Editorial: New state laws are mixed bag

A whopping 820 new state laws go into effect today and while some of them are real stinkers, others, like the demise the the Driver Responsibility Program, promise to make life better for many of us. We also like the new smoking age, which increases from 18 to 21 the point at which young people can purchase tobacco products. Whether readers  agree with us or not, they should acquaint themselves with the particulars of the new laws to avoid running afoul of them.

In our view, one of the worst of the lot is the law that will allow handguns on school campuses as long as they are locked in a car and out of view. What’s to stop a student from sneaking the weapon from his vehicle and using it on his peers? School officials have turned themselves inside out to make their campuses safer and now this. And how about allowing anyone to carry a handgun – even if they have no license – in the week after a natural disaster. Sounds like a scenario from “The Road” where we all turn on each other.

But kudos to lawmakers for finally killing off the Driver Responsibility Act, which bilked untold millions from the state’s poorest drivers and landed many of them behind bars when they could not pay the mounting fines.

Senate Bill 1264, which is intended to fight surprise medical bills, is another winner. When health care providers and insurance companies cannot agree on a payment, they can no longer lateral the tab to Texas residents. The new measure ushers the disputes into a state-overseen arbitration process, thus keeping patients out the fight.

We also like the new legislation that should go a long way toward keeping telemarketers from disrupting our lives. The measure bans them from calling Texans using fake numbers that show up on the recipient’s caller ID.

Of course, there are also a handful of new statutes that give us pause. In fact, we might be inclined to call them kooky if not for the knowledge that this is an enormous state with varied interests. For example, beginning today women can pump breast milk wherever they want. Previous law provided for breastfeeding anywhere but didn’t specify pumping.

And finally, a new decree that protects and encourages the independent, entrepreneurial spirit that has imbued the state from our earliest days as a Republic. Neighborhoods and cities will no longer be allowed to enact regulations that block or regulate children trying to sell nonalcoholic drinks like lemonade on private property. Cheers to that new law.



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