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Texans Now Subject to 678 New Laws

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a total of 1203 bills following the legislative session this year, and more than half of those laws kicked in September 1 for the entire Lone Star State.

It means behaviors and business practices will change.

In an article from the San Antonio Express News, they detail the changes, starting off with: it’s now a state crime to help someone come over the border from Mexico. But then, you can call 9-1-1 from anywhere in the state, something proponents of the system have been pushing for decades.

It’s now a criminal offense to post revenge porn, nude pictures or videos on-line from a former boyfriend or girlfriend.

Impersonating a soldier, which has been found to be unconstitutional in other states under the guise of the “stolen valor act” is now also a crime that can send you to jail.

As of now, more than 1,000 chemical compounds of synthetic marijuana are banned, including the family of “spice” that police say is responsible for dozens and deaths and injuries.

At the same time, some marijuana with low levels of THC will be allowed for medical purposes. THC is the part of marijuana that acts as the hallucinogenic.

Starting Tuesday, Comptroller Glenn Hegar will begin requiring signs to be posted at stores warning shoppers that no one under 18 can buy e-cigarettes.

Women and Children:

Starting today, doctors will get paid by the state to treat children via a video link if they are at school or are enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. Advocacy groups say this is a big step forward to providing better access to medical care for the poor in rural areas.

Taxpayer subsidized services at Planned Parenthood clinics are no longer provided.

For breast-feeding mothers who are state and county workers or schoolteachers, “reasonable accommodations” will have to be provided for a place for them to pump breast milk in the workplace.

Parents of stillborn children will for the first time be guaranteed the right to claim the child’s remains for burial.

Children who are victims of sex trafficking can be placed into protective custody immediately. Previously, the state couldn’t act without a court hearing, which could be delayed for up to a week.

Education:

Texas’ colleges and universities get a new university research initiative that will provide up to $400 million to allow them to attract Nobel Prize laureates and other “best in their field” researchers. Gov. Greg Abbott believes that the initiative will “fuel future growth for generations to come.”

Truancy and other school misbehavior will be decriminalized in a move to keep teenagers from accruing criminal records that could haunt their futures. This allows students to work out issues at the school level rather than in court.

More than half of the new laws become effective Tuesday, including a new law that high school students and their parents might be thrilled with: No score over 3 on Advanced Placement exams is required for college credit.

High school seniors who flunk their final year of classes will have an opportunity to graduate if they complete extra-credit work assigned by a school committee.

Mental health professionals can have their student loans erased if they spend time treating the mentally ill or imprisoned, a nod to an increased state push to boost treatment for jail and prison inmates. Physicians, psychologists, social workers, counselors and registered nurses are among the professionals who can qualify for loan reductions of up to $160,000.

Business and Professional Laws:

Texas’ “professionals’ tax,” a $200 annual licensing fee for doctors, engineers and lawyers that was enacted in 2001 has been repealed.

And the State Board of Barbers & Beauticians will now allow hair stylists and nail technicians to work outside of their shops, with the biggest “for instance” being doing the hair and nails for a wedding party before the ceremony.

Politics/Justice

Until now, if a public official were charged with an ethics crime, they would be brought to Austin and the legal process would work out there. Now, your “ethically challenged” state representative or mayor will be allowed trial in their hometown, or county seat. Critics say that puts them in a “friendly venue” and increases the chances of being found not guilty. Proponents say it puts an end to political activism from the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

The system of selecting grand juries, will be replaced by a random system used by other states in which grand jurors are selected from a random pool of residents like petit court juries. Previously, the “Key-Man” system was used, and accounted for multiple conflicts of interest in different locales.

There are now limits on so-called “rolling voting,” in which mobile polling locations are moved from one site to another. In the future, they will have to be open for two consecutive days, eight hours a day. This is intended to be a fix for complaints that polling locations were being moved to harvest votes in certain places, often in school elections.

There remain several hundred more new laws, rules and regulations that will take effect through the fall and until the first of the year. Breitbart Texas will keep you updated!

Rob Milford is a news contributor to Breitbart Texas. You may follow him on Facebook.

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