You may hear news about state legislation, but you may not know when new laws go into effect. The Texas Legislature was busy during the 2017 session, and a number of new laws came out of this activity. Below are some of new laws this year that you should know about:
Has anyone asked you to show a picture ID with a credit or debit purchase this year? If so, you may already be familiar with one of Texas’ new laws. Under SB 1381, merchants have the right to request identification with every debit or credit purchase. If you can’t provide proof of your identity, then you run the risk of the merchant declining your transaction. Lawmakers hope this measure will help decrease the amount of fraud and identity theft throughout the state. If you’ve never had to show any identification with a credit or debit card purchase, it’s because the measure is not compulsory.
Here’s one that might affect the upcoming midterm elections. Under SB 5, lawmakers relaxed a previous voter ID law that many people considered discriminatory against minorities. Now, anyone who wants to vote, but who has difficulty obtaining the required ID, has other options. Under the law, anyone who can demonstrate a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining the required form of identification can show alternate proof, including paychecks, utility bills, or bank statements.
The Texas Legislature also moved to make transferring motor vehicle ownership simpler under state law. As this time, federal law stipulates that all odometer disclosures must occur on a secure form to prevent tampering. Previously, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles required that a carbon copy of this form go to its office via mail for confirmation, delaying the transfer of ownership. However, under SB 1062, the state now accepts electronic copies, which will streamline the process for everyone involved.
This new law aims to enhance women’s health by requiring commercial health insurance providers furnish more comprehensive coverage for breast cancer prevention. Under HB 1036, these carriers must cover the cost of 3-D mammograms, a superior screening tool to the traditional 2-D test. Previously, anyone receiving a mammogram could expect an extra $100 charge for requesting 3-D imaging. This will hopefully aid in the early detection of breast cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death among women nationally.
Some of the laws passed by the state last session aimed to right past wrongs or ease access to important services for all; others were simply practical. SB 1381, now in effect, increased the amount of milk that trailers can haul. Previously, the law allowed milk trailers to transport only 80,000 pounds of milk. Now, the limit is 90,000 pounds. While some people worried that this would lead to faster destruction of area roadways, all truckers who want to carry this amount must pay $1,200 for a permit. The revenue from each permit will go to the counties where the trucks drive through to go toward road maintenance costs.
Bingo licenses that never became active were addressed by SB 549. Under the law, organizations that applied for bingo licenses from the Texas Lottery Commission but did not use them within a year can ask for their money back. The law also allows reimbursement of fees if an organization withdraws an application or receives a rejection from the Texas Lottery Commission.
The Texas Legislature passed other laws that became effective this year. Some of these laws may touch your everyday life; others you may never notice, but it’s always good to be aware of how the law is changing where you live and work.