At the end of the 83rd Texas legislative session, over 1,300 bills had been sent to Governor Greg Abbott for his signature. Here are six new Texan laws that students should keep an eye on.
- Open carry and campus carry – These laws allow concealed carry of handguns on public university campuses and open carry of weapons pretty much anywhere gun owners want to go. SMU will remain unaffected by the law if the University chooses to opt-out. This law will be fully in effect beginning Aug. 1, 2016. In the meantime, public universities are developing their own guidelines for concealed carry.
- Private university police reporting – On Sept. 1, police at private universities will be held to the same reporting standards as public university and local police forces. The final law reclassifies private university police forces, like SMU PD, as “a law enforcement agency and a governmental body.” Simply put, private university police forces will be required to release their documents to the public.
- Increased sexual assault exam access and rape kit testing – Starting next month, all Texas hospitals and emergency rooms will be required to have staff trained in collection of forensic evidence from sexual assault victims. Now, victims can head to the nearest hospital without having to worry about its provided services. Also, the Texas Department of Public Safety is $11 million richer. Some of these funds will go toward testing the backlog of about 20,000 rape kits.
- Digital car insurance – Say goodbye to reaching into your glove compartment. In just over a week, Texas drivers will be able to show police officers their insurance information on their phones. No physical copy required.
- Meningitis vaccine rules reduced – No one likes getting shots. Now, some college students may face one less at their next checkup. The Texas legislature has reduced the maximum age for the meningitis vaccine from 30 to 22 years. Students may also apply to get an exemption from getting the vaccine online.