September 1st is a very important day, as it is the date many laws passed during the 84th Legislative Session go into effect. Below you will find a summary of a few of these laws. Unless otherwise noted, each new law goes into effect today, September 1, 2015.
Please note that the following is not a comprehensive list of all new laws passed by the Texas Legislature. For information regarding all new laws, please click on the following link: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/ or contact our office.
Protecting Our Retirees
The state will increase its contributions to the Employee Retirement System (ERS), putting the fund closer to full financial health and strengthening retiree benefits.
Cracking Down On Human Trafficking
Human traffickers will face increased criminal and civil penalties; these include stricter felony counts and seizure of traffickers’ financial assets hidden behind shell corporations. Additional help and resources for trafficking victims will also be established.
Employer Requirements for Working Mothers
All public employers in Texas, such as school districts and state agencies, will now be required to pro vide accommodations for employees that need to pump breast milk at work. This will help retain talented employees by making workplaces more mother-friendly.
Faster Access to 911
Multiline telephone systems — like the ones in hotels and offices — where you would normally have to dial another number first to get an outside line, will now be required to have direct 911 dialing services.
Controlling Prescription Medicine Costs
The state will begin a pilot program allowing people to donate unused prescription medicine. This will help reduce waste while also making affordable stocks of prescription drugs available to those in need.
Supporting Our Veterans
The Texas Veterans Commission will now have a permanent program to study systemic economic and health challenges faced by female veterans, and help women veterans transition into the civilian work force.
Making College Credits Transfers Easier
The state will now regularly review course tracks that are supposed to be transferable between community colleges and four-year public universities. This will make it easier to transfer institutions and help reduce expensive, redundant course-taking.
Preventing and Solving Crimes
The state’s DNA database will now be expanded to include individuals convicted of certain assaultive and sexual offenses, such as Enticement of a Child. This will help prevent future crimes, exonerate innocent persons, and bring perpetrators to justice.
Making Grand Juries Fairer
The state has abolished the “key man” system of jury selection for grand juries. Grand juries must now be selected through a more random, objective jury selection process.
Faster Benefits for Retired Teachers
The payment date of annuity checks in the Teacher Retirement System has been changed to the first working day of each month, allowing for quicker payment of benefits to retirees.
School districts will now be required to develop truancy prevention plans, such as mentorship and counseling programs, in lieu of only using criminal punishment against truant children.
Improving Cancer Prevention
Healthcare providers will now be required to give coverage for annual ovarian cancer screenings to all adult female policy-holders. This will help identify cancer in its early stages, and avoid dangerous medical complications.
Medical Cannabis Oil Legalized
The use of low-THC cannabis oil by patients suffering from epilepsy will now be allowed, provided two doctors to sign off on a prescription, and if two other forms of traditional medicine have failed to work.
Revenge Porn Outlawed
“Revenge porn” (distributing intimate photos of a significant other online with the intent to cause harm) will now be criminalized. The practice will be punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor.
Warrants Now Required for Body Searches
Police will now be required to obtain a warrant before conducting body cavity searches during traffic stops. This will help preserve due process and avoid unnecessary invasive searches during nonviolent encounters.
PLEASE NOTE: The state’s new regulations allowing for the open carry of handguns by concealed-handgun license (CHL) holders will not go into effect until January 1, 2016.
The state’s new law permitting the concealed-carry of handguns by CHL-holders on the campuses of four-year colleges and universities will not go into effect until August 1, 2016.
Legislative Update Text courtesy of State Representative Ana Hernandez, District 141.