Around 650 new laws go into effect today (Friday, Sept. 1, 2017) in Texas. Some of them are good and smart, some are bad and stupid, and some are just weird.

Let's start with what I think are a few of the good smart laws that go into effect today.

  • Texting/emailing while driving. You can no longer read, write or send messages in any form while operating a vehicle unless it's stopped.
  • Good Samaritan protection. You cannot be sued for damaging property while breaking into a car if you think the person (a child or disabled person) is in imminent danger, you call 9-1-1 first, you don't cause excessive damage and you remain safely with the person until authorities arrive.
  • School kids can no longer be suspended below the 3rd grade. Why was this ever even an option? If a 1st grader has acted in a way that you think deserves being suspended, that's the exact time we need to spend more time with them: the early developmental stages. And they can hopefully be cared for and shown how to act responsibly.
  • Sexual assault laws. Now, Texas colleges have to create a way for students to anonymously report sexual assault. This is great because the majority of sexual assault cases on campus aren't reported due to fear of reprisals. Now with anonymity available, this will hopefully encourage more victims to come forward. Also, witnesses to sexual assault receive amnesty for reporting the crimes. Sometimes a person might have been doing something illegal, such as underage drinking or illegal drugs, when they were witness to an assault, and they don't come forward for fear of being prosecuted themselves. That is no longer the case, and witnesses will be protected from whatever they might have been doing to report a much more serious crime.
  • David's Law criminalizes cyber-bullying. This is fantastic. There should be no excuse for cyber-bullying, especially if it encourages the victim to harm or even kill themselves.
  • Grace periods for students without lunches. This is a smart law, but it isn't nearly enough in my opinion. It gives parents longer to put money into their kids' lunch accounts before the school "lunch shames" the kids by only giving them cold sandwiches. The fact that kids were shamed at all at a school is disgusting! Personally, I think all of our school kids should get free lunches and other food during the day. We pay taxes for these schools, which are woefully underfunded as it is, and our teachers deserve much more. But as parents, we're already shelling out a ton of money for school supplies and our kids are required to be in school all day. Lunch should be the least that is offered. All of our kids should start with a good breakfast at school first since the schools start so early these days. I know I don't have time every morning to get a good breakfast ready before 7 a.m. This is a good change to a bad system, but Texas kids deserve more.

Those are some of the smart laws now in effect. Here are some of the bad ones, in my opinion.

  • The "ban" on sanctuary cities. This isn't about anyone's views on immigration reform. This is about the state government not letting its cities run themselves. Every city large and small has very different needs when it comes to policing and where they focus their financial and personnel resources. This law forces cities to pour these important resources in areas of enforcement that they might not deem a top priority. Cities should be able to make their own choices when it comes to prioritizing which crimes they are focused on enforcing the strongest. This law takes that sovereignty away from us in our cities and has the big government make our choices for us.
  • New protections for insurance companies are not necessary and hurt people while protecting profits. This law is claimed to protect insurance companies from frivolous lawsuits. And while it might achieve that goal, it also gives the consumer far fewer protections and legal recourse when insurance companies attempt to make lower than expected damage estimates. This is what happens when your car is totaled and they pay you 3/4ths the value for replacing it. It also makes it harder for lawyers to recoup their fees from insurance companies, which will discourage good people from taking action against bad insurance companies. This is especially horrendous right now with insurance claims in the billions about to be filed to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
  • Renewing your license now includes a check box to donate $1 for rape kit testing. While this sounds positive on the face of it, the thousands of untested rape kits in Texas should not have to require public funding to get them tested. This should 100 percent be budgeted by Texas to get done as soon as possible. This is real, physical evidence for crimes. And these rape kits should be tested as soon as they are performed to either confirm or deny a felony. I honestly can't believe that our state cares so little about rape victims that these kits are just sitting around after years, and now they're asking us to pay to finish the job? We already pay for this service to be finished with our taxes that go towards crime labs and police departments. GET THESE TESTS DONE AND FIND THE MONEY TO GET THEM DONE NOW!
  • Kids of fire fighters, police or other first responders who have been injured or killed in the line of duty can now have their kids receive free pre-K. Why do we require them to be injured or killed first? They're our first responders. Take care of their families just like they take care of ours. Remove the injured or killed pre-requisite please, Texas?
  • Attacking police is now prosecuted as a hate crime. Now don't get crazy here; this isn't a dumb law because I'm against cops or anything. Quite the opposite, I'm a big fan and supporter of our police. I'm friends with many of them and support them all the time. But attacking the police shouldn't be considered a hate crime because it isn't. Hate crimes are designated that for when someone is attacked for no reason other than personal characteristics or traits that they were born with and are a physical part of that person. In other words, their skin color or other personal traits that are natural. Cops weren't born cops. It's their chosen profession. Not a personal genetic trait they carry. And I am all for making specific punishments for violence against our public servants, but categorize it as its own thing. It doesn't fall under the category of a hate crime, but maybe call it a political crime or something. It's not a hate crime, and calling it that just confuses the issue.

And now for some of the special new laws that make you question the intelligence of politicians as a whole. Dumb-da-dumb-dumb-dumb.

  • Raising the child-marrying age? Yes. Wait, it gets better. Texas just passed a law that raises the child marrying age to 16! You mean it was under that before? Yes, it was...AND over 7,000 child marriages were performed between 2010 and 2014. Damn, Texas!
  • You can now carry swords and machetes in public. And anyone under 18 can only carry if your parents are there, too. So no more renaissance fairs unless mommy is there being a wench. Seriously.
  • You can now hunt feral hogs from hot air balloons? I know, these hogs are destroying everything and they kill other animals and blah blah blah. Yes, I know they need to be killed. And it actually sounds like it could be fun. It just seems stupid that we have a law making hot air balloon hog hunting legal.
  • Texas has now removed the cap on the number of students "allowed" in special education-type classes. Think about that for a second. We actually had a limit on the number of students with special needs that we would educate and take care of properly? That's right. If you had a special needs child but their school's special classes were already full, your kid doesn't get into the classes they need. Texas had a limit on how many kids it would accept as special. That's...special.

The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author and are not representative of the opinions of Townsquare Media Lubbock, it’s advertisers or affiliates.

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