Several new laws go into effect in Texas in 2019, and all Texas residents should be aware of these changes. The demographics and social climate of Texas are also changing rapidly, and many analysts predict a population boom in the coming years that will affect many areas of life in the Houston area and throughout Texas. Residents should be aware of the new legislative measures enacted for 2019 to tackle these issues.
New Vehicle Titling Laws
SB 2076 revises the process of securing copies of a vehicle title. As of January 1, 2019, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can only issue a copy of a vehicle title rather than the original to the first lienholder or the lienholder’s verified agent unless the vehicle’s owner has proof from the lienholder. The new SB 2076 also states that all certified copies obtained under this new law render previously issued certified copies or titles invalid.
Easing Court Caseloads
The coming population increase will not just affect traffic congestion and residency, it will also overburden the Texas court systems. SB 1329 adds more courts throughout the state and revises the jurisdictional lines of different existing court systems. The new law also allows associate judges to hear some family law cases. This law follows new legislation enacted in September of 2017, and the final two provisions of the bill go into effect on January 1, 2019.
New Anti-Human Trafficking Laws
Human trafficking is a major problem for the entire world, and the current Presidential administration has been cracking down heavily on human trafficking networks throughout the country, with an exponential increase in human trafficking-related arrests from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018. The new HB 29 bill compels all sexually-oriented businesses to post anti-human trafficking notices in their restrooms or face misdemeanor charges for noncompliance.
HB 29 also enhances the penalties for some prostitution offenses, prioritizes hearings for child sex trafficking cases, and ensures the continuation of the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force previously disbanded under a previous version of the bill. The notice required for sex-based business bathrooms includes the contact information for the Human Trafficking Resource Center and the poster must include both English and Spanish translations.
New High School Graduation Requirements
High school students graduating in the 2019-2020 school year will fall under the new requirements set forth by SB 463, which takes effect on September 1, 2019. This new law states that Texas school districts may no longer administer a Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test. Additional minor provisions in SB 463 require public school districts and charter schools to establish individual graduation ceremonies for students who failed to pass one or two End of Course exams.
New Lobbying and Campaign Finance Restrictions
HB 505 limits the use of campaign funds by former public officials or candidates that transition to lobbying. The new law states that lobbyists cannot knowingly make or authorize political contributions to a candidate using funds received while previously in office.
HB 501 affects political campaign financing. This new law greatly expands the disclosure requirements for political candidates to file with the Texas Ethics Commission. Political candidates must report various business transactions, such as owning, acquiring, or selling 5% or more of a business. They must also disclose details of business contracts with government entities and may make amendments to their personal financial disclosures in some cases.
Ignorance of the law does not immunize you from penalties for violations. It is every citizen’s duty to keep track of legislative changes and abide by new laws as they go into effect.
If you have any questions about how a recent legislative change affects you or your business, speak with a Houston injury attorney as soon as possible.