820 state laws are in effect; may impact you

820 state laws are in effect; may impact you

Hundreds of new laws and regulations have hit the books in our state. Some big, some small, and some you likely won't notice.

It's now illegal for anyone under 21 to buy or possess tobacco products. That includes traditional cigarettes and cigars as well as dip and vapes. A report by the Surgeon General indicates nine out of ten smokers picked up the habit by the time they were 18. It reports smoking kills 1200 people per day. The focus of this law is e-cigarettes, trying to keep vapes away from kids. Last year, the FDA issued more than 1300 warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold e-cigarette products to minors. Notably, this law doesn't affect military service members. 

Texas has become the 17th state to enact campus free speech legislation, Senate Bill 18 allows any person to engage in free speech activities on campus. It still allows campuses to put a restriction of time, place and manner of free speech activities. 

The state is cracking down on thieves who steal packages from front porches. Porch piracy can now be a third degree felony based on how many things are stolen. It can also jump to a first degree felony if there is proof that the thief intended to steal the victim's identity. 

Texas is also cracking down non surprise medical bills. Patients will no longer get a huge bill when their insurance and health care provider can't agree on a payment. The new law makes them go to an arbitration process and agree on a price. 

Nearly one and a half million Texans could get their drivers licenses back now. The drive responsibility program is over and all the associated fines have been wiped out. If you have outstanding fines or other suspensions not related to that program, you still have to pay them.

Along with knives, brass knuckles and self-defense items are now legal. Brass knuckles had been illegal in Texas for a century/ 93 Texans were convicted for carrying them in 2017. These are all on top of the headline items like property tax reform and school finance reform.

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