-neuter-release programs are when feral cats are trapped, taken to the veterinarian for sterilization, and returned to the wild in an effort to curb feral cat populations. Under the law, people who return sterilized cats to the wild will be protected from prosecution for abandonment.
HB 33 prohibits state agencies and officials in Texas from assisting any federal agency or official with enforcing any federal acts that “purports to regulate oil and gas operations and imposes a regulation that does not exist under state law.” Analysis notes the fact that oil and natural gas production taxes have generated more than $10.8 billion in revenue for Texas.
HB 1750 protects agriculture operations that are within city limits from regulatory overreach, regardless of when the land was annexed by the city.
HB 2127, called the Texas Regulatory Consistency Act, preempts local regulations on matters that are regulated by the state. Noted as a way to reduce duplicate regulatory authority and enforcement, the bill allows Texans to take legal action against a city, county or official that has a conflicting regulation that adversely impacts the Texan.
HB 3447 establishes the Texas Space Commission and the Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium to provide strategic direction for Texas’ investments in space and aerospace and will create a forum for higher education and industry experts to advance Texas’ role in space operations. The bill also created a research fund to leverage state resources on major space related initiatives .
HB 2847 creates a Hydrogen Policy council at the Railroad Commission to study the development of the hydrogen industry in Texas as a source of energy.
HB 19 creates a new judicial district with jurisdiction over cases that involve business across the state if the value being disputed is greater than $10 million. The judges will be appointed by the governor and serve two year terms. Judges will have expertise on complex civil business litigation.
SB 29 prohibits local governments from requiring COVID-related masks, vaccines or business shutdowns. Does not prohibit private entities to set their own pandemic rules.
SB 493 allows veterans who received a less-than-honorable discharge due to their refusal of the COVID-19 vaccine to be labeled as receiving an honorable discharge. For a discharge to be considered honorable, the veteran must prove to the Texas Veterans Commission that their refusal to receive a COVID-19 vaccination was the sole reason for the discharge.
SB 477 allows people with disabilities or mobility problems to skip the lines at polling locations. The person must request to skip the line with an election worker. The bill’s text defines disabilities to include “paralysis, lung disease, the use of portable oxygen, cardiac deficiency, severe limitation in the ability to walk due to arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition, wheelchair confinement, arthritis, foot disorder, the inability to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest, or use of a brace, cane, crutch, or other assistive device.”