Texas laws that have gone into effect this week

By: Sean K. Thompson
| Published 01/02/2024


THE WOODLANDS, TX – The 88th regular session of the Texas State Legislature last year saw the passage of thirty bills, meaning there are several new local laws that went into effect this past Monday, the first day of 2024.

Texas Legislature passed 30 bills that became active Jan. 1

While many of these laws don’t affect you on a daily basis (if ever), some have made headlines and could have ramifications on your life. Some key bills that passed include:

  • Senate Bill 17, which bands DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) offices in Texas public colleges and universities;
  • House Bill 796, which requires an online database that is searchable and accessible by the public for taxpayers to look up more information about property tax protest hearings;
  • House Bill 3186, which establishes updates deferment programs and court punishments for juveniles;
  • House Bill 4758, which makes it a misdemeanor to market or advertise e-cigarettes to young people; this is reminiscent of the lawsuit the Federal Trade Commission filed against a cigarette company for the ‘Joe Camel’ advertising campaign.

Several of the laws are tax-related, especially when it comes to property, and online information-related, including in the healthcare industry; but one law establishes a new commemorative license plate.

Some other laws will go into effect between now and March 5 (which happens to be Election day for the 2024 primaries), including a law that increases penalties for human trafficking and smuggling; a law that prohibits private businesses from forcing employees to receive a COVID vaccine; a law that will provide more than $1 billion to help the ongoing construction of building a wall at the Mexican border; and a law granting law enforcement offices the ability to arrest suspected illegal immigrants.

Here is a quick breakdown of the 30 House Bills (HBs) and Senate Bills (SBs) that went into effect on January 1 to catch you up; remember, ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse,’ you can be in violation of a brand new law and be punished accordingly even though you had no idea it existed.

  • HB 260 – Relating to the calculation of net to land in the appraisal of open-space land for ad valorem tax purposes.
  • HB 456 – Relating to an exemption from ad valorem taxation of certain interests in a mineral in place owned by certain charitable organizations.
  • HB 614 – Relating to property owners' association fines.
  • HB 796 – Relating to the creation and maintenance by an appraisal district of a publicly available Internet database of information regarding protest hearings conducted by the appraisal review board established for the district.
  • HB 1058 – Relating to a franchise or insurance premium tax credit for certain housing developments.
  • HB 1228 – Relating to the delivery of certain information under the Property Tax Code.
  • HB 1285 – Relating to the training and duties of a taxpayer liaison officer for an appraisal district.
  • HB 1922 – Relating to periodic reauthorization of municipal building permit fees.
  • HB 2121 – Relating to the form of a rendition statement or property report used to render property for ad valorem tax purposes.
  • HB 2323 – Relating to the issuance of specialty license plates commemorating the 100th anniversary of the writing of the state song.
  • HB 2354 – Relating to the eligibility of land to continue to be appraised for ad valorem tax purposes as qualified open-space land following a transfer to a surviving spouse.
  • HB 3186 – Relating to youth diversion strategies and procedures for children accused of certain fine-only offenses in municipal and justice courts and related criminal justice matters; authorizing fees.
  • HB 3273 – Relating to public notice of the availability on the Internet of property-tax-related information.
  • HB 4077 – Relating to the procedure for qualifying for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of the residence homestead of an elderly person.
  • HB 4101 – Relating to the matters that may be the subject of limited binding arbitration to compel compliance with procedural requirements related to protests before appraisal review boards.
  • HB 4456 – Relating to the calculation of certain ad valorem tax rates of a school district.
  • HB 4500 – Relating to electronic verification of health benefits by health benefit plan issuers for certain physicians and health care providers.
  • HB 4645 – Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of certain property used to provide low-income or moderate-income housing.
  • HB 4758 – Relating to a prohibition on certain e-cigarette products; creating a criminal offense.
  • SB 17 – Relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at public institutions of higher education.
  • SB 539 – Relating to the manner in which an individual who has elected to defer collection of a tax, abate a suit to collect a delinquent tax, or abate a sale to foreclose a tax lien on the individual's residence homestead is listed on the delinquent tax roll of a taxing unit.
  • SB 719 – Relating to an exemption from ad valorem taxation of property owned by a charitable organization that provides services related to the placement of a child in a foster or adoptive home.
  • SB 1340 – Relating to the local development agreement database maintained by the comptroller of public accounts.
  • SB 1381 – Relating to the eligibility of the surviving spouse of an elderly person who qualified for a local option exemption from ad valorem taxation by a taxing unit of a portion of the appraised value of the deceased person's residence homestead to continue to receive an exemption for the same property from the same taxing unit in an amount equal to that of the exemption for which the deceased person qualified without applying for the exemption.
  • SB 1577 – Relating to the Texas Real Estate Research Center, the Real Estate Research Advisory Committee, the Texas Real Estate Commission, and the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board; increasing a fee; authorizing a fee.
  • SB 1780 – Relating to online notarizations.
  • SB 1999 – Relating to the calculation of the unused increment rate of a taxing unit.
  • SB 2355 – Relating to the appeal of certain ad valorem tax determinations through binding arbitration.
  • SB 2440 – Relating to a requirement that certain plats for the subdivision of land include evidence of groundwater supply.
  • SB 2603 – Relating to the creation of the Montgomery County Municipal Utility District No. 216; granting a limited power of eminent domain; providing authority to issue bonds; providing authority to impose assessments, fees, and taxes.

(Photo by Eleni Zingirli on Scopio)

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