NEW TEXAS LAWS - More than 800 new laws went into effect for the state of Texas this month. Among them include raising the age for buying tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. Breweries will also be allowed to sell beer-to-go on their premises.
The Texas legislature also passed several gun laws in the spring; one allows people to have firearms in public without a license to carry, for seven days after a disaster declaration. This new law comes on the heels of recent mass shootings in Texas, Lauren McGaughy a reporter with the Dallas Morning News has covered stories about gun laws in Texas.
"We're now having this discussion anew about whether to tighten gun laws in Texas after the El Paso shooting," McGaughy explains. "But just a few months ago when lawmakers were meeting in Austin they actually loosened up some of Texas' gun laws to make it easier to carry in different places. One example is, it's actually going to be easier to carry a gun during a state of emergency, like after a hurricane."
Another new law affects how Texans will vote – Beginning in 2020, Texas voters won’t have the option of voting a straight ticket – and it will largely affect minority voters and the elderly. That’s according to a new report from the Austin Community College Center for Public Policy and Political Studies. Stefan Haag who co-authored the study says the change will likely affect more Democrats, who are concentrated in the state’s urban areas.
Haag says “ In the large cities in Texas we found the highest rates of straight ticket voting."
Haag says eliminating straight-ticket voting will lead to what he calls “roll off” – that’s when voters cast fewer votes as they go down a ballot. The new voting rule was also the outcome of state legistlation in 2017.