New State Laws Go Into Effect Friday

A new year doesn't just mean it's time for a new calendar, it's also time for new state laws to go into effect.

Starting Friday, teens in Texas will need a permission slip to into a tanning salon. The form indicates that parents understand the dangers of tanning and agrees the child will wear protective eyewear.

First-year college students hoping to live on campus will need to prove they have been given the vaccine for bacterial meningitis.  Since 2002, more than 50 deaths have been attributed to the infection.

Important reforms to the property appraisal process to help taxpayers also go into effect on Friday, including provisions that impose limits on what is considered a comparable sale for appraisal purposes; creating an expedited arbitration process; and requiring substantial evidence to increase an appraisal after a successful appeal.

“In addition to cutting taxes for 40,000 small business and leaving billions of dollars in our Rainy Day Fund this last session, we also implemented measures that will provide greater protection for property owners by adding transparency and fairness to the appraisal process,” Gov. Rick Perry said.

For renters, tenants who feel they have been wrongly denied utility service or adequate repairs have more recourse through a new tenants rights package. Victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence can also now break a lease with no penalty, even if the offender isn't on the lease.  More information on tenant rights can be found on the Texas Attorney General's Web site.

Also going into effect Jan. 1, all cigarettes sold in Texas must be "fire safe" or must self-extinguish.  Retailers who are caught selling that is not compliant could face a hefty fine.  Fire safe cigarettes should have a distinguishable marking on the packaging indicating it as a fire safe product.

Health care providers must test pregnant women for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B during their first prenatal visit and a second HIV test in their third trimester.

Finally, property owners must make visual smoke detectors available to hearing impaired renters, if requested.

For a full listing of Texas laws, new and old, visit the Texas Legislature Online.

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