New Texas laws to look for starting in 2020

Texas News
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Starting in 2020, there are some changes coming to Texas with new laws going into effect starting January 1.

Sexual Harassment at Colleges and Universities

SB 212 amends the Texas Education Code and requires an employee of a public or private institution who witnesses or receives information regarding incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking to report it.

The crime must have been committed by or against a student or employee and it must be reported promptly to the institution’s Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX coordinator.

The coordinator must then report the incident to the institution’s chief executive officers and required them to report to the governing body and post on the institution’s website.

The amended law will create a Class B misdemeanor offense for a person who is required to make a report but fails to do so and includes anyone making a false report.

Natural Disasters and Taxes

House Bill 492 requires voters to approve a constitutional amendment authorizing legislatures to provide a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of property damaged by a disaster. (ad valorem tax is a tax whose amount is based on the value of a property. The bill creates a mandatory percentage disaster exemption for property damaged by a natural disaster.)

Level I: At least 15 percent but less than 30 percent damaged (exemption before proration of 15 percent)
Level II: At least 30 percent but less than 60 percent damaged (exemption before proration of 30 percent)
Level III: At least 60 percent damaged but less than a total loss (exemption before proration of 60 percent)
Level IV: The property is a total loss (exemption before proration of 100 percent)

The ballot allows the Texas legislature to provide temporary tax breaks for people with property damaged in governor-declared disaster areas.

Small Business Data Breaches

HB 4390 relates to the privacy of personal identifying information.

It amends the Texas Business and Commerce Code and says a person who conducts business in Texas and has computerized data that includes sensitive personal information shall disclose any breach of the system’s security to any individual whose sensitive personal information was or is thought to have been taken.

The business is also required to notify the Texas Attorney General of the breach within 60 days of learning of the breach if it involves at least 250 Texas residents.

Bingo Fees

HB 914 changes the prize fees for bingo. A licensed organization no longer has to collect fees from people who win a non-cash prize valued at more than $5. However, if a person wins at least $5 in cash, they must pay a fee of 5% of the prize amount. The organization is required to give 50% of the fees collected to the Texas Lottery Commission. The revenue collected is considered miscellaneous and counties and cities can ask to receive prize fees.

Complaints About Non-Profit Health Groups

HB 1532 relates to certain organizations certified by the Texas Medical Board who accepts and processes complaints against health organizations for an alleged violation.

The Board must notify the health organization that a complaint has been filed and disclose the nature of the complaint and provide the organization with the opportunity to respond.

Flood Funds

SB 7 moves $1.7 billion from the state rainy day fund to the Texas Water Code which established two new accounts: The Flood Infrastructure Fund and the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund.

It allows the Texas Water Development Board to issue revenue bonds for both new accounts and prioritizes financial assistance for counties where the median household income is less than 85% of the state’s median household income.

The Flood Infrastructure Fund – assists in the financings of drainage, flood control, and flood mitigation projects.

Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund – Special fund in the state treasury outside of the general fund and oversees four sub-accounts.

Floodplain Management Account – Would be used for projects related to flood planning, protection, mitigation or adaptation; for collecting and analyzing flood-related information; for providing flood-related information to the public; and for evaluating the response to and mitigation of flooding affecting residential properties.

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