HOUSTON – With a new year comes new laws.
From personal data breach procedures to new flood funding accounts, here’s what to know about the laws in effect at the start of the new year.
Texas flood funding
Senate Bill 7 creates the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund to efficiently assist in financing flood mitigation project. The fund houses four accounts: floodplain management, Hurricane Harvey, flood plan implementation and federal matching.
The bill also includes “… a report from agencies that utilize federal dollars to better track revenue streams and expenses, transparency requirements, and cost sharing requirements with political subdivisions.”
Harassment reports at colleges
Senate Bill 212 requires employees of a post-secondary education institution to report incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking against a student or colleague to their campus’ Title IX coordinator. Employees who fail to report an incident made aware to them will face a Class B misdemeanor charge. If it is discovered that an employee’s intentions were to cover up the incident, they will face a Class A misdemeanor charge.
Post-disaster tax exemption
House Bill 492 allows temporary tax exemption for qualified property that is declared by the governor to be located in a disaster area and is determined by the chief appraiser to be at least 15 percent damaged by the disaster.
According to the bill, persons owning a qualified property are entitled to an exemption for a portion of its appraised value. The bill states “the amount of the exemption authorized ... is determined by multiplying the appraised value, determined for the tax year in which the disaster occurred, of the property by...” its damage level assessment rating.
Health organization complaints
House Bill 1532 allows the Texas Medical Board to refuse or revoke certification or impose an administrative penalty against a physician of a non-profit health organization in the event that complaints received against the physician disclose information of them acting in violation their required anti-retaliation policy.
The anti-retaliation policy states a certified health organization “may not terminate, demote, retaliate against, discipline, discriminate against, or otherwise penalize a physician for: filing in good faith a complaint, cooperating in good faith with an investigation or proceeding of the board relating to a complaint or communicating to a patient in good faith what the physician reasonably believes to be the physician’s best, independent medical judgment.”
Cyber breach notification
House Bill 4390 requires business owners who own or license computerized data that stores sensitive personal information to notify any individuals who may be impacted by an online breach which may have allowed an unauthorized person to access their personal information within 60 days of the occurrence.