A new year means new Texas laws.
Most bills in Texas went into effect Sept. 1, but 30 laws will start on Jan. 1 — including measures related to taxes, e-cigarettes and diversity initiatives at universities.
Here are a few to know.
Senate Bill 3 was part of a package of tax relief measures passed by lawmakers during a special legislative session. Proposals to cut property taxes, which were approved by voters in November, got more attention. But also among the policies was a break on franchise taxes for Texas businesses.
The bill lets taxable entities to exempt $2.47 million of their total revenue from franchise taxes. Currently about $1 million is exempt. Bill authors estimate the change will eliminate franchise taxes for 67,000 small to medium sized businesses, according to the Senate Research Center.
Entities that do not owe any franchise taxes will no longer have to submit a a No-Tax-Due form with the Texas comptroller.
Homeowner association members: This is a good one to know.
Under House Bill 614, property owner associations that can issue fines must now adopt a policy for issuing fines that outlines violation categories, fine amounts and information about hearings.
Associations are required to post the policy online or send a copy to property owners each year.
The new law only applies to fines due on or after Jan. 1.
Several new laws related to property taxes and appraisals will go into effect in the new year.
They include House Bill 796 , which requires appraisal districts to keep an public database with information about protest hearings online.
Senate Bill 1381 says that when person who is 65 or older and receiving a homestead exemption dies, the person’s spouse can get the exemption in the next tax year without again applying. The surviving spouse must still otherwise qualify for the exemption.
House Bill 4077 aims to ensure that those who are 65 and older automatically get homestead exemptions they qualify for without having to apply.
Health insurance costs
House Bill 4500 requires health care insurers to have a secure website where hospital and emergency medical staff can look up, at any time, if someone is covered by their health insurance plan and the patient’s deductible, co-pay or coinsurance.
Marketing electronic cigarettes to children is a crime in Texas starting Jan. 1.
House Bill 4758 makes it a Class B misdemeanor to market, advertise or sell e-cigarettes if the product’s packaging:
Depicts a cartoon character mimicking a character used to entertain children.
Mimics a trademark for a product marketed to minors.
Includes a symbol used to market a product to minors.
Shows a picture of a celebrity.
Includes an image of a food product, including candy or juice.
Breaking the new law could result in up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
DEI at universities
Senate Bill 17 limits diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at public universities and colleges.
The new law says universities cannot have a diversity, equity and inclusion office. Also including among the restrictions is a ban on requiring someone to take a diversity, equity and inclusion training to enroll or work.
The bill says a university cannot “give preference on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to an applicant for employment, an employee, or a participant in any function of the institution.”