Over the past year, KXAN’s in-depth and investigative reports highlighted and uncovered several statewide problems and issues for lawmakers to tackle in the 84th Texas Legislative Session. After our team’s coverage, lawmakers took action to change or create several new laws to better protect Texans, which go into effect Sept. 1:
Elderly Texans will have more protection against abuse
During the course of KXAN’s year-and-a-half-long investigation, the Texas agency watching over places like nursing homes and retirement communities admitted it made a mistake – even broke the law hundreds of times by failing to report residents’ allegations of sexual abuse to police. This new law requires nursing homes and assisted-living facilities to keep a resident’s guardianship order on file. It also requires state inspectors to check for that document before completing their investigation.
Terminally ill patients will have easier access to experimental drugs
Two years of in-depth reports resulted in a law named in memory of Andrea Sloan, an Austin attorney who died of cancer while awaiting approval to use an experimental drug. Patients will now have easier access with a doctor’s recommendation to use drugs that have cleared at least the first phase of clinical trials.
Sex offenders will no longer install security systems in homes until the state has fully vetted them
Vague language and enforcement trouble made it possible for some sex offenders to start work installing security alarms in Texas homes before the state had fully processed their applications to do such work. This ensures that work won’t start until officials know that person won’t pose a risk to families.
Child sex trafficking victims will have more protection
There will now be specific rules for police and the state to follow regarding child sex trafficking victims. State officials will be able to take children into protective custody immediately, then get a judge to order their placement in foster care.
DPS will make sure officials aren’t letting overweight trucks tear up your roads
The Department of Public Safety will now have across-the-board rules for officers weighing trucks on highways. If those inspectors don’t comply with the new rules, the agency can take away their authority.
Propane billing periods will have a limited number of days to protect customers’ pocketbooks
Customers who once suffered questionably-high energy bills during winter months have a new protection, as this law will limit the number of days in a billing period so propane companies can’t take advantage of a longer billing duration with high rates. This will save homeowners a lot of money.
Texas brides will no longer have to stress about their hair
Styling hair on location once had Texas cosmetologists running afoul of the law, facing fines and licensing trouble – and making doing business with brides legally difficult. That outdated law will disappear, and brides can worry a little less.