Hundreds of New Laws Go Into Effect Friday, Including No Texting While Driving - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

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Hundreds of New Laws Go Into Effect Friday, Including No Texting While Driving

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    Hundreds of New Laws Go Into Effect Friday, Including No Texting While Driving
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    It's Sept. 1 and, aside from that meaning it's the beginning of a new month, it means there are hundreds of new state laws going into effect today.

    Nearly 670 laws passed in last summer's legislative session and signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are now in effect -- they cover a wide range and include a statewide ban on texting while driving, banning the open-carry of swords and guidelines on where you cannot fly a drone.

    Here are a few of the new state laws that went into effect Friday.

    Texting While Driving Ban

    Texas isn't the last to implement a statewide ban on texting while driving, but they were close. The Lone Star State is the 47th state to ban texting while driving. A driver is found to be in violation of the ban if they are using a "wireless communication device to read, write or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle." You can text while stopped. Additionally, you can use your device to enable a "hands free" option or for navigation. Offenders face a fine of between $25 and $99 unless they've been ticketed for the offense before - then the fine can jump to $200.

    Ban on Sanctuary Cities Blocked

    A federal judge late Wednesday temporarily blocked most of Texas' tough new "sanctuary cities" law that would have allowed police to inquire about people's immigration status during routine interactions such as traffic stops. Judge Orlando Garcia felt the law would "erode public trust" and "make many communities and neighborhoods less safe."

    Popular Abortion Procedure Ban Blocked

    On Thursday, one day before it was to go into effect, a federal judge late Thursday temporarily blocked Texas from enforcing new anti-abortion measures Gov. Greg Abbott signed in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down more sweeping abortion limits. The order by Austin-based U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel stops Texas from banning a commonly used second trimester abortion procedure, known as dilation and evacuation, which abortion providers say rarely results in complications. Courts already have blocked similar laws in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. A court challenge also is ongoing in Arkansas.

    Carry a Sword, But Only in Certain Places

    HB 1935 said those armed with a "knife" with a blade longer than five and a half inches are prohibited from taking that blade only into certain locations. Those bigger blades are prohibited in bars, jails, sproting events, hospitals, amusement parks and houses of worship. The bigger blades may be carried openly everywhere else, along with daggers, dirks, stilettos, poniards, Bowie knives, swords and spears.

    Amnesty for Witnesses to Sex Assault

    SB 966 allows minors who were intoxicated when they witnessed or reported a sexual assault to report it without fear of prosecution for underage drinking.

    License to Carry Fees Drop

    Fees for licenses to carry a handgun have dropped dramatically from $140 to $40. Renewal fees for seniors are $25.

    Attacking an Officer or Judge Now a Hate Crime

    The new law makes it a second-degree felony to attack or restrain a known police officer or judge who are doing their duty or in retaliation for doing their duty. The charge is elevated to first-degree if the officer or judge is seriously injured.

    Lotto Winner Anonymity

    If you're lucky enough to win $1 million in the lottery, or more, you can now remain anonymous and prohibit all personally identifiable information from being made public.

    Drone No-Fly Zones

    As of Thursday, it's illegal to fly a drone or unmanned aircraft over a jail, correctional facility, sports facility or critical infrastructure facility. A critical infrastructure facility is a refinery, power facility, pump station, port, dam and a number of other places. See the list of infrastructure places here in Sec. 2 (1-a) (A). Sports facilities are defined as arenas, tracks or stadiums with capacity over 30,000 -- it's illegal to fly over those facilities below 400 feet.

    New Buses Must Have Shoulder Belts

    Texas school buses made in 2018 and after must have a three point shoulder/lap belt for each occupant, including the driver. There are a couple of exceptions, one being that a school district's board of trustees can opt-out if they determine they can't afford to add seat belts to the bus or if they decided to put it up for a public vote.

    Straight-Ticket Voting Ban Coming Sept. 1, 2020

    In three years the option of voting a straight-ticket will no longer be on Texas ballots. In a straight-ticket vote, a voter simply selects a political party thereby voting for every candidate in that party who is on the ballot. By removing this option, supporters hope to create a more informed voting public.