• December 22, 2014

A look at new Texas laws in 2014

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Posted: Friday, January 3, 2014 4:30 am

TEMPLE — As a new year began Wednesday, 47 new Texas laws went into effect.

They are among 600 laws in Texas enacted in 2013 and into 2014. Some changes for Texas residents include:

Mixed drinks now have an 8.25 percent tax attached to them. Before Wednesday, the drinks weren’t taxed; instead, restaurants were taxed. Restaurants will now pay a lower mixed beverage tax, which dropped from 14 percent to 6.7 percent.

Tanning salons can’t admit anyone under the age of 18, even with parental permission. The previous age limit was 16½ but was changed after studies showed the risk of melanoma increased by 85 percent when teens younger than 18 used tanning beds.

Businesses have to keep records of a customer’s first three visits, listing the customer’s skin type, how long the tanning device was used and any injury or illness that resulted from using it.

Jeffrey Gershenwald, the medical director of the Melanoma and Skin Center at the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, pointed to clear evidence that using a tanning bed increases the risk of melanoma.

First-time applicants for unemployment benefits are now required to take a preliminary written screening test for drugs.

If the test shows that the applicant is likely to be a drug user, the person must pass a drug test to receive unemployment benefits.

Concealed handgun applicants no longer have to provide a Social Security number. The Texas Department of Public Safety can’t ask for or require those numbers during the permit renewal process, according to law.

A new law protects residents of apartments that offer “all bills paid” to tenants, who must be given advance notice if their utilities might be disconnected because the landlord hasn’t paid the bill.

If someone is a victim of domestic violence and lives in an apartment, a new law allows them to break their lease for safety purposes.

Service animals for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder now have access to the same public locations as dogs that assist the blind.

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