More than 800 new Texas laws take effect Sunday

More than 800 new Texas laws and provisions of dozens of others take effect Sunday dealing with everything from the regulation of lemonade stands to curbing human trafficking. (State photo)
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(KWTX) More than 800 new Texas laws and provisions of dozens of others take effect Sunday dealing with everything from the regulation of lemonade stands to curbing human trafficking.

Organizers of the Fort Hood area’s Lemonade Day project were elated by the passage of House Bill 234, which “allow(s) kids the freedom to have lemonade stands in Texas.”

The Lemonade Stand Law, which was passed this past session, gives kids younger than 18 “lemonade freedom,” supporters say by, preventing prohibition of selling lemonade on private property or within a public park, subservient to local rules concerning park space

“No municipality, county, or other local public health authority can prohibit them from selling lemonade on a private property or in a public park,” a summary of the bill says.

“Sept. 1 will be a big day for kids in Texas,” Amanda Sequeira, coordinator of Lemonade Day in Killeen, said.

Killeen Lemonade Day turned 10 this year and over those years has been a success for the kids who’ve taken part, she said.

The new law “won’t make a lot of difference here because we’ve been doing all the things it requires from the beginning,” Sequeira said, and “we’ve always done it that way.”

The big thing is, she said, the “symbolic representation of entrepreneurship it shows to our young people.”

An effort to further cut into the rise of human trafficking in the state, legislators passed HB 2747, which “prohibits any individual, including a student, license holder, or employee, from residing on the premises of a massage establishment after Sept. 1.

The new law seems obscure, but McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said anything that assists his deputies in making cases against those suspected of human trafficking helps.

Although he said his office hadn’t been aware of the new rules, McNamara said, “I like it. It will make it more difficult for massage parlor operators to operate because if they can’t let their victims stay at the parlor, they’ll have to find other places for them to stay and doing business for them will be harder.

Deputies over the past years have raided and closed several massage businesses in McLennan County and each time they identify people, usually women, who are being held at the business, forced to perform sexual acts on massage clients.

“They give these poor women a place to stay and pay them pennies while they drive their Mercedes home to their million-dollar houses,” McNamara said.

“Maybe this will help us run some of those rats out of the barn.”

The bill also requires licensed massage therapists to attach their photograph to the front of their posted licenses and requires massage establishments and schools to display signs concerning the services and assistance available to victims of human trafficking no later than April 1, 2020.

Lawmakers passed a bill designed to help keep meter readers safe in HB 2584, which “allows a code enforcement officer who is performing official duties to possess or carry an instrument used for deterring an animal bite and requires specific training,” the summary says.

“It’s a Taser or baton or something like that a code enforcement officer can carry to protect himself or herself from an animal bite,” Hewitt police Chief Jim Devlin said.

The bill gives those officers the right to carry the non-lethal weapons but also requires that they complete police officer training to use them.

“We (police) are required to provide the same training for code enforcement officers that we do as police officers,” Devlin said.

In Hewitt that will be simple because the only code enforcement officer works for the City of Hewitt, but he is assigned to the police department, Devlin said.

If the officer wants to carry a baton, he’ll be trained in how to use it, and the same goes for a Taser or a chemical spray.

HB 2847 “requires a person who holds a license as an audiologist or audiologist intern to comply with the department’s rules rather than with the profession’s code of ethics.”

On the surface it might seem unusual that state rules trump ethics, but “ethics, from one group to another, are different, so Texas just wanted everybody to play by the same rules,” Rachael Weeaks, owner of Beltone Hearing, in Waco, said.

Weeaks, not an audiologist, herself, but a licensed hearing specialist, said the move is good for the industry, thus good for patients.

“I think it completely makes sense and I’m all for it,” Weeaks said.