During the 86th Texas legislative session, numerous bills were put forth. Some laws, like the red light camera ban, went into effect the minute they were signed while others will not go into effect until Sept. 1. Here are just a few of the new Texas laws that will go into effect when August is over.
Legal smoking age raised from 18 to 21
Unless someone is a member of the military, they cannot purchase tobacco products if they are under 21. This is because Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 21 which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to people under 21 unless they are a member of the military, which goes into effect on Sept. 1.
Texas is the 16th state to raise the legal smoking age, according to the Texas Tribune.
When asked about this law, history junior Andres Vela said “personally, I don’t even think that matters.”
“Whoever wants to smoke, drink, do drugs… they just get it whenever they want anyway,” Vela said.
Business integrative studies senior Jash Soham said he thinks raising the smoking age is a good step.
“Because I feel like some people, when they start really young, I think they’re more irresponsible…it could become a really bad habit,” Soham said. “And if they start a little bit older, maybe they have some maturity in them.”
Backlog of untested rape kits to be tackled
House Bill 8 declares that rape kits must be retained for 40 years or until the statute of limitations has expired. It also says that a rape kit must be tested 90 days after it is received.
“I signed a law to ensure that rapists are caught and prosecuted by providing funding that is needed to clear the backlog of untested rape kits,” Gov. Abbott said in a video posted on Twitter.
Texas Senator Jane Nelson of District 12, which includes southern Denton County, sponsored HB 8.
“This legislation, along with the investments we made in the budget, will ensure that sexual assault survivors get the justice they deserve,” Nelson said in a press release about HB 8 and several other bills focused on sexual assault and human trafficking. “Our budget also prioritizes human trafficking — a form of modern-day slavery that has no place in Texas.”
Stealing porch packages now a felony
Thanks to House Bill 37, stealing mail and packages from a porch is now a state jail felony if done to 10 or more addresses, a third degree felony if done to between 10 and 20 addresses and a second degree felony if done to between 20 or 50 addressed. If mail is stolen from 50 or more addresses, it is a first degree felony.
People convicted of mail theft can face between 180 days and 10 years in jail with possible fines ranging from $4,000 to $10,000, according to CNN.
Brass knuckles legalized
The bill legalizes knuckles, which the Texas Penal Code defines as “any instrument that consists of finger rings or guards made of a hard substance and that is designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury or death by striking a person with a fist enclosed in the knuckles.”
Vela said he does not think legalizing brass knuckles is a good idea.
“Those can really mess someone up,” Vela said. “And you know people are probably going to start pulling those out [at the] first instance of violence.”
Beer and wine delivery now here
Beer and wine can be delivered to your door now after Gov. Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 1232.
“Have you ever ordered food or groceries from a retailer to be delivered to your home and also wish that you could order beer or wine to be delivered to your home?” Gov. Abbott said in a video posted on Twitter. “Well I’m about to sign a law that allows you to do just that. Enjoy responsibly.”
With this new law, entities with beer and wine retailer’s licenses can apply for a permit to deliver alcohol themselves or work through a delivery service like Instacart, according to the Texas Tribune.
Sending unsolicited nudes now a crime
With House Bill 2789 signed, the “electronic transmission of unsolicited sexually explicit visual material” is now a Class C misdemeanor, of which a conviction results in a $500 fine, according to the Texas Penal Code.
Graphic design freshman Keimar Hanford said he feels this is a good law.
“I feel like it should be necessary because most people don’t want those things, they don’t want other people sending them nudes and stuff,” Hanford said.
This law applies not only to texts, but to email, social media and dating apps, according to the Texas Tribune.
“It’s disgusting,” Gov. Abbott said in a video posted on Twitter. “And now it’s illegal.”
Vela also said he thinks it is a good law.
“A lot of people in our age group tend to do that stuff so I think it’s good that they’re cracking down on that,” Vela said.
Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon