New Laws In Effect On September 1st

Mina Cowles, Reporter

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Starting September 1st, more than 800 bills, previously approved by the Texas State Senate, were put into effect, causing many controversial changes. 

While there are many new laws that were passed, here are some of the most important:

Unsolicited Nude Photos

In the past, there have been many bills passed concerning unsolicited nude photos. With this new bill, the consequences for sending nude photos without consent are greater. If prosecuted, the sender would get a class C misdemeanor with a fine amounting up to $500.

The minimum age for Tobacco

Health officials have pushed for a new bill that changes the legal age for buying tobacco products. Vapes, cigarettes and other tobacco-related products previously had the age restriction of 18, but this law has changed that age restriction to 21. According to recent stats, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18. Health officials state that this bill is to keep the youth away from these products as much as possible. Although this brings change to upcoming adults this bill excludes US military and Texans who turned 18 before Sept. 1, 2019.

Sexual Assault Kit Testing

With the continuation of victims coming forward and speaking out, a new law on the rape test kit process has emerged. This bill also named the Lavinia Masters Act, comes after the injustice of her story. Masters was raped at knifepoint when she was 13 years old, and her rape kit was tested more than 20 years later after the statute of limitations ran out. Survivors now have seven days to have a forensic exam done instead of five, and labs are required to test them within 90 days of receiving the kit. As well, the kit must be preserved for 40 years or until the statute of limitations runs out.

Porch Pirates

The act of stealing someone’s packages off their porch, or porch pirating, is now a felony in the state of Texas. The degree of the felony will go up depending on the number of people that are victims of this crime. If convicted, jail time is between six months to 10 years depending on the degree of the crime. Fines range between $4,000 to $10,000.

Brass Knuckles

Brass Knuckles are added to the list of open-carry weapons. The bill’s intention was to help people protect themselves, although it was previously on the list of banned items. This does exclude schools, nursing homes, and jails.

Pumping Breast Milk

Being able to breastfeed in public places has been legalized everywhere in the state of Texas, but never specified using a breast pump. With this new bill, breast pumping is legal everywhere in the state of Texas.

Spoofing

Spoofing is when a hacker or spam caller impersonates another number or another service for their own personal gain. This new bill prevents spam callers from impersonating numbers by deeming it a criminal offense with repercussions.

Gun Laws

The recent mass shootings that have occurred in Texas, including the recent Odessa shooting on August 31st and the El Paso shooting earlier that month has led to the modification of laws surrounding gun control. Guns are now allowed to be brought onto school grounds as long as they’re in a locked car in the parking lot. They are also allowed to be brought into places of worship and to be carried in the event of a natural disaster. As well, land and property owners cannot prohibit residents from carrying guns.

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