TEXAS LAWS IN 2019: Changes to help human trafficking victims, high school grad requirements in store for New Year

When the Texas legislature met in 2017, lawmakers created measures for the following year that revamped the state's voter ID law and required that customers provide photo ID for certain debit or credit card transactions, among other things.

Now as we head into 2019, a fresh set of laws are on the way ranging on everything from human trafficking to campaign finance.

Take a look at what's in store.

Changing how vehicles are titled

If you're transferring ownership of a car, you'll want to take note of this one.

SB 2076 revises "the process for an owner or lienholder of a motor vehicle to obtain a certified copy of a lost or destroyed title."

What does that mean for you?

As of Jan. 1, the Texas DMV can only issue you a certified copy of your title, rather than the original, if you're the first lienholder or the lienholder's verified agent unless the owner has original proof from the lienholder.

It also states that any certified copy of the title lawfully obtained under this section of the law makes any previously issued title or certified copy invalid.

Visit the Texas Legislature online to find out more on the title updates.

More courts to ease caseloads

We know the population in Texas is booming. In Houston alone, the area could hit 10 million people by 2040.

That won't just impact traffic. State lawmakers say it will also affect the caseload of the existing courts.

SB 1329 addresses that by adding more courts across the state. It also revises the jurisdiction of some courts and judges, including allowing an associate judge to hear family lawsuits.

Some Texas courts also have jurisdiction over mental health matters. Some sections of the bill went into effect on Sept. 1, 2017, with more sections of the act becoming effective throughout the year.

Two more sections of the law go into effect on New Year's Day.

Read the full text.

On Jan. 1, amendments will also be made to the Code of Criminal Procedure. But there are other laws set to kick in later that may affect a lot of people, including rulings related to prostitution and human trafficking and revising language to make the Texas Racing Act easier to understand.

Revising laws on human trafficking, prostitution and related crimes

HB 29 bill requires sexually oriented businesses to post a notice in their restrooms about human trafficking. It's a misdemeanor if they don't post it.

It also increases the penalties for certain prostitution offenses, cancels the part of the bill that disbands the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force and prioritizes hearings related to child sex trafficking cases.

The majority of the bill actually went into effect on Sept. 1, 2017, but a part pertaining to the Business and Commerce Code won't kick in until March 1, 2019.

That part says sexually oriented businesses have to post a sign by the sink area in each restroom with contact information to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. It also must be in English and Spanish, and include any other information as ordered by the attorney general.

High school graduation requirements

A portion of another law related to public high school graduation requirements won't go into effect until Sept. 1, 2019 but may be worth looking out for.

SB 463 says that school districts won't be allowed to administer a Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS, test. The exam was replaced with End of Course (EOC) exams in 2007.

However, Sept. 1 is also a date where some of these provisions are set to expire, including the requirement that "districts and charter schools establish individual graduation committees for students who failed to pass one or two required EOC exams."

Putting limits on lobbyists

HB 505 puts limits on the use of campaign funds by a former officeholder or candidate who became a registered lobbyist.

It says lobbyists can't knowingly make or authorize a political contribution to other candidates or officeholders from the political contributions they received when they were in office. That part of the law applies during a two-year period that starts with the end date of their last term.

Finance reporting by candidates

A week from Jan. 1., HB 501 will go into effect. It expands the financial activity a public officer or candidate must report in a personal financial statement filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.

They must report certain business associations if they own, acquired or sold five percent or more of a business and information on written contracts with government entities. Under certain conditions, they'll be allowed to amend their personal financial statement.
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