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New Texas Laws effective September 1

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  • New Texas Laws effective September 1

    Aug. 26, 2007, 12:45AM
    New laws may squeeze your budget
    Auto insurance rule change among statutes taking effect on Sept. 1

    Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

    AUSTIN — More than 650 new laws will go into effect Sept. 1, and some — such as new auto insurance requirements, higher marriage license fees and steroid testing — will hit close to home for many Texans.

    Thousands of Texas motorists who carry minimum liability insurance on their cars soon will see increases in their premiums because lawmakers raised the minimum coverage standards during this year's legislative session.

    And drivers who are extremely heavy-footed — essentially those in the desolate 80-mph zones in West Texas — will have to start paying more tickets.

    People who don't properly restrain their dangerous dogs could end up in prison, and high school athletes who test positive for steroids in a new random testing program will face 30-day suspensions from their teams.

    The University Interscholastic League is still choosing a private contractor to administer the program, but tests are expected to begin as early as this fall, despite concerns that athletes who take nutritional supplements also could test positive in some cases.

    As usual, though, the Legislature reserved its toughest sanctions for criminals, increasing penalties for numerous offenses — from dog fighting and car burglary to child molestation.

    Under one new law, repeat child molesters can be sentenced to death, if the victims are younger than 14, even if the victims don't die.

    That provides for a dramatic expansion of the Texas death penalty, which now is restricted only to selected murder cases, and even some supporters of the new law expect it to be challenged in court.

    But the so-called "Jessica's Law," named after a girl who was molested and murdered in Florida and patterned after similar laws already on the books in several other states, was a high priority of legislative leaders, particularly Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

    "I'm not sure they (sex offenders) think about the consequences of their actions," said Senate Criminal Justice Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston. "But there's no question we sent a strong message."


    Here are summaries of some of the new laws:

    SB502 — Insurance. Increases the minimum liability coverage for auto insurance, beginning with policies issued or renewed after next April 1, to $25,000 for injury or death to one person in an accident, $50,000 for injury or death to two or more persons and $25,000 for property damage. Current requirements are $20,000/$40,000/$15,000. Another increase will take effect in 2011.

    HB586 — Speeding. Prohibits a driver found guilty of speeding faster than 95 mph from taking a driver safety class to dismiss the ticket. The law essentially targets highway stretches in West Texas where the speed limit was raised to 80 mph because existing law prohibits driver safety courses for those going 25 mph or more over the speed limit.

    SB153 — Beginners. A supervising passenger riding with a driver with a learner's permit can be ticketed if he falls asleep, becomes intoxicated or otherwise is unable to safely observe the driver's actions.

    HB84 — Aging motorists. Licenses for motorists 85 and older will be valid for two years instead of six, and they will have to get a vision test for each renewal. Additionally, drivers 79 and older won't be allowed to renew their licenses electronically.

    SB1119 — Red-light cameras. Sets rules for cities using cameras to record vehicles running red lights. It caps civil penalties at $75 and late fees at $25 and requires the net proceeds to be split between the city and the state and spent on health and safety programs, including trauma care.

    HB2685 — Getting married. Doubles the marriage license fee from $30 to $60 but waives it for couples who complete premarital education courses.

    SB758 — Child care. Imposes a number of requirements designed to improve the safety of children in child care facilities and foster homes.

    SB1315 — Missing elderly. Requires the Department of Public Safety to develop a "Silver Alert" system for missing senior citizens, similar to the Amber Alert program already in place for missing children.

    SB8 — Steroids. Requires the random testing of about 23,000 high school athletes for steroid use, beginning with this school year. Athletes who test positive will face a 30-day suspension.

    HB3678 — Religion-Schools. Directs school districts, beginning this school year, to allow for voluntary student expression of religious viewpoints at school events and graduation ceremonies.

    SB1788 — Virtual schools. Directs the Texas Education Agency to establish a virtual school network allowing some students to take courses online. The network is to be phased in, beginning with high school grades in the 2008-09 school year.

    HB323 — Seat belts. Requires school buses to have seat belts but gives school districts a lot of time to prepare for the change. The new requirement will apply to all buses purchased on or after Sept. 1, 2010, and to all school-chartered buses used on or after Sept. 1, 2011.

    HB3190 — Bus drivers. Prohibits persons who have committed vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident from driving a school bus for 10 years after the offense. It also prohibits the operation of a school bus if the number of passengers exceeds the manufacturer's design capacity.

    HB8 — Child abuse. "Jessica's Law" increases penalties for sexual assault of children, including a 25-year minimum sentence for sexually violent offenses against children younger than 14, and a possible death sentence for repeat offenders in cases where the victims are younger than 14.

    HB1355 — Bad dogs. Cracks down on the owners of dangerous dogs. An owner who fails to secure a dog that seriously injures or kills someone in an unprovoked attack away from the owner's property could be imprisoned — for as long as 20 years if the victim dies.

    SB378 — Deadly force. Broadens people's right to use deadly force to defend themselves against attacks in their homes, cars or work places. They will no longer be required to retreat from an attacker first.

    SB6 — Online. Increases the penalties for sexually explicit online communication or online sexual solicitation of a minor 14-to-16 years old.

    SB11 — Homeland security. Among numerous provisions enacted in the name of "homeland security," it expands the list of offenses for which law-enforcement officers can use wiretaps to include investigations of unlawful restraint, kidnapping, trafficking of persons and money laundering.

    HB1887 — Car burglary. Increases the penalty for car burglary to require people convicted of a second offense to serve at least six months in the county jail or one year probation.

    HB916 — Dog-fighting. Stiffens the penalty for dog fighting to a state jail felony for those who operate a dogfight and a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in the county jail, for those who attend a fight.

    SB 10 — Medicaid. Makes a number of changes to the Medicaid program, including steps to promote healthier lifestyles and disease prevention. It also authorizes the creation of a pilot program in Bexar County to encourage drug addicts to anonymously exchange their dirty needles for clean needles to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

    SB254 — Roadside sales. Authorizes the commissioners courts of Harris, Bexar, Dallas and Tarrant counties to regulate roadside sales of animals.
    "Blue Oh-Two" (#424)
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  • #2
    But you can still let your family ride in the bed of the pickup if it is your primary vehicle. At least the is some salvation


    • #3
      well at least we can still do 85-90 in west Texas
      Life Member 57
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      • #4
        Originally posted by ajay View Post
        But you can still let your family ride in the bed of the pickup if it is your primary vehicle.
        If they didn't do that then none of the Mexican lawn, construction, or road crews could get to work.... I think its f#cked up selective enforcement.


        • #5
          I've always been intrigued by the notion that a parent can lose their kids for not putting them in a child seat, but the state will run them all over town without even a seat belt!!

          It's about time busses had seat belts!


          • #6
            Thanks for posting these new laws for us Texans!

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