January first of each year not only brings about the flip of a new calendar and ill-fated resolutions, it also marks the official effective date of new laws in the state of Texas.
In fact, the 84th Texas legislature passed more than 1,200 news laws. Some of those are already active, but so many more are on the books this Friday.
Among the most talked about, and publicly debated, is House Bill 910, the so-called Open Carry Law. It allows Texans with Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHLs) to openly carry a handgun in a belt or shoulder holster. Prior to the bill's passage, Texas was one of just six states (plus the District of Columbia) prohibiting Open Carry.
Another new law requires liability insurance for Uber or Lyft drivers. Uber and Lyft are private taxi services which have gained huge popularity through ease of use (drivers and riders connect through an app on cell phones) and relatively low cost compared to other forms of transportation. House Bill 1733 requires drivers for those services, or any networked transportation company, to hold liability insurance, uninsured motorist protection, and personal injury protection.
House Bill 3994 also goes into effect on January 1. It changes the process for underage teens seeking abortions with their parents' consent. Teens seeking court orders allowing doctors to perform abortions must now wait up to five days for the court's decision. It was previously two days. The teen also must file in a court in her home county, or in a neighboring county if the home county has fewer than 10,000 residents. She also has the option of seeking the order in the county in which she will have the abortion performed. The bill's proponents say it provides more judicial clarity and protection for the teen. Critics contended makes the process more difficult for vulnerable teens.
Proposition Two (HJR 75) allows for the spouses of disabled veterans to take a one hundred percent property tax exemption. Previously the law applied only to spouses of those who died after 2010.
Government transparency is also changing on January 1. House Bill 283 requires local governments and government boards to provide online video access to all scheduled public meetings. The law applies to county commissions and school boards in areas with populations greater than 125,000 people.
New Texas laws in effect on January 1, 2016