Better watch out, Texans. Changes are coming.
A host of new laws — 673 to be exact — go into effect Sept. 1, impacting the daily lives of many throughout the state.
People who abuse animals will face longer jail terms; anyone who smashes a window to rescue children or others left in hot vehicles will be protected from civil liability; and UIL sports officials will have to undergo criminal background checks every three years.
Bestiality becomes illegal, as does texting while driving.
At the same time, Texans may now hunt feral hogs and coyotes from hot air balloons, carry long knives and even swords in most parts of the state and pay less to get or renew a License to Carry handguns.
You can check out a full list of the bills online at www.capitol.state.tx.us/Reports/General.aspx.
Tarrant County Republicans are about to need a new leader.
Tarrant County GOP Chairman Tim O’Hare, who became chairman in June 2016, announced he is not seeking re-election to the unpaid post next year. He does plan to serve out the rest of his term and stay involved with the party.
He said he’s having a hard time juggling being a husband and father of four with running a law firm and real estate venture, serving as a Sunday School teacher and deacon at church — and leading the Tarrant County Republican Party.
“For those who always assume another motive other than what has been stated, I don’t have another political job waiting. I am not preparing to run for another office, no one is running me off,” O’Hare said in a statement. “I simply want to focus on my family, my church and my business, and consistently be there for my wife and kids, which for the last 14 months has been difficult.”
There’s no word yet on who might consider running for the post. The first day to file to be on the 2018 ballot is Nov. 11.
Former state Rep. Diane Patrick knew she had to be in the path of totality.
So the Arlington Republican and a group of seven others headed to Hiawatha, Kan., to see the eclipse.
“It was an awesome experience that we will remember for the rest of our lives,” she said. “It was amazing to be sitting there and see the sun like a Pac-man, with little bites being taken out of it and then the sun completely obscured at 1:05 in the afternoon.”
She and others sat there for 1 minute, 30 seconds of darkness, listening to the cicadas chirp and birds try to go into tree nests.
“It really is hard to describe in words,” she said of the feeling she had during the eclipse, when the wind started blowing and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees.
Now Patrick said she’s ready for the next eclipse — back home.
Much of the DFW region will be more in the path of totality for that one on April 8, 2024.
Fort Worth’s Josh Burgess has been appointed to serve as judge of the 352nd District Court in Tarrant County.
Burgess, an assistant U.S. attorney serving as an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force prosecutor, replaces Mark Pittman, who left the post earlier this year to serve on the 2nd Court of Appeals.
Burgess, a previous assistant staff judge advocate for the U.S. Air Force, is a member of the Tarrant County Bar Association, State Bar of Texas and the Federalist Society.
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Burgess to the post, to serve until the current term expires Dec. 31, 2018.