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From sex offender name changes to radioactive materials: 10 Texas laws signed this session

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HOUSTON – Printed out, there are now 61 pages of signed legislation out of Austin this session. 

KPRC combed through the passed legislation that have received Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature and located some of the more interesting measures going into effect in September that could have a direct impact on your life, from your local farmers’ markets to the sex offender a few houses down who wants to change his name.

Here are some of the most interesting laws already in effect or going into effect on Sept. 1:

1. Radioactive substance release (HB 2203)

This law is designed as a response to a radioactive spill in Sugar Land in 2018. The law notifies areas when a radioactive substance is released into the environment. 

The law requires the notice to include the name, quantity, and state of matter of the radioactive substance, if known. However, the law makes the information contained in the notice confidential and not subject to disclosure under the state public information law.
Take a closer look here.

2. Food regulations (HB 1694)

This law addresses issues with farms and farmers’ markets and permits for providing samples. The law maintains health standards for sanitary handling of samples, but abolishes the additional permits some Texas communities have imposed in order to help small business owners.
Take a closer look here for the details.  

3. You can use brass knuckles (or other knuckles) (HB 446)

The use of knuckles and clubs as methods of self-defense will become legal beginning Sept. 1. The bill notes that the previous ban against knuckles is unnecessary and outdated and that the item represents no danger to the general public.
Take a closer look here for the details.

4. Red light cameras prohibited (HB 1631) 

HB 1631 prohibits red light cameras in Texas. The law adds that local authorities cannot “issue a civil or criminal charge or citation for an offense or violation based on a recorded image produced by a photographic traffic signal enforcement system.” 

So essentially, bye-bye red light cameras on Sept. 1. But that doesn't mean all cameras in Texas will go out of business immediately. The law stipulates cities can continue operating the cameras until their contracts with the camera vendors expire. That means some places, such as Humble which has a contract until 2024, can continue to use theirs – and impose fines on drivers – for years. 
Take a closer look here.

5. Religious motor vehicles (HB 2338)

This law eases the requirements for religious vehicles with tax-exempt status. Requirements that the vehicle be designed to carry more than six passengers and not be registered as a passenger vehicle have been removed. The requirement that the vehicle not be used “primarily for the personal or official needs or duties of a minister” remains.  
Take a closer look here.

6. Felons, sex offenders changing names (HB 2623)

This law allow courts to grant a name change for a person with a final felony conviction or a registered sex offender. In addition, registered sex offenders would have to provide proof to the court that law enforcement authorities were notified of the proposed change. The bill would take effect September 1, 2019, and would apply to petitions for name changes filed on or after that date.
Take a closer look here.

7. Feral hog hunting (SB 317) 

This bill allows feral hogs to be hunted without a license. Feral hogs have been a costly nuisance for some Texas residents, digging up grass and rooting for food.  
Take a closer look here.

8. Dogs in an outdoor dining areas (SB 476)

Texas law generally prohibits live animals, including dogs, inside restaurants where food could potentially be contaminated. However, many food service establishments with outdoor dining areas -- such as patios or sidewalk seating -- choose to allow patrons to be accompanied by their dogs.

This law aims to stop restrictions on establishments, such as fees and additional inspections, by standardizing that food service establishments are permitted to have customers with dogs in an outdoor dining area.

The law will not allow the dog to enter the interior of the establishment at any point, nor require restaurants to permit dogs in outdoor dining areas. It remains the choice of the food service establishment to decide whether or not to allow dogs on premises. 
Take a closer look here.

9. Student discipline contact on school’s website (SB 1306)

This law would require school districts to post on the website for each district campus the email address and dedicated telephone number of the school's designated campus behavior coordinator. Districts designated as districts of innovation and exempt from the requirement to designate a campus behavior coordinator would be required to list contact information for a campus administrator designated as being responsible for student discipline.
Take a closer look here.

10. Government contracts with companies that boycott Israel (HB 793) 

This law amends the highly controversial HB 89, which requires government contractors to certify they are not engaged in boycotts of Israel. The law was struck down as unconstitutional earlier this year. The rewrite now attempts to specify contracts that would be impacted by the prohibition, including those contracts with companies with 10 or more full-time employees and has a value of $100,000 or more.
Take a closer look here.


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