During Texas’ 85th legislative session, over 1,200 bills were passed into law! Curious? We summarize a few of them below. All of the following laws went into effect today (Sept. 1, 2017).
Statewide Ban on Texting and Driving (HB 62)
While operating a motor vehicle, drivers are prohibited from using any kind of wireless communication device to read, write, or send an electronic messages. So while HB 62 permits usage of a device for music and maps, the city ordinances like San Antonio’s “hands-free” ordinance adds on to this legislation. HB 62 does not preempt city ordinances that go beyond texting while driving. Keep your phones put away San Antonio!
Individuals Left in Hot Cars (HB 478)
This bill primarily protects a person who forcefully enters a vehicle for the purpose of removing a vulnerable individual (e.g., a child, elderly person, or domestic animal) from the vehicle. If the person notifies the police prior to rescue, has no other means of entering the vehicle except by force, and has in good faith and reasonable belief that the individual inside the vehicle is in danger, the person entering the vehicle is protected from being civilly liable.
David’s Law (Anti-Cyberbullying) (SB 179)
This detailed law intends to protect children from bullying, including cyberbullying. All schools, public and private, must adopt a policy relating to cyberbullying and are required to report potential offenses to law enforcement. “A person commits an offense if such person intentionally and with malice directs one or more communications toward a child younger than 18 years of age by written or oral expression, expression through electronic communications, or nonverbal expression (e.g., intimate visual material), and such communication was, or such communications when taken together were, harassing, extreme and outrageous in light of the content, number, manner, time, and place of such communication or communications and the actor’s conduct causes the suicide or the attempted suicide of such child that results in serious bodily injury.” There are a few more details from here, but this law without a doubt furthers the protection of children from bullies.
Reducing License to Carry Fees (SB16)
The cost of a License to Carry just became more affordable. This fee has now dropped from $140 to $40. Texas peace officers and military do not have to pay a fee for this license; this fee is waived.
“Illegal Knife” Repeal (HB 1935)
Yes, you can carry a sword or blade over 5.5 inches in Texas (with some limitations). These blades or “location restricted” knives can not be carried in schools, colleges, correctional facilities, bars, or houses of worship. Also, minors under the age of 18 can not legally carry these knives.
Restrictions on Flying Drones (HB 1424 & HB 1643)
This bill is an amendment of the Government Code (Section 423.0045). Quadcopters, Drones, and other unmanned aircraft are prohibited above detention centers, correctional facilities, and sports venues (e.g., stadiums, coliseums, racetracks) with a seating capacity of 30,000 or more. Furthermore, drone use may be regulated by cities, towns, and districts during special events.
Hog Hunting from Hot Air Balloons (HB 3535)
This bill Neapplies to coyotes as well as hogs. Yes, it is now legal to shoot these animals from a hot air balloon in Texas, under the authority of a permit.