New Year, New Laws - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

New Year, New Laws

Twenty-one new Texas laws went into effect January 1. Here are a look at the top new laws.

Meningitis Shot

A new state law will require all college students to get a meningitis shot. It requires students to have a vaccine within the last five years, if not then a student must get one. It applies to all public, private and community and junior colleges as well.

Homeowners

Another law would provide new protections for homeowners against aggressive homeowner associations. It would allow homeowners three to 18 months to pay off late dues or fines and prevent HOA's from foreclosing on homes if the ban is approved by two-thirds of its members.

Voting & Photo ID

One other law is under review right now by the Justice Department. It would require Texas voters to show a valid photo-id before casting a ballot. A similar law was struck down in South Carolina by the federal government because the Justice Department felt it discriminated against minorities of the Voting Rights Act.        

Veterans & Spouses

Another new law is bringing some relief to wives and husbands of disabled veterans. This is just an extension of a law already in place. Previously veterans who were 100 percent disabled because of combat were granted an exemption from paying property taxes, but that exemption ended when they passed away, now that has changed.

Duncan McGhee with Texas Veterans Commission says the agency was very pleased when the bill was signed. He says many spouses were often left without a home because they simply couldn't afford to pay property taxes on it.

"Once the veteran passes away then the spouse found themselves with a significant financial burden they just couldn't meet," he said.

Texomans we spoke with agree with the change.

"I think it's a good idea their spouses do not have to pay taxes on their home if their significant other dies in war because they've already given so much and we don't want them to be at risk of losing their homes," said David Wilson.

"I just feel like they shouldn't have too, their spouses shouldn't have too," said Rose White. Her brother is a Gulf War Veteran.

In Texas alone there are 300,000 disabled veterans but this exemption is only for spouses of veterans who are 100 percent disabled from service related combat.

Right now the state has 25,000 who fall under that category. According to a senate analysis it could cost state and local government millions of dollars in property taxes, still some say it's worth it.

"It's really a drop in the bucket for what theses individuals have given to the state and country," said McGhee.

The Texas Veterans Commission encourages families to start thinking about this early. All you have to do is visit the appraisal district to fill out the form and learn if you qualify.

To see a list of all the new laws click here. Once you open the page click the tab "text" to read the laws.

 

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