New laws effective in Texas on Sept. 1

Published 12:12 am Saturday, August 31, 2019

A number of new laws go into effect in Texas beginning Sunday, affecting everything from decriminalizing the possession of brass knuckles to carrying handguns during a disaster.

Brass knuckles and kitty key chains are now legal to possess but Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham said don’t confuse the right to possess them with allowing a person to use them against another person.

“If you use brass knuckles or kitty key chains to harm someone, you may be charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or murder, depending on the result of the offense,” Wortham said in an issued release. “Please exercise discretion with this new right as provided by law.”

Port Arthur Police Chief Tim Duriso said police occasionally come across someone carrying brass knuckles and sometimes they are arrested.

But, he said, if they are used in the wrong way it could elevate a crime to an aggravated offense and turn a misdemeanor to a felony.

The banning of brass knuckles has been in effect since 1918, according to The Texas Tribune.

On Sunday, 820 new laws passed during the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature will go into effect. They range from the huge — a $250 billion, two-year budget — to the symbolic — a number of bills to rename parts of Texas highways.

Here’s a sample of several that will impact Texans’ lives:

  • The 2020-21 budget: The state’s two-year budget calls for spending roughly $250 billion on priorities including public school funding, teacher salaries and early childhood intervention programs.
  • The “Born Alive Act”: This law, House Bill 16, requires doctors to treat a baby born alive in the rare instance of a failed abortion attempt.
  • A new smoking age: This new law, Senate Bill 21, will raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.
  • Defunding abortion providers: This measure, Senate Bill 22, will prohibit state and local governments from partnering with agencies that perform abortions, even if they contract for services not related to the procedure.
  • Free speech on campus: Senate Bill 18, filed in response to concerns that conservative voices were being stifled on campus, requires schools to allow people to engage in “expressive activities” in outdoor common spaces.
  • An attempt to stop telemarketers: Starting Sunday, telemarketers will be banned from calling Texans using fake numbers that show up on the recipient’s caller ID.
  • Carry your handgun during a disaster: House Bill 1177 will allow people to carry their handguns — even if they are unlicensed — in the week after a natural disaster has been declared by the governor.
  • Seller’s disclosure for houses in a floodplain: Senate Bill 339 expands the rules for selling property to require disclosures when a home is located in a 500-year floodplain, a flood pool, in or near a reservoir, and whether the home has flooded in a catastrophic event.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.