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From blue laws to speed limits, the sum of little decisions will be felt in a big way

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  • From blue laws to speed limits, the sum of little decisions will be felt in a big way

    May 31, 2005, 8:36AM

    From blue laws to speed limits, the sum of little decisions will be felt in a big way

    By JEFFREY GILBERT
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau


    AUSTIN - Want to stick a sign in your front yard endorsing a favorite political candidate? Go ahead, no homeowners association will be able to stop you.

    Watching an opening-week movie from the comfort of your living room? Enjoy, just know it was filmed illegally.

    Hoping to start drinking before noon on Sunday at a festival, fair or concert? Cheers, soon you can.

    While lawmakers this session couldn't agree on a school finance overhaul or a new tax structure, they did come together on many items that Texans are likely to notice.

    "I don't think the public knows that," said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. "There are many bills that seem small in nature but have a major impact on the public."

    From drinking to driving to many things in between, lawmakers spent ample time this session debating issues that could affect Texans' everyday lives once they become law.

    Most bills passed this session — which officially ended Monday — won't take effect until later this year. Gov. Rick Perry must sign bills passed by the Legislature if he hasn't already, or he can veto a bill or allow it to become law without his signature.

    Drivers new and old beware: There are new rules for everyone to follow. Minors will be prohibited from using a wireless communications device, including cell phones and pagers, for six months after getting a driver's license.

    Certain rural counties in the Hill Country and West Texas can raise their speed limits to 80 mph if they desire, while other municipalities around the state can lower theirs. A bill by Rep. Elvira Reyna, R-Mesquite, allows any city council to lower residential speed limits from 30 mph to 25 mph.

    "Studies have shown that even a 5-mph difference decrease in speed can really save lives," Reyna said.

    While several measures that attempted to name roads and streets after everyone from singer Willie Nelson to President Bush failed, lawmakers did approve a bill to rename the section of U.S. Hwy 290 between Beltway 8 and the Waller County line as the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway.

    The view may get a little clearer in Rep. Rob Eissler's district. Eissler, R-The Woodlands, was sick of all the billboards cluttering highways in his district, so he successfully sponsored House Bill 34. The bill would prohibit the construction of billboards on Farm-to-Market Road 2978 between Farm-to-Market Road 1488 and the boundary line between Harris and Montgomery Counties.

    "Most of my constituents are in favor of a more scenic approach to their highways," Eissler said.


    Earlier alcohol sales
    The partying will start a little earlier under a bill passed by lawmakers to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages at festivals, fairs and concerts beginning at 10 a.m., instead of noon.

    While there were several attempts to curb underage drinking this session, most failed. Two that did get approved look to punish adults that serve minors.

    House Bill 2868 holds an adult liable for damages caused by an intoxicated minor under age 18 if the adult knowingly served or provided the minor with alcohol. Another measure, House Bill 1357, would automatically suspend the driver's license for six months of any adult convicted of purchasing alcohol for or knowingly furnishing alcohol to a minor.


    It's payday for jurors
    Last session, when faced with a $9.9 billion budget shortfall, lawmakers were forced to raise fees that effected average citizens in order to avoid raising taxes. That wasn't necessary this session, because of a better revenue estimate.

    "We were able to live within our budget and with the money we had and didn't have to do some of that stuff," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.

    Some people even got a raise.

    State employees will get their first raise in four years under a plan included in Senate Bill 1, the $149 billion state budget for 2006-07. The plan includes a 4 percent hike this year and a 3 percent raise next year.

    Lawmakers also rewarded Texas jurors with their first pay raise in 50 years. Juror pay in the state, currently among the lowest in the country, will increase from $6 a day to $40 after the first day of jury duty.


    Source: Houston Chronicle
    "Blue Oh-Two" (#424)
    Rick's header, Hondata gasket, Mugen thermostat/fan switch, Mugen radiator cap, Aussie mirror, Lucid's rear speakers, Alpine CDA-7893R & KCE-865B, Muz's saddlebag, Windscreen Light, Modifry's glove box organizer and lots of Zaino!


  • #2
    A NEW SET OF RULES

    Other issues addressed and approved:

    • Phones: Commercial mobile service providers must obtain consent from a customer before putting the customer's phone number in a publicly available directory.

    • Movies: Patrons who use a recording device at a movie theater can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

    • Internet hunting: Computer-assisted, or Internet, hunting is illegal if the animal being hunted is located in Texas.

    • Child support: Grandparents or other guardians who care for a child for more than six months will receive child support.

    • Gift cards: Stores are prohibited from reducing its value once the card is sold.

    • Obesity lawsuits: Suing restaurants or food manufacturers because you are obese is not an option.

    • Political signs: Homeowners associations cannot prohibit someone from displaying a sign, poster, flag or banner endorsing a candidate.
    "Blue Oh-Two" (#424)
    Rick's header, Hondata gasket, Mugen thermostat/fan switch, Mugen radiator cap, Aussie mirror, Lucid's rear speakers, Alpine CDA-7893R & KCE-865B, Muz's saddlebag, Windscreen Light, Modifry's glove box organizer and lots of Zaino!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Ulrich
      • Obesity lawsuits: Suing restaurants or food manufacturers because you are obese is not an option.
      That's a step in the right direction for legal reform!!

      Comment


      • #4
        Any idea if the front plate law made it through Ulrich?
        Davo



        The older I get, the faster I was

        '02 Sebring Silver
        '07 VW Touareg V6
        '70 Volvo 1800E

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        • #5
          I don't think it did. The house and senate versions still needed to be reconciled (that was the last I heard about it), so I don't think it went into effect.

          Not that it would change anything for me, really.
          "Blue Oh-Two" (#424)
          Rick's header, Hondata gasket, Mugen thermostat/fan switch, Mugen radiator cap, Aussie mirror, Lucid's rear speakers, Alpine CDA-7893R & KCE-865B, Muz's saddlebag, Windscreen Light, Modifry's glove box organizer and lots of Zaino!

          Comment


          • #6
            I thought I had read somewhere that it had made it through and was to go into effect for vehicles registered after Sept. 1st. That could have just been the proposal, though. I'll have to see if my cluttered mind can recall where that came from......

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't know how to read this status page... it is very confusing....

              but here's the link

              Comment


              • #8
                What is 'internet hunting' ??


                S2KCA - The S2000 Club of America

                Comment


                • #9
                  The plate bill made it through, but by the time it got out of committee, a lot of pork had been added and all mention of the license plate thing, the initial reason for the bill, had been removed. Nice, eh? US government at work!
                  "Be the change you want to see in the world."
                  -Mahatma Gandhi

                  '14 Audi S4
                  '02 S2000 NFR S/C
                  '79 Vespa Primavera ET3 with cylinder kit to a whopping 135 ccs!
                  Interviewing candidates for vehicle #4...

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                  • #10
                    "Internet hunting" as I understand it allows the "hunter" to log on to a website and control a gun with his mouse. The gun is mounted at a canned hunting site. I don't know what happens to the animal after it is shot and killed.
                    2006 Lotus Elise

                    2006 BMW 330i sport 6MT

                    2002 S2000 New Formula Red (retired)

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