Politics & Government

August 31, 2014

New Texas laws go into effect Monday

Nearly a dozen new laws go into effect Monday, touching on issues from judicial training to higher education for veterans.

More than a year after state lawmakers wrapped up their work in Austin, the final pieces of nearly a dozen new laws take effect today.

Many Texans likely won’t feel or see much difference from the new laws, since the biggest one — the last provision of the comprehensive abortion law known as HB 2, which required abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers or close their doors — has been overturned.

Had that piece of the law taken effect, all but a handful of abortion clinics were expected to be shuttered.

That leaves around a dozen laws — touching on issues ranging from judicial and court personnel training to higher education for veterans and their families — to take effect today, a result of work last year by the Texas Legislature, according to the Legislative Reference Library of Texas.

In 2013, the Legislature passed more than 1,400 bills.

“The laws that take effect Sept. 1 pertain mostly to obtuse legal issues not of great concern to [the] broader public, except abortion,” said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Here’s a look at some of them:

Boosting career and technology classes: House Bill 5 requires the State Board of Education no later than today to make sure at least six advanced career and technology education courses are approved for Texas students to satisfy a fourth credit in mathematics.

Expanding legal training: HB 1245 allows personnel of criminal defense attorneys to participate in legal education courses, programs and technical assistance projects already funded for judges, prosecuting attorneys and their personnel, and other court personnel.

Representing indigent Texans and some youths in court: Attorneys are often appointed to represent some youths and indigent Texans in court under HB 1318. A change in the law requires attorneys who are appointed for that work to prepare information showing time spent working on those appointments for the preceding fiscal year for the county where the work was done.

Oversight of the Jack County Hospital District: Various parts of HB 3896 governing the Jack County Hospital District revamp and update guidelines. One portion of the law, which requires the board of directors to serve staggered three-year terms, takes effect today.

Consolidation of state boards: SB 966 consolidates several judicial regulatory boards — including the Court Reporters Certification Board, the Guardianship Certification Board and the Process Server Review Board — into the Judicial Branch Certification Commission as of today.

Helping veterans with higher education: Much of SB 1158 — which is geared to help veterans with higher education by requiring the Texas Veterans Commission to give some oversight, creating veteran college resource counselors and establishing a state award recognizing various colleges and universities for veteran education excellence — has already taken effect. But as of today, the portion requiring the agency to establish an award program to recognize colleges and universities for providing education to veterans will also take effect.

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