New Texas laws take effect Friday

FILE - Person using a cellphone while driving (KXAN FILE Photo)
FILE - Person using a cellphone while driving (KXAN FILE Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As of Friday morning, more than 650 bills the Texas Legislature passed and the governor signed will go into effect. Here are a few of the new laws that could impact daily life:

School bullying

David’s Law will help school administrators investigate bullying off campus.

It also makes student harassment or bullying both in-person and online a criminal offense, with punishments for children and parents. It’s named after David Molak, a 16-year-old who committed suicide after being bullied.

Sanctuary Cities*

A law banning so-called sanctuary cities in Texas was set to go into effect Sept. 1. However, on Thursday a federal judge blocked its provision that requires law enforcement to hold people in jail who might be in the U.S. illegally and honor all ICE requests. The judge let a provision allowing officers to ask about a person’s immigration status to stand, but they are limited on what they can do with the information.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked a district court in San Antonio for a stay of motion in its ruling while he appeals the case.

Paying for rape kits

When you renew your driver’s licence you now have the option to donate a dollar to help with the backlog of rape kit testing.

Texting while driving

Drivers can no longer text while their vehicles are moving — that includes reading, writing and sending messages. The law does not affect local ordinances already in place.

A texting-while-driving offense would be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of at least $25 and not more than $99, unless the driver had previously been convicted. In that case, the driver faces a fine of at least $100 and up to $200

Police training and inmate monitoring

The Sandra Bland Act requires independent investigations if a person dies in custody. It also requires jail systems divert people who have substance abuse and mental health concerns to get treatment. And it will help with mental health training for police cadets, including de-escalation techniques.

It’s named after Sandra Bland, who was found hanging in the Waller County Jail, three days after the Department of Public Safety arrested her during a traffic stop.

Hot car rescues

Good Samaritans now have protections from being sued if they break into a car to rescue someone inside. The person they are rescuing must be in imminent danger and 9-1-1 must be notified. The rescuer must also not do any more damage than necessary and stay with the distressed person in a safe location.

Carrying knives

People can now carry a variety of knives and swords throughout the state after a new law repealed an older prohibition. People can now carry daggers, dirks, stilettos, poniards, swords, spears and Bowie knives anywhere. Knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches cannot be carried in certain locations.

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