The new law getting a majority of the attention is the addition of sales tax for mixed drinks. Before, state sales tax was collected only on beer and wine. Restaurants or bars were responsible for paying a liquor tax to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, which was factored into the price of mixed drinks.
Now, establishments serving liquor may choose either to consider the 8.25 percent state sales tax a part of the price of the drink—the tax owed to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission having now been reduced to almost half of the previous 14 percent due to the new law—or add tax onto the existing price.
Due to what the state considered a growing health crisis, the age of those choosing to use tanning beds has been raised from 16 and a half to 18.
There are also new requirements for the treatment of service dogs and their owners in 2014. Beginning on January 1, 2014, veterans using service dogs to help treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will now be officially recognized by state law, allowing the same rights as owners with service animals used for other disabilities. This falls in line with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to House Bill 489, if a service animal owner does not have an apparent disability, the owner of the establishment may only ask two questions: Do you have a disability requiring a service animal, and what is the animal trained to do? Deviation from these two questions may result in the business owner receiving up to a $300 fine and 30 hours of community service.
There will also be several laws relating to housing, including one that affects renters living in an “all bills paid” apartment complex. This law prevents renters from having their utilities cut off without proper notice if the property owner fails to pay the bills on time.
Another housing law will allow victims of domestic violence to get out of a lease for their own safety.
Multiple changes have been made to the application for and renewal of CHL licenses. Beginning this year, a social security number will no longer be required when applying for a concealed handgun license. Changes are also being made to the online application forms.
In September of 2013, multiple changes were made to the application and renewal process, including the reduction of class time to four hours—not including range time—and CHL holders will not be required to complete a renewal course when seeking to renew their license.
For a complete look at all the changes made to CHL application, training and renewal, click here.
For a look at all 631 bills passed by the Texas 83rd Legislature, click here.