On Sept. 1, new laws go into effect in Texas, ranging from a texting-while-driving ban to the open carry of swords.
Here are some of the laws we’ve tracked through the Texas Capitol.
Texting while driving ban
Texas becomes the 47th state in the U.S. to institute a ban on texting while driving. The first offense can draw a fine between $25 and $99. Exemptions apply for device uses for mapping and stereo system control.
Open-carrying swords and machetes
Blades more than 5.5 inches in length are being permitted for open-carry in public places. The law, though, prohibits swords and machetes in most bars, schools, colleges, sporting events, polling places, race parks, correctional facilities, hospitals, amusement parks and places of worship.
Amnesty for sexual assault witnesses
Strengthening the fight against on-campus rapes, lawmakers passed a law granting amnesty to students who witness or report a sexual assault while also engaged in another illegal activity like public intoxication.
Changes for ride-share drivers
In an effort to compromise with ride-share services after they largely left major cities, drivers for companies like Lyft and Uber no longer require fingerprinting before work. However, drivers are subject to annual background checks.
Handgun license fees lowered
Concealed firearms owners in Texas will enjoy having the lowest license fees in the U.S. come September. Lawmakers passed an amendment that will change the license fee for new users from $140 to $40. Renewals drop from $70 to $40.
On Aug. 1, campus carry became legal on public community college campuses.
Anonymity of lotto winners
There’s an added safeguard for new millionaires. A new law is allowing lotto winners of at least $1 million the option to conceal their identities to media outlets.
Good Samaritans and civil liability
If you believe a person in a vehicle is in distress and you break a window to reach him or her, you can’t be sued for the damage caused to the automobile. The state already exempts criminal charges for “good Samaritans” in these cases.
In an effort to curb the practice of lunch-shaming in schools, a new law allows a grace period for parents of students who do not provide a lunch payment. In the interim, applicable students will be given a cold sandwich instead of a hot meal.
Drones no-fly zones
Remote-controlled, unmanned aircraft are now banned over correctional and immigration detention centers.