New Laws Take Effect

Monday, the Laws of Texas changed. More than 4000 new bills became official. That means something you've been doing for years could now be illegal.

Chuck Hopson is back at work in his Jacksonville pharmacy. But, earlier this year he was helping to create thousands of new laws in the Texas Legislature. Laws like SB 193 which requires you to slow down and move over when passing a stopped emergency vehicle. "I personally did that for Officer Roache in Jacksonville. He was making a traffic stop on Highway 69 North here in Jacksonville. Had a guy who had been drinking. He hit the back of Roache's car."

The laws affect just about every aspect of your life. Even your on-line life. Tired of unsolicited e-mail? Well, there's a little relief in House Bill 1282. From now any advertisements must have the subject line, "ADV". Anything that is a sexually explicit advertisement must have the subject line, "ADV: Adult Advertisement." Failure to do this means you could sue for $10 per e-mail and the State could put the sender in jail for up to 180 days."

House Bill 705 says companies like C. Woods in Tyler must do criminal background checks on all employees. Operatios Manager Jerry Moore says C. Woods already checks out the people they hire. "I think it's a good law since we're in people's homes. People trust us to come in and service their equipment or repair their plumbing or whatever and they need to have the assurance that the people we send are not going to be criminals."

The City of Tyler doesn't want you to carry a handgun into the Water Utilities building when you go to pay your water bill. But, Senate Bill 501 takes that right away from local government. You still can't carry guns into schools and courthouses, but other public buildings are fair game.

Another new law gives school superintendents the option to suspend or expell any student accused of a felony committed against another student. That bill was written by Smith County's Leo Berman after Whitehouse ISD administrators asked Berman for help.

Some crimes now have higher penalties. Some lawsuits have lower rewards. For most of us, it's just too much to keep up with. It's even tough for law makers like Hopson to track every single new law. "It's hard for me who's very active in government to remember all the we passed. You certainly don't remember the numbers of the bills, but you certainly try to remeber the intent

Fortunately, we won't have any more new laws until after Chuck Hopson goes back to Austin. Stephen Parr, reporting.