Featured Image: People walk outside the U.S. Capitol after Senate leaders announced a deal to end the government shutdown, Wednesday, October 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT
This year was another active year for Texas’ state legislature, with 1,429 House and Senate bills passed from a total of 8,753 filed bills, according to the Texas Legislature Legislative Statistics. The 86th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature tackled a wide range of issues including raising the smoking age, daylight saving time and red-light cameras.
Smoking age now 21: Texas Senate Bill 21, signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on June 7 according to the Texas Tribune, will raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. Going in effect on September 1, this law will prevent anyone except military personnel under 18 from buying tobacco products, according to the Texas Tribune.
Goodbye red-light cameras: After Gov. Abbott signed into law House Bill 1631 on June 3, red-light cameras will begin to disappear from Texas cities as the law prevents cities from renewing contracts for the cameras with vendors, according to the Texas Tribune. After the bill became law, Denton city council members voted unanimously at their June 10 meeting to send a termination letter, effectively immediately, to the city’s red-light camera vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. In a work session earlier that same day, city council members also decided to stop collections on unpaid red-light camera citations.
Daylight Saving Time here to stay: House Joint Resolution 117, which aimed to eliminate the time changes twice a year and let voters in November choose either standard time or daylight savings time, missed a key deadline according to the Texas Tribune.
Marijuana penalties unchanged: Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick declared House Bill 63, which would have charged people possessing small amounts of marijuana with a Class C misdemeanor instead of a Class B misdemeanor, dead after it passed the Senate, according to the Texas Tribune. The difference between the misdemeanors is $1,500 in fines and 180 days in jail, according to the Texas Politics Project.