AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A brief look at some notable new laws taking effect Sunday, Sept. 1:
GUNS: Lawmakers made several tweaks to concealed handgun licensing laws, from reducing the hours of training required to get one and easier renewal. Lawmakers cut the classroom training requirement in half and allowed online renewal for license holders. Schools can also have trained, armed marshals on campus.
EDUCATION: Texas high school students are getting a break in the classroom. Lawmakers cut the number of standardized test needed to graduate from 15 to five after teachers, parents, administrators and students complained of over-testing.
UTILITY DISCOUNTS: Poor Texans are in line for deep — but temporary — discounts on their electric bills to help them avoid getting their power shut off during peak summer months. Lawmakers voted to stop diverting money from the System Benefit Fund to other places so it can be used for what was intended. But don’t get used to it. Lawmakers decided in 2017 to end the fund financed with fees assessed from every electric customer.
RAPE INVESTIGATIONS: To improve rape investigations, hospitals with emergency rooms will be required to have doctors and nurses trained in basic forensic evidence collection for “rape kits.” Sexual assault victims will still have the option to facilities with specialized sexual assault nurse examiners.
STATE BUDGET: The new two-year state budget restores $4 billion slashed from public schools in 2011 and gives state employees a 3 percent raise. Lawmakers also approved spending an additional $260 million on mental health services.