The new year means a new set of laws and legal requirements; many of these changes are expansions or modifications of existing laws and are designed to enhance lives and protect citizens. From making it easier for human trafficking victims to seek help to adding more courts to process an ever-growing case load in a more timely manner, here are the latest changes to Texas law in 2019:
Graduation Requirements for High School
It won’t be in effect until September, but SB 463 is designed to eliminate the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test for graduating students. This test was replaced by other requirements and is being phased out of use in 2019.
Limits for Political Lobbyists
Former candidates or those who previously held office can no longer use campaign funds for political lobbying, according to HB 505. Lobbyists who ran for or won office can’t use political contributions they collected to make contributions to other campaigns for two years after their last term. HB 505 also addresses campaign finance; candidates must report more types of financial activity to the Texas Ethics Commission, including businesses, associations, government contracts and more.
Transportation and Vehicles
If you plan on buying or selling a car, motorcycle or passenger vehicle in 2019, you should be aware of the latest revisions to how Texas titles motor vehicles. The way an owner or lienholder has to get a certified copy of a lost or destroyed title has changed, thanks to SC 2076. You’ll need to head to the DMV to get a certified copy of your title; this title also invalidates any previous titles or copies.
Help for Victims of Human Trafficking
Laws on the books regarding criminal acts like prostitution and human trafficking have been modified to protect victims in the state. HB 29 is designed to require businesses of a sexual nature to post notices regarding human trafficking in visible locations in restrooms. While most of HB 29 was in effect in 2018, a few additional requirements about posting go live this year.
More Courts, Less Waiting
Thanks to a booming population growth, the courts in the state, particularly in big cities, are busier than ever. Long waits for a court hearing causes delays for those waiting to be heard on a variety of complaints; SB 1329 creates additional courts and allows for a wider range of judges to hear family court cases. This bill also allows for more courts to hear mental health cases and matters, so those waiting or in need of treatment or resolution can be better served.