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Session bills become law

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Starting Sept. 1, Texan will be subjected to a variety of new bills signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in the 85th Legislative Session. Some bills concern only regulations while others will have direct outcomes for the general public.

Handgun license

This bill will decrease the cost of handgun licensing fees from $140 to $40. The license are renewed every five years.

Open carry for blades and swords

In congruence with a bill expanding last year’s “campus carry” law, House Bill 1935 loosens restrictions of blades to include any blade over 5.5 inches acceptable in public. Swords, spears, daggers, sabers, bowie knives and machetes can now be in the back pocket of a citizen. The law does not apply to schools, prisons, hospitals, amusement parks or places of worship.

Ride-share services return to Austin

Lyft and Uber, ride-share services, left Austin nearly a year ago after a vote took place demanding the services to background check drivers. The new bill requires drivers take background checks annuals, but no longer require fingerprinting before working for the service.

Amnesty in rape cases

Lawmakers passed a law granting amnesty to students who witness or report any type of sexual assault while also engaged in another illegal activity such as public intoxication.

Driving Laws

Citizens will be responsible for making sure that they are aware of new driving laws being put into place. House Bill 62 will make Texas the 47th state in the nation to outlaw using wireless devices while driving, aside from being used for GPS navigations or radio manipulation. HB 1174 will increase the minimum and maximum fine for passing a loading or unloading school bus to $500 and $1250.

Straight ticket voting

Further, in 2020 Texas will officially join eight other states in banning voters from participating in straight-ticket voting, an option that gives the choice to vote for every running member of a single party in one convenient click. While proponents claim it will make voters educate themselves more thoroughly, others believe it will increase lines at voting stations and disenfranchise minorities.

Legislation overview

The governor signed 578 House Bills and 430 Senate Bills and vetoed 50. All bills are enacted Sept. 1, unless passed by the chamber with a two-thirds vote, in which they become law.

The Texas Legislature will meet for the 86th Legislative Session from Jan. 1 through May 30 of 2019, unless the governor calls his second special session.

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