New Texas laws for 2022: Preventing animal neglect, exemptions for veterans and more

New Year's 2022 will mark the first day of a slew of new laws for the Lone Star State.

The 87th Texas Legislature approved 23 measures during its regular session, which ended in May.

Here's a look at several of the bills becoming law in the new year.

Senate Bill 23

It requires certain counties to hold elections before reducing the funding of a county's primary law enforcement agency or re-allocating funds to different law enforcement agencies.

The measure only applies to counties with a population of more than 1 million.

The bill's authors said the measure responds to demands to "defund the police" in the wake of police killings across the country. Critics say it hinders local control of county budget processes.

House Bill 531

This requires landlords to inform prospective rental property owners if the property is located in the 100-year floodplain or if the home has flooded in the last five years before signing a lease.

This law comes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

If a landlord fails to notify potential residents, tenants can terminate their lease if they flood.

READ MORE: New Texas law warns renters of flood-prone properties

Senate Bill 911

It makes a restaurant that holds certain alcoholic beverage permits or licenses eligible for a food and beverage certificate.

Supporters say the measure helps restaurants recover from the pandemic by creating clear requirements for food delivery services.

Senate Bill 794

This is an important one for veteran homeowners. Veterans classified by the Department of Veteran Affairs as 100% disabled will be exempt from homestead taxes.

Senate Bill 792

This law has to do with disabled veterans' license plates and parking placards.

The law will require that anyone parking in a disabled parking space must have a license plate or a disabled parking placard that features the International Symbol of Access (ISA).

That's a change from the current disabled veteran license plates, which don't feature the ISA, and all Texans with these plates are permitted to use disabled parking.

Now disabled veterans wanting to use those parking spaces will need to apply for a disabled parking placard or for a new disabled veteran license plate with the ISA if the veteran meets the eligibility requirements for an ISA after Jan. 1, 2022.

Your current placard will be valid, but you'll have to meet the new requirements at the time of renewal.

You can view eligibility requirements on this Texas DMV page.

House Bill 1197

This one pertains to tax exemptions for churches and other religious organizations.

They'll now have 10 years of tax exemptions instead of six on land intended for expanding a place of religious worship or constructing a new place of religious worship.

House Bill 2535

Under this law, tax assessors will be banned from including personal chicken coops or rabbit pens in the value of a home.

Senate Bill 5

This one won't start until around mid-January, but it's certainly one Texas dog owners should know as it's aimed at preventing animal neglect.

Effective Jan. 18, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act will make it illegal to chain up pets outside or use restraints with weights attached.

The bill will also require that dogs have adequate shelter that protects them from inclement weather and allow them to stand erect, sit, turn around and lie down in a normal position.

Only humane tethers will be allowed such as trolley systems or "ziplines."

According to the bill, violations are a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine up to $500.

You can see a longer list of what's to come starting Jan. 1 from the Legislative Reference Library of Texas.
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