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New Texas State Laws in Effect Sept. 1 (Good Riddance, Revenge Porn & Synthetic Weed!)

by Michael Scrutchin Posted: 09-01-15 | 2 years ago
Texas State Capitol Building in Austin
Photo Credit: Blanscape / Shutterstock.com Texas State Capitol Building in Austin

Starting tomorrow, September 1, a whole slew of new Texas state laws go into effect. More than 600 of them, in fact. The Texas Tribune has been running down many of these laws throughout August in a feature they call “31 Days, 31 Ways,” explaining how “Texans’ lives will change because of new laws that take effect Sept. 1.”

Here are some of the highlights. Or lowlights, in some cases.

Texas law enforcement officers will be trained to handle dog encounters. According to the Texas Humane Legislation Network, over 1,000 dogs have been shot by Texas law enforcement over the past five years. Hoping to curb these incidents, all law enforcement—from park rangers to police—“will spend at least four hours in a classroom and interacting with dogs to learn how to peacefully handle encounters.”

New truancy law will put heat on schools and parents. For years, Texas schools could send students with three unexcused absences within a four-week period to truancy courts. Not anymore. Beginning Sept. 1, schools will have to “notify parents of the absences and warn them of the consequences.” Those consequences could include a criminal complaint against the parents.

Planned Parenthood will no longer be part of state-federal cancer screening program. Clinics associated with abortion services will no longer receive taxpayer funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings, which some say is an attack on low-income women.

You will be able to challenge surprise medical bills. Well, if the bill is for more than $500 from an out-of-network doctor.

You will be able to cash in low-value gift cards. If you have gift cards with a balance of less than $2.50, dig ’em out and get ready to cash them in.

Freestanding emergency centers will be included in “Baby Moses” law. For the past 16 years, the Safe Haven or Baby Moses law has provided parents with a safe and legal way to abandon babies at designated places like fire stations and hospitals. A new addition to the Safe Haven Law simply adds freestanding emergency centers to the list of designated places.

Revenge porn will now be against the law. Finally. Our own Angelica Leicht wrote about this one last week.

Most kinds of synthetic marijuana will be banned. Which is a very good thing, because “kush” or “spice,” as it’s also known, is pretty nasty and dangerous, unlike the real deal.

You can check out the full list of bills signed into law by Governor Abbott, if you really want to.

Michael Scrutchin

Former film critic and editor of the now-defunct Flipside Movie Emporium. Writer of sorts. Houston native. Also: dancer, poet, fiddler.

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