Did you know about these new Texas laws?

Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to show a photo ID the next time you use a debit or credit card to make a purchase.

True, many retailers already ask to see that ID for certain purchases.

Since January 1, Texas law will allow retailers to reject any sale where shoppers can’t or won’t show their photo ID.

“While clearly not a panacea, [this bill] allows a merchant to request government-issued photo identification at point of sale and will provide the ability for that merchant to decline a transaction,” a bill analysis for Senate Bill 1381 states. “The option to turn down a transaction if a customer fails to provide photo ID verifying their identity is not currently available to merchants.”

Texas lawmakers decided during the 2017 legislative session this measure is needed in an era of data breaches that have affected millions of shoppers.

SB 1381 is one of more than two dozen laws that take effect with the New Year — whether Texans know it or not.

“Most Texans are too busy thinking about holiday parties and prepping for visits from in-laws than the vagaries of when Texas laws go into effect,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “By the time the laws are set to go into effect, most Texans are concerned with other matters.”

Said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the UT Arlington: “Most people are very busy with their lives, trying to make a living and trying to escape from the daily grind of life, [and] laws and the Legislature are boring and often hard to understand.”

The new measures come on the the heels of 673 new laws — ranging from banning texting and driving to allowing Texans to carry long knives and swords around — that went into effect Sept. 1.

Here’s a look at a few of the new laws.

Paying for purchases

Security breaches remain a major concern for retailers, banks and customers alike.

Texas lawmakers said requiring shoppers to show a photo ID that matches the name on the credit card is needed to protect retailers who “may now be ‘on the hook’ for some losses resulting from fraudulent transactions,” according to SB 1381 analysis.

This, they say, can guard against information obtained during data breaches that then is used to create fake debit and credit cards that are used not only online but also in person.

“This legislation will provide merchants with an additional tool to attempt to minimize fraudulent transactions and losses,” the analysis states.

Voter ID

A revamped Texas voter ID law geared to relax what some had called the most strict requirements across the country also goes into effect.

A revamped Texas voter ID law geared to relax what some had called the most strict requirements across the country is now in effect.

Senate Bill 5, passed after courts ruled that the 2011 state law discriminates against Latino and black voters, gives voters who say they can’t obtain required forms of ID more options.

Anyone who has a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining a photo ID may show an alternate form of ID — bank statements, utility bills, paychecks — to vote. But anyone who lies about the photo ID and then uses one of the new alternates to vote faces being charged with a state jail felony.

The law also requires the Texas secretary of state to set up mobile units to provide election ID certificates to voters who need them.

Odometers

The next time ownership of a vehicle is transferred, the odometer reading requirement may be a little easier, under SB 1062.

Currently, federal law requires the odometer disclosure “to be made on a secure form to prevent tampering,” according to the bill analysis.

odometer
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has a carbon copy paper form. But since that has to be mailed, the process delays the ownership transfer process.

This bill lets the state accept an electronic copy of forms needed to do the transfer — whether the vehicle is for sale or for an insurance claim — to speed up the process.

Milk

Perhaps a little-known fact is that when liquid milk is transferred, tractor-trailers hauling it can be as heavy as 80,000 pounds on state highways, county roads and farm-to-market roads.

SB 1383 increases the amount the trucks can carry to up to 90,000 pounds with a permit for tandem-axle trailers.

The permit costs $1,200 and the revenue will be split between the counties where the trucks would run, the state highway fund and the DMV.

Appraisals

Those who have protested their property tax appraisals probably know that their appraisal could go down, stay the same or go up as a result of their protest.

Right now, if the value goes up, the appraisal is final and there’s no way for a property owner to protest the new higher value.

SB 1767 guarantees that a property owner has a chance to weigh in on a higher value.

Mammograms

new law that went into effect Sept. 1 but applies to insurance plans that went into effect or were renewed after Jan. 1 requires commercial health insurance providers in Texas to cover the cost of high-tech 3-D mammograms, rather than just the traditional 2-D mammograms that have been offered for years.

House Bill 1036 means that women in Texas soon will no longer be asked when they go to their annual mammogram if they want to pay an extra charge — perhaps $100 or more — to have a 3-D mammogram.

Instead, commercial insurance providers in Texas will automatically cover that cost, as they have long done for regular 2-D mammograms when patients are at least 35 years old.

This makes Texas the sixth state — along with Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Arkansas — to have a law requiring insurance companies to cover all mammogram costs.

Breast cancer is the cancer most diagnosed in women, potentially affecting 1 in 8 women. Doctors say all women are at risk, whether or not they have a family history of problems.

More information

A full list of the 26 bills that are going into effect Monday can be found at www.lrl.state.tx.us.

As of Sept. 1, litterers in Texas will pay for their crime — in money and time. Not only can they face fines and jail time, but a new law lets judges sentence litterers to as many as 60 hours of picking up trash or working in a local recycling center.