Two dozen new laws went into effect in Texas on new year’s day, but they won’t affect every Texan. The laws impact issues such as property taxes and prison inmates.
Passed during the 86th legislative session in 2019, the laws essentially impact only those people who deal with the issues at hand.
For instance, one of the new laws deals with inmate paperwork. Under House Bill 918, inmates who are released from prison can seek assistance from the prison to help them find jobs. The inmates will leave prison with certificates showing job skill courses and training they have completed. Additionally, inmates without access to their Social Security card or birth certificate will get help acquiring those documents.
Also, once released, inmates will leave prison with resumes that states their work history both in and out of prison along with documents showing they’ve completed a practice job interview.
Another law, Senate Bill 2060, deals with homeowner tax exemptions. Because not all homeowners understand what exemptions they may be eligible for, they may miss out on some tax breaks. For example, veterans, surviving spouses of veterans, Texans over the age of 65 and those with disabilities are eligible for certain property tax exemptions they may not know about.
The law requires that appraisal district officials include a short description of each exemption a person is eligible for when they receive their appraisal notice.
Another law protects tax reductions. Under House Bill 1313, anyone who successfully protests their home value should not see their value increased to the previous level the next year unless appraisers can present “clear and convincing evidence” that the increase is merited.
Another law also affects homeowners. Under this law, homeowners with mortgages set up so the lender pays the tax bill every year can still be held liable if the bill isn’t paid on time. They could face costly penalties and interest if the mortgage lender, typically a bank, makes a mistake.
HB 1885 lets interest and penalties be waived for homeowners in some cases when the bank holding the mortgage didn’t pay the tax bill on time.
Senate Bill 1264 deals with surprise medical bills. Parts of this law are already in effect. But the rest became law Wednesday. The law was created to prevent some patients from receiving large bills when they don’t have a choice of provider, such as when they unexpectedly end up in an emergency room.
Another new, HB 1002, law deals with parking permits. Landlords who provide parking permits to tenants will have to make sure those permits match the time frame of the lease. And the landlord can’t reclaim the permit until the last day the tenant has a right to be on the property. Defense contractors working in Texas are also affected by a new law that went into effect Jan. 1. Federal aerospace defense contractors in Texas will get some help in the new year too. Now they have the ability to take a deduction on direct manufacturing costs or employee/contractor direct compensation.
Other states allowed for both deductions, but Texas didn’t.
HB 1607 phases in changes to the state’s franchise law to let aerospace and defense contractors claim certain deductions that will allow them to be more competitive. This bill was authored in part by state Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land. A full list of the bills that are going into effect Jan. 1 can be found online at the Legislative Reference Library of Texas.